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Eat like a college student in Heartside!


In this ongoing series, ArtRat Gallery Social Media Manager Maddy Visscher explores the people, places and things that make our neighborhood great. Email Maddy with feedback and suggestions about the topics you want to see us cover! 

Myleka Jefferson of Brooklyn Bagel Bodego.

School’s back in session after the winter break, and Grand Rapids Community College is bustling with activity. And where can GRCC scholars dash in for fast, inexpensive and eclectic eats from a variety of cultures? Right downhill from campus at Fulton St. and Jefferson Ave. (just a 5-minute walk from ArtRat Gallery at 46 Division Ave. South). 

Here are some of ArtRat’s favorite family-owned eateries along Heartside’s college row:

Brooklyn Bodega Bagels & Deli (10 Jefferson Ave. SE). Breakfast sandwiches, bagels, salads and subs: This new family business feeds hard-working brain cells New York style. Myleka Jefferson and her husband, Saaquan (a Brooklyn native) opened a year ago, and Myleka invites you to “try a taste of Brooklyn” this term.

The chopped cheese sandwich is a Brooklyn classic and an ArtRat favorite, and the meat patty is a delicious nod to the family’s Jamaican roots. BBB offers eight flavors of cream cheese and 14 bagel varieties. (That’s 112 possible combinations to carry you through the semester.)

“We had a ton of students stop by today!” Myleka told ArtRat on the second day of class. “It was awesome. We’re really excited to get more business from the college.” Brooklyn Bagel Bodega is open for takeout orders 9am-3pm every day except Sunday.

Gita Pita  (2 Jefferson Ave. SE). The Mediterranean flavors of Gita Pita recall the owners’ native Palestine — most notably the signature saj bread, an irresistibly chewy variety of pita the restaurant makes from scratch. (ArtRat favors it wrapped around falafel, shawarma or gyro meat.) Or dig into a bowl over hummus, baba ganoush or basmati rice. Leave room for a side of Greek fries: thin-sliced potatoes deep-fried fresh and topped with feta cheese, Middle Eastern sumac seasoning and parsley.

And if you want to bring a taste of the Levant to your next event, owners Khaled Hammad, Abdul Qassem, Adham Kader and Ramzy Kader recently started a catering business called Fava. Gita Pita is open 11am-10pm Monday through Saturday and 12-9pm on Sunday.

Jefferson Ave. at Fulton St. in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

(Char (6 Jefferson Ave. SE). Another culinary enterprise from the folks who brought you Gita Pita, Char is an Asian fusion restaurant located right next door. (The two eateries have their own counters and kitchens but share a comfortable dining area.) The restaurant puts an Asian twist on dishes that originated in Mexico: Highlights include “Asian tacos” that pair corn tortillas with kimchi, teriyaki and different proteins; loaded wonton nachos; a “sweet teriyaki quesadilla”; and a variety of bowls based on udon noodles, fried rice or pho broth. The Char team is happy to guide customers through vegetarian, vegan, and gluten- and allergen-free options.

“I don’t even know how they thought of these fusions, but they’re delicious.” one employee told ArtRat while preparing our order of shrimp tacos with kimchi slaw. “It’s new and fun — and a great way to introduce yourself to new foods and flavors.” Char is open from 11am-10pm Monday through Saturday and 12-8pm on Sunday.

Conor and Olivia Malloy, One Stop Coney Shop, Grand Rapids, Michigan. One Stop Coney Shop (154 Fulton St. E). One Stop Coney Shop takes the term “mom-and-pop shop” to the next level. Instead of just binge-watching “Bob’s Burgers” after class, why not experience the real-life Grand Rapids version? This friendly family-run joint for hot dogs, corn dogs, sandwiches, smash burgers and fresh-cut fries is sure to satisfy your cravings.

You can get your dogs elote, Korean or Chicago-style — or customize them your way. Conor and Olivia Malloy took over ownership of One Stop Coney Shop in August 2020 (one week after their wedding), and they’re excited to curate your favorite dog. “It’s affordable, quick and delicious,” Conor told ArtRat.

One Stop Coney Shop is open from 11am to 7pm on weekdays, and 12-4pm on Saturday. Closed on Sunday.

A "goth latte" at PaLatte, Grand Rapids, Michigan. PaLatte (150 Fulton St. E). This cozy spot on Fulton features original local art as well as delicious drinks. PaLatte has just what you’ll need to keep you motivated through your school day — lots of caffeine, baked goods and other little treats, and an inviting atmosphere to find your focus. Stop in today and try a drink created by Michi — barista, muralist and daughter of owner Maria Faria, who opened the cafe back in 2013.

Among PaLatte’s creations: the Goth Latte, colored pitch black by stomach-soothing charcoal and invented by Michi to cure friends’ hangovers. This coffee shop/art gallery love child is a perfect place to chill out and network with fellow scholars.

The Farias family is passionate about good coffee, warm conversation and keeping Heartside vibrant. PaLatte is open every day from 8-3pm.

Heartside Business District sign on Jefferson Ave., Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bangkok Taste Cuisine (15 Jefferson Ave. SE). A great place to gather with friends after a long day of class, Bangkok Taste Cuisine offers comforting Thai dishes like pad thai, tom yum soup, drunken noodles and tons of curry options. ArtRat suggests the restaurant’s steamy Vietnamese pho soup, accompanied by a side of fresh rolls with peanut and hoisin sauce, as a fitting reward after turning in an assignment.

Bangkok Taste Cuisine also offers plenty of varieties of boba teas with tapioca pearls or delicious popping boba balls. You can expect delicious food, a relaxed atmosphere and fantastic service at this family-owned restaurant — or order takeout to cater your Friday night.

Bangkok Taste Cuisine is open 12-9pm Wednesday through Saturday for dine-in, and  11am-9pm Monday and Tuesday for take-out only. Closed on Sundays.