If you would have told me that Kalamazoo is a great destination for foodies a few weeks ago, I would have seriously doubted you. I’ve heard Kalamazoo is known for its great breweries, but I wasn’t so sure about restaurants. However, my recent trip proved me wrong — here are 6 great downtown Kalamazoo restaurants you need to try.
If you’re not familiar with Kalamazoo, you’re probably not alone. While I had heard of Kalamazoo, I wasn’t really sure where it was located within Michigan until I planned my trip there (which is kind of embarrassing since I live in the neighboring state)!
Kalamazoo is in the southwestern part of Michigan and is an easy drive from many midwestern cities:
- Columbus, Ohio: 4 hours 25 minutes
- Cleveland, Ohio: 4 hours 5 minutes
- Chicago, Illinois: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Detroit, Michigan: 2 hours 15 minutes
- Fort Wayne, Indiana: 2 hours
- Indianapolis, Indiana: 3 hours 45 minutes
As a travel blogger, I get to attend some fun events from time to time, and this trip to Kalamazoo was a prize I won at one of those events. I want to send a huge thanks to Discover Kalamazoo for providing my accommodations and food while I was exploring Kalamazoo. Of course, all opinions (no matter how ridiculous) are my own.
Ok, let’s get to these awesome downtown Kalamazoo restaurants that you’ll want to try as soon as possible!
6 Great Downtown Kalamazoo Restaurants
When I was headed to Kalamazoo, I had no idea that the food would be so good! I was beyond impressed with the restaurants I tried — who knew that Kalamazoo, Michigan is a foodie destination!?!
Rustica Kalamazoo is a small restaurant that packs a big punch. They emphasize fresh, local, and sustainable ingredients whenever possible. They take their inspiration from places in Europe like France, Italy, and Spain, and blend that with a bit of Michigan flair.
If you like mushrooms, you’ve got to try the Mushroom Farrotto — it’s a risotto-like entree that’s full of fresh mushroom flavor.
Location: 236 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007
Contact: 269-492-0247 | Rustica Kalamazoo
My Recommendations: Harvest Salad and Mushroom Farrotto
Principle Kalamazoo offers fresh local ingredients and a great list of craft cocktails.
The Cheddar Biscuits with bacon jam was a delicious appetizer. If you like apple cider, try the Golden Delicious cocktail — a festive mix of Pilar 24 rum, Pilar Blonde rum, apple cider, and cinnamon syrup. It was one of the best cocktails I have had in a while.
Location: 230 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007
Contact: 269-743-6563 | Principle
My Recommendations: Cheddar Biscuits and Smoked Brisket; Golden Delicious Cocktail
We stopped by Fuze Kalamazoo for their Sunday Funday Brunch and I am so glad we did. This restaurant features fresh ingredients, an open-air kitchen, and a hip, upscale vibe.
I had a hard time deciding what to order in part because their menu is pretty unique and I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to try. I settled on the Mexican Street Toast and it was AWESOME! It featured avocado, corn, peppers, aioli, queso fresco, and eggs on sourdough toast. IT.WAS.SO.GOOD — probably one of the best (and most unique) brunch entrees I’ve ever had.
Location: 214 E. Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007
My Recommendations: Mexican Street Toast, House Made Waffles
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for an activity to help burn off all those glorious calories you’ll be eating, head out for a little nature hike. There are a few parks and nature areas just a short drive from downtown Kalamazoo. We chose the Asylum Lake Preserve which is owned by Western Michigan University. It’s only a 10-minute drive from downtown Kalamazoo and was a great place to get out of the city for a stroll through the woods.
4. Food Dance
Food Dance is probably the most casual and least hipster of all the downtown Kalamazoo restaurants I’m recommending, however, they still promote sustainable and local food. It had an upscale breakfast diner vibe — but it has a bar and serves lots more than just breakfast. I tried the Autumn Spice Latte and it was pure heaven! If I lived in Kalamazoo I would order this every.damn.day.
There’s also a small market attached to the restaurant selling desserts, cheeses, and other local and interesting foods and gifts.
Location: 401 E. Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007
My Recommendations: Autumn Spice Latte, Do-Si-Do Omelet
5. Water Street Coffee
Water Street Coffee is a small hipster/college kid hangout that serves coffee, sodas, sandwiches, soups, desserts, and more. We may have been the only ones there without a laptop, but we still enjoyed it.
Try their specialty Sleeping Bear Hot Chocolate — it’s got a mix of chocolates blended with cinnamon. Yum!
I visited the downtown location, but you’ll also find Water Street Coffee in Oakland, Borgess, Portage, and Sprinkle.
Location: 315 E. Water Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007 (Downtown Kalamazoo)
Contact: 269-373-2840 | Water Street Coffee
My Recommendations: Sleeping Bear Hot Chocolate
6. Bell’s Brewery/Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
When I told friends that I was going to Kalamazoo, everyone said that I had to go to Bell’s Brewery. Honestly, I’m not that into beer so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go, but I am glad I did. While Bell’s is a brewery, there’s also a full-service restaurant called Bell’s Eccentric Cafe that serves food in addition to a huge selection of beers.
While you’re there, take a free tour of the brewery. They are offered multiple times a day on Saturdays and Sundays — reservations are recommended however walk-ins are welcome if there is space. Tastings aren’t included in the tour, but the bartenders will let you taste a few before you decide what to choose. Request your beer in a plastic cup and you can take it on the tour with you.
Location: 355 E. Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007 (Downtown Kalamazoo) or 8938 Krum Ave. Comstock, Michigan, 49053
Contact: 269-382-2332 | Bells Beer
My Recommendations: Cider (I’m not a beer person)
Explore more of the Kalamazoo beer scene with a walking tour of Kalamazoo’s downtown breweries.
More Things To Do in Kalamazoo, Michigan
If you’re looking for a few things to do in between restaurant stops in Kalamazoo, check out these fun ideas:
- Kalamazoo Nature Center
- Kalamazoo Scavenger Hunt
- Hop Harvest Beer Tour
- Kayak or Canoe down on the Lower Kalamazoo River
- Walking Beer Tour
Downtown Kalamazoo Hotels
I stayed downtown at the Kalamazoo House Bed and Breakfast and it was a great location for exploring restaurants in downtown Kalamazoo. The 6 restaurants recommended in this post are located within about a 15-minute walk from the Kalamazoo House.
Another option if you want to stay in downtown Kalamazoo is Kara’s Kottages. You’ll find a few locations downtown:
- 131 Cedar Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49006
- 837 West Main Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49006
- 926 West Kalamazoo Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49006
Other hotels located right in the heart of downtown Kalamazoo:
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