Andrea Love’s Top 10 Favorite Places in Downtown Flint — Best of 2015
Flint is unfortunately most well known for crime and lead-filled water, but I would feel like I was holding out on you if I didn't share with you a few places in Downtown Flint that helped to make my 2015 more fun...and more delicious. The culture of the downtown area is artistic and growing, and in case you aren't in the know...here's the lowdown on a few places downtown that I would recommend checking out for a good time.
While reading this, keep in mind that I am not originally from the Genesee County area. I'm from a super small town (Baldwin, MI) near Ludington about 2 1/2 hours north-west of here, where we had a few gas stations a couple stores and a zillion lakes, streams, and trails. Also keep in mind that I never really started hanging out downtown until about two years ago, because I didn't feel like I ever knew where to go. I do now...
I like this place for a few reasons. One is simply because they have noodle bowls with locally sourced vegetables. Knowing where our food comes from and supporting each other is moving on up my list of priorities in life. Maybe it's because I just turned "old" last month, but it's a big deal to me. This place also offers a well rounded selection of beer and craft cocktails that will make you feel like you deserve to unwind.
The first time I remember hearing about Churchill's was YEARS ago shortly after I moved here and plenty of my college friends wanted me to go there with them. I never ended up going back then, because I always had to work and when I didn't have to work, no one was going out that night! (You know how that goes...). I finally stumbled in there one night and there was this fabulous, hella-talented band called Mistaken For Satellites. We jammed so hard, and had fair priced drinks (note the sign: 30 beers on tap) and the atmosphere was so welcoming. I couldn't believe I'd overlooked this little gem all these years.
8. Table & Tap
This place brings that big city feel to our little downtown. The first time I walked in was at night, and the blue glow and the liquor set up made me feel like I walked into a Los Angeles trendy place from Flint. A ton of fine whiskeys, plenty of Michigan made brews of all sorts and amazing food. The french fries make me want to give up on life and become a professional french fry eater. It's a great place to meet up with your friends and fill up before a night of partying, and it's literally right next door to Merge (pictured above).
7. Soggy Bottom Bar
The name of this place has always intrigued me. I once went in there when I was like 19 or so, but it was under weird circumstances with weird people and I was still a baby. Even with all that, I felt like I liked this place. Fast forward a few years, and I'm glad I've been back. I usually end up there later in the evening, after I've already filled my belly (with booze), so I have yet to try the food. I hear it's good though. I also love the fact that the bartenders seem to care about us Club Keno players.
6. Flint Crepe Company
Mmmmazing. Before my first encounter with Flint Crepe Company, I would see the bicycle around town which sparked my interest. My man friend, Dan, took me there for the first time and it worked out perfect for us. He likes sweet tastes and I prefer savory. They have various crepe flavors for all taste buds! We actually ended up sharing them both because they went so well together. Again, this place uses locally sourced foods, and even has info on where your food is coming from written on the wall. They're known for a nice cup of "joe" and it's cool that you can just grab your own complimentary water. Lots of places look at you like you're a cheap loser if you order water. Some of us actually like water over soft drinks. They also feature local art on their walls.
5. The Loft
Ohhhh, man...The Loft. Lofting. It's become a verb. This is my spot on the weekends when I want to get a fair priced drink, hear some good dance party music, shake my booty (or just watch others shake theirs), and enjoy diversity. I also like that there is a "chill" spot and a "party" spot. There are two different sections of the place so if you don't feel like you want booties rubbing on your hand, you can go play pool, get some space, or just sit around a table with your pals. I dig the weeknights too. This is the type of place where you can make new friends easily just by sitting at the bar.
4. El Potero
Let me start by saying any place that leaves the hot sauce out on the table is the place for me. I LOVE condiments especially hot sauce, and this place has the best three available; Tapatio, Cholula, and El Yucateco! I was so impressed with this, that I even had to post a picture to Instagram showing my delight. The servers are polite and fast, and the environment is relaxing. I also appreciate their lunch specials. Enough food to fill up, with out emptying the wallet. Did I mention that they are fast? Tacos rule.
3. Cafe Rhema
I will admit that I've never been too big on "fancy" coffee until recently. I have been known to only ever desire coffee from home or a gas station, because I didn't need all the bells and whistles. I must be growing up or something because these days, good coffee is just as important as good sex. This place has the fancy-shmancy coffee house decor and quality, without the snobby baristas looking at you like you're an idiot if you don't know exactly what you want. They will help you through it and make sure you love your order. I love a drink called "Swift Kick to the Head", because it's delicious, and it's made warm instead of piping hot, so you don't have to wait to slam it.
2. Tenacity Brewing
I once found myself wondering if I could just spend the night in there because I could wake up to and go to sleep with one of their local brews in my hand everyday. They were also nice enough this summer to let me run around and check out the place and make a little video tour out of it. This place is right on the river and also has an outdoor fireplace, and lawn games. Inside is nice and cozy and is a location for a lot of the Flint City Start-Up meetings for local entrepreneurs to meet and network. This is a brewery that cares for craft beer, and cares for the community too. My favorite beers are the Basic Bitch and Saison, but they usually keep a mean cider on tap too!
1. Flint Farmers' Market
This is one of the most heavenly places in the whole county, let alone downtown. From sweets and spices, to crafts and nutritious locally produced fruits and vegetables, this place has it all. My favorite spots in the market include The Local Grocer, (home of the best candied almonds ever), B-Dogs (they serve fresh Koegel's with endless toppings all for two bucks a dog) and Willow's Garden Juice Bar. Willow's Garden has actually made me feel like my quality of life has been improved. It's way easier to drink fruits and veggies than to eat them. There are plenty of other quality vendors and there, and the atmosphere is usually very peaceful and happy. There are even activities for the kiddos to enjoy.
There are plenty of other amazing places downtown that make me happy too. Don't be afraid to surf around and find your favorite places. I think you will be pleasantly surprised to find new things. For anyone who already knows of these beauties in downtown Flint....*High Five*.
All original photography by Andrea Love.