Detroit for the night
I'll be in Detroit for the first time on a Monday night. I'm either staying downtown or in Southfield (at the W).
Can anyone recommend a place for a solo diner? Any type of cuisine other than Chinese or Ethopian. Everything else is great. I will be putting it on my expense account but I can't break the bank. Not sure what prices are like in MI - I'm coming in from NYC.
I hear there is a good taco place in Ferndale. Anything else? I don't have a car - I'll be using cabs.
There's a W Hotel in Southfield? Or do you mean the Westin Southfield in the Town Center complex?
Detroit Metro is perhaps the worst major airport for transportation into town. The airport's site lists cab fares each way (before tip) at $49 to Southfield, $43 to Downtown Detroit.
I can't imagine staying in any suburb without a car, so assuming car rental is not an option for you, I'd definitely try to stay Downtown if at all possible. At least there some places are walkable, and more become accessible via the 75-cent People Mover.
Roast, 24 Grille, Fountain Bistro, Angelina Italian Bistro and Cliff Bell's all have weekday Happy Hours. Roast and 24 Grille are both in the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel; Angelina and Cliff Bell's are unfortunately closed Mondays. I could happily make a dinner of grazing the Happy Hours at any/all of the above.
I could find something enjoyable for dinner at each of them, too, though I might hesitate to choose Cliff Bell's on account of some strange reviews of late. Cliff Bell's also has entertainment, and I expect that might complicate their dinner service.
If you need to limit dinner spending to offset those astronomical cab fares, Bucharest Grill is your answer. It's been discussed in a couple other threads here, so search for it for details. There I'd order the chicken shawarma (no mayo!) and perhaps a salad or a different side.
At the other extreme, Joe Muer's in Renaissance Center is supposed to be wonderful (I haven't been yet) but is definitely pricey.
Since Y*lp is so convenient for locations, hours, photos and web info, here are links to those places--
I'm still a fan of Sweet Lorraine's, Greenfield & 12 mile in Southfield, for a solo dining. Nice eclectic menu in a kind of arty space...always have had great food there. While others are talking about cabs - as are you - you may seriously want to consider a rental car as the mass/nonmass transit is almost nonexistent here. It'll give you a lot more choices and you can do it on your timetable. All the hounds above have solid choices, can't go wrong with any. If you know where you're staying we might be able to hone in a bit more. Hope you have a great time, great chow to be had here.
Yeah, you'll find it cheap. If in Southfield, you could try New Seoul Garden, 27566 Northwestern Hwy. for unusually good Korean (if cab driver can't find it, tell him/her it's where Northwestern Hwy. hits Telegraph south of the Glassman auto dealerships). To commune with the well-off, head to Birmingham and try Streetside Seafood, although there should be dozens of places like that in NYC. It has a bar. Downtown Roast is very good for carnivores—pretty new place created by a leading Midwest chef. Fairly expensive for dinner, but not by NYC standards. To experience a bit of old Detroit, try the Caucus Club in the basement of the Penobscot Buidling on Congress. Closes early (like 8). Best cuisine in the area: Middle Eastern, cheap, generally no alcohol. None downtown, a few in Southfield/Farmington. Mexican food may be a good choice here. It's mostly in southwest Detroit; for a slightly fancier place with liquor, try El Barzón at Michigan and Junction, not too far from downtown (maybe $10 cab ride?). Try the pozole; also excellent guacamole. And yeah, you have to call a cab.
I don't know of any taco places in Ferndale at all...used to be a meh sort of place but they have left. The pub currently in that space, One Eyed Betty's is a beer pub with good food and a hipsterish kind of vibe. Despite the fact that we are middle-aged non-hipsters, we like the place and I think a single diner wouldn't feel uncomfortable.
And agree with charlesbois that cabs are not always at hand in the D...recommend putting a number in your phone as they don't prowl the streets here looking for fares
If you are in Southfield, Ferndale and Birmingham are relatively close. Birmingham is chock full of high end stuff and yuppies, very walkable though. Pita Cafe or Elies for middle eastern, but Pita Cafe doesn't have liquor IIRC.
Ferndale has a more blue collar/hip/LBGT thing going.
Also, if you stay in Detroit and you're here on a night when the Tigers are in town, that might make a difference as to where you want to be. (if you're here on June 25, that's the night of Detroit's fireworks, which will make downtown a complete cluster)
welcome to the motor city and surrounding areas! Cabs here are not plentiful or easy, fyi, and fares can escalate, shockingly. But if you can expense it, it is an option.
Detroit and Southfield are very different beasts. As far as eating solo, there are tons of great bars serving great food in Detroit. I like Roast's happy hour. There are tons of recs on this board, especially on middle eastern cuisine, bbq, pizza, etc. Michigan is about 25% cheaper than NY, maybe more.