Sanchez Tapas Bistro
We have always thought Sanchez was a fun place. The food was good, but not great. Until our last visit.
Located right on Fulton up the hill from the VanAndel arena, parking can be in issue. All I can say is Perservere. It will be worth it. I usually troll for a metered spot which is not collecting for the dinner hour, but there are other parking ideas on their website if you are impatient or not as cheap as I am. Here is the Sanchez website The address is 38 West Fulton, Grand Rapids, MI 616-774-8272
The staff at Sanchez always make you feel welcome. The décor is funky and fun. This is not the place for an intimate quiet conversation. There are two stories in the main dining room. We always like the upstairs. There is a separate area for breakfast and lunch that they use for private parties for dinner.
As I mentioned, the tapas format is always fun with a group. This visit, however, something was different. Everything we ordered was remarkable and flavorful.
We started with a soup called Fejoiada . It had Pork belly, chorizo, braised pork, black beans and habanero salsa. It was chunky and had a wonderful flavor. And the habanero did not burn your lips off. Things just got better from there. We tried Gambas Asadas al Fuego, a spicy fire roasted shrimp with a banana mustard cream and rice. It was a novel flavorful dish. The banana mustard cream nicely offset the heat from the spicy shrimp. The verduras y tortas is black bean and quinoa cakes and roasted vegetables with avo-cucumber sauce. The least inspiring (but still good) tapas was the empanadas filled with potato, garlic and onlion. The aioli and the mild habanero salsa saved them from being too bland.
We were just discussing the possiblity of trying another place for dessert and one of the waitresses overheard us and let us know they just got a new pastry chef from another well know place in town (which shall remain nameless). Her advice was golden.
We tried the chocolate cobbler with raspberries and chocolate mousse.
It was FABULOUS. This definitely qualifies as a flavor find in West Michigan. We shared one or two other desserts that were pretty good, but they paled in comparison.
To top off a perfect meal, I remembered from previous breakfast visits that they have press pots (french press) with a couple of choices of coffee. I ordered Sumatran, emphasizing “extra strong”, since different folks make it different strength. Good strong, rich, earthy coffee (was that enough adjectives?) to top off the meal.
No, we didn’t stay long enough for breakfast, but I do need to mention the best kept secret in Grand Rapids. I eat breakfast here at least once or twice a month. It is never busy !! You do have to bring some change for the meter, but it is so worth it !! Unique dishes along side standard fare and the aforementioned press pot option for coffee make it one of my 3 or 4 favorite breakfast stops in town. The breakfast burrito with chorizo and spicy black bean cakes and who knows what else is my personal favorite. If you are a carboholic, they have a stuffed french toast will satisfy any sweet tooth. You can get standard scrambles and omeletes and custom order the ingredients from an extensive list. The only thing I have ever found I don’t like, there is a particular spice in the mojo onions that I just can’t manage. Even the music is good, with an eclectic mix that adds to the funky atmosphere that is Sanchez.
They have a respectable list of draft and bottle beers, a wide internationl list of wines, the required collection of foo foo cocktails and of course sangria (actually not my personal favorite).
Individual items are not terribly high priced, but it isn’t hard for sampling to push the price up. I have found the more people I go with , the better the price per person seems to come out.
As I said at the beginning, Sanchez has always been a good place, but either something has changed, or we accidentally ordered perfectly, because everything we had was unique, flavorful and made us say “Oh wow”.