After an amazing day in Traverse City, we headed back to Grand Rapids for the night. We couldn’t find a hotel under $100 up north,so we came back as far as Grand Rapids and found a Red Roof Inn for not even half that much. After getting settled, we both got a little hungry, so we hoped in the car and started heading towards downtown. First, we wanted to check out Fresh Market, but it was too late and they were closed. That would have to wait until the next morning. For some reason, our GPS took us the long way back to the Interstate and we ended up on Beltline Road. Just before we got to I-96, we hit this bar that looked like a chain, but wasn’t a chain we had ever heard of. I-96 West was closed at that interchange, so we had to drive around and come back. On the way back, we just decided to give Malarkey’s a try. Really, all we wanted was a drink and an appetizer, so why keep driving when there was a place right here.
Once we got inside, Malarky’s again looked like a chain. The hostess station was right inside the door in it’s own little room. Through a doorway to the right was the bar. To the left was the dining room. We made our way into the bar and found a pub table along the wall, so we sat down. A waitress noticed us and came over for a drink order. I got a 14 oz. Bud Light and J got a frozen daquiri. the waitress came back with a 24 oz. Bud Light instead. It was only $.50 more so I just took it and didn’t say anything. She tried to walk away, but we stopped her to put in an order of nachos.
While we were waiting for the nachos, we started looking around and noticed there was a lot of Chicago memorabilia. There was a City of Chicago flag hanging in the dining room. There were Sports Illustrated covers that featured Cubs, White Sox, and Bulls players hanging up and there were paintings of Navy Pier. Really wierd in West Michigan. If Malarky’s was a Chicago chain, it’s one that has flown under the radar in Chicagoland. Come to find out, Malarky’s used to be an Uno Chicago Grill. They dropped the franchise after the restaurant was established and started doing their own thing with hopes of keeping prices down.
We never did see a menu for the restaurant so I have no idea what kind of food they serve. There were appetizer menus on the table in the bar area and that’s what we were interested in. After about ten minutes, the waitress came out with our nachos. We were both surprised at the size. The menu had the price at three bucks and this looked like a ten dollar nacho plate. It was huge. The pile of tortilla chips was covered in two types of cheese, chili, tomatoes, black beans, and jalapenos. This plate of nachos did more than satisfy our cravings. When we got done, there were still quite a few tomatoes left on the plate. We could have done without those, but that’s our preference.
The waitress came and cleared the table then brought out bill. The total was $11 which neither of us thought was bad for what we got. My beer was $2.50, the huge plate of nachos was $2.99 and J’s drink was $4.99.
We didn’t get into the menu and I’m curious after finding out they used to be an Uno. I’ve eaten at the original Uno in downtown Chicago and was never a fan of the restaurants outside of the city. An article I was reading said the owner wanted to drop the franchise because of the expense and he thought he could offer better prices to their customers. I’ve never been anywhere where I could get appetizers that cheap. The bar was hoping the night we were there. There was live music in one corner and the bar, which sits in the middle of the room and has seating all the way around, was packed. Malarky’s is the local answer to a sports bar. It’s not a chain that used to be a chain that has the feeling of the chain but is not a chain and it’s exactly what we needed. Had we stopped at Chile’s like we planned, we would have paid double what we ended up paying at Malarky’s.