Z’s Bar and Grill: Home Cooking in the Heart of the City


Downtown Grand Rapids: such a rising economy with many new large chain restaurants and bigger businesses causing the smaller family owned ones to close. In the midst of all the skyscrapers and museums sits a little restaurant known as Z’s Bar and Grill.

The original wooden bar, dim lighting, and constant buzz of families warming up from walking around the city to look at art on this cold Saturday all made me feel welcome as soon as I walked through the door. My family had just gotten downtown to look at the art that has filled the city for the last couple weeks when we decided to stop to grab something for lunch. My dad directed us to this little bar across from the J.W. Marriott and the river; we always let him choose the place because he knows all the little restaurants around the city.

Outside, I was skeptical of eating there due to numerous signs about ‘hot pizza’ and ‘famous ribs.’ Generally you don’t find those two things together on a menu that often. But once I was inside I realized that this wasn’t some express line food place, that it was an actual restaurant with original woodworking and full of people that wanted a good meal.

The wait for eight people was estimated to be forty five minutes so my family decided to all grab a bar stool because we were eager to get back to the city. Upon sitting down at the massive bar we were greeted by a very relaxed yet eager bartender whom I could tell had worked there for many years and was comfortable with what she was doing. I personally like going to these smaller restaurants because the service seems more genuine because they don’t have as many stipulations they have to follow; their main priority is to create a good atmosphere and build a relationship with you for the short time that you are there. That is exactly what this server did for my family.

All of the food at Z’s is homemade, and they stand behind it. The tastes may be a little different than what you are used to but they make sure that your food is what you want. I say this because I ordered the mac and cheese, and it wasn’t mac and cheese at all. It was not what I was expecting and I am sure that others like it but to me it just tasted bland and soupy. I decided to order the Bam Jam burger and it was to die for. It was a basic burger with swiss cheese and bacon jam on it. Simple but oh so good.

Not only was the food and service excellent, but the building was beautiful. Once again, the bar was an original wood bar with racks above holding all of the extra bottles they weren’t using; the restaurant used to have it’s own store. In the basement of the building, the store used to bring a lot of revenue, but slowly dwindled away because of all of the bars in the area and they decided to close it.

If you’re looking for a great restaurant in the heart of the city make sure you stop into Z’s because you will not be disappointed.