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Few and Far Between Gems in Lansing, MI -- A Reply to Blake 2/11/01


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Restaurants & Bars

Few and Far Between Gems in Lansing, MI -- A Reply to Blake 2/11/01

Beth Cheng | Nov 1, 2001 10:29 AM

Yes, the Great Lakes Diner on Cedar has won me over with their Two by Two, their One by One, their Biscuits and Gravy as well as their Fish Basket and they make a mighty tasty open-faced Ribeye Steak Sandwich. Yes, yes, I am waiting for the Fried Chicken special to come back around to try that out.

On other fronts, Altu's is also very good, spicy and rich, a treat of an Ethiopian restaurant, I have found Peking Express (next to the Taco Bell across from campus) to have good, hot, fast, fresh, generous and inexpensive Chinese food, and I have found India Palace on Grand River to be pricey, but excellent (the butter chicken is the thing to go for, or vindaloo, or biryhani, coupled with the spiced pilau with peas and an order of bread that is stuffed with onions -- you're set for a heavenly taste experience). I have found Sultan's (in Hannah Plaza on Hagadorn) to be superb Middle Eastern, and their location in downtown Lansing on Washington Square called Sultan's Express has the best lunch deal. For example, for barely $6, you can get a plate of perfectly grilled, tender chicken kabobs (four or five big chunks of meat), salad, rice, a big dollop of hummus and pita bread and garlic sauce.

I would also recommend Capitol City Fish & Ribs for BBQ. It's soul food at pretty much its best around here: for $7.50, the rib dinner comes with four BIG, meaty bones slathered with plenty of a rich, dark, sweet, slightly tart BBQ sauce, bread (unfortunately slices of common white bread), and two sides from a choice of eight homemade fixings. I had the candied yams and potato salad; the candied yams were so delicious, I couldn't stop eating them! You can also choose from black-eyed peas, greens, macaroni and cheese, fries, peach cobbler and pound cake. There are also various rib, rib tip, chicken, wing, and fish sandwiches, dinners and combos available, even a whole slab of ribs and Polish dogs and red hots available all for such low prices! You can find them at 806 W. Saginaw in the back of a red house (I believe that there is a Speedway across the street), and it's take-out only. Once you have a menu, I would recommend calling your order in in advance, by reaching the cook at 267-1402, and then going to pick it up (be aware that the wait for the food is worth it, but you can end up waiting upwards of half an hour). Their hours are Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., closed on Sundays.

I lament that I haven't been able to find a good Italian place anywhere in these near parts. I had hopes for an Italian place (Casa di Pasta) that looked ever so promising, that was to open on Grand River last year, but never even made it to opening day, it went down before it had even begun. I don't understand why good Italian places (like Sofia's, was where India Palace now is) can't make it, while places that aren't any good (Emil's, Coscarelli's, oh, especially Coscarelli's) stick around for so long.

The pickings are so slim that when it comes to pizza I have had to abide by a particular schedule to make sure that I get the cooks who know what they are doing. Luckily, I have been able to abandon that kind of strategy for now since I discovered Bell's Pizza. They also make a meatball sub which is exceptional in its own right, but especially so when compared against the meatball subs of Mancino's and Art's Pizza and Grinders whose meatballs are clearly made from a low grade of meat, horribly overcooked and then sliced lengthwise to "fit" into the bun, the marinara that douses them is cloyingly sweet and dimensionless while the cheese that tops the whole thing, while ample, is clearly not of very high quality (doesn't melt very well and is usually very salty), and the bun is either soggy or overly dry.

At least Bell's is somewhat of a saviour for me when it comes to pizza in this city devoid of good Italian food, but, until something better comes along (maybe the newly opened Pizza House in Hannah Plaza is here to answer my prayers), I'll have to resign myself to making up the difference by cooking my own pasta and making my own pizza or indulging in a trip to Detroit to make my Italian food blues go away.

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