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SF Hound Visiting Detroit Suburbs - Any Must Eats?

I am going to be in Novi for 1 week due to a work trip. I am visiting from San Francisco, and would like to try the local fare. Can you please suggest restaurants in the area (will have a car) and what are the must have items from the menu.

Requirements: looking for local restaurants, not interested in any nationwide chains. Also - looking for some restaurants that will be open late - serving past 10PM. Open to any type of cuisines. I will be traveling with colleagues (including 1 vegetarian), so it must be good for groups and have some vegetarian items on the menu.

The vegetarian is joining us later in the week - so if you have any suggestions for bbq or some steakhouses, bring 'em on!

Thanks so much!

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  1. Not a local from that area, so have only visited one restaurant in Novi. It's a good one tho'.


    1. I will second either of Brian Polcyn's restaurants. Maybe for the nights the vegetarian is out of town.

      Forrest Grill in Birmingham or Five Lakes Grill in Milford.

      Novi is pretty devoid of any good BBQ. If you want to travel a wee bit I would suggest going to the Dragonmead Brewery and have some Lazybones BBQ brought over.

      1. If you have time to make a trip downtown, there are many good options. For the meat lovers, Roast is getting a lot of good reviews on this Board. I am personally a huge fan of Slow's BBQ - its in an old part of downtown with not much else around, but has great food, beer & scotch selection.

        The Novi/Canton area is supposed to have some very good Japanese choices - I'll leave it to others to comment.

        Ann Arbor also has good Indian options.

        13 Replies
        1. re: Ludlows23

          Lots of good Sushi in Novi-

          Cherry Blossom - http://www.cherryblossom.biz/Novi/abo...

          Sushi Ajishin- Really yummy Udon- http://www.yelp.com/biz/ajishin-novi

          One world market- A cool Japanese grocery store with a sushi bar in the back- http://www.yelp.com/biz/one-world-mar...

          We have always liked Happy Sushi- http://www.yelp.com/biz/happy-sushi-novi although someone just gave them a poor review.

          Those are the places we like around in Novi. And of course the Diamond Jim's Bistro mentioned already. Also the No VI Chop House is really pretty good too- http://www.mattprenticerg.com/urc/nov...

          1. re: aea6574

            Not meaning to step to hard on toes...

            As much as we like those Sushi spots why would anyone that lives near a coast known for its fish even want to visit our inland sushi bars?

            As for our freshwater fish....that is a different story.

            1. re: JanPrimus

              Lake Perch: Pat O'Brien's in St Clair Shores.
              Who has a local Lake Superior Whitefish rec?

              1. re: RedTop

                > Who has a local Lake Superior Whitefish rec?

                I haven't checked; but expect that you would find it at:

                - Northern Seafood (Birmingham)
                - Ocean Grill (Troy)
                - Lily's (Royal Oak)
                - Real Seafood (Ann Arbor)

                1. re: rainsux

                  Steve & Rocky's in Novi has whitefish & perch on their menu; can't attest to origin. I've only been for lunch but have enjoyed it. Not open late, tho.


                  1. re: gooddog

                    Speaking of whitefish, has anyone tried Scalawag's whitefish and chips? There's one in Rochester now. I think they started up in Petoskey or something.

                    1. re: Tabrams

                      Rochester one has been shuttered for several months now. I'll take Scotty Simpsons over it any day, but Scalawag's wasn't bad at all. Personal preference here, obviously. But still, it's too bad that it closed.

                      1. re: Tabrams

                        Very good white fish at Scalawag's. Kinda sad the Rochester store closed so soon. I believe the original store is in Mackinaw. There is also one in Traverse city and Cheboygan as well as a couple of lansing area locations.

                        1. re: Fritter

                          There's one in Brighton, too. I'm going to go up there and check it out.

                  2. re: RedTop

                    It's getting tough to find Lake Superior Whitefish. Regrettably the economy and the lower prices from the Canadian vendors has hit the Michigan commercial fisheries very hard. Nearly all the perch are now from Canada.
                    The only Michigan commercial Perch fishery I know still operating is in Bayport. If you see perch in the Native American fish stores in the Northern areas they are buying them by the boat load from Canada.
                    I can't imagine driving from Novi to St. Clair Shores for perch.

                    1. re: Fritter

                      "I can't imagine driving from Novi to St. Clair Shores for perch."
                      Then you've never tasted the Perch served at Pat O'Brien's, Fritter. Sublime.

                    2. re: RedTop

                      Best whitefish I’ve ever had was prepared at Roast. They serve it skin-side-up and the skin is caramelized and slightly crunchy. Nice dish.

                      On the original topic, there is an upscale Mexican place in Novi called Rojo Mexican Bistro. I haven’t been there yet but considering they have mole and huitlacoche on the menu it can’t be all that bad. http://www.rojomexicanbistro.com/

                    3. re: JanPrimus

                      You know, I had not even thought about that last night. Great point. When you have a place like Sushi Ran in Sausalito http://www.sushiran.com/

                2. Diamond Jim Brady's in Novi (tell 'em SonyBob sent you)
                  LaBisteca in Plymouth - a little pricey but very good steaks.

                  1. Inn Season is our best vegetarian restaurant:


                    You mention local fare ...

                    Polish: Polish Village Cafe:


                    Soul Food: Beans & Cornbread


                    Kosher: Milk & Honey


                    BBQ: LazyBones (to go ....



                    Take the BBQ to DragonMead MicroBrewery


                    Seafood: Real Seafood


                    Seafood & Microbrew: Lily's


                    1 Reply
                    1. I don't have a specific restaurant rec, but I'd say head to Dearborn for some Arabic local flavor. Middle Eastern works well for a crowd that includes a vegetarian.

                      For baked goods in Dearborn, New Yasmeen bakery rocks.

                      For a good burger (there will be an argument here) the Red Coat Tavern in Royal Oak on Woodward is the place--prepare for weird lighting and crowds. However, if you are in town on a Saturday night and the weather is good, that stretch of Woodward is a great place to watch the classic cars cruise.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: coney with everything

                        > For baked goods in Dearborn, New Yasmeen bakery rocks.

                        For desserts in East Dearborn; Shatila is outstanding. Their fruit
                        ice creams, taste like fruit - not super-sweet glop. I consider their
                        baked goods to be on-par with New Yasmeen and prefer their
                        baked desserts to New Yasmeen.


                        Map/directions: http://tinyurl.com/shatilabakery

                        1. re: rainsux

                          I looooove Shatila. All the baklava choices; well worth getting a half-tray!

                          I can also recommend La Pita in Dearborn (Michigan Ave) for Middle Eastern, as well as Al-Ameer (two locations - one on Warren and one on Ford Rd). There are sooo many good places here, though, and I'm sure there's a separate thread somewhere about that, too.

                          Red Coat is my fave place for burgers, too...but try mid-week, if you can. That place gets crazy-busy.

                      2. Wow - 3 days into my work trip, and I think I have gained 5 lbs! Thank you Detroit Metro Chowhounders for all the recommendations. I have really enjoyed all the friendly service and delicious food.

                        On Monday - we landed and immediately went to Zingerman's Deli for late lunch. The portions were so large that we ended up not eating dinner that night. I had the corned beef with the garlic pickle, a brownie, a little bit of knish, and potato salad. Delicious and very filling!

                        Tuesday - had breakfast at Leo's Coney Island. Who knew you could get a hot dog for breakfast. I had the chili-dog along with 2 eggs and some greasy, yummy hash browns. Can't say that I would recommend eating a hot dog for breakfast, but I thoroughly enjoyed the chili dog. For dinner, we found ourselves back in Ann Arbor at Shalimar. Recommended by an Indian friend who went to U of M. It was OK, but I prefer South Indian to North Indian.

                        Wednesday - lunch at Steve & Rocky's. I had the wedge salad with grilled shrimp - nice combo. Tried to eat "light" b/c we had dinner reservations at Roast. Dinner at Roast was delicious - glad that I managed my intake so I could enjoy all Roast had to offer on the menu. We had an amazing server - very knowledgeable about the food. For starters I had the bone marrow. It was really rich and a nice treat. They liberally salted it, but I love salt. The table also shared the bacon - it just melted in your mouth. A little dab will do you, so I would recommend that you share. Given the rich starters, I had the 6oz filet. It was cooked perfectly (medium rare), and was the perfect amount of meat. I had the steak with the horseradish sauce, so good! We also ordered a ton of sides - whipped potatoes, polenta, sweet potatoes with marshmallow, asparagus, creamed spinach, mushrooms. All were tasty - the mushrooms, creamed spinach, and the polenta were the real standouts. For dessert I had the beer & pretzels. Novel idea, tasty, but would recommend sharing it, it's a very hefty portion.

                        Tomorrow we are heading to Maggiano's for dinner, then off to Zingerman's Roadhouse on Saturday, and Five Lakes Grill on Saturday. Will let you all know how it goes. Thanks again for all the recommendations - let me know if we are missing out on any gems. We have one more dinner slot to fill.


                        5 Replies
                          1. re: coney with everything

                            I second this question, while not bad food, its not local and is a chain...

                            Thanks for the reviews so far! I haven't made it to Roast yet, but its high on the list...

                            1. re: coney with everything

                              I know - it's a chain. But we have folks from different places and not all are adventurous or love food as much as I do. I had to say the food was only OK (veal was over cooked and tough), but the service was terrific.

                              We found a great Novi restaurant - great service, solid food, and overall terrific experience. It's called Maisano's. I would highly recommend it.

                            2. re: pwu_88

                              When you are at Five Lakes Grill it is almost mandatory to get the Charcuterie Appetizer. Brian Polcyn Co-authored the book "Charcuterie" with Michael Ruhlman. Its a 12 dollar app that I HATE to share with anyone.

                            3. Metro Detroit - thanks for your hospitality! My team and I had a terrific experience. I wanted to post what restaurants we went to during the second half of our visit. Unfortunately due to timing / location, we were unable to go to Zingerman's Roadhouse or Five Lakes Grill. However, we did have a chance to check out some local Novi locations:

                              Maisano's: friendly, local restaurant with terrific service, and comforting Italian food. We found this place on Yelp and were not disappointed. While the food is not cutting edge, it was tasty and filling. What really made the experience was the fun and accomodating staff.

                              Ajishin: this was a surprise standout. Coming from SF - I was a bit skeptical, but I had one of the best bowls of udon ever! Also - the sushi was tasty, fresh, and so cheap. Again - I thought the service was terrific. I had read on Yelp people complaining about the lack of service, but I found it attentive and friendly.

                              I think when it was all said and done, I must have gained 10 lbs on my trip. THANK YOU!!!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: pwu_88

                                Ya'll come back soon!

                                You've only just scratched the surface of great eats in metro Detroit