The Spartan Hall of Fame Café is off the beaten path for many East Lansing residents, but it more than makes up for the distance by being the most intensely Spartan place outside MSU’s own borders.
On the outside of the building there’s repeated use of the Sparty logo, and inside there is Spartan memorabilia including team photos, banners, and trophies. This is not the kind of collection found in some restaurants, an odd assemblage of “stuff that looks vintage” hung on the walls. This is Spartan-focused, and authentic.
There’s also a gift shop in the front of the restaurant selling t-shirts, sweatshirts, framed pictures and other Spartanalia. If you were entertaining out of town guests who were sports fans, or you were an MSU student being taken out to dinner by visiting parents or grandparents, the shop would make it convenient to eat and stock up on Spartan green in one location.
Inside, the décor is casual, opening into a large sports bar area with multiple big-screen TVs. Ringing the bar area are many standard restaurant booths and tables. On a Sunday afternoon, we sat at a high-top in the bar area, and from there we observed several tables of senior citizens, a number of young families, groups of students and, because we are horrible eavesdroppers, a couple at the table next to us sharing a drink for the first time “in real life” after meeting on a dating site.
We managed to tear ourselves away from their date long enough to order; Captain Carnivore started with an IPA and was satisfied with the beer selection, which is not always the case. As for the menu, it is vast and American, with burgers, soups, salads, pastas, wraps, tacos, and pizzas as well as multiple bar foods such as Buffalo wings, loaded potato skins, nachos, and hummus dip.
There is also an assortment of more substantial “Homestyle” menu items including “Smothered Chicken,” “Naomi’s Meatloaf,” and “Gourmet Mac and Cheese.” A special menu offered “Sunday Supper Specials” including “Bourbon Chicken Tenders,” “Fork Tender Pot Roast,” “Babyback Ribs,” and “Hand-Breaded Butterfly Shrimp.”
The Captain ordered a burger (The Ultimate Burger), which comes topped with mushrooms, bacon, cheese, and an onion ring and which shares the plate with a pile of fries.
I opted for a Cobb Salad, a plate of lettuce covered in chicken, bacon, avocados, hardboiled egg, blue cheese, and possibly Jimmy Hoffa.
If you are vegetarian, vegan, gluten- or dairy-free, you have options at Spartan Hall of Fame. I asked our waitress, who assured me that all sandwiches, salads, and wraps could be ordered without meat. She also showed me that gluten-free items are marked on the menu (which includes gluten-free pizza). As is often the case, vegans are probably looking at a meat-free, cheese-free salad or wrap. There is a “Kids Menu,” as well.
Oh, and the couple next to us? Captain Carnivore wouldn’t stay long enough to see whether they parted with a handshake, a peck on the cheek or a swoony real kiss. “Stop picking at that same piece of lettuce,” he said. “I know what you’re doing.” So I can’t tell you for sure that The Spartan Hall of Fame Café is a lucky place for a first date, but I can say that it has almost anything you could ever want to eat, and an atmosphere that’s all about Spartan pride.
The Spartan Hall of Fame Café is located at 1601 W Lake Lansing Rd, East Lansing