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Detroit marathon - visiting from DC

Hi everyone -

I'll be in town mid-October for the marathon and looking for good eats (and drinks!). I'll be staying right in downtown Detroit (without access to a car) and will be looking for the following in walking/bus distance:

- great hole-in-the-wall Italian joint for a good pre-run pasta dinner
- upscale but fun and hip place for post-race celebratory dinner
- a place with an awesome cheese plate for dessert or snacking
- brewpubs with decent food for lunch or casual dinner

Ok, now for the high maintenance part:
- I am vegetarian (will occasionally do seafood, but unlikely this particular weekend)
- I will be solo dining often, and much prefer eating at the bar
- I am a bit of a snob about beer and cheese, so any direction toward great beer and cheese lists are a HUGE plus.

Any help or direction is greatly appreciated! Thanks!!

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  1. Angelina Italian Bistro is not a hole in the wall (not really super upscale either), but it's good, and it has several vegetarian pasta entrees. Large bar, walkable from downtown hotels.

    Not really a good city for upscale vegetarian cuisine AFAIK. Maybe someone can suggest a good veg entree at one of the fancy places.

    Vine, on Campus Martius, used to be Enoteca and had good cheese. I have not been there since it was renamed and redesigned (and sold, I guess). Has anyone been lately? There is a good cheese retailer, R. Hirt in Eastern Market, if you want to snack in your room.

    Big downtown brewpub is Detroit Beer Co. Decent although not great food, convenient. Not sure about vegetarian food, but I'm sure they have some.

    Best beer list in town is at a real carnivore hangout, and not within walking distance (Slows).

    Big cuisine in our area: Middle Eastern. Most places are in Dearborn and the west suburbs, where the Arab population is, but one suburban place has just opened a downtown branch, CK Grille, in the Compuware building. I have not been to this place, but some people swear by the original. No booze, but these places always have chickpea and lentil dishes, and they can be very good indeed.

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    Angelina Italian Bistro
    1565 Broadway St., Detroit, MI 48226

    Detroit Beer Co
    1529 Broadway St Ste 100, Detroit, MI 48226

    Enoteca
    660 Woodward Ave Ste 1, Detroit, MI 48226

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jim M

      went to vine just after it changed over. had a cheese plate and it was just ok.

    2. you can go about this two ways: walking distance from a downtown hotel (assuming you are not at the mgm casino or the motor city casino, which are within walking distance of nothing) or, since you wil not have a car, hailing one of the five cabs that run thru downtown....

      walking:

      italian
      - angelina's bistro http://www.angelinadetroit.com/
      - andiamo's (in the ren cen) http://www.andiamoitalia.com/detroit/...

      brew pub
      - detroit beer company http://detroitbeerco.com/

      celebration
      - mosaic (greektown) http://www.mosaic-detroit.com/
      - coach insignia (top of the ren cen) http://mattprenticerg.com/coachinsign...
      - 42 degrees north (in the ren cen marriott) http://marriottmodules.com/restaurant...
      - opus one (between ren cen and greektown) http://www.opus-one.com/

      hail a cab:

      italian:
      - roma cafe (eastern market) http://www.romacafe.com/
      - vince's (southwest detroit) http://vincesdetroit.com/index.html

      lunch or celebration:
      - atlas global bistro http://atlasglobalbistro.com/index.html

      this is right up your alley:
      - traffic jam & snug (10 minute ride from down town, near wayne state, tons of great veg fare, their own creamery, their own brewery, their own bakery) http://www.trafficjamdetroit.com/brew...

      brew pub:
      - motor city brewing works (right across the street from the traffic jam) http://www.motorcitybeer.com/

      2 Replies
      1. re: xman887

        Agreed on Atlas, sympatico on Traffic Jam & Snug, but Andiamo's *sucks*. Avoid that.

        I'd have recommended Roast for the drinks and/or celebratory dinner, but the vegetarian thing sort of screws that right up.

        -----
        Traffic Jam & Snug Restaurant
        511 W Canfield St, Detroit, MI 48201

        1. re: boagman

          I thought about Mosaic, too, but they don't have one single vegetarian entree.

      2. > without access to a car

        Where are you staying? Others have already
        cautioned that some of the casino hotels are
        in areas that are not fit for walking, unless in
        a large, preferably armed, group. The valet
        at the Marriott RenCen is very, very slow.

        The cab situation here is unlike DC, Chicago, NYC. If you
        would reconsider lifting the whole "no car" limitation:

        - The prior brewpub suggestion goes from okay/G to G/VG @ Lily's Seafood.
        Dragonmead is an an outstanding microbrew operation, but I doubt they have any food for you.

        - Inn Season is the hardcore vegan restaurant in the area. But their service can be uneven,
        or less.

        - Pasta - Giovannis (SW Detroit, almost Dearborn). I agree w/the recommendations re:
        Angelinas and Roma Cafe. Andiamo's? I'd send a vegetarian to (Symon's) Roast before I'd
        send you to any of the Andiamos locations.

        - Ditto vegetarian - Neehees (indian. Farmington Hills)

        - I keep wanting to mention Polish Village Cafe, but just cannot imagine pierogis, cabbage,
        borscht (barszcz is the vegan edition) and noodles without kielbasa or a porkchop.

        -----
        Polish Village Cafe
        2990 Yemans St, Hamtramck, MI 48212

        Lily's Seafood
        410 S Washington Ave, Royal Oak, MI 48067

        Inn Season Cafe
        500 E 4th St, Royal Oak, MI 48067

        3 Replies
        1. re: rainsux

          Neehee's is great, but how much is a cab ride from downtown to Farmington Hills? $25 each way for a six-dollar dish? Even Lily's Seafood or Inn Season, in the suburb of Royal Oak, are going to be a bit of a hike. The Detroit restaurant scene is not bad, it's just scattered around, and downtown places tend to serve certain specific audiences.

          Traffic Jam and Snug would be a reasonable cab ride, though. I'm never blown away by the food there, but it's a fun spot that really has the atmosphere of the Wayne State University area, and they'd certainly have vegetarian food.

          -----
          Lily's Seafood
          410 S Washington Ave, Royal Oak, MI 48067

          Inn Season Cafe
          500 E 4th St, Royal Oak, MI 48067

          1. re: Jim M

            I would definitely recommend Angelinas Bistro for pasta. I definitely DO NOT recommend Andiamo(what do people see in that place anyway! And there's so many of them and they seem so popular. Blech!) I also don't really care for Roma Cafe but not to the degree of Andiamo. Good luck with the marathon weathermasta!

            1. re: Jim M

              > how much is a cab ride from downtown to Farmington Hills

              A lot.

              I'm suggesting that he reconsider renting a car. It opens up a lot of options for
              vegetarian that likes craft beers.

              Just for grins, I called Checker Cab. They don't know the fare from Metro Airport to the
              RenCen. Geesh. According to taxifarefinder.com, the fare is 71.97, 1-way, including
              tip. Parking at the casino hotels is not unreasonable.

          2. Thanks for all the recs so quickly everyone!

            Angelina is PERFECT for my pre-race meal. And I'm torn between Atlas and 42 Degrees N for celebratory meal - both look fantastic and I may have to visit both (hey, 26 miles certainly can warrant 2 dinners! :) ).

            Traffic Jam & Snug is totally up my alley (they make their own cheese!?! yes please!) and plan to spend most of the day after the race there and at Motor City Brewing, since they're right across the street from each other.

            The only thing I can't get down with is the lack of transportation options from the airport to downtown. While I understand rainsux's rec to rent a car, I don't want to worry about my beer consumption and driving (weathermasta is actually a she and feels those beers!), not to mention that the hotel daily parking rates are ridiculous for a car I would barely use.

            Thanks again everyone! Looking forward to your fair city!

            -----
            Traffic Jam & Snug Restaurant
            511 W Canfield St, Detroit, MI 48201

            2 Replies
            1. re: weathermasta

              Welcome! BTW, bring a passport or birth certificate if you have one (you may have to anyway to check in for the race). There is a bus running through the tunnel to the Canadian side. Google or just watch for the Tunnel Bus. More good Italian options in Windsor along Erie St. E, not a super-long walk from the center -- see Ontario board.

              1. re: weathermasta

                Not quite so bad as rainsux's taxifinder quote would suggest. www.metroairport.com lists quotes for two services, Metro Cars and Metro Cab. Metro Cars is $52 and Metro Cab is $43. Those are one-way. It's comparable to a trip from Charles du Gaulle to the Latin Quarter in Paris (ha ha)...

                Still not cheap (compared to DC e.g.), but not through the roof. I would just do the math on the rental car (including the $30/day hotel parking) and on the Metro Cab option (figuring in a few taxi rides for your food/beer/cheese trips) and choose the less expensive option or, if they're about the same, go with the taxis. Detroit may be the Motor City, but it's nice to indulge and not have to worry about driving to the hotel in an unfamiliar town, no?

              2. The local alternative weekly compiled a list of downtown places for this past weekend's Jazzfest (which was awesome, BTW)
                http://www.metrotimes.com/food/story....

                Royal Oak eateries also included as they had a weekend festival...RO is basically a giant outdoor food court and can be reached fairly easily via SMART bus up Woodward.

                If you decide to go to R. Hirt, you might want to check out Eastern Market...a giant outdoor farmers/wholesaler market open on Saturdays with prepared food sold at the market at well, and some fun places in the area, and probably not too expensive in a cab. Russell Street Deli is an interesting place with vegetarian offerings...you may have to sit at a table with others, that's the kind of place it is, but very lively.
                http://www.russellstreetdeli.com/

                -----
                Russell Street Deli
                2465 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207

                1 Reply
                1. re: coney with everything

                  Hell if she is going to be in Eastern market and is a vegetarian....it would be CRIMINAL to miss Supino' s Pizza. DOWN RIGHT CRIMINAL!

                  -----
                  Supino
                  2457 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207

                2. Hi everyone -

                  Just wanted to thank you all again for your input. Had a great time and had a chance to enjoy a few of your recs. Unfortunately I didn't get to check out as much as I would've liked, but got a few places in.

                  As I mentioned before, I didn't have a car, so I pretty much stayed downtown, and occasionally walked to other places within walking distance. And what was within that range was pretty fantastic! Here's a rundown:

                  Arrived Friday evening. Went to Grand Trunk Pub on recs from the Beer Advocate site before meeting some friends at the Magic Stick. All Michigan brews on tap (and plenty more in the bottle) and pub food definitely a step up from typical pub fare. Burgers and sandwiches served on Avalon bread (LOVE the olive bread!)

                  Saturday - Walked down the street from the hotel to Chez Zara for coffee and breakfast. Awesome espresso drinks and coffee (even if Lavazza isn't my favorite choice). Was hoping for bagels or some other big carb, but they only had pastries and cookies. All from Avalon again, and even though I'm not too much into sugar, I had a cookie and carrot cake type brownie that were nicely done. Walked over to Eastern Market after that and basically ate my way through it. Hot apple cider from Urban something or other (??), Pierogies from People's Pierogie Collective (yum!), Cheese from Zingerman's, Local bread and blueberry jam (forget where from) from R. Hirt and of course pizza from Supino. I am extremely picky about my pizza and very rarely eat it because of that, but this definitely fit the bill. Perfect crust and damn that sauce was good. As a former Bostonian living in Italian enclaves, I mourn the lack of decent pizza options in DC. Thank you Supino for giving me the best pizza I've had all year. Walked back downtown after that, took a ride on the People Mover (best 50 cent tour of a city ever!) and ended up at Detroit Beer Co for a few beers (their Anniversary black IPA makes it worth the visit). Finally over to Angelina for my pre-race meal. Met a friend there and we dined at the bar. They were pretty busy, but I wouldn't go so far to say slammed, yet the bartenders sure acted like it. When we finally got their attention, they were nice and accommodating, but they all seemed a little put out by having a full bar. Food was fantastic - I eat simple before big races - started with the simple greens (really nice dressing for such a simple salad, I like details like that) and had the mushroom risotto. Overall excellent food, nice atmosphere, just meh on the service.

                  Sunday - not worth talking about because all I did was run and drink. Never got a chance to go out somewhere for celebratory meal because I met some really great people that I just ended up drinking with. Ah well.

                  Monday - Was really beat from the race and the night before, but I absolutely had to check out Traffic Jam & Snug, if only because the cheese (and everything) is made in house (I moonlight as a cheesemonger, so that's why it was so important to me). While it wasn't the greatest cheese and beer I've had, I really appreciate those who stick to their roots and do it themselves. Also a plus - they take their General Hospital watching seriously. I'm not into soaps, but it was pretty awesome (hilarious) that you'll be glared at if you are interrupting the show. Note - order during commercial breaks or wait until it's over. Wanted to head across the street to Motor City Brewing after, but was just too damn tired. Went to bed and made a plan to return to check out everything else (Greektown, Atlas, 42 Degrees North, Slow's, etc.).

                  A couple asides: There is a great (if not somewhat overpriced) wine bar in the McNamara terminal with a well-priced decent cheese plate. Was a nice break from crappy beer and overpriced horrible food that's found in most airports. Also, I took a cab from the airport to downtown for $45 (not including tip), and took the bus back to the airport for $2. Half hour ride via cab, 90 minute ride via bus (Smart bus #125). Great people watching on the bus though, if you have the time to kill.

                  Thanks again! I hope to return again soon!

                  -----
                  Traffic Jam & Snug Restaurant
                  511 W Canfield St, Detroit, MI 48201

                  Detroit Beer Co
                  1529 Broadway St Ste 100, Detroit, MI 48226

                  Supino
                  2457 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: weathermasta

                    Thanks for the nice follow-up. Sounds like you had a good time and took advantage of the great weather.

                    1. re: weathermasta

                      Great followup, and very glad you got amazing weather!