Greater Lansing has been blessed in recent years with two superior artisan dining establishments – Soup Spoon Cafe and Fork in the Road Diner. They both take locally grown and handmade produce and baked goods, turning them into exquisite works of art that delight each of the senses. Yes, the term “artisan” can get tossed around rather liberally anymore, but these two fine restaurants easily meet anyone’s criteria for such a dining venue.
Both establishments also meet many of the criteria to quality as wonderful third places, attracting residents and visitors alike to their special ambiance. The Soup Spoon Cafe has expanded since it first opened to now incorporate a pub area and additional seating for its growing customer base. Fork in the Road is the newer of the two eateries, but has quickly become a favorite throughout the region.
Beyond their cuisine attributes, as an urban planner I am thoroughly delighted that both of these restaurants opened in midtown Lansing locations instead building on the suburban fringes. Both businesses revamped and revitalized existing buildings and clearly demonstrate the power of placemaking. To quote the movie Field of Dreams, “if you build it, they will come.” That is true whether it is in midtown, downtown, or the ‘burbs, especially when the dining fare is outstanding. The Soup Spoon Cafe is situated along Lansing’s seriously hip and cool Michigan Avenue corridor, while the Fork in the Road Diner is sited on the city’s near west side where M-43 splits (forks) into Saginaw and Oakland avenues.
Forget chains. Forget hum-drum fast food. Forget over-priced stuffed-shirt eateries. For my nickel and palate, I’ll take an artisan dining establishment every time.