The Rapidian

Marie Catrib's serves up Lebanese and Yooper influences

The popularity of this restaurant is well deserved, and I see why customer reviews have given them a 4½-star rating. There is a good selection local vegan, vegetarian and hearty meaty dishes for the carnivores here.
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Marie Catrib's Info

M-F 7 a.m.-11 a.m. (Breakfast)
M-F 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (Lunch/Dinner)
Sat 8 a.m.-12 p.m. (Breakfast)
Sat 12 p.m.-4 p.m. (Lunch)

(616) 454-4020

Attire: casual
Price range: $11 to $30

For more information
see Marie Catrib’s website

Local homemade cuisine
The above phrase excited me when my friends told me we were dining at Marie Catrib’s, known for its quality food. This popular multi-service restaurant is a hearty member of Local First, an organization dedicated to supporting local business ownership, whose banner sits proudly on the restaurant’s wall. Even the pictures there reminded me of local art I’ve seen hanging at Sanctuary Folk Art, a downtown gallery.

According to The Grand Rapids Press in 2005, the year the restaurant opened, Marie Catrib’s was given the Best New Business Award by the Neighborhood Business Awards. As I have discovered here, a great local focus intertwines with pleasant service and local food at this restaurant.

The service
I found the popularity of this restaurant to be quite well deserved, and the experience left me understanding why customer reviews have given them a 4½-stars, as rated on such review sites as Google, Tripadvisor, Urbanspoon, and Yelp. Our waitress was not only efficient, but helpful in answering our questions and providing recommendations.

The food
Perusing the menu, one can see the Lebanese and Yooper influences that have entered the fare via the journey of its owner, Marie Catrib.

Back in Lebanon, the owner used to make a mess of the kitchen dishes, yet the cooking spirit never left Catrib. She moved to Michigan and started a couple of eateries in the Upper Peninsula. She attended cooking school and learned to make pastries for 700 retirees during an internship. Likely the seed of the line of baked goods available first took root there. Finally, urged on by her son, Fouad Catrib, she started a restaurant here in Grand Rapids. Thus, the menu has taken on the full flavor of its owner’s journey.
One of those flavors comes from the Middle Eastern-inspired taboule available the delicatessen. It has the appearance of a green chutney mixed with little bits of tomato and garlic together with the pleasant taste of citrus and parsley. The other flavors manifested themselves in our meals.

My friends and I ordered some of the more popular dishes: the vegan Larry David for me and the Handyman and Salmon Surprise for them.

When my vegan Larry David arrived, I looked curiously at this sandwich layered with spinach, tomato, spicy tomato jam, grilled onions and garlic veganaise, served on my choice of branny oat bread. I removed its decorative toothpick and took a bite of its four-inch-tall goodness. At its heart was their vegan burger, a nice mixture of wild rice, lentils, onion and tomato.

Along with full flavor food, the restaurant strives to source ingredients locally as a way to support the local community. Local ingredients are often fresher and thus tastier. Providing full-flavor food has been one of the restaurant’s goals from the get-go. My friends ordered some tasty dishes as well.

One friend ordered the popular Salmon Surprise because she loves supporting local businesses and because it was a wild catch, because she wanted it to be natural, the way it is supposed to be. She really enjoyed the flavors and the bread.

Another friend ordered the popular Handyman, also vegan. Although she remarked that its tofu was good, it was not her thing. The avocados did upset the sandwich slightly, as they did not physically fit well and, as she noted, were hard. Nevertheless, she really enjoyed the bread. All of us agreed was that the bread was the best part of our dishes.

The cost
All these things came at a fair price of about $9 per sandwich and between about $2 to $4 for every other item on the menu.

The delicatessen
The restaurant has its own delicatessen, the long form of deli, where specialty items are sold. This one, in the back of the restaurant, sells a selection of vegan and gluten-free foods, as well as deli items such as the taboule mentioned above.

Marie Catrib’s has a lot to offer for a decent price, all under one local banner. It’s a restaurant, bakery, deli, takeout, caterer and online store all in one. Their focus on full-flavor food and community results in a pleasant mixture of both. Marie Catrib’s is one restaurant where I look forward to experiencing their local, fresh goodness again.

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