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2010 Detroit Auto Show - Looking for local rec's

Hello, I'm coming out to Detroit (for the first time ) for an entire WEEK for the Auto Show. I'd appreciate any info on the can't miss spots Downtown (near Cobo), but also some other areas that I could easily cab to. I'm also at a loss, but know I need to find some Middle Eastern, Mexican and Greek restaurants (for which I hear there are many?).

On my list so far:
- Coney Island Hot Dogs (both of them!)
- Miller's Bar (burger)
- Sweet Loraine's
- Roast
- Rattlesnake
- Tom's Oyster Bar

Questionable:
- Slow's BBQ
- Noble Fish (high yelp)
- Polish Village Cafe

Again, I'm there for a whole week and I'm open to trying as many local (or touristy), off the beaten path, odd ball, eclectic, modern or retro places as possible during my time there.

Thank you in advance!

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  1. There's some good places on your list. I'm not a fan of the coney, but I can guarantee that they're certainly a Detroit institution.

    Some of the following comments depend on whether you have available transportation, and how far you're willing to travel.

    Miller's Bar: great burger (though my last time there was somewhat disappointing), with very long waits, and it really isn't cheap, either. Go for the great burger, and don't expect anything good in terms of service.

    Sweet Lorraine's: for me, it's been far more good than bad. On the times they miss, they really miss, but never for bad service. Sometimes an entree just doesn't come together right, and it is what it is. They've been in business for quite a while, though, and with good reason.

    Roast: I stinking *love* their Cocktail Hour. You will, too, *if* you can find a seat at the bar, which isn't going to be easy. The word about Cocktail Hour is now out, and it does gangbusters business during this time. A great way to get your feet wet with the place.

    Rattlesnake: I was there within the last two months, and it was good, but not great. Service was terrific, as is the view, but the food was just okay.

    Tom's Oyster Bar: I have nothing against it...but I honestly don't understand the draw of it. I haven't been to any of their locations in years, and don't foresee going there. There's far better, IMHO.

    Slows BBQ: *Great* meat/cue, somewhat marginal/up-in-the-air sides, TERRIBLE service, and very, very, very long waits to get a table. Kind of a crapshoot, that way. Did I mention the terrible service?

    Noble Fish: It's quite a drive from downtown, but I'd still recommend you go. Very authentic, very fresh, very small. I'd highly recommend the spicy shrimp (salad?) roll ($7.25), the shrimp tempura roll (which couldn't be more different), the eel...oh heck. You really can't go very wrong here.

    Polish Village: dirt cheap, absolutely fantastic. Don't deny yourself the dill pickle soup, the Hungarian pancake, the pork chops...just about anything pork, actually. Hard-to-find, worth the trip.

    And now, for a couple of my own:

    Iridescence in the Motor City Casino hotel: for a special splurge, this would be a great idea. I cannot tell you in words how greatly surprised I was by the place. Perhaps a bit disorganized, yes, but the food really shone.

    Redcoat Tavern: another great burger place, but they do a lot of things good here, other than just the burger. Very crowded, but you can call ahead with your name and party size to be put on the list, and I'd *highly* recommend that you do just that if you decide to go.

    Loui's Pizza: simply the best pizza I've ever eaten in my life. The Unbeaten Champion for good reason.

    There. That should get you started. Enjoy! :)

    6 Replies
    1. re: boagman

      Middle Eastern: Best is in the Dearborn area. Good small one in Detroit is La Pita on Cass at Wayne State University; Boagman and others have recently recommended the Dearborn location. Really most of them are good, and cheap to boot.

      Mexican: String of places on Bagley just west of I-75. You'll have company there. I like El Comal on Vernor (one block north of Bagley), which is pan-Central American. For Mexican, a bit farther away but a short cab ride, there's El Barzón at Michigan and Junction.

      Greek: Greektown is on Monroe on the east side of downtown, east of Brush. To me the restaurants are similar and neither good nor bad. There's a more upscale Mediterranean place there called Mosaic--haven't tried it, but I've heard it's good.

      I like Slows, but it's going to be REALLY crowded for the auto show.

      In the city itself, there are three real old-school Italian places, running anywhere from good to great on a given night. All can handle large crowds. Mario's on Second, Roma Cafe in Eastern Market (cab driver should know how to find it), and Giovanni's way out on S. Oakwood on the far southwest side.

      1. re: Jim M

        Yes, La Pita. I was so over-the-moon about this place, and still am. I absolutely loved the food, the service, and the total experience. I *will* be back. And it's completely true that the Detroit (specifically the Dearborn area) will offer the best Middle Eastern cuisine you'll find outside of the Middle East itself. Where the people are, that's where the good food will be.

        I'm not as well-versed on the Mexicantown destinations as others around here, so I'll leave it to them to keep you up-to-date.

        Jim's absol-stinking-lutely right about the crowds at Slows, though...they're bad enough when there's nothing else going on, but Slows' reputation is pretty far-and-wide now. Out-of-towners almost always want to go there, and it'll be brutally crowded for the whole of the Auto Show, with everyone being downtown.

        And Giovanni's still makes their pasta every single day...the grandmother comes in to do it, still.

        1. re: boagman

          Growing up in Dearborn I would have to recomend Al-Ameer as the best Middle-eastern restraunt in the city. The food at Al-Ameer just seems to have a better overall flavor. La Pita is good, but I find the service lacking most of the time.

          The main problem with the Dearborn Al-Ameer is getting there. Warren Ave. reminds me of driving in the Middle-east, traffic randomly stopping, turning, disregarding basic traffic laws. But comming from the downtown area should not be bad.

          http://www.alameerrestaurant.com/inde...

          1. re: worldwarz

            I use Al-Ameer (Ford Road Location) as my every day middle eastern location but there are better places with better service and just as good of food. La Pita has been generally been getting very good marks for Service and Food. It sounds like you have not had a good experience but...I say go ahead and retry.

            Another place that I just love but I have not seen anyone else here that has tried it is http://amanilebaneserestaurant.com/

      2. re: boagman

        I really enjoyed my meal at Iridescence, as well - the food and the view are excellent.

        1. re: boagman

          Hoover, since you mentioned local, are you interested in trying Detroit-style deep dish pizza? It would be akin to your coney quest, in that it isn't gourmet by any stretch, but it's the kind of guilty pleasure that locals indulge in all over metro Detroit. Loui's, mentioned by boagman above, seems to be at the top of the list as far as 'best Detroit-style' pizza, but if you can't make it out to Hazel Park, there is the 'original' Buddy's Pizza in Detroit proper. Both Loui's and Cloverleaf (also in the 'burbs) have ties to the original Buddy's Detroit pizza, and Buddy's itself has sold and become a local chain. Still a good representation of the Detroit style. Here is a link if you're interested:
          http://www.buddyspizza.com/buddys.htm

        2. That's a LOTTA auto show--I went Monday for press days and my feet still hurt!

          We took the People Mover to Greektown for dinner, ate at New Parthenon (family style) and I was completely unimpressed except for the excellent lamb chops. Stick with that or gyros if you do end up in Greektown, then Astoria Pastry Shop for dessert.

          In Mexicantown I like Los Galanes.

          I don't know from experience, but the two locations of Good Girls go to Paris creperies inevitably get good press.

          And I LOVE Russell St Deli near Eastern Market for breakfast (lunch looks good too but haven't tried it--Sy Ginsberg corned beef is the BEST!!) They might seat you at a table with strangers, so be forwarned, but the food and atmosphere are worth it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: coney with everything

            The downtown walk-up Good Girls Go to Paris is closed for the winter. The one by the museum on Woodward is open. They deliver exactly what they promise--decent crepes, both savory and dessert. It gets written up all over the place not because it's an amazing crepe, but because the owner, a Detroiter who lived in Paris, is so much the kind of entrepreneur (or entrepreneuse) we need around here.

            Mudgie's in Corktown is a great place for a big sandwich.

          2. Since you will be there for a whole week, breakfast, lunch, & dinner... Here are a couple of others. Supino's Pizza in Eastern Market and Mudgie's Deli in Corktown.
            www.supinopizza.com
            www.mudgiesdeli.com
            Here are a few links to previously mentioned places:
            www.romacafe.com
            www.giovannisristorante.com
            www.mosaic-detroit.com
            www.lapitafresh.com

            1. Ate at Roast a few weeks ago. Great atmosphere and food, but I prefer the Coach Insignia at the top of the Ren Cen.

              Greektown is easy to via the People Mover. My favorite has always been Pegasus. Greektown casino is there also if you like to do a little gambling.

              If you don't have a car, personally I wouldn't cab it to Miller's. They're good, but not cab fare good.

              For Polish food in Hamtramck, I much prefer Polonia's,

              3 Replies
              1. re: chowchowbrowncow

                As CCBC alludes, Hoover13 doesn't give us much info regarding how far he/she is willing/able to travel, nor from where he/she hails. I've not bothered to visit Roast or Rattlesnake, but I'll comment that the only reason why I think Miller's, Sweet Loraine's,
                Tom's Oyster Bar or Noble Fish are decent, is because they don't have much competition. Hoover13--if you are from, say, SanFrancisco, then don't proceed to these places with high expectations.
                On the upbeat side, I'll reaffirm that Coney Dogs, Lebanese* and Polish (downtrodden PolishVillageCafe or Polonia) are "musts" for fun. If you really need Mexican, go to nearby Mi Pueblo ('hood is a bit unattractive), and for Japanese, travel the long distance to Novi's Ajishin if possible. *I like New Yasmeen Bakery / deli, at 13900 W. Warren Ave, near the popular Al Ameer (see post above) and Cedarland. For a fun side trip to the far northern burbs, go to Clarkston's "The Clarkston Union" which is an oyster bar in a converted village church. Finally, if you've not yet left your home, then I'll suggest that you bring your passport with you to Detroit, so that you may cross the tunnel to Windsor, Canada for a fun eve. Cheers!!

                1. re: vtombrown

                  i second the suggestions for coney's (lafayette), roma cafe and suppino's pizza in eastern market, polonia and polish village in hamtramck, and new yasmeen and al ameer (is this the place that bourdain went to on no reservations?) in dearborn. other place to check out downtown:
                  vicente's (by compuware building - cuban)
                  bucharest (behind the fox - shwarma)
                  checker bar (congress east of woodward - burgers)
                  motor city brewing company (2nd & canfield just south of wayne state - micro brew) old shillelagh (greektown - irish bar for harp & guiness & irish bar songs)

                  1. re: xman887

                    Yes Al-Ameer is where Bourdain visited.

                    As for Motor City Brewery we used to order kegs of Ghetto Blaster from there all the time.

                    http://www.motorcitybeer.com/

              2. Detroit , thank u for all the info and attention to detail! It's very much appreciated. To clarify, no, I won't have a car, but am willing to travel *reasonable distances via taxi if the food warrants the trip. While fine cuisine is more than welcome, YES (as someone asks) I am absolutely looking for other under the radar, not so pretty, Old school places as well. I wanna eat where u would take your foodie friends if they came into town and wanted to try the best local spots.. I'm coming from LA, but don't hold that against me cause I drink like I'm from Lambeau Field. :) thanks again!!

                8 Replies
                1. re: Hoover13

                  Yeah, then I'd say forget the Mexican and Asian places. The situation is improving, but good here is average in CA. Roast is a new fine-dining project by a leading Midwest restaurateur--you'll like it. A cab to Dearborn for Middle Eastern and/or Hamtramck for Polish would also give you a meal distinctive to our area. Note that most Middle Eastern places don't serve alcohol, although La Pita apparently does.

                  1. re: Jim M

                    I would echo what Jim has said and add one more category for you to add on to your list. Deli's!
                    http://food.theatlantic.com/behind-th...

                    Maybe the closest Deli that you will find to Downtown that I would highly recommend is Mudgie's - http://www.mudgiesdeli.com/
                    They also have STELLAR soups! The Northwest Suburbs have some of the best Deli's in the nation.

                    If you are interested in making the trip out past Detroit proper...

                    Stage Deli - www.thestagedeli.com
                    Plaza Deli - www.mattprenticerg.com/urc/plazadeli.asp
                    Deli Unique - www.mattprenticerg.com/urc/plazadeli.asp
                    Steve's Deli - www.stevesdeli.com

                    1. re: JanPrimus

                      eph mcnally's - downtown on woodward just north of congress. look for the big pickle hanging on the front of the store. full blown deli w/ decent corned beef and pastrami.

                      1. re: xman887

                        It's closed. It's being made into a wine shop by Foran's Grand Trunk next door--which is also a pleasant place to go for a sandwich and a beer.

                        1. re: Jim M

                          when did it close? i just had a corned beef sandwich there two weeks ago.

                          1. re: xman887

                            Hmmm ... I may have spoken too soon. They were going to close and remodel, but maybe it's still open. Here's the scoop:

                            http://detroityes.com/mb/showthread.p...

                            1. re: Jim M

                              I was at a after hours party at the Bohemian National Home on Tillman less than 2 months ago and it looked like nothing had been done towards any type of food establishment. We got raided by Detroit's Finest that night. No fun....

                              It barely had electricity...I think if the owners are going to do anything with it...it would be more venue related for bands/DJ's and nothing to do with food.

                              As for the Wine Rumor...Motor City Wines
                              http://detroit.metromix.com/bars-and-...

                              1. re: Jim M

                                after reading this, i remebered thinking, "where are the jars of pickles," when i was there.