lansing michigan shutterstock feature

Five Places A Hungry Music Fan Should Visit in Lansing, Michigan

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Lansing is the capitol of Michigan, but to be honest, unless you have business here, Lansing isn’t what you would call a “destination vacation spot”. There is Michigan State University. The home office of Two Men And A Truck is there, but as someone who has visited Lansing a number of times for work, I can say with confidence that when you get off your plane, you are both underwhelmed and grateful for the low-key airport. It is small, easy and quick to navigate, and has the feel of your high school with more security.

When you get out on the streets, things don’t change much. It largely isn’t crackling with excitement, but guess what. Cool, hip places like NYC and Chicago suck for all kinds of reasons we won’t get into here. You can keep ‘em. Lansing might not flash and dance, but what it does, it does well.

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My travels within the Lansing area are certainly not exhaustive. I basically have kept to the east side of Lansing, Old Town, the city of East Lansing, and Okemos, but you know what? It’s basically fifteen minutes to anywhere, and you’re hungry. Go straight to El Oasis.

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el oasis
El Oasis

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I’ve eaten at El Oasis at least three times, and it is wonderful Mexican street food that is worth the wait. I’ve wolfed down chorizo burritos and tacos pastor as if my life depended on it, and at the time it felt like it did. This is the sort of food that you start to get sad when you get to the halfway point of your meal.

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tacos pastor
Tacos Pastor, El Oasis

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Maybe it is just me, but about the best thing you can do with a belly full of Mexican food and lime Jarritos is hit up a record store. Yes, they still exist, and if you have been paying attention at all, vinyl is hip as hell these days.

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fbc outside
Flat, Black & Circular Record Shop

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I’ve hit Flat, Black & Circular (naming win!) in East Lansing each time I have been in town. I always ask Jon Howard for a Lansing band recommendation, and of course purchase one vinyl for the trip home. FB&C has been slinging records since 1977, so they know what’s up (Howard’s recommendations make up most of the included Spotify playlist). It is dusty, cramped, and basically everything you want in a record store.

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fbc hallwayFBC Hallway

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fbc interior
FBC Interior

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When I asked Howard for recommendations on music venues, I knew it was the wrong time of the day. How many quality music dives are going to be open at 1:00pm on a Wednesday? He mentioned Mac’s Bar and the Avenue, and because I was headed back to Lansing’s east side anyway, I swung by the Avenue for some pictures, and to make a mental note for my next visit.

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ave outside
Outside the Avenue 

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ave closeup
The Avenue, Close Up

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Lansing’s Old Town is a charming slice of small town that is not to be missed. Restaurants and shops abound. It is, again, only about 8-15 minutes away from anywhere else you might be visiting, so get there, friend.

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welcome to old town
Welcome To Old Town

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old town
Old Town

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I went there hungry (what?!), and I found Meat BBQ. This joint was featured on that show hosted by Sammy Hagar’s younger brother… You know the one. I kid, somewhat, but ribbing (eh? eh?) aside, Meat really is a dream. The made to order mac-n-cheese and classic chopped brisket “Meatwich” were heavenly, and made me want to take a five-hour nap. I think I actually did just that after eating there. It’s kind of a blur.

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meat
Meat BBQ

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Meat BBQ, Patio

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Breakfast! I don’t want to know a person who doesn’t love a good breakfast, and Lansing has got the Golden Harvest. It’s tiny, they only accept cash, it’s funky, and then there is that killer logo.

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Golden Harvest Logo Facebook
Golden Harvest Logo, Courtesy of Restaurant’s Official Facebook Page

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They open early, and I recommend getting there early because they can only seat a handful of people at a time, and the line can stretch down the street. This is the kind of place that a lot of judgy people probably hate on principle. The staff can smell them out, too. If you are cool, though, and enjoy great breakfast food in a cramped, communal atmosphere, this place is for you. It’s like a dump truck filled with street artists collided with a prison bus filled with chefs and eggs. Mental image: accomplished!

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golden harvest outside
Golden Harvest, Outside

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golden havest door
Golden Harvest, Door

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I’ll have to branch out next time I am in Lansing, or maybe not. These places are so great that one could be forgiven for being forever faithful to this list. Lansing may not be trendy, but Lansingites (I looked it up), like people in Green Bay, WI and Columbus, OH and other like cities in the American Midwest, use that to their advantage. Unable to coast on panache and celebrity, they do it for themselves and lucky visitors in the know. Lansing does it the best they can, and oftentimes that is very, very good indeed.

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NewsWhistle music contributor Chad Werner is “ahead of the curve, behind the times.” You can contact this rock n’ roll sphinx at chad@newswhistle.com (e-mail) or @scooternotmoped (Twitter).

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PHOTO/ART CREDITS

* Lead-In Image (Lansing Skyline) Courtesy of  Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock;

* Golden Harvest Logo Courtesy of Golden Harvest Restaurant;

* All Other Photographs courtesy of Chad Werner.