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Livonia, Mi. area visitor seeks advise

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I'll be in this area for a workshop in mid-Nov. Will have a bit of time for exploring during the day. Nights will allow for a late dinner. So, rec's for late dinners semi close by, lunches willing to drive an hour or so if truly hound worthy! Also interested in local specialty grocers, particularly those with cured meats. (I always travel with a cooler!)

I'm an adventurous eater, open to hole in the wall to big splurge experiences. Have a car, pretty good with directions, first time to this area. Most interested in local ingredients & traditions, but not limited to this focus .Been lurking here a bit so starting to get a better idea of the possibilities!

Considering lunch at Five Lakes Grill in Milford - worthwhile? The charcuterie sampler is calling to me...

So please let me know what I just shouldn't miss. Thanks for your help.

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  1. You might want to check out Cantoro's Italian Market, on Middlebelt north of 7 Mile. They have a wonderful selection of meats and cheeses, with some very good bread baked in house as well. It is also my go-to place in town for olive oil, with a great selection and good prices. Best of luck!

    Cantoro Italian Market
    19710 Middlebelt Rd, Livonia, MI 48152
    248-478-2345 Fax: 248-478-4969

    1. Western Wayne County is square one for the concentration of Arabic places around Detroit. Try Pine Land Restaurant on Middlebelt north of Ann Arbor Trail in Westland (very near Livonia). Have something like chicken shawarma on hommous--it just doesn't get any better. Or, if you are serious about the adventurous stuff, you'll find parts of a lamb on the menu there that you're just not going to see in Tennessee (is that where you're from?).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jim M

        NC actually. Sweetbreads & such - yes, can't get to the point of eyeballs though! But I do love lamb, any particular lamb menu recs?

      2. In Livonia, check out El Nibble Nook at 8 mile & Grand River for Mexican. Order the Tijuana Bypass. Open late except Mondays.

        In Farmington Hills, Tomatoes Apizza on Halstead or 14 mile. Order the Sampler.

        A bit farther away, Big Rock Chop House in Birmingham for lunch.

        If you're serious about driving for lunch (or late dinners), there's a huge number of great restaurants in downtown Detroit. Check out metrotimes.com for reviews.

        For local produce, try any of the farmer's markets in the area (held on Saturdays in Livonia, Farmington) or the king of all markets, Eastern Market in Detroit.

        The previous postings are also right on -- Cantoro's is great. There's a Pine Land on 12 Mile in Farmington that might be closer depending on where you are in Livonia. Middle Eastern food is THE cuisine to try in Detroit area. Also try authentic Polish cuisine in Hamtramck.

        2 Replies
        1. re: charlesbois

          I'd have to steer you clear of El Nibble Nook. I can't really consider it particularly good Mexican food when you've got Mexican Town so close in the area.

          If you do find yourself in the area, try Bet and Jesse's Fish and Chips on Grand River just south of 8 Mile on the north bound side of the street. It's dirty and divey but when I was in the area, I ate there for over 20 years and they had some pretty good fish and chips. Not anything gourmet, but pretty good for the MidWest.

          1. re: bigsuff

            el nibble nook is good for late night dinners when you don't want to drive down on Bagley in Detroit, which is shady at best late at night.

        2. A couple months ago I went to Cedarland in Dearborn and it blew me away -- I think it would be about a 25 min drive or so from Livonia. Here's the link and info:

          13007 W Warren Ave
          Dearborn, MI 48126
          (313) 582-4849
          cedarlandrestaurants.com

          The BEST Middle Eastern food I've ever had; I'd recommend Cedarland over LaShish (another popular local mini-chain for Middle Eastern). Apparently Cedarland has a location in Birmingham which would be much closer to you, but I can't vouch for it since I've never been there. The website pretty much captures the no-frills vibe at the Dearborn location; a very friendly family place that's beloved by the local community.

          1. where are you staying in Livonia? If you're on the I 275 corridor, you're not far from Plymouth, which is quite cute/quaint.

            I haven't eaten at 5 Lakes but it is supposed to be worth it. You're also only about 1/2 hour from Ann Arbor which has a lot of possibilities

            Sorry that you're coming in November--you'll miss the cider mill season!

            7 Replies
            1. re: coney with everything

              The workshops are at Schoolcraft, so most of the lodging I've been exploring is on the I275 corridor, on the maps I've seen much seems to be closer to Novi (?sp) than Livonia. The timing is just bad for cider though...
              The more I research the more excited I am about exploring this area!

              1. re: meatn3

                Bonus, then. Head to Diamond Jim Brady's Bistro in Novi for either lunch or dinner on at least one occasion. Very good food by Mary Brady, and it's never disappointed me yet. They certainly care about quality there, and they know how to bring it out in the food they choose to prepare. Try the specials.

                1. re: boagman

                  It's in the Novi Town Center by the shows and I heartily second the choice. Tom Brady is a gracious and warm host and Mary will usually visit tables when she has the chance. Whatever augments the entre is as good as the entre itsself. You won't leave anything on your plate!
                  Bob

                2. re: meatn3

                  I don't know if you are going to workshops at Schoolcraft for food but...they have a very highly regarded culinary program, and a student run restaurant that gets rave reviews. I believe it's called American Harvest.

                  1. re: coney with everything

                    Their website seems to indicate that their restaurants will be closed during that period. Planning to double-check though.

                3. re: coney with everything

                  Actually, there's Parmenter's Cider Mill just down the street from where you'll be at. It's off of 8-Mile/Baseline road. Make sure map it on google maps or something similar because it's tucked away down in a little valley. You'll be cutting it close, but I think they're still open until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Be prepared for a long line t if you visit on a weekend and the weather is nice.

                  I used to visit this place about every other week when I lived in the area (more frequently when I could spare the time for the 30 minute drive). Fresh cider and fresh hot donuts are something that I grew up with and is probably the number one thing that I miss most about not being in Michigan anymore.

                  Their website is http://parmenters.homeip.net/parmenters/

                  On a side note, Dearborn has some of the best Lebanese food you'll ever be able to find outside of Lebanon. If you have the time, try some of the Middle Eastern restaurants out there, I always liked La Shish over on Michigan Ave, but I haven't been there in about 4 or 5 years now. As you continue through the north-eastern area of Dearborn (along Warren road) you'll find that the area gets a little rougher and the restaurants get a little more divey, but the food can't be beat. Honestly though you shouldn't have a hard time finding good hommous, shawarma or kibbee in the area.

                  Lastly, you can't find a better coney dog than in Detroit. Lafayette/American Coney Islands downtown are the best and are open 24 hours.

                  1. re: bigsuff

                    Thanks for the info on Parmenters. It will still be open & with it so close it should be easy to work it into the plan.

                4. Get yourself into Hamtramck and bring home a trunk load of the real deal kielbasa, both smoked and fresh. These will haunt you forever, after one bite! You might also pack in some pierogis as well.

                  1. Scratch the 5 Lakes lunch idea... they don't serve lunch BUT well worth the trip for dinner. A few noteworthy "hole in the wall" joints for you to consider...
                    1. Millers Bar in Dearborn - ever had a cheeseburger make you cry?
                    2. Al Ameer in Dearborn - Lebanese food from the homeland at bargain prices.
                    3. Polish Village Cafe (for some reason also called "Zosha'a") ..I bet you cant spend $12 there...
                    4. Louies Pizza - nothing short of legendary
                    5. Lafayette Coney Island - ditto
                    6. Parthenon in Greektown - lambchops with the white garlic sauce OMG!!

                    I'll think of more I'm sure... good luck

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Double Espresso

                      Thanks for the info on 5 lakes. Wishful thinking must have caused me to read their website and create my own fantasy lunch! Looks like they will be iffy to work into the picture now.

                    2. Hi, if you have time go downtown to Bricktown and go to Sloes BBQ, written up in several national magazines. In Ann Arbor, which is about 25 minutes go to Grizzly Peak Brewery, great food, and also Pacific Rim......my favorite, asian cuisine. My friend highly reccomends Little Italy in Northville about 10 minutes from Schoolcraft go to www.LittleItalynorthville.com
                      Enjoy your stay here. Laura from Livonia

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jessgreen

                        slow's is in corktown (by tiger stadium), not bricktown (a people mover exit south of greektown)

                      2. Splurge - Tribute Restaurant - Farmington Hills. I think they are open for lunch too. www.tributerestaurant.com

                        1. It is starting to look as though I will need to extend my visit just to try all of these wonderful suggestions! Still awaiting some info from a friend before I can be sure how long I'll be there, hopefully more than a few days.