Fine dining on a budget: the college student’s guide



Story by Abi Safago, Reporter
Photo courtesy of Daria Shevtsova

Let’s be real. Every college student wants good food—whether they can afford it or not. I could have highlighted just one great restaurant, but with so many kinds of food and many great competitors, I broke it down a bit. Here’s a guide to some of the best places to eat in Grand Rapids, on a budget. 

American Homestyle: The Electric Cheetah

This hidden gem is just 1.2 miles away from campus. The Electric Cheetah has some of the best dishes you can get. A personal recommendation is their Baked Macaroni and Cheese. While it’s $15, it’s super filling and hands down the best you’ll find in town. Plus, Electric Cheetah has a constant variety of root beers on tap, so try out something new!

Steakhouse: Brann’s Steakhouse

This one isn’t too far from campus, plus you can get some pretty good steak and burgers here. While Brann’s is a major chain restaurant, it hasn’t failed me yet. Plus they have amazing rolls and cinnamon butter with a lot of their entrees, so it’s a big win. I recommend their “Sizzling Sirloin Steak” with a side of onion rings and a loaded baked potato. This combo is incredible, and you’re bound to leave with some leftovers to enjoy later.

Asian Cuisine: Erb Thai

Erb Thai is the best of many worlds. Amazing food, great portion sizes, and student discounts! You can get delicious, authentic Asian cuisine here. It’s not too far from campus, so worst comes to worst you can walk there. Plus, with their big dish sizes, you’re basically getting two meals for the price of one. Not eating here is a crime, so go collect your dish!

Late Night: Grand Coney

It doesn’t matter what mood [emotionally] you are in– happy, sad, upset, excited- Grand Coney will be there for you night and day. This little restaurant is located on Michigan Street, so it’s a little walk, but their doors will be open for you no matter when you arrive. I personally favor their breakfast combos or their breakfast burger. If you don’t get either, that’s fine too— they have great milkshakes! While there are no student discounts offered here, the food is relatively cheap and you get a pretty good portion size for what you pay.

Mexican Food: 7 Mares

7 Mares is a wonderful little Mexican restaurant you can find less than 10 minutes from Aquinas. A short drive is well worth it to check this out. They have great food, plus it isn’t expensive. Save some money, ditch Taco Bell’s hot sauce packets, and upgrade from Qdoba’s basic menu to check out some hot takes, like the “Bistek a la Mexicana”, which is a ribeye steak with onion, jalapenos, peppers and tomatoes.  

Breakfast Food: Wolfgang’s

This is one of the closest and nicest little places you can go to in East Grand Rapids. Right around the corner from campus is this cute little restaurant, which serves amazing breakfast in the mornings. Be aware that they close in the early afternoon, as they do a solely breakfast/brunch menu. As a recommendation, check out their “The Uptown” pancakes. Their menu describes them as “Tiramisu pancakes—pancakes layered with mascarpone filling, drenched in coffee. Topped with whipped cream, dusted with cocoa powder.” The description is almost as delicious as the plate itself!

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