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Apr 14, 2011 01:49 PM

One night in Northwest Detroit?

I have an unexpected trip to the motor city tomorrow and have one evening free. I will be hitting Bakers Keyboard Lounge on Livernois for some live jazz at 9 pm. Where should I eat a casual dinner beforehand? I need:

1. local flavor, color, and/or history
2. local atmosphere, somewhere that would be fun or at least pleasant when dining alone.
3. location either near Bakers in NW Detroit, OR alternatively somewhat in between Metro airport and Bakers so I don't have to wander around too much.

Prefer NOT fancy ... price not the issue, I'm more interested in exploring local flavor which is usually ethnic or pub food as opposed to high-end grub.

All ethnicities OK, but the food must be great. If there are still any Sanders soda fountains out there, something near by to one would be triple bonus points. (I lived in DET suburbs 20 years ago).

Thanks for your suggestions!!!

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  1. I'm going to throw out Polish Village Cafe in Hamtramck. This definitely fits the bill of "interested in exploring local flavor which is usually ethnic or pub food as opposed to high-end grub". It'd be both/and. I'd especially recommend the dill pickle soup (you can choose this to go with whatever entree you like), and the pork chops, the hungarian pancake, or the city chicken. Potatoes are going to be great, veggies will be from a can (at least the green beans are), and I don't care for their sauerkraut (or anyone's, for that matter), so I usually just ask for double potatoes instead. A lot of people will go for the polish plate which sort of gives you a sampling of some of the best/most famous polish food, but I don't care for them that much. The potato pancakes are *awesome*, but they must be ordered separately, and I'd never have that much room, and I don't want to reheat them. That's why the hungarian pancake is such a draw: the "pancake" is one, big potato pancake with the spicy pork goulash on the top, which I find fantastic.

    Your Sanders journey, however, will be quite difficult, as this map will show:


    There's no Sanders within 20 minutes, one way, of Bakers. Sorry.

    Polish Village Cafe
    2990 Yemans St, Hamtramck, MI 48212

    2 Replies
    1. re: boagman

      Is the Hungarian pancake with goulash a new menu item?? We have been going to PVC for 30 yrs. but not recently. Aren't the prices AMAZING! And they put those kids through college!

      1. re: mgebs

        It's been on the menu for at least a few years now...and yes: while the prices did get raised about a year ago, they're still absolutely *dirt cheap*.

        I love the place.

    2. Is Baker's still operating? They for sure had a bankruptcy. You may have a real meal in the D with their fried chicken dinner and Jazz.

      1. Baker's itself is said to have good soul food—never tried it, but where else are you going to get a liver & gizzard dinner? Probably get better seating that way, too. Check their website.

        Jewish delicatessens in Oakland County are well above average, and some New York publications have claimed that they're the country's best. I personally like Steve's at Telegraph and Maple, but others have their partisans.

        Ferndale, just to the north of Baker's, is the hipster suburb; walk around the 9 Mile/Woodward corner and along 9 Mile to the west and you'll find plenty of places.

        This place has extraordinary Korean food—a little tricky to find, but a GPS would get you there (probably). http://www.newseoulgarden.com/

        Agree also on the Polish places in Hamtramck—always good, and a straight shot up I-75 to 8 Mile and then west to Livernois to get to Baker's.

        Be careful in NW Detroit at night—Baker's is on a main road and is welcoming and well patrolled, and that is generally not the roughest part of town, but it's not a place to wander.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Jim M

          Thanks y'all. I read some pretty rough reviews of Bakers' food on Yahoo, so was a little nervous about that. The Hungarian pancake sounds terrific, and right up my alley ...

          Anything in Ferndale that particularly stands out for a solo diner?

          1. re: mstrimel

            I have had dinner a few times at Baker's in the past before they were rescued and I was very happy. It was SOUL FOOD....so do not look for modern interpretations on a dish. I think too often we look for that great next advance .....and miss the solid foundation it was built on. While I have not been back since they have found a life jacket.....I still would still give the kitchen the benefit of the doubt.

            Otherwise I think you are looking for the Original Buddy's Pizza @17125 Conant St
            Hamtramck, MI 48212

            1. re: JanPrimus

              thanks, that sounds great. I just realized it is a Friday so I have to go meatless, thus Buddy's will work better than the hungarian pancake. Now I just have to find a place that will serve a hot dog before 10 a.m. Saturday when I have to leave town :)

              Sounds like I need find a way to book a return trip.

              1. re: mstrimel

                Hot dogs? American or Lafayette downtown are 24 hours...Detroit coneys!

                If you're flying, there is a National Coney Island at the north terminal.

              2. re: JanPrimus

                Hamtramck isn't NW Detroit.....it's on the east side

                  1. re: JanPrimus

                    They sure are JanPrimus... I LOVED the pizza and greek salad at the Original Buddy's, and it was a very easy straight-shot drive out to Bakers jazz club afterwards.

                    You know, the food at Bakers looked fine too, although I was too stuffed to try any. Parking lot was safe and attended at both places, so no issues there. Thank you for your suggestions, it was the perfect solo Detroit experience!

          2. Getting back to the Sanders, the one at Laurel Park mall (6 mile/Newburgh) could be considered in between Metro and Bakers. In this area I'd recommend Sweet Lorraine's inside the Marriott. It's definitely not a typical hotel restaurant - they've been around here for years and have a pretty good reputation. Pluses: they always have vegetarian-friendly stuff on the menu; and the Sanders is actually right outside the hotel in the mall. Minuses: not the down-and-dirty urban neighborhood /ethnic vibe; probably a tad pricier than the other places mentioned.