In the heart of downtown Grand Rapids sit an old brick building that houses one of the tastiest and most unique restaurants in Grand Rapids, San Chez – A Tapas Bistro.
San Chez Bistro and Cafe draws the attention of the foodie crowd all around the state, and for good reason.
“Welcome to the most unique dining and entertainment venue in Grand Rapids. San Chez Bistro offers a blend of authentic European, Mediterranean, and Latin American cuisine in a fun, laid-back, and artful atmosphere.” – sanchezbistro.com
Known for its unique brunch and tapas offerings, San Chez Tapas Bistro is a popular restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids. Reservations are recommended during the week (Tuesday-Thursday), with weekend seating being first-come, first-served.
San Chez Grand Rapids Location
Located at 38 West Fulton Street, San Chez opened its doors on November 24th, 1992, offering a taste of Spain in downtown Grand Rapids.
In 2004, the space next door to San Chez Bistro, on the corner of Fulton and Commerce became available and the owner, Cindy Schneider, opened San Chez Café. In 2015, they could not seat enough people in either restaurant so they merged the two sides into one serving breakfast, lunch, and tapas.
“We came to San Chez for their brunch and had a wonderful meal. The highlight for us was definitely the Medjools. They were stuffed with goat cheese and in a spicy, savory sauce. I’ve never had dates served in such a way but they were absolutely wonderful. The waiters are very friendly and we were glad they had so many recommendations off of the drinks menu.” – Muhammad M.
San Chez Menu
San Chez invites Michiganders to take a culinary tour of Spain through a series of small sharable plates called tapas.
Tapas originated in Spain more than 400 years ago as “tops” for drinks made from bread, cheese, or sausage–a version of today’s pub food. Today, the dishes can be hot or cold light hors d’oeuvres, or a full meal.
Head in to try San Chez’s versatile menu any time of day: breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
If by chance you happen to find yourself there with friends on a Friday evening, make sure to split a pitcher of sangria. Due to the nature of their menu, there is sure to be something for everyone.
“Absolutely delicious, I totally see why it’s a highly recommended spot for brunch/breakfast! Definitely worth the short wait to get in + the staff was so friendly + excited to be working there. You could tell all the guests were happy too bc smiles were everywhere you looked. If you’ve been waiting to check it out bc you’re not sure if it’s up to the hype (like I have been) let me tell ya not to worry, it is well worth all the glowing reviews!” – Debbie J.
Serving only the freshest food, San Chez Bistro & Cafe sources as much of its ingredients as locally as possible, with its seafood flown in directly from PNW or Hawaii. A local butcher provides the authentic Spanish chorizo (without any chemical preserves or additives), and plant-based options are available to replace most meat ingredients.
San Chez offers vegetarian, seafood, and a variety of meat dishes fit for every different palate. In addition to its variety of menu options, San Chez accommodates most allergies: dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat, and capsicum intolerance.
San Chez also offers catering and private event space.
Awards for San Chez Grand Rapids Restaurant
You don’t have to take my word for how intensely delicious the dishes at this restaurant are; the more than a dozen awards they’ve won over the last 30 years say it all.
From Grand Rapids Magazine they have won “Best Downtown Restaurant” and “Best Appetizer” among others, and several more from on-the-town.
“We had a fantastic brunch here yesterday! I got the hash and went all out, adding steak and avocado. So worth it! This preggo mama was craving something delicious and full of veggies and protein, and this hit the spot!
They also offer lots of vegetarian options, and it’s wonderful to see options other than pork for breakfast meat. Highly recommend!!” – Laurelai O.
San Chez Grand Rapids Sustainability Practices
Not only does San Chez go above and beyond the call of duty where their food is concerned, but they also do their part in keeping our planet in good shape. San Chez values the power of being green and practices composting and recycling whenever possible in their facility.
The recycling and composting program has the greatest impact on the community. San Chez recycles 32,000 gallons of mixed material and composts 800 cubic yards of organic material every year.
San Chez Grand Rapids Community Involvement
This Grand Rapids Michigan restaurant prides itself in its connections with its community, not only through its elaborate events and cooking classes but also through involvement and donations to organizations such as The Grand Rapids Public Museum, Make-a-Wish Foundation, and Hunger Action Coalition of Michigan, among many others.
Experience San Chez Grand Rapids Restaurant
Whether you are a serious foodie, or a casual diner looking for a new experience, I cannot recommend San Chez enough.
“Well, of all the places we’ve tried in Grand Rapids, San Chez tapas has been the most impressive.
Each dish does a yeoman’s job of faithfully representing the dishes as I remember them from my times in Madrid, Barcelona, Ibiza, and the Canary Islands.
The roasted olives were perhaps the best ever had by my olive-loving dinner companion, although I showed her that that it’s even better when when when mixed with the Manchego tapas.
The chicken and chorizo tapas comes with a side of garlic aïoli, which was so good that we got a side of that. (Read on.)
The paella, with the chorizo, was beautifully done, especially with a squeeze of lemon. BUT adding the aïoli and stirring just made the dish POP!
The pulpo salteado (braised octopus, anchovy aïoli, patatas bravas, and candied lemon) wings my vote for best of show. Perhaps the best octopus I’ve ever had. Tender, flavorful, beautifully spiced. Our third diner, who had more than some trepidation not this dish, chowed down!
The Jamaican jerk ahi tuna did its own great job of both being a fun dish and highlighting the ingredients.
The scallops and pork belly, with a blueberry apple chutney, was the weakest dish, brought down a teeny bit by inconsistent cook on the pork. The scallops were damn near perfect. The chutney was a nice touch but the proteins were so good it wasn’t really necessary.
The cinnamon pecan roll & gelato was a fine ending. We were full and couldn’t try them all.
With a frequent rotation of tapas, San Chez would be on my monthly visit list, and on our next trip from San Francisco we’ll be back, guaranteed!
From now on, when someone asks me about the state of Grand Rapids food culture I’ll point to San Chez.” – Mickey S.
Have a favorite San Chez menu item you want to try at home? All of the recipes are available to purchase on their website!
Thanks to Jessie Elliott for contributing to this article. Guest reviews are quoted from Google.