The Homeland of Bell's Brewery - Eating (and drinking) in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Originally published January 10th, 2017.

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I'd just landed from Asia, but it was back to Michigan for the end of 2016! 

I spent New Years Eve in Kalamazoo, Michigan, attending the wedding of my classiest friend, Sterling.  I have spent more time in Michigan in the past six months than I have in my entire life. When I said this to my close friend, she looked at me incredulously and said, "Maddie, your boyfriend is from there."

Oh yeah. That makes sense.


I have grown to quite like the state, even though I do enjoy poking fun at the "Pure Michigan" ads whenever the opportunity arises. 

Even though it was a quick Friday-Sunday affair, and the actual wedding took up most of our time, my friends and I ended up having about 24 free hours in Kalamazoo.  It was cold and snowy, but we wanted to explore.  

So I went to my usual sources: pinterest, instagram, and my favorite blogs, but found no guides to the city. What gives?

I am here to do my part for anyone in my shoes.  This is how I spent 




From the moment we saw the nondescript sign and brick exterior of Black Owl Cafe, we knew the type of hipster experience that awaited us on the other side of door.  As soon as we walked in, our suspicions were confirmed.  Black Owl Cafe looks like a woodshop that one day decided to start selling coffee. Concrete floors, dim lighting... oh, and there is a smidge of Tim Burton thrown in. 

The menu was expansive, providing artisan versions of your favorite breakfast classics - scrambles, waffles, sandwiches.  Black Owl also receives the highest seal of approval I can bestow upon a brunch place: it is hangover friendly. Filling brunch + dim lighting + strong coffee + quiet atmosphere = a happy morning after boozer.

While Black Owl would easily fit in in Brooklyn, it stands out in Kalamazoo. The best part? Extremely affordable!

I also think they are friendly for all types of dietary restrictions - it is 2017, you know.   



You may not be hungry after your filling breakfast at Black Owl, but never fear: getting just alcohol is always an option at Bell's. Truthfully, when I got the invitation to Sterling's wedding, I was mostly thinking about how happy I was for her, but a small part of me... like 5% of me... was thinking about Bell's being located in Kalamazoo. 

Well, the jury is out on wether Bell's Eccentric Cafe, is the actual Bell's brewery (they brew in many different locations), but I don't care.  There is Bell's beer flowing freely and a gift shop for souvenirs.  That is all I really need.  

So, yeah, get yourself some standard pub food and/or a hefty bar tab in the home of Bell's (Kalamazoo, Michigan) at Bell's Eccentric Cafe. 


I have heard of bars like this in two cities: Barcelona and... Kalamazoo?  Basically, prices on the draft list (which is quite extensive) fluctuate like the stock exchange.  Prices change every 15 mins and are based off the number of times the drink was purchased in the previous 15 mins. For example, if everyone decided to buy Southern Tier 2XIPA, the next time the prices changed, the price would go up. If only a few were sold, the prices would go down. 

Periodically a "market crash" occurs and all drinks are reduced to their lowest prices.  Once again, they serve pretty standard pub food, but the drink market is fun to watch, and encourages you to order outside of your comfort zone. 


We didn't go out because we didn't have a death wish, but my sources tell me Shakespeares, Harveys, HopCat, and Bells are the places



This is the place that inspired the entire post.  At the wedding I met some cool girls from Kalamazoo. I asked them where to go in town, and they immediately responded, "Have you been to Sweetwaters? They have the best donuts ever."

Well... that sparked my interest.  So we stopped by... I am still recovering from this borderline holy experience. 

Reeses, Snickers, Mounds, Grasshopper, and Smores just to name a few... need more convincing? Here is the full list. Also, strong coffee.  Enough said. 

If you are looking for more suggestions, the Discover! Kalamazoo website has a ton of great suggestions! Check it out here. 

Enjoy your time in Kalamazoo! 

Story photo: cursedthing on Flickr

Reader comment from May 2017:

I love Kalamazoo! I don't make it through there very often, but when I do, I always enjoy the stay.
Next time your in Kalamazoo, make a quick stop at the Big B (The Big Burrito, 5036 West KL Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49009, 269-372-2442). Whenever I'm passing through and need a quick bite that's the place (of course I'm a lover of Mexican food, especially burritos). If you're more in the mood for pizza, try Cottage Inn. Enjoy!

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