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Feb 18, 2012 08:42 PM

Detroit - need recommendations near Milliken State Park Marina

We will be coming up the Detroit River from Lake Erie and we plan to dock at Milliken State Park Marina for one night in May as part of a multi-day excursion. We'll have bikes on board & plan to arrive late in the morning in time for a lunch destination. I'm aware of Eastern Market but am wondering if there are any other culinary gems within walking/biking distance of the marina??? We'll also need some dinner recommendations within walking distance of the marina - is it safe to walk near the river front at night or should we plan on bringing food to grill/cook on the boat & just stay near the boat/marina?? Not interested in walleye/perch b/c we have an amply supply of favorite places around Lake Erie that serve fresh walleye/perch. Interested in Middle Eastern food and anything unique to Detroit that we shouldn't miss.

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  1. There are several options in the Warehouse District just to the NE.

    What is your budget?

    I am not comfortable walking in this area at night. Downtown Windsor is much safer for walking at night.. But, I don't know about the marina situation ...

    1 Reply
    1. re: rainsux

      No specific budget in mind - casual & nothing high end where we'd have to dress up. If we have a big meal at noontime, we might just settle for appetizers & drinks for dinner. If we have a small lunch and/or an active afternoon of biking that leaves us hungry, then we'd opt for a bigger dinner meal.

    2. I wouldn't walk around there at night, but I would bike on the Riverwalk to downtown as long as I had good locks. Middle Eastern is mostly in Dearborn and the other western Wayne County suburbs. There is a lunch place downtown that's said to be good, but I haven't tried it.

      Distinctive to Detroit would be the two original coney island hot dog places at Michigan and Lafayette streets (cheap), and a few really old-school places straight out of "Mad Men," maybe the Caucus Club, in the basement of the Penobscot Building on Congress. Another famed old place, the London Chop House, has recently reopened. The Rattlesnake Club, pretty near the marina, was chef Jimmy Schmidt's original resto. Been years since I've been there but supposed to be still a good high-end place. Good Italian: Angelina off Woodward at Grand Circus Park. In Eastern Market: excellent Eastern-style pizza at Supino. There is a Detroit-style pizza, but I don't think anyone downtown has it. Downtown bars like Foran's Grand Trunk are friendly and cheap anytime. Mudgie's on Woodward has good deli sandwiches.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Jim M

        Those are good recommendations. I've read about some of the places you've mentioned elsewhere on this board.

        1. re: CurryLover

          Without knowing your age or sense of adventure, or the partial day of the week you’ll be here, it is tricky to answer. IMO, there is nothing great within walking distance. But, if you want to bike through some neighborhoods that probably will scare you a bit, in addition to ones that are interesting and not scary, there are numerous restaurant options. Some mentioned above.

          Unless you want to bike for the exercise/“thrill”, I’d recommend just walking west. Head a quarter mile down Atwater (somewhat ugly in that area, but safe during the day; night time may or may not be safe?) until you hit Rivard Plaza. This is a nice area where you can hang out even after dark and stroll along the River Walk over to the Renaissance Center (“RC” is fun place to explore, and has a drugstore, pastry store, post office, Starbucks, ATMs, etc.).

          From the Renaissance Center you can get on the PeopleMover monorail which drives around central downtown. You might want to exit at the Greektown Station and eat at Red Smoke Barbecue or at one of the few remaining “Greek” restaurants.

          FYI, the liquor store is across the street from RC via the elevated tunnel. The RC restaurants, such as Muir’s/Andiamo’s/Tom’sOysterBar/etc. are a good place to have a drink and eat an appetizer but they don’t deserve your dinner money. Same with Fishbones in Greektown.

          For a toot, you may want to bring your passport and take the Tunnel Bus from the RC over to downtown Windsor, Canada. Canada intuitively (I’ve no stats) feels like a safer place to walk around than does Detroit—perhaps because Ontario subsidizes law enforcement in Windsor, whereas Michigan is going let Detroit spiral downwards until it unconditionally begs for a bailout.

          Finally, note that nearby Hart Plaza or Chene Park may have something going on when you arrive. Have fun; I'm jealous of your lifestyle!

          1. re: CurryLover

            One correction to myself that I just noticed: Mudgie's has moved to 1300 Porter in the Corktown area west of downtown.

            As VTB notes, if you use the Riverwalk to get to the Renaissance Center (the big skyscraper) by bike or on foot (maybe a mile), you can take the People Mover, a circulator train and go anywhere in downtown. If you take the Tunnel Bus, Windsor has good Italian and Vietnamese food.

        2. If you're there on a day Eastern Market is open this is a total don't miss--one of the largest markets in the country and you can stock up on great produce, also lots of artisan food items, soup (buy McClure's pickles for sure.) Great restaurants right in the market area are Russell St. Deli, Farmer's (my friend considers their sausage a form of crack) and Supino's. A whole raft of choices for meats if you want to grill, Cost Plus wines can fix you up with libations for the boat. Plus there are outdoor ribs and burgers grilling so you should totally be set for the day. You may want to bike over to Cliff Bells in the evening--just beautiful Art Deco bar with good drinks, decent food and always really wonderful jazz. Greektown bakeries are still really good, so you can pick up some sweet bread or pastries for breakfast. Glad you're coming! Please report on your visit.

          7 Replies
          1. re: berkleybabe

            Great culinary recommendations from everyone especially Jim M, VTB & berkleybabe - thanks for sharing your foodie expertise as far as Detroit. I am working on researching all your recommendations so that my husband and I have several plans in mind once we dock in Detroit - I am adamant about visiting Detroit during the upcoming boating season. Boating is so weather dependent & can change plans at the last minute. So, if we have plan A, plan B, & plan C in place as far as what we're doing for meals, we'll be fine and there will be no disappointments. My husband and I are rather adventurous & love new boating/culinary destinations. Many of our boating colleagues will NOT consider Detroit as a destination - it's not safe, they say, and they prefer Windsor instead. But, the state park marina is relatively new & has 24hr security & has nice amenities plus it doesn't seem that difficult to get around using the marina as the home base - whether it is by foot, bike or the PeopleMover Monorail. I'll definitely report back on how our trip goes...I definitely want to impress our boating colleagues & be able to tell them we had no or very little problems docking in Detroit & eating our way through.

            1. re: CurryLover

              Please touch base, before you guys arrive. :-) We dig your attitude!
              PS--If you're not bored with Ohio things, there is Roast restaurant just off of the Michigan Ave PeopleMover station. (Roughly same area as the famous Detroit Coney Dog places)

              Also, the Cuban restaurant Vicente's is pretty fun and tasty, and within a brave walking distance from PeopleMover. Not a culinary or value destination in the profound sense, but I've ALWAYS left with a smile.

              1. re: CurryLover

                Like VTB said, we dig your attitude! I think you'll have a great time. I think the "danger" in downtown is way over-hyped, there are certainly sketchy areas, but around core downtown and RenCen, etc. are few problems. The river is grand and you'll love the lakes. If you give a heads up maybe some of Detroit hounds will meet you somewhere!

                1. re: berkleybabe

                  If Eastern Market is a possibility, the new episode of Bizarre Foods aired last night included a segment shot there. Totally worth a visit if you're around on a Saturday

                  1. re: coney with everything

                    Which day of the week will you be visiting? That makes a lot of difference.

                    Bikes have become quite popular in the downtown Detroit area. You'll be docked right across the street from the start of the Dequindre Cut Greenway, a paved pathway for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles. It can get you very quickly up to Lafayette Park (easy across to the downtown core from there) and Eastern Market-- though getting to EM requires a block or so on city sidewalks to the nearest safe crosswalk. (Connecting into the market is planned for the next phase of the Cut) Dequindre Cut and Riverwalk (to downtown along the water) are technically open 6am-10pm, but there's video surveillance 24/7. I'd definitely feel comfortable biking either.


                    If you're at all interested in Mies van der Rohe architecture his townhouses in Lafeyette Park, unique in all the US, are not to be missed.

                    There does exist a bike rack map of Detroit, if you'd be interested in that. It’s not perfect but I think helpful.

                    Nearest restaurants to the marina would be Rattlesnake Club (dinner from $37/pp, business casual, bike rack adjacent) or Andrews on the Corner (hockey fans' favorite, decent bar food, odd evening kitchen hours when there's not a sports event). There's an okay (Americanized) Thai place with a bar at the Lafayette Park greenway exit. It's open till 10 or 11, so convenient hours. There's also a full service independent grocer and a low end (Dollar General or Family Dollar) general merchandise store in that same little plaza.


                    Of course many more restaurant options are available downtown, just a few more blocks away.

                    Roast, Angelina Italian Bistro, Cliff Bell's, Fountain Bistro, Detroit Seafood Market and probably a few more I'm forgetting have very nice Happy Hour deals on drinks and apps, typically weekdays from about 4-7. For a "wear your jeans" place with good, inexpensive food and long hours, I keep ending up at Bucharest Grille/Park Bar just up the street from Comerica Park (and around the corner from Cliff Bell's).

           (Mar 23 entry)

                    You mentioned liking Middle-Eastern. I have tried CK Grille and I'd say definitely avoid it. The real Middle-Eastern food experience is along W Warren Ave, aka Little Beirut, over in Dearborn. It's not terribly far, but more than you'd want to attempt on bikes. You'd also want to take some time to explore the specialty markets and bakeries along with the restaurants in that neighborhood, so saving it for a longer visit may be better.

                    Taxis are stupidly expensive in Detroit-- depending on the day it might cost less to rent a car from the Enterprise nearby on Jefferson. They'll deliver to the marina, but are only open limited hours.

                    Unfortunately the nearest good, solid Middle-Eastern to downtown is Cafe Kebab in Hamtramck, 5 1/2 miles and a ~$16 cab ride (yikes!) away. Hamtramck also has some interesting and good Yemeni hole-in-the-wall places.


                    1. re: ak994

                      Wow! You provided a lot of helpful info. You CHers are great!! Our Detroit trip is on hold right now as we wait for a favorable weather window. Twice we had to change our original Detroit plans due to high winds on the lake and had to stay closer to our home port in Port Clinton. We need good marine weather for traveling by boat to and from Detroit. I printed off all the foodie recommendations here & have them ready to go. I will certainly report back when we do finally make it to Detroit.

                2. CurryLover have you been to Detroit yet? If so where did you go and how did you like it?