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The Kalamazoo Foodie: Culinary Adventures Around Southwest Michigan

We all like a little adventure in our lives, but when it comes to trying new adventurous food, we are sometimes a little hesitant. Well, I am here to help bridge that foodie gap!

I love watching cooking shows, and some of my favorites are Andrew Zimmerman and Guy Fieri. They search the world for some crazy outrageous food, and I’m here for it! Don’t worry, no crispy spiders, grubs, or other indigenous food was consumed, but I must say I have tried some exciting combinations over the last two weeks. To my surprise, they were all absolutely AMAZING!

First, I had to see what the Pickle Pizza craze was all about! I chose to order from Jaspare’s Pizza & Italian Bistro (locations across SWMI) in Vicksburg. It’s my favorite location, and we are huge fans of their pizza, so I knew it would be a great fit! We tried pickle pizza three ways, you know, just to be sure! Pictured is their Garlic Aioli with cheese, pickle, and oregano. Ranch Base with minced garlic, cheese, pickle, and dill seasoning. Ranch Base with minced garlic, pickle, ham, and bacon with dill seasoning. While they were all fabulous, there was a clear winner for us – the Garlic Aioli!

Let’s heat things up with Lafayette Creamery (7933 S. 8th St., Kalamazoo) at their Texas Corners location. Lafayette Creamery ice cream is different because of its creaminess using 12% Milk Fat, density, and most of all, their unique flavors. The ingredients they use are always fresh and not artificial flavorings. Some of their seasonal flavors include Strawberries & Cream, Blueberry Cheesecake, and Raspberry Ricotta. Can you guess which one I tried? Caramel Habanero!  I was very apprehensive but very pleasantly surprised! Before you write off this flavor, hear me out. It tasted JUST like Caramel Ice Cream with a subtle heat at the end. I absolutely recommend trying a sample next time you are in!

Next up is a favorite restaurant of mine located downtown Kalamazoo called 600 Kitchen and Bar (600 E Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo). They are always thinking of new creative dishes you won’t find anywhere else. When I saw their post about a Lobster BLT, I knew I just HAD to stop in to try it! Just when I didn’t think that a BLT could get any better than double the bacon, they went and added LOBSTER! Stacked super high on a brioche bun, they layer fresh greens, pork belly, and crisp tomatoes from Crisp Country Acres and top it off with lobster and fresh lemon aioli. If you aren’t into seafood, they have also added IMPOSSIBLE meat to the menu. If I wasn’t reading it right on the menu, I wouldn’t have known the difference. They offer it in two different dishes – Impossible Meatloaf and Impossible Sloppy Joe with Miso BBQ, Cheddar Cheese, and Jalapenos. I highly recommend ALL three of these fantastic dishes!

The OG on the block, Olde Peninsula Brewpub (200 E Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo) has been a staple in Kalamazoo for many, many years, and aside from their amazing craftbrewed beers, they put out some fabulous food. A lot of people rave about their Uber Goober Burger topped with bacon, peanut butter, and jalapenos, but anyone can do just that. I went for something a little more adventurous that you don’t often see on a menu – their Beer Town Sandwich: Pulled pork, house-made Black & Tan mac n’ cheese medallion, Michigan grown candied apples, and Togarashi Aioli all stacked on a sourdough bun. Talk about flavor town! The pulled pork was tender, the BBQ sauce was just the right amount, and all Togarashi is a Japanese Seven Spice with cayenne, ginger, Szechuan pepper, Nori, orange peel, and black & white sesame seeds of the flavors balanced perfectly together. The Togarashi gave the sandwich an extra kick of flavor and subtle spice! 10/10 I would order this again!

Moving on to the “new kid on the block,” Load-A-Spud (2624 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo). Some of you might be familiar with this small chain, but they recently opened a location right here in Kalamazoo just a short month or two ago. The concept is super fun, and I haven’t seen anything like it. You start off with a large baked potato, your choice of butter, and then choose your toppings! You can keep it simple with a traditional loaded baked potato – butter, cheese, sour cream, bacon, and chives, or try one of their crazy delicious combinations! They offer Broccoli and Cheese, Chili Potato with all of the fixings, Buffalo Chicken Potato, Taco Potato, Sloppy Joe Potato, Pizza Potato, Cheeseburger Potato, Gyro Potato, Pulled Pork, BLT, Veggie, BBQ or Jerk Chicken Potato.

And last but certainly not least, I tried their Chicken and Shrimp Alfredo Potato! (5) Yes, there really is a potato under all of that deliciousness. I topped mine with Garlic Butter, Mozzarella, Alfredo Sauce, Broccoli, Tomato, Parmesan, Chicken, and Shrimp. I highly recommend them to anyone and cannot wait to go back to try another of their 20 different signature potatoes! You can also Load-A-Taco or Load-A-Salad if you want something lighter.

Next up, I finally visited Treat Street (3023 Oakland Dr, Kalamazoo)! Their amazing hot dogs and chocolate soda sounded like a fun treat! You can order a small or large hot dog, served up on a grilled hot dog bun made by McKenzie’s Bakery, and some fun toppings.

I thought it was fitting to get the Kalamazoo Dog topped with secret sauce, green peppers, bacon, cheese. Other fun hot dog combinations there include the New Mexico Dog with a Sriracha Slaw, jalapenos, onions, and mustard. Houston Dog with Mac N Cheese, bacon, jalapenos, and BBQ sauce. Treat Street also offers Sleeping Bear ice cream and different flavored sodas made with their house syrup. I tried their Chocolate Soda – Chocolate syrup, sparkling water, and vanilla ice cream, and it was absolutely spectacular! Stop in to check out all of their fun hot dog combinations or cool off with some delicious ice cream and house-made caramels!

“You gonna eat your tots?” said in my best Napoleon Dynamite voice. All jokes aside, Presidential Brewing Company (8302 Portage Rd, Portage) knows what’s up! There aren’t many places that offer tots, let alone loaded tots, and they have it perfected. Everything from your usual Loaded Tots with cheese, bacon, chives, and sour cream, to Cuban Tots with smoked pulled pork, ham, swiss, mustard, and pickles, to Rueben Tots loaded with corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss and thousand island dressing. I opted for the Farmhouse Tots because let’s be honest; everything is better with a fried egg on top. They came loaded with cheddar cheese, bacon, ham, green onion, two fried eggs, and drizzled with garlic aioli! Holy deliciousness!

Last but certainly not least, I absolutely adore Anna’s House (4700 Stadium Dr, Kalamazoo) for breakfast and brunch! They have some fantastic dishes that are unique, fun, and most are big enough to share if you wanted to. I am a major fan of Cuban sandwiches, so when I saw that they had Cuban Benedict, I had to order it. Grilled English muffin halves topped with pickles, ham, shredded pork, melted swiss, two basted eggs, and a house-made Mojo aioli sauce and a drizzle of mustard. OH. MY. YUM. It also comes with your choice of potatoes, so naturally, I had to order their fantastic Onion and Cheddar Hash Browns. If eggs benny isn’t your style, their Twilight French toast is unlike anything I have tried. It is baked French bread soaked in crème brulee sauce, drizzled with more sauce and topped with fresh berries and a Raspberry Melba – delicious raspberry syrup-like sauce. Trust me, it’s incredible!

I had SO much fun traveling around Kalamazoo & Portage, highlighting some crazy, unique, delicious and adventurous food. I will always try something ONCE even if I am a little apprehensive, and it usually always ends up becoming a new favorite!

Rachel Kirtley has worked in all levels of the food industry for over a decade. She is currently a Social Media Influencer, Content Creator and Restaurant Reviewer. You can visit her at thekalamazoofoodie.com

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