(This is a living document. When I forget a restaurant -- and I will -- post it in the comments and I will eventually add it to the Guide. Thank you!)
A couple rules before we begin -- I'm going to try and hit every restaurant I can inside the boarders of MSU to the South, Harrison to the West, Burcham to the North, and Bailey to the East with a few exceptions. I'm going to forget places, so if you know of somewhere I forgot, please post in the comments. I hope to expand this guide in the future.
One more note -- chains will not be included. Sorry Noodles, Pot Belly, and Cosi, but we're highlighting East Lansing places here. Forward!
P.S. -- If you need a map of East Lansing, here you go.
Hungover? Have I got the spot for you! Tony's has been a favorite of years for students who need a greasy breakfast to numb their hangovers. Nothing out of the ordinary here -- just eggs, meat, toast and coffee at a good price.
Breakfast at Tony’s – get a good greasy base in your stomach for a day of tailgating. Also you get a ton of food for under $10.
For a classier brunch. Beggar's has a lot of tasty stuff on the menu. Expect to spend a few dollars, but if you want a mimosa or Bloody Mary for your brunch, this is one of the only places in town to go.
O'Neil's: 1017 Grand River
This place used to be called the Jukebox Grill. I've never been here, but The Ghost of John Hannah has:
O'neil's/The Jukebox Grill - A breakfast joint that's been around for a very long time. Some years ago, the owners sold it and they slowly have been adapting the name O'neil's instead of The Jukebox Grill. The food is just as good, the service is just as friendly, and in my opinion, this is a MUCH better breakfast place than Tony's.
Theio's: 2650 Michigan Avenue, Lansing
One of the exceptions I talked about. Also has a greasy breakfast, and open 24 hours to boot. Says aspkeif:
Theio’s on Grand River, just west of Harrison (Technically Lansing) is a far better choice for a cheap, greasy tailgate breakfast than Tony’s.
You will most likely wait in line for a while, so don't attempt to go here on game day. You may have to share a table with others. It will be loud. It will all be worth it, because this is one of the best breakfast places in Michigan. I recommend the Matador omelet with Chorizo, but I'll let others preach:
Best breakfasts I have ever had
The Ghost of John Hannah:
The Golden Harvest - Located in Old Town, this is probably the best breakfast place within about a 75 mile radius of the Lansing area. It is, however, a restaurant of about twenty seats, and they're only open from 8 AM to 2 PM. If you can stand to wait, do it. You won't regret it.
I figure the best way to do this section will be geographically from West to East:
Mostly sandwiches and burgers, with 24 beers on tap, 21 of them microbrews. I've been here a few times and the service has always been good, and the food tasty. Bonus: In case you're going to a basketball game, this is the restaurant closest to the Breslin Center, and a great place to have a couple beers before tip-off.
Winner of the "Most Spartan Spirit" award for a restaurant, as plenty of MSU posters and memorabilia garbs the walls. Three "B's" of note about Crunchy's -- the burgers, the beer selection, and buckets. The burgers are nice and juicy, the beer selection is the best in East Lansing featuring 23 diverse microbrews (Guinness, Labatt, Labatt Lite and Miller Lite are also available), and you can buy a two gallon bucket of beer for your table so long as you have four or more people in your party. Enough of me talking however:
Crunchy's – I always recommend Crunchy's. Buckets of beer, and best burgers in town. And very reasonable on prices. They have a VERY large selection of beer on tap. Lots of TVs. It is a very fun place to go to for games, and afterwards. Also has an outdoor patio. Okay for kids during the day, but not at night.
The Ghost of John Hannah:
Crunchy's - My second favorite East Lansing restaurant. Always a fantastic beer selection with good specials, tons of TVs in every direction so no matter where you sit you'll be able to see the game, and a great gameday atmosphere. EL's second best cheeseburgers, in my opinion.
Gumby's Pizza - Corner of Delta and Grand River
It's 2 AM, you're drunk, and you're hungry. It's time to participate in another East Lansing tradition -- dialing (517)-351-8400 and ordering Pokey Stix.
This place has a split personality. During the day it can be a great place to get upscale pub fare, including some great appetizers (Get the baked brie. It's worth it). They also have a good selection of beers and the best selection of whiskey and scotch in town. If you're planning on a nice dinner I'd get here before 8 though, because the place will be packed with students at night.
Beggar's Banquet: on Abbot between Grand River and Albert
If you're looking for a more laid back place to have a meal or drink on a night before or after a game, Beggar's is the place for you. The best wine bar in East Lansing, and a beer selection that's also top notch.
Beggar’s Banquet – Very good food. Also has a full bar. Another place for a large group to get together, have dinner and share a few drinks. Family friendly.
A late night deli, and their wraps are pretty darn tasty. A good option for food after the bars close.
The late night food of choice for many MSU students. They sell "dubs", which are essentially burritos with many different fillings. The line will be long late but it will move quickly. As for favorite dubs, here are a few commenters:
Burritos! This is a borderline call as to whether this counts as a chain, but this is another good place to stop after the bars. Panchero's makes burritos entirely in front of you, flattening and heating the dough to make the tortilla.
Harper's is a rarity in the restaurant world -- a restaurant that brews all its beers on tap. The beer menu is here, and my favorite's the Grove Street Pale Ale. The patio is large, and is a great place to enjoy a nice day with a couple drinks.
Harpers – More low-key. Makes their own beer, and has decent food. The wait staff can be good or bad depending on the day. Has an outside patio. I recommend it for drinks with friends and some snacks. I wouldn’t recommend it for an actual dinner though. Okay for kids.
Agree on the service, it can be up and down at times. My favorite appetizer -- the boneless wings, where $4 will get you a lot of food.
-Harpers – More low-key. Makes their own beer, and has decent food. The wait staff can be good or bad depending on the day. Has an outside patio. I recommend it for drinks with friends and some snacks. I wouldn’t recommend it for an actual dinner though. Okay for kids.
El Azteco -- Albert between Abbot and MAC
Traditional Mexican, with a rooftop patio giving a great view of the block. A favorite of MSU alumni, but one commenter disagrees:
Also, dont go to El Azteco. Most Baby Boomers Ive met are convinced it’s the end all be all of EL bars. It’s awful.
I disagree -- I don't think it's the best Mexican you'll ever had, but it's good and I'd recommend anyone who wants a sit-down Mexican restaurant to El Az.
Lou and Harry's -- Chandler Road, NOT on Albert
This is more of a note to alumni -- the Lou Ha's you know and love has moved north about three miles. The same food you know and love (Gyros, Burgers, Wings and the like) are still being made, just not in downtown East Lansing anymore. It's turned into a huge sports bar (and I mean huy-ge --they've got more than 40 beers on tap, but many of these aren't microbrews. If you're looking for microbrews, Beggar's Banquet and Crunchy's would be better choices), and is a great place to watch any game. But don't take my word for it:
If you’re in the surrounding area but don’t want to mess with the main East Lansing bars, Hall of Fame Cafe near Eastwood Towne Center, and the new Lou & Harry’s by Chandler’s crossing are both great spots to watch the game.
The best Mediterranean cuisine in East Lansing, Woody's Oasis is a great place to eat if you're looking to spend a quiet night before game day with a couple drinks. The beer selection is good, and if you have vegetarians in your party, this is one of the best places to go.
Woody’s Oasis – believe it or not, this place has a full bar. The food is excellent, and you can order pretty much any drink you want here. No dancing. No TVs. I’d recommend this if you have a large group who want food but share drinks. Family friendly.
What's Up Dawg - MAC just north of Albert
Hot dogs and fries, but a selection of many different dogs. They do Conies, as well as Chicago Style and many others. As far as hot dog variety goes this place can't be beat, and they have a decent beer selection as well. A good place for a quick bite before the game.
Thai 102 - MAC between Albert and Grand River (Old Bell's Pizza)
This used to be Bell's Pizza, but it's not at this location anymore. Sorry alumni. Thai 102 is standard Thai cuisine served quick. Order at the counter and choose your spiciness, and your food's out in a few minutes. The Pad Thai Curry is one of my favorites -- savory with a spicy kick.
Omi Sushi -- MAC between Albert and Grand River
Upscale sushi place. I haven't been here in years and years, but it has a great interior, and I remember the sushi being very tasty.
State Side Deli -- Grand River between MAC and Charles
Deli sandwiches stacked tall (and I do mean tall) with meat. They do burgers as well, and I recommend this place if you're itching for a good Reuben. You can order fries if you want, but one of these sandwiches should easily fill you up.
Paddy Rawal's Mumbai Fine Indian Dining -- Albert between MAC and Charles
Probably the most upscale place on the guide. I've been to the lunch buffet here a couple times, and both times they've had delicious Indian food, from the traditional Chicken Tikka to a sweet carrot pudding. If you've got a date you want to impress the night before you hit the game, this is the place I suggest you go.
Buffalo Wild Wings -- Corner of Albert and Charles
I know it's a chain, but I mention it because some people have had bad experiences at their local B-Dubs. In my nine years living in East Lansing, I have never had bad service here, even when it's packed on game days. The service is great, and one commenter agrees:
Best place to watch the game if you aren’t going is B-Dubs, the sheer amount of nicely sized HD screens makes it a winner, and the service there is typically a step above what you get at the rest of the bars, since it’s a sit down restaurant.
Georgio's -- Charles between Albert and Grand River
Pizza sold by the slice, and said slices are big. You'll only need two of these to fill you up after a night at the bar, and the slices range from pepperoni to more exotic choices like stuffed spinach and cheese to taco. They're open until at least 3 AM to satisfy your late night cravings.
No Thai! -- About the corner of Charles and Grand River
Another Thai place where you place your order at the counter, than you get your food a few minutes later. The Pad Prik here is quite good, and is worth your time. No Thai! also wins award of "Most Confusing Name for a Restaurant Ever" ("No" is the owner's nickname, in case you're curious).
Peanut Barrel -- Grand River between Division and Bailey
The burgers here are one of the best values in town, and if you can snag a seat on the patio, the value only multiplies. The patio has long been a favorite of students and alumni, and its opening is one of the surest signs that Spring has arrived. Not as big a beer selection as some of the other bars, but with their Long Island Iced Teas, you won't mind at all.
SushiYa -- Next to the Peanut Barrel
First off, R.I.P. Jersey Giant and Burger Down. Second, SushiYa has a wide variety of rolls to choose. Even if you're with someone who swears he hates sushi, a trip to SushiYa could change his mind. Seriously, I can't stress the variety this place has enough, you will find something tasty here.
I left out a couple places for sure, but let me know and I'll add them when I can.