(This review is an updated version of one that I originally posted on Yelp.)At Niskers Char-Grill, it's all about the options. It begins with the burger: You can choose from the quarter-pound "Lou's Original" to the half-pound "Big Hoss". All of the burgers are fresh, never frozen, certified Angus beef.But in addition to the traditional burgers, you can get chicken, turkey, Ope's veggie or black bean patties, fish, beef-a-lo and sirloin steak. There are lots of options for bread, some of which are baked in-house: white, whole wheat, flat bread, wraps and gluten-free. Once you've chosen your bread and protein, it's on to a mind-boggling choice of toppings and sauces: from the standard ketchup & mustard, lettuce & tomatoes to options like house-made Jamaican jerk sauce and sweet Lou's BBQ sauce, Thai peanut sauce, banana peppers, green olives, house-made salsa, just to name a few. For those who find the options overwhelming, you can choose from one of Lou's Burger Favorites: set combinations created by Lou Nisker such as the Hawaiian (with grilled pineapple & sweet teriyaki sauce), the Pizzano (a burger that thinks it's a pizza) and the Sunny Sider (with bacon, cheese & a fried egg). But again, it's all about options: you can add, subtract or substitute any ingredient on the burger.Make the burger a combo meal by adding fresh-cut curly fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings or the incredible battered-seasoned fries. Or for an additional charge: gravy fries, gravy cheese fries, cheese chili fries, etc.Beyond the burgers, they've got hot dogs, beer brats, riblets, salads and for dessert: Brownies, Plainwell ice creams, shakes and malts.But all the options in the world wouldn’t matter if the burgers weren’t good: The burgers here are awesome. One of my favorites is the Sunny Sider which is a burger topped with bacon, cheese and a fried egg. Another great burger is the "Big Hoss" Hawaiian-Style. I'm not sure I could go back to a regular sized-burger after getting the "Big Hoss". It is so thick and juicy. And the pineapple and teriyaki sauce gives this burger a delicious sweet & savory mix. Be sure to check out the Burger-of-the Month board before you order. Past BotMs have included the Canuck (a Canadian bacon burger that has since been included in their regular menu) and a chorizo burger, which had a terrific house-made beef/chorizo patty. Be sure to try the battered, seasoned fries. Yes, it’s carbs battered with more carbs, but man, is it ever delicious. The fresh-cut curly fries are also excellent, with a nice, crispy exterior. One of the things I appreciate about their fries is that they are not heavily salted and you can salt to taste. Which leads me to the other thing about Niskers and its options: you can tell they love a good burger and they excel at that. But they also cater to those wanting to be more health conscious. From keeping their salt-use down to offering gluten-free buns, to their veggie and lean options, I think anyone can find something to like here. I have friends who are vegetarian and the place they always want to go to when they visit Kalamazoo is Nisker’s.In addition to the delicious food, what I love about this place is the community feel. I've been here several times and have seen Lou Nisker talking with the customers, not just to find out how the meal was, but engaging on a more personal level. Many times, when patrons would leave, they would say good-bye, but it was always with the notion that, spoken or not, they would be back. Lou Nisker played for the K-Wings back in the day, and although he's been off the ice for a while, with Niskers Char-Grill and its delicious burgers, great breads and awesome toppings, he's still scoring hat tricks. A great burger place for Kalamazoo.
The first time I went to Pinz it was with a few of my friends to scope the place out for a going away party. The atmosphere is really comfortable- lots of open space and comfortable couches, darts, pool tables, bags, bowling, a bar, televisions. They have a good bottled beer selection, the standards on tap, and they mix a pretty good cocktail. I stuck with my standby vodka drink but they do have a specialty cocktail menu with bloody marys, martinis, and margaritas. We sat at the bar and I shared a buffalo chicken wrap & sweet potato fries with my friend, and both were very tasty. Prices all very reasonable. We decided to go ahead and have my friends going away party there and planned it for last night- Pinz was REMARKABLY easy to work with on this. We had plenty of space, a great server, and they checked in with us often to make sure we were doing well. All the people we dealt with were friendly and attentive, and quick to get us what we needed. Their pizza is a good deal and it's great- I'd go back just for that crust! A couple other people ordered the Pinz platter to share, and my brother ordered some appetizers. Everyone seemed to like what they got, no one had any complaints. It's way better than the typical bowling alley fare for sure. I'm looking forward to going back and trying some of the other things on the menu (and some of their specialty cocktails.) I don't go bowling much, but from what my group was saying their bowling prices are very competitive. Half the lanes have couches to sit on and the other half have tables (we chose the tables so we could fit more people.) They put up bumpers and got out the ramp for our friends who brought kids. Even if you're not much of a bowler, it's a great place to hang out. We had a lot of fun and they took really good care of us.