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CLOSED: Bartertown Diner

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 28 reviews )


Contact 616-233-3219

6 Jefferson Ave SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, 49503

American diner fare. Changed ownership in early-2016 and is no longer a worker's collective. Menu also became fully vegan and changes based on seasonal ingredients. Has raw food, daily specials. Eco-friendly interior. SEP 2016 REPORTED SHUT. Open Tue-Fri 8:00am-8:00pm, Sun 8:00am-4:00pm.

Category: Vegan, American, Delivery, Take-out, Catering

Reviews (28)

First Review by erbavore9

Tofu chorizo! - Edit

Now named The Garden, still all vegan. We had the dlx chickpea melt sandwich w/ maple smoked tempeh bacon, tofu chorizo tacos (excellent) & very good & original smoothies. (Almond milk is the default, non-nut available). The breakfast menu looks good, must go back! Great service, tips included w/ cool option to pay it forward.

Pros: Tofu Chorizo! Smoothies

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Excellent - Edit

While visiting Squaresville USA, it was a tremendous relief to get a big plate of breakfast from a bunch of super posi punk kids. In lieu of tips they take donations to feed the homeless (of which there are many within a five block radius). Right on.

Pros: Friendly staff, Delicious all vegan menu, Beautiful space

Cons: No coffee machine (drip filter only)

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Delicious! - Edit

Love this great vegan restaurant. Delicious food, great atmosphere and great location. I love the idea of donating food to the homeless instead of tipping because they pay their employees a living wage! Very friendly.

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Great first experience - Edit

I'm not from the area and I don't have a lot of vegan places where I live so going to a place that had all vegan options was great. I really enjoyed the chickpea melt! Service wasn't excellent but she also did look really busy.

Pros: Variety of options

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Delicious Food and Ethical Practices - Edit

This fully vegan restaurant is delicious! They have smoothies, teas, coffee, burrito toes, sandwiches, salads, raw options, soups, beans, tacos, and they serve breakfast all day. I had the large breakfast plate with French toast. The potatoes and tofu scramble were scrumptiously spiced and the French toast was the best vegan French toast I've ever had. My husband had the Reuben with tofu and said he bread was superb and he felt like he could stop eating Reubens if all vegan Reubens were like that. You need to bring coins for meter parking and it can take a minute to find out. Sometimes the line to pay at the counter gets a little long but it was worth it. You don't tip because the believe in paying fair wages and ask that you spend 2-3 bucks to buy a menu for a family in need. There menu is seasonal and local.

Pros: all vegan, taste, comfort food on menu

Cons: parking , busy at times

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Nice Atmosphere & Decent Food - Edit

The best things about Bartertown are that they are worker-owned, have knowledgeable/friendly staff, and source local ingredients. I sincerely applaud these aspects of the business. These are the reasons that I continue to eat there, especially later in the evening when other restaurants with vegan options are closed. Their food is good, but not spectacular. Much of it it typical vegan fare that can easily be made at home. I appreciate that they have gluten-free/vegan desserts with little added sugar, but am always disappointed by the overall taste and texture of the raw cheesecakes that I have had on a number of occasions. I keep wanting to like the desserts. When I go out for vegan food, I am looking for things that are different. Their main menu gluten-free options are quite limited, though the staff is good at pointing out substitutions and modifications. The latest remodel really cleaned up and improved the vibe of the place. If you are looking for reasonably priced food in generous portions, then Bartertown Diner is a great place.

Pros: Nice vibe, Friendly & Helpful Staff

Cons: Average food, Limited gluten-free offerings

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Don't bother. - Edit

Bartertown is very overpriced, especially since the food is something everyone could easily make at home. The quality of the food has been lacking the last few times I have gone (over cooked, included char from the flat top, a rock solid waffle...) and each trip seems to get a little worse. The staff has always been incredibly rude and off-putting. For example, my mother came to visit and we went there for breakfast. I failed to tell my mom that we have to go up to the counter at the end of the meal to pay, and when she asked the waitress if we could get the check the response she received was a very cold "are you kidding me?" I want to like Bartertown so much as it's the only place in town with a big vegan breakfast menu, but if the food is poor quality and the staff doesn't have a grasp on being polite and having basic manners, I don't see it as a place I will ever recommend.

Pros: Good location.

Cons: Terrible service, Sub-par food, Overpriced

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Had to make an effort to dine here on a quick trip to Grand Rapids. Parking was a challenge b/c I didn't have any change on me, but it was worth it! I stopped in, and after a few minutes, someone noticed me and invited me to sit anywhere. I said that I had never been there before (hoping for a recommendation...usually waitstaff will tell you what a place is "known for" or what their favorite is), but the waitress just handed me a menu and walked off. Everything on the menu looked good, so when she came back I ordered the herbed tofu sandwich with a garlic aioli and an iced chai on the side.
OMG- it came out quick, hot, and AMAZING. True to diner-style, it was greasy and messy, but SO DELICIOUS. I want to go back and try EVERYTHING, but alas, I was only in GR for a day.

Pros: Huge Vegan Selection, AMAZING flavor, Hot and Fast food

Cons: Parking, Service is mediocre, Music was VERY loud

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Awesome All American Breakfast! - Edit

Had some amazing pancakes, tofu eggs and tempeh bacon here with my family! The menu was great, not too overwhelming, and the pancakes were fluffy and light. A great place to do Sunday brunch or grab a bite to eat with friends. It also had some pretty cool decor that was street art themed!

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Simply a great place! - Edit

Bartertown, I love everything about it. Where were you while I was residing in downtown GR! Love the fare, the art and ambience. Charming and knowledgable staff. My mouth was watering from simply reading the menu, the taste, delicious!

Pros: diverse/changing menu, buys from LOCAL food sources, such great character

Cons: parking

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Great Vegan Diner with Vegetarian options - Edit

Awesome food and smoothies on a very casual environment. Everything I have tried has been very good and portions are generous also. Well worth the visit!

Pros: great food, great portions, friendly service

Cons: parking

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a must try!! - Edit

This place is my favorite. The best harty began food in town. They are ever changing but always great food items. I love the staff as well, they are attentive and informed.

Pros: best food, great service, large portions and low cost

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Awesome! - Edit

I just went there for lunch with my sister. I had 3 of the daily tacos which were wonderful but not exciting. My sister had the tostadas which I tried and it was very complex and tasty (collard greens were earthy while the salsa on top made my mouth go wow)! We also had the raw, gluten-free cheesecake for dessert (a bit pricey but well worth it) which topped everything we had before. We were slightly worried about seeing everyone paying cash because we didn't come prepared, but no, they have an app for that and we charged lunch with the iPad. Fab! Happy to find a place that was great. Highly recommend!

Pros: Excellent food, Good value, Fun atmosphere

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Very good! - Edit

We stopped by here for a late lunch and had a very enjoyable experience. A blueberry basil smoothie--creative and flavorful. Quite tasty! My husband had the Monstruo Verde, which was good. I had the Grandwich; I LOVED the beer cheese sauce. It was absolutely phenomenal. It was a little heavy on onions for my taste, but the overall effect was still very good. We really loved the ambiance--great atmosphere, friendly staff, and fabulous ideas and mission go into running and operating the diner. It was not the best vegan food we've had, but definitely worth the trip and still creative and unique!

Pros: Good food, Friendly staff, Unique/Admirable mission

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Great food and nice people! - Edit

My wife (who's vegan) and I both enjoyed our meals very much! I had the vegetarian tostada (at least I think that's what it is called on the menu) and my wife had the vegan chickpea sandwich. Both you good choices, and plenty of food. Plus, our server was very pleasant and took time to give us her personal opinions on what to order since it was our first visit. Overall it was a very pleasant experience! We'd definitely go back!

Pros: Price, Taste, Service

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The Best - Edit

Bartertown is the best restaurant in Grand Rapids, MI. Where else are you going to find farm-to-table vegan food at this price, where the staff seems to genuinely enjoy their lives, and the food tastes this amazing? I had a raw pecan maple bar here once that was a life-affirming experience. I love the specials, the $2 tacos, the ever-evolving menus. Not to mention the selection of hot sauce--my god, I LOVE ALL THE HOT SAUCE. The waitstaff is genuinely nice, the atmosphere is fun and cozy, and every time I eat here I leave feeling like a better human being for both supporting a great establishment, and for treating my body so well.

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My favorite restaurant !! - Edit

I would eat here every single meal if it was possible, and I love the fact that you can dine here and totally gorge away and not even have to worry about developing health problems or weight gain afterwards from their amazing dishes, fabulous desserts, and delectable smoothies...

Pros: Healthy cuisine, Exceptional flavors, Super fun staff

Cons: can't think of any

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This place is going places - Edit

Nobodies perfect, but this restaurant knows where it is trying to be. The local food aspect of their approach is what appeals most to me. I want to support these local farms that are struggling to survive simply because they made the choice to stay small and organic. I want to support a place that supports them.
For only being open for a little over a year, the things they have accomplished blow my mind. Including a new venture the members of Bartertown just started called Burritotown. Its a late night burrito joint open four days a week until 3 am. A place for the service industry people of grand rapids to get a healthy bite to eat without having to resort to junk.
Im excited for what the future holds for these guys and they will have my support through and through.

Pros: local, veg, fresh

Cons: more raw options

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Get the Michigander 6 Sandwich! - Edit

My husband and I went to Bartertown specifically for the Michigander sandwich, and we were not disappointed. It was really fresh, tasty (cherries in the burger!), and filling. The roasted potoates were flavorful but a bit greasy for my taste. Loved that they offered vegan cheese. We ordered a smoothie, which we would not do again - it was runny/liquid-y with too strong of a kale flavor. We make better smoothies at home. :) Had to wait a while for someone to take our orders, and they weren't super busy...oh well. We did LOVE the Ipad they use to check out, they will text/email you the receipt.

Pros: Michigander Sandwich, Cool atmoshpere

Cons: Greasy roasted potatoes, Smoothies...meh, Service a bit distant

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We Loved It - Edit

As a vegan, being able to choose ANYTHING on the menu is very, very appealing. I chose the Reuben and found it exploding with great flavor. My wife had a Michigander 5 and the bite I had was awesome. My wife had a vegan root beer float, which she enjoyed very much. We look forward to coming back when we visit Grand Rapids, again.

Pros: vegan, healthy, local

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Great Vegan Menu, Raw items too - Edit

Barter Town offers some great local vegan cuisine at a great price. The atmosphere hip and welcoming. Hats off to them for being a staff owned and operated business that embraces sustainability. Barter Town features some vegan raw menu items and also vegan and raw desserts. In the past they only took cash. They now accept credit and debit.

Pros: local food, staff owned, raw options

Cons: bathrooms

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bartertown is basically amazing - Edit

I first dined here back in November and since then have started to eat here 3 or 4 times a week. prices are very reasonable considering the organic locally sourced ingredients. you can be sitting there eating lunch and see a local farmer stopping by to drop off fresh produce.

the food is creative and fulfilling and always changing. I was veg for 10 years and tried going vegan many times but failing. bartertown was the first place to make me see how well rounded a vegan diet can be. I am a healthier person because of them.

Pros: prices, creativity, amazing flavor

Cons: hours

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vegan hipsters who hunt and eat dairy sometimes - Edit

Just moved to GR from Chicago. My man and I were excited to hear about the Bartertown Diner (it is an all veg restaurant in Grand Rapids, for peets sake!).

One of the first things I noticed were the antlers hanging from a chandelier. This was perplexing but I didn't want to let it distract from the overall dining experience because I so wanted this place to be awesome.

Our server's [edit by staff] attitude matched the ironic atmosphere to a T. She complained about how busy the place was and then she walked away before we finished ordering, which I hate.

Then I noticed the cups-Ball jar things with horns as handles. Okay...Now...why would a vegetarian restaurant decorate with dead animal parts? We discussed this as we waited for our food and came to the conclusion that is is cool for hipsters do use antlers and horns and such in their decor and this was not an ethically veg place. Please let the food be good.

The food (what we did get a chance to order) was mediocre. Its was something that I could have cooked in less time and it was definitely not worth $9. I ordered the Reuben which was pretty bland and I couldn't help making the comparison to The Chicago Diner's Radical Reuben, which is awesome.

The Bartertown Diner's whole sch-peel is that they source their produce locally, which I couldn't care less about (Have you read "Just Food"?). Of course, they draw quite the crowd of yuppies.

Overall, we left this place missing Chicago and the myriad of vegan food choices there. However, I do recommend Grand Rapids' Stella's Lounge for vegan food without the 'tude.

Pros: cupcakes

Cons: service not so good, antlers, $3 for a cup of coffee

3 Responses

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ang_renee 09 Mar 2012 - I think Bartertown and vegan restaurants in general might be better without your patronage. anyone who knows vegan food in gr knows that bartertown is the real deal. sourcing food locally supports our local farmers and our local economy. you can have a problem with the decor even though I am pretty sure it is all done second hand but the food is amazing and the staff is passionate... also for the record, I am pretty sure the chef who started bartertown did the menu for Stellas. so saying you like stellas is like saying your fifth grade homework is more advanced then your college thesis. I will continue to eat there as often as I can.

NenaRamirez 23 Apr 2012 - For the record...deer shed their antlers naturally. I am vegan and find no problem with that decor because more than likely, being that you were in Michigan, there is an abundance of shed antlers to be found.

LoLaBeTh29 03 Aug 2013 - How sad, I am a vegan, but prior to becoming a vegan I wanted my food to be local. It's crucial, more now than ever, that we support locally grown and supplied food sources. As the other reply suggested, deer, do indeed, shed their antlers. If you got to know your new state, you'd discover there's a lot you DON'T know. I guess ignorance is best for you, but feel free to KEEP out of Bartertown, they don't deserve your idiocy.

Love this place - Edit

Great food! A much needed alternative to Brickroad Pizza and Gaia's, both of which I enjoy also. I realize the service is not always top notch, but the 1st reviewer's comments were questionable. Perhaps there was an attitude on the part of the customer that caused the server to react the way she/he did? I've never experienced an "attitude" on the part of any server I have had. True, some are more customer-friendly than others, but I attribute that to their unique personalities vs. an "attitude". Keep up the great work and the great food, Bartertown!

Pros: Excellent food, Unique atmosphere

Cons: Service can be slow at times

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Horrible Customer Relations at Bartertown Diner - Edit

A friend and I had heard about the new raw/vegan restaurant in downtown GR. We were excited to say the least! The decor is sweet and adorable with recycled materials hanging from the walls and ceilings. However, our visual eye had taken a backseat quickly to the bland, flavorless "trash plate" and worst customer service, by the owner no less! When my lovely friend suggested that the meal was not what she had hoped or expected, the server/owner asked her very abruptly "Well what's wrong with it?", so with velvet gloves and feeling guilty for trying to send the meal back my friend replies, "It just was a salad and not what the menu described, I guess I can just pick at it, no worries". The server/owner says "Okay good" very rudely and walks away. I decided to switch meals with my friend due to the fact that I was going to order a salad had this locally owned raw/vegan restaurant had salads on their menu ( I mean whaa? how can you NOT have salads on your menu when you are a vegan/raw restaurant?) So, I traded my tacos, which are okay at best for the Trash Plate that was clearly a "salad" that the server/owner said they didnt have any of.. Hmmm.. It was the worst, flavorless dish I had ever had. I might of just been eating watered down lettuce with some soggy veg. Absolutely horrible. We put the literal trash plate off to the side and ask for our check. We receive our check and you guessed it, the there was the price of 9 dollars added to our bill for the legendary "trash". I said we are not going to pay for that, and I explained in a very kind way why it was subpar at best. She continued to argue with me and said "If you don't pay for it then I have too", I said "Why would you have to pay for it?" She said "because I am the owner and I can't afford to pay for a meal that you didn't like for no reason". I said "so this is why you have such an entitled attitude towards our disdain with the dish?" and she shaking her head said "yes". I said "Okay, I guess we won't be back"... She said very abruptly "Fine!". We paid for the rubbish plate and decided that that is one vegan/raw restaurant that will probably leave GR as fast as it came in.. BAD customer service and even worse food. I recommend to stay as clear from the snarky owner and Bartertown as possible.
Update~I left a comment on the facebook page of Bartertown, now they say I didnt pay my full bill and they are taking action? This is absurd. We paid our full bill. Snarky indeed.

Pros: Cute Decor

Cons: Horrible and flavorless food, Even Worse Customer Service, Bad Karma and attitude from the owner

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Interesting philosophy, Interesting food - Edit

If you ever get a moment, talk to one of the workers (ie co-owners) about about the philosophy of the place. If you get the full version of story, then it will blow your mind. Its radical and mostly right on. The vibe seems to have struck a good chord in GR as Bartertown is relatively full on most days.

Raw Food Wednesdays ROCK. All raw food dishes that I have had were simply incredible. The only exception being the Chocolate Cheesecake. Carob was added to it and of course left it with a nasty aftertaste.
The Raw Pecan Bar is a GREAT VALUE at $4.75. It tastes like a $12 dessert from a High End California raw food restaurant.

The cooked food at Bartertown is simply ok. Over time, I am sure the food will evolve and get better. I wish the owners would all take a day off and go to "Chicago Diner" in Chicago. "Chicago Diner" food rocks and thus the 20 minute wait to sit down every night.

The cupcakes are fairly solid and tasty.
Clearly a 4 "happy cow" rating with the ability to move into a raving 5 cow rating.
Congrats Bartertown, I look forward to your food and your improvements.
Erb Avore

Pros: atmosphere, raw food, desserts and nachos

Cons: its a bit pricey, cooked food

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