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Girls weekend in Grand Rapids

The makings of a fabulous girls weekend in Grand Rapids: Happy Hour. Sushi. Craft Beer. Cheese Overload. Girl Talk. Shopping. Taboo. Martinis. Oysters. Shrimp Tacos. Reunions. Dueling Pianos. Wilson Phillips. Bridesmaids. Brunch. Bloody Marys. Live Music. Country Concert. Trio of Girlfriends.

Happy Hour & Sushi

Rockwell’s in downtown Grand Rapids has $5 sushi from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays and 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. We ordered a classic Philadelphia roll because cream cheese should be its own food group. It had a spicy little kick, too. Drinks also are on special. I was underwhelmed by the Pinot Noir, but the Shiraz was very smooth. Select wines are $5/glass during the happiest of hours. Cosmos are stiff and a true bang-for-your-buck at $3.

$5 sushi rolls during happy hour at Rockwell's/Republic in Grand Rapids, Mich. That's great for your wallet and your taste buds!

$5 sushi rolls during happy hour at Rockwell’s/Republic in Grand Rapids, Mich. That’s great for your wallet and your taste buds!

Craft Beer & Cheese, Cheese, Cheese

I took the girls to HopCat, where you’ll find the best selection of craft beers in town and a “killer mac & cheese.” I went full-on cheese binge, ordering the grilled cheese with a side of cheese ale soup. Was that really necessary? Yes. The grilled cheese is more like a panini than a traditional greasy grilled cheese, and it has three cheeses — gruyere, cheddar and feta — and thinly sliced tomato and onion. It’s also served with the highly addictive and flavorful “crack fries.” Literally, that’s the real name of the fries. As for the soup, it is very cheesy with a subtle beer flavor.  Unlike many other beer cheese soups I’ve tried, this one isn’t overpowered by the beer. And, it’s served with pretzel croutons. Sorry for the poor quality photo, but HopCat has mood lighting at night.

Cheese Overload? Hardly. You've got to try the cheese ale soup and grilled cheese at HopCat!

Cheese Overload? Hardly. You’ve got to try the cheese ale soup and grilled cheese at HopCat!

Seafood & Dueling Pianos

For our big girls night out, we checked out The B.O.B. We learned that stands for the Big Old Building, which has four levels of bars and restaurants inside. We began our night sipping martinis and a craft beer flight at Gilly’s. The chocolate peanut butter porter is worth a try!

Fruity, girly, pink martinis!

Fruity, girly, pink martinis!

Our favorite dishes of the night: Oysters Rockefeller. Ocean to Plate Oysters — a real deal when purchased with a craft beer. Spicy Shimp Tacos.

Clockwise from top left: Oysters Rockefeller, Simple Greens & Martini, 1/2 Shell Oysters and Spicy Shrimp Tacos at Gilly's at The B.O.B.

Clockwise from top left: Oysters Rockefeller, Simple Greens & Martini, 1/2 Dozen Oysters and Spicy Shrimp Tacos at Gilly’s at The B.O.B.

After dinner we headed upstairs to Bobarino’s, where dueling pianos were the night’s main attraction. We sang along to “Benny and the Jets,” danced to Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams” and carried the chorus of Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On.” We even stopped by a hotdog cart outside The B.O.B. along the short but extremely cold walk back to my downtown apartment before watching “Bridesmaids.”

My girls in GR! Ashley, Andrea, Katie and I at Bobarino's for drinks, dancing and dueling pianos.

My girls in GR! Ashley, Andrea, Katie and I went to Bobarino’s for drinks, dancing and dueling pianos.

Brunch & Bloody Mary Bars

One last reunion for the weekend! All four of us girls gathered for brunch at San Chez Cafe. Ashley and I also ate lunch here a couple days earlier. The San Chez Caprese sandwich is delicious. It has tomato slices, goat cheese, pesto and balsamic on ciabatta bread.

The San Chez Caprese is a light yet filling lunch option. Make it healthy with fruit on the side!

The San Chez Caprese is a light yet filling lunch option. Make it healthy with fruit on the side!

For brunch, we ordered omelets and breakfast scrambles. And, of course, we hit the Bloody Mary Bar to build our own concoctions. As a virgin to mixing my own Bloody Mary, I stuck with regular vodka and tomato juice. Then I added some spice, squeezed a lime and garnished it with pickled asparagus and green olives. The restaurant also offered infused liquors and spicier bases.

San Chez Brunch: spinach, goat cheese and tomato omelet; an everything bagel with cream cheese and a Bloody Mary. It hit the spot!

After brunch, Ashley and I walked down Commerce Avenue to Stella’s Lounge, which is known around town for its Sunday Bloody Mary Bar. At Stella’s, I tried a citrus-infused vodka, which was extremely flavorful. The mildest base was far more spicy than good ol’ V8. I didn’t add much to this one except a celery stalk and lots of lime to mellow out that citrus flavor in the vodka. In this bloody battle, San Chez’s Bloody Mary bar edged out Stella’s, but I was the real winner.

On the left, Bloody Mary at San Chez. On the right, Bloody Mary at Stella's. It was a bloody Sunday!

On the left, Bloody Mary at San Chez. On the right, Bloody Mary at Stella’s. It was a bloody Sunday!

Country Concert

Thanks to an Instagram contest sponsored by the Arena District here in Grand Rapids, I won an amazing prize pack for sharing this photo. As part of my winnings, I got two free tickets to see Lady Antebellum’s Take Me Downtown Tour with opening acts Kacey Musgraves and Kip Moore at Van Andel Arena. We had fabulous seats only two rows off the floor!

Left to right, from top row: Lady Antebellum opens their set; Lady A performing oh so close; drinking beer during Kip Moore's "Beer Money"; phones and lighters for Lady A; Ashley and me after Kip's set; Lady A's confetti finale; outside Van Andel before the show!

Left to right, from top row: Lady Antebellum opens their set; Lady A performing oh so close; drinking beer during Kip Moore’s “Beer Money”; phones and lighters for Lady A; Ashley and me after Kip’s set; Lady A’s confetti finale; outside Van Andel before the show!

Highlights of the concert:

  • Kacey Musgraves took us back to 1999 with TLC’s “No Scrubs”
  • Kip Moore slowed it down for an intimate moment with “Hey Pretty Girl”
  • Kip left the stage and walked on the “slippery” cloth-covered ice-rink boards
  • Lady Antebellum brought Kip Moore and Kacey Musgraves back onstage for a song
  • In a sea of smart phone flashlights, I spotted two old-school lighters in the air
  • Confetti finale!
Lady A says good night with confetti!

Lady A says good night with confetti!

Wish you were here,

Erin

Grand Rapids has all the makings for a fabulous girls weekend: happy hour, sushi, brunch, Bloody Mary bars and live music!

Grand Rapids has all the makings for a fabulous girls weekend: happy hour, sushi, brunch, Bloody Mary bars and live music!

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. Downtown Grand Rapids definitely offers a lot of variety for a good nite out on town. Love SanChez for brunch as food is fresh and well -prepared. Cannot wait to return to Rockwell’s happy hour as the sushi looks delicious and the size is well worth the price.

    February 18, 2014

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