Hometown Diner

22 10 2008
  • 1040 S. Pennsylvania Ave.
  • Lansing, MI 48912
  • (517) 372-5535
  • No Known Website
  • No Online Menu
Hometown Diner on Pennsylvania near I-474 in Lansing

Hometown Diner on Pennsylvania near I-496 in Lansing

J took one more day off after we got back in Michigan just so we could relax after a long weekend of traveling.  We were woke up fairly early for us by a phone call and neither of us could fall back asleep.  After going to the Potter Park Zoo during the “Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown Event” we kept saying we needed to walk the River Trail.  We noticed it from the zoo, but we never made an effort to actually go for a walk.  Since we had such a bad weekend eating (I had four pizzas), I suggested we go for a walk.  Since it was about lunch time, J said we should eat first.

I had been reading reviews about a diner on Pennsylvania near the Zoo so that’s where I decided to to go for lunch.

The Hometown Diner sits on Pennsylvania across from the BWL in an old Sparty’s Coney Island.  It shares a building and parking lot with a Mexican grocery store.  We parked near the back of the lot and walked in to find a small diner with seating for just over a hundred.  We showed ourselves to a table in the middle of the room.  The layout is pretty common for small diners.  Booths line the walls with tables in the middle.  There’s a lunch counter near the front of the space and the kitchen is open so you can see the cook preparing your meal.  Read the rest of this entry »


Van Andel Arena

22 10 2008
  • 130 W. Fulton
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • (616) 742-6600
  • Website
Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids

Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids

After a great dinner in East Grand Rapids, it was time to head downtown for the evenings main event.  For my birthday, J bought me tickets to the Taylor Swift concert at Van Andel Arena.  I know it’s a little wierd for an almost 30-year-old to want to go to a concert that attracts the tween crowd, but I love Taylor Swift’s music and so does J.  She was in town headlining a show for B-93.  It was their annual Roof Sit for Kid’s fundraiser.  The show started at 7:00 at Van Andel Arena.

After some problems with construction around Greater Grand Rapids, we made it downtown at about 6:50.  I hate parking garages and the parking near the arena is garages.  Not being familiar with Grand Rapids, I didn’t know where to go.  We ended up finding another garage a few blocks from the arena.  The price was a little bit higher at nine bucks, but at least we didn’t have to deal with horn honking crazy teenagers as we were trying to leave the main lot.  We were in and out with no problem. 

We parked on Pearl Street and walked back to the Arena.  Grand Rapids is lucky to have such a beautiful place for concerts.  The outside glass facade is a nice look.  We made it inside where the usher scanned our tickets.  After a little trouble with the scan on mine, we found the stairs to go up to the concourse level.  I like the way the seating area is set up.  Our seats were in the upper deck directly across from the stage.  What’s neat is the way the concourse serves both the upper and lower decks.  If you’re in the lower deck, you go down stairs to get to your seats.  If you’re in the upper deck, you go up stairs.  Our section was right at the top of the stairs when we first walked in.  Since the opening band was still playing, we both hit the bathrooms and I took a quick look at concession and souvenir stands.  Read the rest of this entry »

Rose’s on Reed’s Lake

22 10 2008
  • 550 Lakeside Dr. SE
  • East Grand Rapids, MI 49506
  • (616) 458-1122
  • Website
  • Menu
Roses on Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids

Rose's on Reed's Lake in East Grand Rapids

Rose’s on Reed’s Lake was an incredible find.  The restaurant had been suggested last time we were in Grand Rapids by two of J’s co-workers.  We passed wanting to check out downtown.  We should have took their advice.  The last trip was kind of a bust because we couldn’t find any walkable areas.  Rose’s on Reed’s Lake is close enough to what I’m guessing was downtown East Grand Rapids which is easily walkable and really cute.

We had a really hard time getting to Rose’s.  We were in Grand Rapids for a concert at Van Andel Arena.  The idea was to have a nice leisurely meal.  We left my parents in Illinois six hours before the concert.  It was a three and a half hour drive and we wanted to make a stop in Michigan City, IN at the outlet mall.  I thought we’d have plenty of time.  That was, until we hit construction.  I couldn’t hold it anymore and had to get off a heavily torn up portion of I-196 to find a restroom.  It took us 15 minutes to find our way back to the Interstate due to ramps being closed.  After that, we finally make it to Lakeside Drive only to find it closed due to construction.  Luckily, we had a GPS that brought us to the next road which was also closed due to construction.  Finally, we made it to a road that was open and weaved our way back to where we needed to be. 

I saw the sign for Rose’s out near the road and wondered if it was the right spot.  The parking lot is almost non-existent.  There are probably only a half dozen spots, but there is plenty of street parking.  We were facing the wrong way, so I went up to the next intersection to turn around and find a spot to park.  It was brisk autumn night so we kind of hustled the half a block to the restaurant. Read the rest of this entry »

Casey’s General Store – Peotone, IL

22 10 2008
  • 900 W. Wilmington Road
  • Peotone, IL 60468
  • (708) 258-9150
  • Website
  • Menu
Caseys General Store in Peotone, IL

Casey's General Store in Peotone, IL

I’ve always thought it was weird to rave about gas station food, but Casey’s General Stores are better than a lot of quick service restaurants.  Like most things I loved about Central Illinois, there are no Casey’s in Mid-Michigan.  The closest would be in Mishawaka, IN.  There are Casey’s all over the place in Illinois.  It seems like every little town has one.  There was always a running joke at my last job.  I worked in TV news and on Friday night, we would shoot a lot of high school football.  When you got sent to a school you were unfamiliar with, the Sports Director would always say “Turn at the Casey’s” and chances are, you’d end up at the school.

We stopped in Peotone on our way back to Michigan.  Niether of us had eaten yet.  The plan was to have dinner in Grand Rapids before the concert so we didn’t want a big lunch.  I thought there used to be a Taco Bell in Peotone so that was the original plan, but when we got off and saw there wasn’t, but there was a Casey’s, our plans changed. 

To me, the best thing about Casey’s is the pizza.  It’s crazy that some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten comes from a gas station, but it does.  There was a Casey’s just down the street from my old job and there were many nights we’d order pizzas from there.  They do sell pizza by the slice since it is a gas station and most people who stop in are just looking for lunch.  We both passed on that today and instead, grabbed a cup of popcorn chicken.  J’s favorite is the cheesy potato bites, but they didn’t have any of them.  They did have loaded potato wedges, but we thought that would be too hard to eat in the car.  The other options at this time were cheeseburgers or chicken fingers.

Like I said, we both grabbed the popcorn chicken because it would be easy to eat in the car.  J grabbed a couple packets of dipping sauce for hers, but I went au natural.  It was easy for me to put my cup in the cup holder next to the steering wheel.  Easy access while I was driving. 

Casey’s is a great alternative to fast food if you’re lucky enough to have one near you.  For the most part, they pop up in small towns where they’re the only gas station and only food option, but you will see them in the bigger cities every now and then.  I’ve got some fond memories from these little gas stations and it’s one of the things I miss most about Central Illinois

Monical’s Pizza – Gilman, IL

22 10 2008
  • 625 US Highway 24
  • Gilman, IL 60938
  • (815) 265-7272
  • Website
  • Menu
Monicals Pizza in Gilman, IL about 40 miles north of Champaign.

Monical's Pizza in Gilman, IL about 40 miles north of Champaign.

This isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about Monical’s, so I won’t rehash the whole history.  If you’re interested, there’s more information on my review about the store in Champaign, IL (review HERE).  As a quick recap, Monical’s is a Central Illinois based pizza chain that my family ate at very often.  The choices were either Pizza Hut or Monical’s.  Like everything else with my family, I chose Pizza Hut because I liked their bread sticks better and everyone else chose Monical’s, so we ate at Monical’s a lot.  Even though J grew up in Illinois, she had never been to a Monical’s.  They don’t go that far north, but there were a couple stores in the Peoria area where we lived before moving to Lansing.  We still never ate there. 

J and I were home on a short vacation to see friends, family and my new niece.  We got up on Monday and needed to make a grocery store run and find food.  We could do both by driving fifteen miles south to Gilman and that would give her a chance to finally try Monical’s Pizza. Read the rest of this entry »