Fun Time on Wealthy Street

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Beer City (Grand Rapids, Michigan) strikes again! Foodies and malt advocates have nothing to bitch about West-Central Michigan, and as far as I am concerned the gems are nestled along once desolated Wealthy Street. I had a blast last night in GR checking out two new establishments: Elk Brewing, and —across the street in a restyled former gasoline service station, Donkey Taqueria (don’t look for a sign). Geographically Elk lies next to the ominous and presumably defunct “Wild Bunch” building. It all adds to the urban ambience. Expecting crowds I was pleasantly surprised when we had brews in a few moments and seats opened up shortly afterwards. The tables are pure genius —fabricated out of particle board and CCA-treated 4x4s, and covered with stainless steel sheet metal. I sampled every brew and can say they are all good. The porter (7.2%) reminded me of Yuengling’s once available porter, with chocolate and molasses notes, and hugely drinkable. The Scotch ale (9.8%) was a total success as well, with no funky esters and solvent zingers (to me rushed high gravity ales taste like Windex). These guys got it right. I noticed that some locals had brought in cheese (probably from Art of the Table) and bread (the Wealthy Street Bakery) to supplement the intake of beverage. Great idea! Elk Brewing has also paired with a local hotdog joint to provide fat.

Anyone that knows me knows that I detest American-Mexican food (e.g. ground or shredded crockpot meat served with shredded lettuce, anemic chopped tomatoes and dry orange cheese). That is dog food as far as I am concerned. I can barely even look at a wet burrito (don’t get me going about Cantina or the Beltline Bar). However, regional Mexican food is one of the world’s great culinary treasures —I know because I’ve had it on numerous occasions photographing rattlesnakes in the Sonoran desert. When Mexican food is done right it is special. Donkey Taqueria garners my highest rating for Mexican cuisine in GR. The place was packed but we had seat in a few minutes (good timing I guess). I had roasted jalapeño chiles as starter, with some guacamole and corn chips, which were thick and sturdy. My girlfriend demolished them. I also had two pork belly tacos, garnished with pickled red cabbage (wonderful) and cilantro. These were sublime. I pounded back a few dos Equis, which I added a roasted slice of jalapeño to. Yum.

I finished off the evening with a $16 shot of Del Maguey Minero Mezcal (95/100, 2013 Spirit Challenge), which you will be hard pressed to find a more complex tequila. The stuff just explodes with floral notes with silky sweet and smokey finish. I’m buying a bottle.

Great time. Visit Grand Rapids!

Mezcal Del Maguey Minero

MLIVE Review Donkey Taqueria

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*CCA – Chromated Copper Arsenate
That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger….

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