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Have we found the most underrated holiday treat stop in Grand Rapids?

If you’re looking for a Christmas treat, or really any treat at all, we would whole-heartedly recommend this little slice of sunny paradise.
Credit: 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? We — 13 ON YOUR SIDE digital producers Riley and Amy — have set out to find the tastiest spots in the area and are documenting our journey with a series called 13 Eats.

13 Eats is all about highlighting the best, locally owned eateries in the Grand Rapids area. This week, we’re getting extra festive and trying out delicious holiday treats at Rise Authentic Baking Company. 

About Rise Authentic Baking Co.

Rise Authentic Baking Co. is located in an old brick building on Grand Rapids’ south side. Among the hustle and bustle of Fulton Street, the quaint bakery provides delicious baked goods and steaming drinks, all with the mission of binding the community. 

According to the website, Rise was born in 2014 in a 450-square-foot apartment as a way for the owners to make a little extra cash. But they soon found there was a gap in the vegan dessert scene and that vegan and gluten-free options were even more sparse. In 2019, a storefront was opened and the dream of serving up gluten-free, vegan desserts was officially conquered. 

Now, the sun-lit space is always filled with hungry customers and tasty treats, solidifying its presence as a Grand Rapids staple. 

Credit: Amy McNeel 13OYS
Outside Rise

Learn more about Rise here. 

The Treats

Let’s dive straight into the good stuff. We had no idea what to expect from the little kitchen of Rise Authentic Baking Co., but after some intense Instagram stalking, we knew it would undoubtedly be beautiful. And boy, we were right. 

We started our trip with something savory, ordering the Classic Grilled Cheese ($9.00). After settling into our bistro table inside a plastic igloo outside the shop, the sandwich arrived. The bread was lightly browned and crispy, and the cheddar, provolone and parmesan cheese was melted and steaming in the cold winter air. We pulled it apart, causing globs of buttery cheese to stretch between the sandwich halves. It was the most beautiful of sights. Upon the first bite, the cheese melted in our mouths and the crusty bread added the ideal crunch (not too crunchy but not too soft) needed to anchor it.

When we tell you this was the perfect grilled cheese, we mean it. Picky and fancy eaters alike will love this sandwich. 

Credit: Amy McNeel 13OYS
Grilled cheese and pickle

After we demolished the grilled cheese, we found ourselves eyeing the brown cardboard box stamped with the Rise logo that housed our carefully-selected treats. We began with the Peppermint Brownie ($5.00). For all our fellow batter-loving dessert lovers, this one is for you. The brownie was incredibly soft and almost the consistency of fudge, with a zing of peppermint flavor in each bite. The candy cane bits that coat the top add a crunch to the sweet sponginess. Eating it was like eating peppermint bark on steroids. Sweet, soft, decadent steroids. 

Credit: Amy McNeel 13OYS
Peppermint chocolate brownie

Next, our curiosity brought us to the Holiday Edition Chocolate Orange Sammie ($4.50)This thing is a beast. It’s two fudge chocolate chip cookies with an orange buttercream frosting between them, dunked in chocolate and topped with a candied orange slice. The cookies are soft with a surprising chocolate chunk crunch. The frosting has just the right amount of orangey goodness to pair with the chocolate. Our only recommendation is to find a pal to share it with, this thing is hefty. (Amy, thanks for always giving me the bigger half when you split our treats). (Riley, I think I need to start using my gym membership. But IDK, a nap sounds better).

Credit: Amy McNeel 13OYS
Orange holiday sammie

Just as we thought it couldn’t get better, our drinks arrived. We ordered a Miel ($5.00) and a specialty Maple Blueberry Latte ($6.50). My goodness, we could come here for the coffee alone if the treats weren’t so delicious. The miel had a classic cinnamon flavor topped with a creamy foam, while the latte was extravagant, with strong blueberry flavors that paired well with the dark coffee. The latte art on top was beautiful and it left us each with milk mustaches, which is always a plus.

Credit: Amy McNeel 13OYS
Maple blueberry latte

As our stomachs filled, we munched on the Gingerbread Latte Donut ($3.00). We split it and dunked our halves in our foamy coffee drinks. The donut was cakey and soft, with a slight crunch to the sugary glaze blanketing the top. The cinnamon and ginger added a spice-filled twist to the bakery classic. It was the perfect ending to a perfect holiday snack feast. 

Credit: Amy McNeel 13OYS
Gingerbread latte donut

The best part of it all? We had no idea all of the delicious options were completely vegan, gluten and soy free. Anyone can stop by Rise and find a treat worth their trip. 

RELATED: One month after grand opening, Wahlburgers still serving American delicacies

The Vibe

Walking into Rise Authentic Baking Co. is like entering a sun-soaked millennial dream, and we mean that in the absolute best way. Everything is clean and white and there’s plants literally everywhere. It’s a breath of fresh air with huge windows, a beautiful aesthetic and the most decadent, sugary smells. In many ways, it’s exactly how we’d like our homes to look if we weren’t total maximalists. 

When we walked into the cozy bakery cove, we were immediately taken by the beautiful cases of shining desserts. The counters house rows of festive treats and traditional favorites, from cookie dough donuts to flaky pot pies. They each looked too pretty to eat. But behind the sparking cases of shining treats, the real magic happens. Through the window, we could see dough being kneaded, cakes being frosted, and donuts being worked to perfection. It’s nice to see the treats and know they are made fresh, right there every day. 

But the sweet vibes don’t end there. Through a hallway of exposed brick and old ceiling tiles, the backlot of the bakery is home to a family of outdoor igloos. Filled with bistro tables, little chairs and a cozy space heater, the igloos are a perfect festive space to enjoy the bakery’s delicious offerings. This is where we decided to sit, and we loved every minute of it. The igloos are the perfect indoor-outdoor option and provide just the right coziness for a cold winter's day. 

RELATED: New East Grand Rapids eatery serves up classic bagels in modern atmosphere

The Verdict

Since we’ve started this series, we have been to a fair share of local eateries. And while we have enjoyed every experience so far, this one may have been our very favorite yet. We smiled with each bite and couldn’t believe how each treat seemed to be just as good or even better than the previous. They just kept upping their game, and we were SO grateful. 

Credit: Amy McNeel 13OYS
Rise baked goods box

Not only were we impressed with the sugary and savory delicacies, but we were also completely obsessed with the atmosphere and energy of the place. It felt like the perfect spot to hang out with friends, but also the ideal location for a date with a book or a study guide. We will definitely be going back again and again. 

If you’re looking for a Christmas treat, or really any treat at all, we would whole-heartedly recommend this little slice of sunny paradise. It’s sure to put the grinchiest of taste buds in the holiday spirit. 

Rise Authentic Baking Co. is located at 1220 Fulton Street W Grand Rapid, Mich. 49504.

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