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13 Eats: Brunchin' with MudPenny

There is no shortage of incredible restaurants in Grand Rapids. But with so many options, how do you choose where to indulge?
Credit: Amy McNeel, 13OYS

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — There is no shortage of incredible restaurants in Grand Rapids. But with so many options, how do you choose where to indulge? 13 ON YOUR SIDE digital producers Riley and Amy have set out to find the tastiest spots in the city, and we are documenting their journey with a new series called 13 Eats. 

13 Eats is all about highlighting the best, locally owned restaurants in the Grand Rapids area. And if you’re a foodie, you’re in for a treat. Our first stop is MudPenny. 

About MudPenny

Located on the city’s south side, MudPenny is an eatery and coffeehouse focused on community and relationships. The business started in West Michigan in 2012 and has called the region home ever since.

According to the website, owner Matthew Fuller started the company, initially called Grace Coffee, with a coffee cart located in the Waters Building. After years of growth and rebranding, a storefront was opened and the MudPenny we now know and love was created. There’s also a second location now in Ada.

Credit: Amy McNeel, 13OYS
Exterior of MudPenny GR

Learn about the name ‘MudPenny’ here. 

As a community-driven company, MudPenny not only provides Grand Rapids with delicious food and coffee, it also gives back monetarily. Every quarter of the year, 1% of its sales — a penny per dollar — is donated to neighborhood efforts and organizations. 

What We Got

Now to what we are all here for...the food! It was so many things: rich, flavorful, decadent -- and most of all, very instagrammable. But what struck us the most about the food was its impeccable balance. The dishes were upscale but casual, elevated yet simple, innovative and also classic. We treated ourselves to two menu options: The Insta-Worthy ($10) and the Baked French Toast ($16). 

The Insta-Worthy is a classic avocado toast. But with sunflower flax bread, goat cheese and super soft scrambled egg, the dish is much more than your typical avocado-on-bread. The bread was just the right crispness, the kale added a crunch and the bacon was...well it was bacon, you know what we mean?

While the Insta-Worthy was a winner, the Baked French Toast really shined. It was, among other things, a beautiful and truly delicious breakfast treat. The toast? FLUFFY. The peanut butter mousse? SILKY. The candied nuts? CRUNCHY. And topped with syrup, that baby is a masterpiece. 

Although our menu selections were made without dietary restrictions, the MudPenny menu does offer a selection of vegetarian, vegan, keto and gluten free options. 

See the full menu here. 

We couldn’t go to MudPenny without ordering off its amazing drink menu; the company did start off as a coffee cart, after all! We opted for a couple drink specials — the Brown Sugar Shaken Espresso ($4.5) and the Rosebud ($5).

Credit: Amy McNeel, 13OYS
MudPenny. RIGHT: Rosebud ($5). LEFT: Brown Sugar Shaken Espresso ($4.5)

The Brown Sugar Espresso was everything we wanted it to be and more. It was light and creamy, challenged by a rich coffee flavor. There was the perfect amount of sweet for a true coffee drinker, with small, chocolatey, sugary hints in each sip. This is the coffee we want to be sipping on a beautiful back porch on a summer morning -- as we’re both apartment dwellers, this coffee obviously makes us a little dreamy. 

The Rosebud is like a magical garden in a glass. The layered oat-and-matcha drink is silky and smooth. It’s sweet but not overwhelming and of course has that classic matcha flavor. The green goodness is topped with delicate rose petals to make it perfectly Instagram-worthy. (Beware, matcha is not for everyone. Just ask Riley. -Amy) (I almost threw up. -Riley).

While we ordered some ~fancier~ drinks, the shop does offer a plethora of classics including tea, coffee, cold brew and lattes. Oh, and house-made root beer, too. 

The Vibe 

The atmosphere of MudPenny is very similar to its façade -- with battered white brick and black accents on the exterior and a woody interior, it feels like it's giving you a warm hug upon entrance. As you open the big glass front door, you’re met with the aroma of good coffee and pastries, and most importantly, an employee who’s happy to see you.

MudPenny is your everyday, local coffee shop with a beautiful flare. It's filled with baristas who want to make your trip enjoyable, people clicking away at their laptops and friends gathering from table to table. The environment makes it feel like a place you’d want to sip your coffee and eat your toast every morning, no matter the occasion. 

The Verdict 

MudPenny is a true gem. In a city that is always moving, the eatery allows you to relax and take a moment to slow down. We loved the bright light that flowed through the huge windows, the plants that decorated every corner and the sweet smell of coffee that floated through every nook and cranny. 

The food was delicious, homey but also elegant. We loved each item we bought, although the French toast was definitely the star of the show. But what made the food even better was the prices, which were very low for such delicious and high-quality brunch food. 

The staff was kind and there were short wait times on everything we ordered. Overall, the experience was a great one! Next time you’re looking for a spot to brunch, head down to Grandville Avenue and give MudPenny a try.

Grand Rapids Location: 570 Grandville Avenue SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Ada Location: 496 Ada Drive SE, Ada, MI 49301

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