9 Best Restaurants in Downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan

Food & Drink, Michigan

Kalamazoo, located in West Michigan, almost an hour south of Grand Rapids, features Michigan’s abundant agricultural products. The area grows everything from blueberries and grapes to vegetables, so restaurants can easily access local, farm-fresh ingredients. Michigan’s variety of farm products is second only to California.

​With Western Michigan University located nearby, the great food often comes with budget-friendly options.

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The heart of downtown Kalamazoo has so many great restaurants it was difficult to narrow the list of recommendations, so I decided to choose those near Kalamazoo’s downtown area. Here are nine of my favorite Kalamazoo restaurants listed alphabetically.

Bell’s Eccentric Café

Exterior of Bell's Eccentric Cafe
Exterior of Bell’s Eccentric Café

Located in the original Bell’s Brewery, Bell’s Eccentric Café, features over 20 draught options of great beer, a patio and a Beer Garden. The music and entertainment add a fun atmosphere to your dining pleasure.

The Menu

Their locally sourced meals are scratch-made, with primarily non-GMO, sustainable ingredients. When I visit a restaurant at an artisan craft brewery, I always try the dishes that feature beer. At Bell’s, that means Bell’s Beer-Ria Tacos are made from Amber Ale, chili braised pork, cilantro onion, and consommé in corn tortillas. Another item featuring Bell’s beer is the cheese soup crafted from Bell’s Porter beer, cheddar cheese, and some green onions.

Their burgers are another good choice. I tried the Cherry Bomb. It was a smash burger patty with chipotle cherry jam, topped with goat cheese topped and pickles, and mustard. They added pickled habanero and served it all on a brioche bun. Eat it with with the Porter for a tasty lunch.

The Atmosphere

The live music makes Bell’s a nice place to sit back and throw back a cold one. It is an upbeat, somewhat party atmosphere with the music. The building features exposed brick.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Bell’s Brewery’s 45-minute tours start in the café with a tasting. You can buy supplies to start as a homebrewer at the tour’s end. You can book the tour online before you go. All tours are for those older than 21 years old.

Entrance to Brick + Brine
Entrance to Brick + Brine

Brick + Brine

Brick + Brine is one of the area’s fine dining restaurants. The upscale venue features contemporary American cuisine inside the Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center. I like Brick + Brine as a date night or special occasion option. The brick in the restaurant’s name comes from the wood-fired brick oven and exposed brick walls. The brine references the marinade used to flavor the proteins. They offer fine dining options like hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood, and handcrafted pasta.

Meatballs at Brick + Brine
Meatball Appetizer at Brick + Brine

The Menu

My meal began with the meatball appetizer, a combination of pork and beef meatballs placed in a pool of tomato brood. Then, the chef topped them with fontina and served the dish with grilled herbed focaccia. Next, we appreciated steak house favorites, like a wedge salad and French onion soup.

The entrée of my Brick + Brine meal was the show’s star, with outstanding presentation and flavors. I had the ten-ounce hanger cut steak, presented with a bulb of roasted garlic. The steak, cooked to temperature, was tender and flavorful. The chef intentionally charred the Brussels sprouts. The side dish was slightly crispy with soy, chilies, bacon, and peanuts for a delicious accompaniment.

The Atmosphere

In warm weather, the restaurant features an open-air concept, where sliding windows surround part of the space, allowing the outdoors in.

Piper’s Pro Planning: You’ll find it convenient to park in the parking structure across the street. You can walk through the skywalk to the Radisson Plaza Hotel, where you can arrive at the restaurant without worrying about the snow and rain. Alternatively, the hotel offers valet parking.

Comensoli’s Italian Bistro & Bar

For over 100 years, Comensoli’s Italian Bistro & Bar has been serving dinner— including everything Italian from pizza to pasta and risotto.

The Menu

Our meal began with herbed olive oil for dipping a warm rustic bread. Then, came an antipasto big enough to share. It featured salami, fresh mozzarella, sweet pickled green and red peppers, cherry tomatoes, marinated artichokes, peppadew peppers, and pecorino Romano, on a bed of romaine. Then the chef topped it with with a house-made Champagne vinaigrette.

The house-made meatballs feature a combination of beef and pork, which you can add to a pasta dish or eat as an appetizer topped with a marinara sauce.

A northern Italian sausage called cudigi is made in house. It doesn’t have the fennel you’ll typically find in Italian sausage. But you will find some sweeter spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and clove. Usually, you’ll find cudigi in the Upper Peninsul of Michigan. The Comensoli family arrive in Kalamazoo from northern Italy, through the Upper Peninsula, so it’s not a surprise they’ve included this Italian specialty in their menu options.

I ordered the nightly special, a spicy Fontina risotto topped with an eight-ounce sirloin, served medium, and garnished with microgreens for added color. The risotto had Fontina cheese, roasted red pepper, artichokes, and chili puree for a little zip.

I love it when a server brings the dessert tray that displays what I’ll get when ordering a specific dessert. Choosing another treat was difficult, but decided to skip my usual tiramisu. I decided on the flourless chocolate cake, a fudge like dessert. It was so rich and creamy — something you should share, but probably won’t want to. 

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere is old-world European, with tablecloths and low lighting.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Takeout options are available through online ordering and curbside pickup.

Breakfast at Crow's Nest
Breakfast at Crow’s Nest

Crow’s Nest

The Crow’s Nest, located at 816 South Westnedge Avenue, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They aren’t open on Tuesdays. The Fourth Coast Bakery is on the first floor, and the Crow’s Nest sits above, accessible via a flight of stairs.

The Menu

My husband went for breakfast and had the Master-at-Arms Scramble, an egg scramble with sausage, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and cheddar cheese. They added scratch sausage gravy, and served it all over breakfast potatoes. He chose the whole wheat toast. The portion size was large and could have fed two people for breakfast. My husband, a hearty eater, couldn’t finish it all. You’ll also find French toast and pancakes on the breakfast menu.

Since it was lunchtime, I had the classic burger with a beef patty made from beef at LV Farms. They served it cooked to temperature on a toasted brioche onion roll, topped with melted cheddar. Then, they served lettuce, tomato, and onion on top with a dill pickle spear on the side. 

The Atmosphere

It has a casual café vibe, with exposed brick and brightly painted walls. 

Piper’s Pro Planning: While the Crow’s Nest is upstairs, above the bakery, without an elevator, if you wish to eat at Crow’s Nest, they will accommodate you with food from Crow’s Nest served on the first floor.

Cherry Salmon Salad at Old Burdick's
Cherry Salmon Salad at Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill

Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill

Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill is a full-service restaurant attached to the Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center, . This casual pub-style venue features high-quality pub food. You can enter from either the street or inside the hotel. 

The Menu

The Cherry Salmon Salad was a tasty dish featuring grilled salmon. The salad started with mixed greens, dried cherries, candied pecans, red onion, tomato, and bleu cheese crumbles. Then, they topped the salad with grilled salmon with a cherry glaze. They drizzled it with a cherry vinaigrette to bring home the Michigan cherry flavor. Although it was a salad, the portion was large, and the flavor combinations made it a fulfilling lunch. I’d order this again. 

My husband opted for the Mac and Cheese with white cheddar, cheddar jack, and bread crumb topping. They served the dish with toasted garlic bread. While you could add a protein, like grilled chicken, a grilled shrimp skewer, or flank steak, he decided to go with the mac and cheese and not add a protein. Again, the portion size made that the perfect choice for lunch. 

The Atmosphere

The restaurant has a sports bar atmosphere with beer on tap and multiple large-screen televisions. 

Piper’s Pro Planning: Check out their website for specials like Wine & Whiskey Wednesday and half-price Taco Tuesday. 

Exterior at Rustica
Exterior at Rustica


Rustica offers rustic European cuisine using local ingredients from local farmers. The wine list also includes fine wines. They offer a beverage selection that complements the chef’s food prepared using classic techniques. The results are a well-balanced meal.

Steak at Rustica
Steak at Rustica

The Menu

The artisan cheese board featured house jam, local honey, spiced nuts, and grilled bread. I had the Snake River Farms Wagyu “Gold” Flank Steak, served with duck fat potatoes, onion-bacon jam, broccolini, and a Bordelaise sauce. My husband had the pan-roasted Otto’s Chicken, which they served bone-in.

We shared the coconut cake, which happened to be gluten-free. The cake included Valrhona blond chocolate, caramel jam drizzle, and fresh berries.

The Atmosphere

The open kitchen makes it easy to watch the chef prepare your food. White tablecloths and stemware add a touch of elegance to this upscale venue.

Piper’s Pro Planning: While walk-ins are welcome, I suggest making reservations for this popular restaurant.

600 Kitchen & Bar

Located in Kalamazoo’s Rivers Edge District, 600 Kitchen & Bar is in the Foundry’s the northwest corner, which once functioned as a gray-iron foundry. The building, circa 1905, is now a restaurant with design incorporating the original exposed brick, a nod to the building’s original industrial use.

The Menu

While charcuterie boards are on trend now, and the 600 Kitchen & Bar brunch takes it to a whole different level. As a brunch appetizer, you’ll find a pancake board featuring fresh fruit, Nutella, crème fraiche, and thick-cut bacon. Another fun board is the breakfast charcuterie, featuring fresh fruit, pimento cheese, seasonal jam, ham, soppressata, and smoked salmon for a delicious start to your morning.

The menu was a fun take on Elton John songs, featuring an eggs Benedict section entitled “Bennies” & the Jets. Several Bennies are reference Elton’s songs, including The Island Girl– poached poached eggs and lobster, an English muffin, hollandaise sauce, and a bit of pickled onion. Another one is Saturday Night’s Alright, made from chicken tenders, poached eggs, cheddar cheese, and hollandaise sauce.

While several downtown restaurants use local agricultural products, 600 Kitchen & Bar takes it a step further, serving its creations on locally-made ceramic pottery.

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere exudes the building’s industrial past with exposed brick and planked wood walls. The light fixtures, black metal chairs, and railings lend to the industrial feel. At the same time, it feels upscale, with the dishes’ presentation and overall environment. 

Piper’s Pro Planning: On weekends, the restaurant only serves brunch. Call for reservations.

Studio Grill

We arrived at Studio Grill late in the morning, and my husband and I couldn’t decide if we wanted breakfast or lunch. It was difficult to choose, so we didn’t. Instead, we ordered from both menus and shared our dishes. And we were so glad we did.

The Menu

First, they offer pancakes for breakfast. But, over-the-top pancakes. The owner adjusted his wife’s grandmother’s pancake recipe, developing signature pancakes ones all his own. Their food is comfort recipes. I had the apple pie pancake, with chopped apple mixed into the batter. The pancakes ranked with some of the best I’ve ever had. Rumors are that the cinnamon roll pancakes are just as delicious. Since we were tasting several dishes, the server suggested ordering just one pancake, though I almost regretted not getting the whole stack.

Then, the homemade sausage hash and green peppers are smothered in sausage gravy and cheddar cheese. They used fresh potatoes in the hash, not frozen. They served the dish with toast made from locally-sourced bread. The sausage gravy featured a bit of spice — just enough add some zip.

Signs advised that their stuffed burgers are ranked Southwest Michigan’s best, so we also shared a club burger. The burger comes stuffed with turkey, ham, and American cheese. Then, they add Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. They have many varieties of stuffed burger options, including the Free as a Bird burger, which lets you build your version of the stuffed burger. Finally, they serve the burgers with fries.

Understanding the importance of special dietary requirements, they offer gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. They are amenable to substitutions, so they can make dishes that fit your needs.

The Atmosphere

The restaurant’s red and white color scheme creates a cheerful environment. The walls are red, below the chair rail and white above. Art from local artists decorate the walls, and you can even purchase a piece if you’d like. Red and white checked tablecloths continue the theme. You’ll enjoy the bright, happy environment with friendly wait staff.

Piper’s Pro Planning: You’ll often find a line, but browsing the adjacent bookstore makes the time fly by. Studio Grill is a breakfast and lunch venue open only until 2:30 p.m.

Life is Gouda
Life is Gouda

The Grazing Table

A white neon light affirms, “Life is Gouda.” I agree, after eating a mid-afternoon charcuterie board snack at The Grazing Table

The Menu

While the menu depicted the item as an individual board, it provided enough sustenance for two snackers anticipating dinner soon. Our dish was beautiful, with various fruits — raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, blackberries, dried apricots — combined with salted almonds. They designed salami slices into a rose and combined two types of cheese — Brie and Manchego. Then, they crowned it with two pieces of salted chocolate-covered caramels.

The Atmosphere

The café offers counter-style ordering. Then, the staff delivers your meal to the table. In addition to charcuterie boards, the menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches, and pizza for a more substantial meal.

Piper’s Pro Planning: A small shopping area stocks jams, crackers, salami, and chocolates, which is almost everything you need to create a charcuterie board at home. If you want to learn to make one, The Grazing Table offers classes to help you master the particulars of a tasty board.

If you’re road tripping through Michigan, just an hour north of Kalamazoo is Grand Rapids. Try some of these brew pubs.

Pin this to your favorite Michigan Restaurant Board!

Amy Piper
Author: Amy Piper

While Piper is a lifelong Michigander, she’s had adventures worldwide. Bomb-sniffing dogs chased her in the middle of the night in Bogota (working late), gate agents refused her boarding to Paraguay (wrong visa), and US Marshals announced her seat number on a plane while looking for a murder suspect (she’d traded seats). It’s always an adventure! She even finds exciting activities in her home state of Michigan, where she lives in Lansing with her husband, Ross Dingman, her daughter, Alexis, and two granddaughters.


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  1. Sonia

    Rustica looks like a great fit for me–I look forward to having a chance to try it out.

  2. Michael Taylor

    This was a real eye opener for me. I never associated Michigan with agriculture. I always associated it with the auto industry and Motown. I’m a baby boomer, and I was a HUGE fan of the Motown Sound in the Swinging Sixties. As for your recommendations, I was drooling as I scrolled through those mouthwatering pix and read your evocative descriptions of those yummyy dishes.

  3. Pam Baker

    Your article and the photos make me hungry, especially those meatballs!

  4. Robin

    I’d love to visit a few of these restaurants. The food looks delicious.


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Welcome to Follow the Piper! Discover interesting destinations, and practical planning tips for packing more travel into your everyday life.

Our founder and author, Amy Piper, is a freelance travel writer, blogger, photographer, and author specializing in traveling through a food lens and multi-generational travel. She is a native Michigander who travels through the lens of a food lover and has been to 41 countries and 45 states.


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