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Detroit Suggestions?

Will be in the Detroit/Rochester Hills/Auburn Hills area for four days beginning next weekend. Plan to go directly to Zingerman's/Ann Arbor from the airport. (Torn between their pastrami and Montreal smoked meat sandwiches - any suggestions?) Looking for good eats for Saturday (lunch), Sunday and Monday. I've heard Slow's is good for BBQ, and am considering Lafayette for Coney Dogs. Any other meal suggestions out there? Our tastes run the spectrum - i.e. "don't miss" local dives to high-end dining - so don't hold back! Thanks.

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  1. Just so you know, Zingermans is no where near the airport....it's a good 30 minute ride west, and and about an an hour and a half southwest of your final Auburn Hills/Rochester Hills destination.

    1. Lino's in Rochester is our go-to place for old school Italian - mid-priced. Cozy and lots of food. Also, consider the Rochester Chop House for good fish, steaks and a fun bar. It's right in town and lots of the cute shops are open late on weekends. Bistro Bordeau, in Auburn Hills, serves up comfortable American/Euro food with excellent service. Red Knapp's, in Oxford - north of Rochester, has fabulous home-made hamburgers with great buns and huge pizzas. They also have a quaint patio which serves very tall cold beer. Welcome to the Northcountry!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Oakland Gal

        Red Knapp's Dairy Bar in downtown Rochester has the same hamburgers as the one in Oxford, plus great milkshakes. And Lipuma's, also on Main St in Rochester, has really good coneys if not the same reputation/atmosphere of the Lafayette downtown.

      2. If you are staying in the Auburn Hills/Rochester area then you won't be far from Recipes, in Troy, on Crooks just south of Big Beaver...great breakfast and lunch...not just bacon and eggs.
        Toast in Birmingham on Pierce St. has a great menu, it's a little eclectic and has great salads and the best huevos rancheros in the suburbs. Their original location is on Woodward, north of 9 mile, in Ferndale...that location has more character. If you end up in Ferndale, you have to try the Fly Trap, also on Woodward, this place was on Diners and Dives on the Food Network. Supposedly their Red Velvet Corned Beef Hash is the best, but I have not tired it.

        1. Mon Jin Lau 15 mile & Stephenson Troy - Great Asian cuisine, Exceptional well-priced wine list. This is good for lunch or dinner.
          For lunch in Rochester - 2 Sisters (or maybe 3 Sisters) for home made Polish. This is right on Main Street.
          If you want a steakhouse, head to Big Beaver Rd in Troy for (in order) - Capital Grille, Morton's, Shula's, or Ruth's - or in Auburn Hills there is Lelli's (on Opdyke & Featherstone.
          Just north of Pontiac is King's Brewery - everything is home made here, including the beer - I believe they might be closed for good (either this week or next wee) by the time you get here, so call ahead.

          1. I'm not very familiar with Rochester/Auburn Hills, but if you go to Lafayette, do so at 2 am and try to drink as much as possible beforehand.

            9 Replies
              1. re: JanPrimus

                "if you go to Lafayette, do so at 2 am and try to drink as much as possible beforehand"

                umm yea. Great idea. Drink as much as you can then drive from Rochester to Detroit. I hope neither one of you are on the road when I'm coming home. IMO those who "drink as much as possible" and drive should be boiled in hot oil along with pedophiles.

                1. re: Fritter

                  Pssst....that is why you have a designated driver!

                  1. re: JanPrimus

                    I don't need to be drunk to enjoy Lafayette. ;-D

                    1. re: Fritter

                      No one does I hope...but it is one of those after hours places that so many of us have visited after clubs, shows or sporting events that has a ever so fun crowd to watch and be part of at later hours. I completely agree with you about the drunk driving and not needing to be drunk....so no reason for us to get feisty! :)

                      Don't make me go off and buy you a half dozen coney's, frys and a coke.

                      1. re: JanPrimus

                        LOL ok ok.
                        Hey I'm not against having a good time and a few cold libations. Especially as you suggest with a designated driver. Solid advice there!
                        I just don't agree with the drink as much as possible bit.
                        Now I have heart burn just thinking about six coneys!
                        Have you been to Motor City Beer? I'm anxious to give it a try.

                        1. re: Fritter

                          I have...but it seemed to be one of those breweries that plays its beer selections very safe. Too many breweries have that same old menu....Pale Ale, Red, Light, Stout Porter and normal old lager. I have never found much character in the beers available from them. I am sure there will be people to disagree with me...

                          I think the state has much better breweries to offer....sadly none in the 313.

                          FWIW I agree drinking as much as possible maybe a bad idea any time of the year. My two goals in life are to be on as few list as possible and not to become a story. Drinking that much is a sure way to get on a list quick and become a story. I also should say I have a 4 coney limit.

                  2. re: Fritter

                    The "boiled in hot oil" line is...uh...INTERESTING coming from someone named Fritter. But i agree that being drunk isn't a prerequisite for enjoying Lafayette.

                    1. re: mrfinewine

                      I'm glad some one got the irony.

              2. Hi and welcome! If you're going to Lafayette, let me suggest for your drinking ahead of time Enoteca at Campus Martius (which is just a really cool new part of the city anyway) or the Motor Bar at Motor City Casino. Nice drinks at the Motor Bar, nice people and vibe at both. If you're looking for food, I like Rochester Mills Beer Co in Rochester if you have kids or a big group in tow.
                Please let us know what you try!

                1. I recommend you getting some arabic food while yer in the area- IMHO, Detroit's got the best to offer in the country ....Great shwarma is to be had at a number of places, though my favorite is at Cedar gardens on Mac ave in St. Claire Shores (there's comes loaded with garlic sauce + it's griddled till crisp) but you can pick it up any any number of arabic restaurants in the area. Also can recommend stopping by Yasmine (sp?) bakery in Dearborn for some of the best cheese bread/zatar bread..
                  Dearborn's uber arabtown is also close enough to the airport to make it a worthwhile and not-so-outoftheway trip to or from DTW

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sixelagogo

                    Agreed. Decent Arabic food farther north is in the Farmington and West Bloomfield areas. Places change quickly, but I've had good luck at Pine Land on 12 Mile and Falafel House way up on Orchard Lake near Maple.

                  2. Wow you have a ton of great suggestions already. I will second several starting with Lino's in Rochester at the corner or Tienken (26 mile) and Rochester road. Ask for the veal chop if it's not on the menu!
                    Rochester Chop house in nice as well.
                    Slows is in Detroit on Michigan Ave but has some of the best BBQ in the greater Detroit area. Lafayette is worth the trip as is Zingerman's.
                    Mon Jin Lau as already suggested is killer for Asian and has been the Hour Magazine restaurant of the year.
                    I'm going to disagree with the suggestion for The Capital Grille. One of the worst locations for that franchise IMO and nothing like the quality of some of their other locations. It's in a mall and service reflects that.
                    For steak in the Big Beaver (16 mile) area Shula's is the stand out for me. I have had some terrible meals at that Mortons (The Southfield location is MUCH better) and service can be spotty at Ruth's Chris.
                    If you want some thing a little more laid back you might want to consider The Stoney Creek Road House on 26 mile just a few miles out side of Rochester (West of Stoney Creek Metro-Park).
                    For pizza in the immediate area give Kruse and Muer in the village at the Meadowbrook mall a try. You will also find a Mitchell's fish house there which is very good.


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Fritter

                      I think the Southfield Mortons just closed recently, Fritter.

                      1. re: Fritter

                        "I have had some terrible meals at that Mortons (The Southfield location is MUCH better)"

                        Then it'll probably tick you off to no end that the Southfield location closed about a month ago. Sorry, Fritter.

                        1. re: boagman

                          No dissapointment here. One of the weakest and most over priced steak houses in the greater Detroit area IMO.

                      2. You've already been given some very solid recommendations ... my addition:

                        Dawgs, coneys & sausages: Hippos Hot Dogs in Troy.

                        Sushi: Noble Fish in Clawson.

                        Another option for Italian; Lelli's in Auburn Hills

                        Crab, mussels, scallops & fish: Fran O'Brien's Crab House in Auburn Hills

                        Pizza: Crust in Rochester

                        1. If your into good beer I might suggest also two places in Southeast Michigan.

                          For straight up beer I would go with Kuhnhenn's Brewery - www.kbrewery.com

                          The second place I would recommend is Dragonmead which does not have as good of beer (Still great but not the top) but it does have a great side perk. Just about a 1/4 mile away is Lazybones BBQ which you can bring into the brewery. Some of us think that Lazybones is the best bbq place in the state, but it is not really the place you want to eat it at. It is more of a pick up and go place and I suggest you go to Dragonmead.

                          Both Breweries rate a A- on the Beer Advocate charts....

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: JanPrimus

                            Wow - you've all been very generous and helpful with your replys! We may have to stay for a week or two. I recall reading somewhere recently that the Detroit area has some excellent pizza places. (My idea of great pizza, BTW, is fairly thin crust but with a good "chew", blistered and blackened around the edges, slightly sweet tomato sauce, and light on the cheese and toppings - if that's helpful.) Also, we're into beer and brewpubs, so any additional ideas in that regard would be appreciated. And any local fish fry places? Thanks again.

                            1. re: Gator Tom

                              Kruse and Muer will be near by and fits what you are describing as your ideal pizza. Some of their specialty pies are very good. Detroit pizza tends to focus on deep dish. There are a few others that offer thin crust but not worth the drive from Rochester (IMO).
                              As I noted above Mitchell's fish house in the same mall is very good and they offer fried fish. Some one else mentioned Fran O'Briens which is very close as well.
                              Rochester Mills is a great place for a sandwich and a beer.
                              You may also want to condsider Motor City Brew Works. I had the chance to try some of their products recently at a Greenfield Village event and they were excellent. I haven't been to their location but I think I read that they have a brick pizza oven.




                              1. re: Gator Tom

                                Good pizza, albeit heavy on cheese and toppings, can be had at the Alibi in Troy. There is also a Buddy's pizza in AH, corner of Squirrel and Walton, which was one of the places mentioned in the recent GQ article about best pizza in America.

                                Lots of beer choices at Paint Creek Tavern in Rochester Hills, with outdoor seating overlooking the creek and a walking/biking trail. I don't think they brew their own, though.

                                The only true "fish fry" places I can think of are more in the Detroit area--Bet & Jessies or Scotty Simpsons. Simpsons in particular is in a somewhat less attractive part of our fair area.

                                1. re: coney with everything

                                  But Scotty Simpsons is *totally* worth it. I've never felt unsafe there, and the food is wonderful.

                                  1. re: boagman

                                    Note that is a cash only establishment too. I would not be worried in that neighborhood either.

                                    Edit: OK I had to go look at spotcrime.com and look at the neighborhood. In the last three days....2 seperate well aimed shootings (both targets hit) and also two seperate robberies. So its only half as bad as I suspected. I still will visit.

                            2. Re: your original question. Pastrami.

                              Although if you're going that far out of your way, surely you'll want to try more than one thing, right?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: crw77

                                I would second that--and also suggest brisket. Maybe it's because I go to Montreal fairly often, but I think their Montreal smoked meat is just good, not great.

                                Another really stellar sandwich: the Hot BLT.

                              2. Downtown Detroit - Le Petite Zinc just opened not too far from Slows. At Trumbull & Fort. Can swing by the demolished Tiger Stadium and see the decrepitude of Michigan Central Train Station too.

                                I thought the food was really good - crepes and ratatouille - stuff like that. Interesting crowd. Brass band from Belgium(?) playing on the patio when I was there. Glacial paced, but nice. service. It's supposed to be French after all...so would you expect anything quicker?

                                Holes in the wall that are great - Hamtramck's Aladdin Cafe has awesome Bangladeshi food. Ridiculously cheap too. I've not been to "Bosnian Specialties" in Hamtram yet - but it looks intriguing.

                                I like Madison Height's Vietnamese mom n pop Thuy Trang's pho.

                                Speaking of Madison Heights and pizza - I love Green Lantern. It's not fancy, or eurpoean in the slightest. But is an institution from forever (my parents went there), and the pepperoni is awesome, and the mixed drinks are stong - lol. I love it a hundred times more than Buddy's (but I don't really care for thick crust...so I'm biased against it)

                                1. I'd skip all these chain restaurants people are mentioning. Here's where you want to go:
                                  Pizza: Loui's, Dequindre Rd. just north of 9 Mile.
                                  Burgers: Red Coat Tavern, Woodward.
                                  Fish: The Ivanhoe, Joseph Campau (a.k.a. the Polish Yacht Club)...an amazing, unique experience in a blighted part of town. If you're not put off by the fact that it's the only building still standing on its entire square block, you'll love this place. Get the perch or walleye. Friday nights only (lunch weekdays, too).

                                  And definitely try one of the recommended Middle Eastern places. I'd skip Slow's. Great atmosphere, great bar, great Detroit place, but mediocre food.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: mrfinewine

                                    I don't recall a thin crust pizza at Loui's. I really prefer Cloverleaf for deep dish but they are both a notch above Buddy's IMO. Here's an interesting article about Loui's.