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May 27, 2011 09:51 AM

Detroit dinner recs on a Friday

I am planning to visit Detroit for a couple of days in mid-July on the way back from Torch Lake area (live in the St. Louis area). I am staying in Dearborn and plan to spend most of the time I have on a Thursday when I arrive at Greenfield/Henry Ford, and likely some time the next day. On Friday (birthday) I will be spending some time in the D, including late afternoon/early evening at the DIA. Looking for very good, unique food en route back from the DIA to Dearborn. Any price point/genre welcome. Has anyone done the Detroit Princess dinner cruise...the food gets good reviews, and it might be an option too.

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  1. What is your budget?

    What level of ambiance and service do you expect?

    Are you open to middle eastern cuisines? (Dearborn has a significant m/e population)

    DIA is close enough to Hamtramck that Polish cuisine is a reasonable option ...

    Pizza? Supinos

    BBQ? Slow's (great BBQ, long waits, service ranges from ambivalent to very poor)

    Italian? Giovanni's is very good and not far out of the way. (Ignore the neighborhood.)

    Mexican? SW Detroit has several great places for 'real' mexican. Also a few higher profile
    operations that serve gringo-ized mexican.

    Regardless of the cuisine you choose; go to Shatila Bakery (Dearborn) for dessert.

    WRT a dinner cruise on the Detroit Princess; I have no first-hand experience.

    2457 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207

    9 Replies
    1. re: rainsux

      Well, it is a birthday dinner, so I wouldn't mind $25-35, not including tip or wine. A nicer ambiance would be good, good service would be nice too. M/E is fine. No Tex-Mex please, there's enough more authentic Mexican where I live that T-M is a letdown. St.Louis has a large variety of Italian choices, so I get a lot of that already.

      1. re: ddfry3

        Then may I *completely* second rainsux's recommendation of Giovanni's? This sounds absolutely right up your alley, and they just know their stuff. Their pasta has single-handedly redefined pasta for me. It's still made in-house by their grandmother, and it's just glorious.

        I've never, ever been disappointed with my multiple experiences at Giovanni's. Never had one thing to complain about, and the service has been, without exception, top notch.

        As rainsux said, ignore the neighborhood. Valet the car (if you like), and enjoy the best Italian food I know of.

          1. re: VTB

            Mmm. Well, I guess. Their loss, I suppose. I'm sticking by the recommendation. I have a hard time believing that Giovanni's wouldn't impress the heck out of them, anyway.

            Roast is good, too, but I'm not sure that it's worth what they charge for the "full boar".

            HA! See what I did there? ;)

            1. re: VTB

              Not opposed to Italian, but St. Louis has a large, famous Italian area called "The Hill", though many of the choices there and nearby cater to lots of tourists, and are heavy on the red sauce/cheese/cream style of Italian cuisine. I like lighter, more nuanced stuff, especially in the heat of summer!

              Thanks all for the recs...keep 'em coming!

              1. re: ddfry3

                Ugh. Giovanni's is the *anti*-that type of establisment. I know *exactly* what you're talking about, and that's why I'm not big on Italian restaurants as a rule. Giovanni's is (at least for me) a complete eye-opener. As well, if you're wanting something more light and nuanced, they'd be happy to make a recommendation or two, and then stand by it resolutely.

                I myself am not a cheese guy, I don't particularly enjoy marinara sauces, and you'd be surprised how many Italian restaurants that puts right out of joint. Giovanni's has lots and lots of choices that make me very, very happy.

                This is getting ridiculous...I'm starting to think that I need to get down there to have some tiramisu tonight, just on general principle.

                Oh, and Iridescence at the Motor City Casino? I can highly recommend that myself. The only real issue there is that, if you're all dressed up for an evening out, you'll find it a bit annoying that the idiots from the casino wearing denim shorts and rude-sayings t-shirts will be coming up to the restaurant as well. I'm not saying the restaurant doesn't do what they can...I'm just saying that it's annoying.

                1. re: boagman

                  Can you give me an idea of price range at Iridescence? I generally avoid the casino atmosphere unless there is really overwhelming reason to go...not a fan of the atmosphere in general. I won't be dressed up from a day of sightseeing, but even as a tourist I don't wear t-shirts.

                  1. re: ddfry3

                    Iridescence is high-end. Expect entrees in the high $20s and $30s.

                    This needs to be said: Iridescence, while the premiere restaurant in Motor City Casino, is actually completely, totally separate from the casino itself. It's in an entirely different building, and you can park, enter, ride the elevator to the restaurant, dine, and then reverse your trip, having never heard a coin drop, a slot machine's chimes, or anything. It's *very* separate, and it's done purposefully, I think. At least I hope it is. Whatever the motivation, it's the correct one...I hate the din of casinos.

                    I haven't been there within the last year, and they've changed executive chefs since I was...but the whole experience was terrific, and I haven't heard anything to make me believe that it'd be anything else today.

        1. re: rainsux

          Agree with Giovanni's! It's spectacular food, warm and hospitable environment, and you'll feel like you're at someone's home -- good wine list, too. This has been a special event place for us and it's always wonderful and very close to Dearborn.

        2. Detroit Princess is a one-time kind of experience. River views sailing up river are a mixed bag, Great vistas of downtown and Belle Isle; not so pretty views of other property. Food is upscale buffet, with an anchor beef carving station in the line. Being that you are a St Louis native, it might be a nice way to wind down the early evening. Rockin' On The Riverfront is a free show sponsored by Chevrolet at the RENCEN on Fridays. Fading rock bands provide a nice show after the boat ride.

          1. Your budget will accommodate a few add'l upscale c;hoices:

            Roast is indeed the place for hot, dead beast.

            Coach Insignia is on the top floor of the RenCen and a very solid choice with a view.

            Iridescence at the casino also earns strong reviews.

            Downtown also has several strong Greek restaurants (Greektown area) well under your
            budget. I prefer Parthenon.

            Reminder: Go to Shatila Bakery (Dearborn) for dessert. I'm a sucker for their homemade
            fruit ice cream ... but they've got MANY fancy desserts from which to choose.

            Use I-94 to travel from downtown to Dearborn.

            Coach Insignia
            Renaissance Center 72nd Floor, Detroit, MI 48243

            1 Reply
            1. re: rainsux

              "Reminder: Go to Shatila Bakery (Dearborn) for dessert. I'm a sucker for their homemade fruit ice cream ... but they've got MANY fancy desserts from which to choose."

              One of these days I'm going to visit this place and see what all the fuss is about. I'm just hardly ever down in Dearborn...

            2. If you are near the DIA, you are near my all-around favorite Detroit restaurant, Traffic Jam and Snug. The restaurant's Web site seems to be down (, but here is a recent segment from a new TV show, "Dining in the D," about the place


              Yrlp reviews:


              1 Reply
              1. re: vdoucette

                Vdoucette, thanks for giving the "thumbs up" on Traffic Jam & Snug. Atlas Global Bistro, on Woodward just south of Mack, is a good choice by the DIA. It serves farm-to-table bistro fare with some international nuances and has a nice wine list and cocktails, too.

                Atlas Global Bistro
                3111 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201

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

              2. Ok, an amendment. Ddidn't get to Detroit in July, but will in 2 weeks. Still planning a trip to DIA on a Sunday afternoon, looking for dinner after. Will be with foodie sister from East Coast. More interested in quality ingredients and interesting presentations/venue conducive for chatting, does not have to be expensive, which I'll call $50/pp for this purpose.