Best Restaurants

Out of all the restaurants in a city, 10Best narrows the options to those places with the most appeal and the best reputations. We offer carefully vetted selections to let you explore Lansing dining on your own. If time is really tight, though, and you don't have the leisure to look through all our offerings, we present our Lansing Best Restaurants list. Here, we distill the best businesses down to a special selection of ten. These places promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you just can't miss.

House of Ing
For more than 30 years, this South Lansing eatery has served up delicious Chinese cuisine in an authentic East-meets-West setting. House specialties include Lobster Kow with mushrooms, snow pea pods, water chestnuts, and fresh Chinese vegetables; Imperial Lo Mein with fresh shrimp, crab meat, chicken, and BBQ pork; and General Tso Mushroom, a breaded and fried portabella in the chef's special brown sauce. Have care, though, since some dishes, like Szechuan Shrimp, Kon Po Chicken, and Steak Kow Baby Corn, tend toward the spicy side — on the menu, "Hot" means "HOT!" (517-393-4848)

El Azteco — East
Widely regarded as THE place to enjoy traditional Mexican cuisine in the Capital City area, El Az, as it's known to locals, is a terrific lunch or dinner option. From $5.25 lunch specials to reasonably priced dinners like chile rellenos, huevos rancheros, and marinated chicken and steak fajitas, this eatery can satisfy any appetite. Add to the mix a young, energetic waitstaff and a beer list that offers several flavors of cerveza, and it's easy to see why this restaurant enjoys the popularity it does. In warmer months, a rooftop patio is open to those who wish to enjoy margaritas under the stars. (517-351-9111)

Emil's Bar & Restaurant
One of the Capital City's oldest restaurants, Emil's can actually trace its roots back to a 1920s fruit and vegetable stand. This cozy eatery is a favorite with families, who adore the homemade pastas and hand-tossed pizzas — of course, many also rave about the huge portions. Chef's specialties include Emil's Own Italian Sausage and peppers; shells stuffed with ricotta cheese, shrimp, and crabmeat; eggplant primavera; and pasta limone & baked cod in a buttery romano cheese sauce. If it's lunchtime one of the sandwiches may be in order — broiled cod on a Kaiser roll, Doc's Patty Melt, or a vegetarian sub with provolone and mozzarella cheeses. (517-482-4430)

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Located in what was once the Central Michigan Railroad Station, this restaurant pampers diners with turn-of-the-century opulence. The grand main dining room is noteworthy for its soaring vaulted ceiling, chandeliers, and intimate tables — and, yes, that is a rather huge moose head watching over the restaurant with sentinel-like stoicism. The menu features a diverse sampling of fine American and International dishes, including the likes of prime rib, Cajun meatloaf, pizza, tex-mex, burgers, pasta, and ribs. On Sunday they offer a brunch buffet. Clara's tends to stay busy throughout the year, so reservations are suggested. (517-372-7120)

Harper's Restaurant & Brew Pub
One of East Lansing's more popular restaurants and watering holes, this brewpub boasts a swanky bar area surrounded by high bistro tables and booths. Huge beer vats stand in plain view like sentries, letting you know that the beer is, indeed, brewed on-site. Behind the bar is a massive composite video television system that can feature up to six channels at once. Of course, the true stars here are delicious home-brews — Spartan Wheat, Grove Street Pale, Scotch Ale, and Belgian Tripel. When school is in session, Harper's downstairs area hosts some of East Lansing's best dance parties. Fantastic happy hour deals and nightly drink specials. (517-333-4040)

Beggar's Banquet
Set along an East Lansing side street, this noteworthy haunt is homey and pub-like, with a more mature clientele than the town's usual collegiate watering holes. Stained glass light fixtures, dark wood paneling, and original artwork in the main dining area set the scene. A cozy bar area greets patrons at the main entrance, and it's here that you can strike up a conservation with one of the regulars or a member of the waitstaff, most of whom are well-versed in everything from "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" to the latest MLB standings. The menu features such classics as garlic seared chicken, London broil, Portobella stuffed with crabmeat, and seafood capellini. On cooler evenings, a bowl of the Banquet's famous "Sympathy for the Devil" chili goes a long way toward warming one's bones. (517-351-4573, 517-351-4540)

Stillwater Grill
This Okemos steakhouse offers a contemporary casual setting with large picture windows, intimate tables, subdued lighting, and a peaceful lakeside mural. Stillwater's menu runs the gamut, boasting everything from crab cakes to baby back ribs. Those feeling a little more surf than turf will want to consider Stillwater Creole with crawfish, shrimp, and andouille sausage or Alaskan King Crab Legs steamed and served with melted butter. Others may want to opt for the 12-oz. western strip steak, 10-oz. prime rib, or the "Backyard" rib-eye. Save room for dessert, though, since Heath Bar Crunch Ice Cream Pie and Cheesecake Chambord are far too tempting to pass up. (517-349-1500)

Knight Cap
For more than 30 years, this cozy downtowner has been satiating the after-work crowd with gourmet-caliber steak and seafood dishes. This is the type of place that locals tend to keep secret- and for good reason. A warm supper club atmosphere, complete with dark wood furniture, subdued lighting, and snug tables, makes it an ideal place to impress a big client or someone special. The seasonal menu features delights such as Black Angus prime rib with grilled onions, Steak Medici baked in Parmesan breading, and Lake Superior walleye with escalloped potatoes. Space is limited and tables tend to fill quickly, so reservations are strongly recommended. (517-484-7676)

English Inn
Hosts Gary and Donna Nelson invite you to enjoy award-winning cuisine at this authentic Tudor-style inn. Start off your unforgettable meal with a delightful appetizer — baked Brie and mushrooms, escargot, or roasted New Zealand mussels. From there, you've many gourmet-caliber dishes from which to choose — pasta primavera topped with fresh-grated Parmesan, the house's special English prime rib with horseradish sauce and Yorkshire pudding, or a fabulous chateaubriand for two with fresh vegetables and duchess potatoes. Peruse the English Inn's wine list, which features an impressive number of Bordeaux, Californian, German, Italian, Spanish, and Tuscan vintages. (517-663-2500, 800-858-0598)

Maps and Directions

House of Ing 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Vegetarian
Neighborhood: South Lansing
Cost: $
El Azteco — East 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Latin, Mexican
Neighborhood: East Lansing
Cost: $
Emil's Bar & Restaurant 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Cost: $$
Clara's 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cost: $$
Harper's Restaurant & Brew Pub 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Continental
Neighborhood: East Lansing
Cost: $$
Beggar's Banquet 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American
Cost: $$
Stillwater Grill 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Steakhouse
Neighborhood: Okemos
Cost: $$
Knight Cap 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Steakhouse
Cost: $$
English Inn 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: British, Continental, European
Neighborhood: Eaton Rapids
Cost: $$
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