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Detroit Cheap Eats Food Tour--need suggestions and advice...

So, my brothers and I love going on food tours, where we literally hit 20-25 places a day, just sampling the best item at an individual place. Generally, these places are not sit-down type places (although they can be). And most of the stuff is relatively cheap. What we are not really looking for is expensive dishes at fancy places.

Here is an example of one we did in LA so you can see we're not joking around!!

One of my brothers is gonna be in Detroit for a few weeks for work so some of us are going to visit him and do a Detroit Food Tour. I've already done a great deal of research (in large part, looking at other Chowhound posts).

So, please tell me if you have any more suggestions for other places. We definitely like to hit things unique to the Detroit area. And, also, it really helps if you have a specific item to get at a given place Please feel free to give opinions on the list I have already created (e.g., if there is a place on there that we don't need to stop at).

(and, yes, I have things like Sonic and Culver's on there because we really like some ice cream shakes to break things up!!).

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Google Map: http://goo.gl/maps/VTpV

Lafayette Coney Island (chili dog, loose burger, and chili cheese fries
)118 West Lafayette Boulevard, Detroit; open 7:30am to 4:30am; (313) 964-8198

American Coney Island (chili dog)
114 West Lafayette Boulevard, Detroit; open 9am to 9pm; (313) 961-7758

Motz’s Burger (sliders)
7216 West Fort Street, Detroit; M-F 9am-6pm, Sat 9am-5pm, closed Sunday; (313) 843-9186

Buddy's Rendezvous Pizzeria (square pizza)
17125 Conant Street, Detroit; (313) 892-9001; M-Th 11am-10pm; F 11am-11pm; Sat 12pm-11pm; Sun 1pm-9pm; (313) 892-9001

Niki's Pizzeria (square pizza with feta)
735 Beaubien Street, Detroit; 313-961-4304;

Supino’s (thin-crust pizza)
2457 Russell St, Detroit; Tu-Th 11am-8:30pm; Fr-Sat 11am-10pm

Eastern Market (Saturday morning market)
2934 Russell St, Detroit; Tu 11am-7pm, Sa 5am-5pm; (313) 833-9300

Mike’s Famous Ham Place (ham sandwich)
3700 Michigan Ave, Detroit; M-Sat 7am-3 pm; (313) 894-6922

Golden Fleece Restaurant (gyro)
525 Monroe Street, Detroit; M-Th, Sun 11am-1am, Fr-Sat 11am-3pm??; (313) 962-7093

Good People Popcorn
633 Beaubien, Detroit; M-Th 11:30am-5:30pm, F 11:30am-7pm; (313) 963-2499

Taqueria Lupita (tacos)
3443 Bagley St, Detroit; M-Th 9am-10pm, Fr-Su 9am-11pm; (313) 843-1105

Slow’s BBQ (triple threat pork sandwich [bacon, pulled pork, and ham])
2138 Michigan Ave, Detroit; M & Sun 11am-10pm, Tu-Th 11am-11pm, F-Sat 11am-12am; (313) 962-9828

Chicken Shack (broasted chicken)
1871 Dix Hwy, Lincoln Park; Su-Th 10:30am-10:30pm, F-Sa 10:30am-11pm; (313) 383-9500
11401 Joseph Campau St, Hamtramck; Su-Th 11-10, F-Sa 11am-11pm; (313) 365-1400
14630 Mack Ave, Detroit; Su-Th 11am-10pm, F-Sa 11am-11pm; (313) 821-9200
19795 Mack Ave, Grosse Pte Woods; Su-Th 11am-10pm, F-Sa 11am-10:30pm; (313) 886-6060

Sander’s Chocolates (bumpy cake and hot fudge sundae)
Livonia Sanders Candy & Dessert Shop, 37702 Six Mil, Livonia; (734) 591-2147
12 Oaks Sanders Candy & Dessert Shop, 27678 Novi Rd., Novi; (248) 344-2987
Grosse Pointe Sanders Candy & Dessert Shop, 16837 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe; (313) 882-4966

Polish Village Café (Polish sampler, dill pickle soup)
2990 Yemans St, Hamtramck; M-W 11am-9pm; Th-Sat 11am-11pm; Su 12pm-8pm; (313) 874-5726

New Palace Bakery (raspberry paczki [Polish filled doughnut]
9833 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck; 313-875-1334

Sheeba Restaurant (Yemeni stews)
8752 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck; open everyday 7am to 11pm; (313) 874-0299

Polonia (Polish food)
2934 Yemans St, Hamtramck; M-Th 11am-8pm, Fr-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 1pm-7pm; (313) 873-8432

Marcus Hamburgers (tube-shaped hamburger)
6349 E McNichols Rd, Hamtramck; (313) 891-6170

Al-Ameer (Middle Eastern food—stuffed lamb)
12710 W Warren Ave, Dearborn; everyday 10am-12am; (313) 582-8185

Roma Bakery (pepperoni roll; Middle-Eastern pastries)
6412 Schaefer Road, Dearborn; everyday 6am-5pm; (313) 581-5000

New Yasmeen Bakery (cheese bread + spinach pie and meat pie [Middle Eastern])
13900 W Warren Ave, Dearborn; M-Sat 5:30am-10pm, Sun 5:30am-9pm

Cedarland Restaurant (lentil soup, Middle Eastern food—big portions)
13007 West Warren Avenue, Dearborn; everyday 9am-12am; (313) 582-4849

Miller’s Bar (“ground round” burger)
23700 Michigan Ave, Dearborn; M-Sat 10am-2am; (313) 565-2577

Greene’s Hamburgers (slider)
24155 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington; 248-474-7980

Tomatoes Apizza (thin-crust pepperoni pizza)
29275 14 Mile Road, Farmington Hills; M-Th 11am-10pm, F-Sat 11am-4pm, Sun 1pm-10pm; (248)-855 3555

Ritter’s Frozen Custard
31227 8 Mile Rd, Livonia; Sun-Th 11am-10pm, F-Sat 11am-11pm; (248) 476-4571

Loui's Pizza (square pizza)
23141 Dequindre Road, Hazel Park; W-Th 11am-10pm, F 11am-11pm, Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-1pm; (248) 547-1711

Ronin (hoisin-glazed baby back ribs)
326 West 4th Street, Royal Oak; Sun-M 5pm-10pm, T-F 5pm-11pm, Sa 5pm-3am; (248) 546-0888

Zingerman’s Deli (sandwiches)
422 Detroit St, Ann Arbor; everyday 7am-10pm; (734) 663-3354

The Original Cottage Inn (pizza)
512 E. William, Ann Arbor; M-W 11am-11pm, Th-Sat 11am-12pm, Sun 12pm-10pm; (734) 663-3379

Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger (burger [long wait & “mean” service])
551 South Division Street, Ann Arbor; M-Sat 11am-10pm; Sun 12pm-8pm; (734) 663-4590

PizzaPalis (Chicago-style deep dish pizza)
553 Monroe Street Detroit; (313) 961-8020
22022 Michigan Ave. Suite B, Dearborn; 313-724-7722
3171 E. Jefferson Detroit; 313-259-7272
23703 Greenfield Southfield; 248-552-7272

Union Woodshop (barbecue)
8 South Main Street, Clarkston; M-Th 4pm-10pm, F 4pm-11pm ,Sa 12pm-11pm, Su 12pm-9pm; (248) 625-5660

Culver’s (butter burger, concretes)
11001 Belleville Road, Belleville; (734) 699-6100
14800 Racho Road, Taylor; (734) 287-3147
6500 North Newburgh Road, Westland; (734) 595-1883
700 W 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights; (248) 546-5300

Sonic (ice cream and shakes)
16270 Fort Street, Southgate
7725 North Wayne Road, Westland
305 West Eleven Mile Road, Royal Oak

Bob Jo’s Frozen Custard
4071 Fort St, Wyandotte; everyday 10:30am-11:30am; (734) 282-6818

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  1. That's a pretty serious list you've got. Can't really add a ton.

    Evie's Tamales
    Bates Burgers- Sliders

    And for the record, I have had good (ie not mean) service at Blimpy Burger. :)

    I would skip Sonic IMO, even if it was for ice cream and add Ritters Frozen Custard.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Dblcorona

      Agree, the only "mean" person at Blimpy Burger is just a bit gruff and loud. Although she did ask me to stand up when I was leaning against a chair. She has just a tiny bit of a chip on her shoulder, methinks.

      Anyhoo, there are a ton more places in Ann Arbor. Other "institutions" in Ann Arbor are the Fleetwood's hippie hash, Brown Jug/Backroom $1 slices, Jerusalem Garden falafel with hummus, Angelo's breakfasts (overrated in my opinion though), Le Dog's lobster bisque. Oh I know there's a ton more I'm forgetting . And don't forget Ypsi! Sidetrack's burgers routinely get written up in national magazines. And I just think you can't beat the nostalgia factor at Ypsi's Chick Inn, Roy's Squeeze Inn, Bill's drive-in or Gabriel's cheesesteaks.

      P.S. If you like shakes, Chick Inn has a pineapple one that is to die for. And Washtenaw Dairy has the old fashioned kind of shakes.

      1. re: charlesbois

        Also, I don't see anything for Detroit's Mexicantown, which you should totally check out. Also Traffic Jam and Snug in Detroit is great. Motor City Brew Works you should also check out too!

        1. re: charlesbois

          Nope...they got one. A decent one. El Barzon might be a decent one but cost a bit more...

          Taqueria Lupita (tacos)
          3443 Bagley St, Detroit; M-Th 9am-10pm, Fr-Su 9am-11pm; (313) 843-1105

          1. re: JanPrimus

            missed that! Is it any surprise with the list they've amassed, though?

    2. Chicken Shack?

      That's one I'd cut from your itinerary.

      Didn't see Scotty Simpson's Fish & Chips on that list...

      3 Replies
      1. re: RedTop

        Awww, I like Chicken Shack! Imagine a world without broasted chicken (that's where I live) and tell me you wouldn't crave a little Chicken Shack now and then.

        1. re: tokyo

          Yeah, I get a little craving for the Shack every so often. If you do go, get the broasted potatoes, not the fries.

          1. re: gooddog

            Me too for Chicken Shack, but it is inconsistent. Sometimes we've gotten it from the one on Woodward and it's been awful, most of the time though it's great.

      2. I agree with the feedback you have already received.

        I'll suggest that you consider a Middle Eastern Bakery. 'Hounds seem to like both Shatila and New Yasmeen bakeries.

        I prefer Shatila for my sweets ... and I'll crawl a block on broken glass for their fruit ice creams.

        FWIW; I'd skip:

        - PizzaPapolis
        - Culvers

        I consider Bates & Motz equals. I prefer Motz because of their lousy location.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rainsux

          Second Middle Eastern pastries. Since New Yasmeen is on your list, at least get some baklava. But I would recommend Shatila as well.

          1. re: rainsux

            Agree with skipping Pizzapapolis and Culvers.

          2. Wow! Impressive research. I'd add:

            Erma's frozen custard, both locations 11am to 10 pm
            6451 Auburn Rd Utica 586 254 3080
            2080 E 14 Mile Rd Warren 586 275 2447

            Telway Hamburger System (sliders) 24 hrs (I think?)
            27000 John R Madison Hts 248 545 7962
            6820 Michigan Ave Detroit 313 843 2146

            Mr Kabob (pita sandwiches)
            3372 Coolidge Berkley (inside the gas station) 248 545 5000

            I'd agree about skipping PizzaPapalis. You've already got lots of good Detroit-style and thin crust pizzas on your list, this is not the town for Chicago-style.

            Culvers & Sonic, meh. I don't hate them but would pick any Detroit-specific place over either if that's logistically feasible.

            I like the shakes too (chocolate only) at Bates.
            I think the cream puff hot fudge is the thing to get at Sanders, rather than the sundae.

            And though I haven't been there yet, Green Dot Stables (2200 W Lafayette Detroit) has been favorably written about in a recent thread.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gooddog

              I was at Green Dot last week. We ordered a variety of sliders. Loved the catfish slider. The only one I wouldn't order again was the chicken curry. This is an odd thing to say, but it made my fillings hurt. Their fries are amazing.

              As long as you're in the area, stop by the Honey Bee market for some chips and salsa to eat in your car on the way to El Barzon in Mexicantown, an awesome little Mexican/Italian restaurant. The Mexican/Italian mix sounds wrong, but it's so right.

            2. what about all that craziness in dearborn? though i wouldn't recommend the bahn mis in madison heights...piss poor bread.
              i would rec some cold dishes at trizest....
              dolce gelato in sterling heights gets my vote for ice cream
              tringalis for italian baked goods - i like their cannolis and edise

              1. NeeHee's (Indian street food)

                1. I would definitely hit Roast in Detroit for happy hour at the bar.

                  I would also skip Culver's - go to Ray's in Royal Oak for some real ice cream.

                  If you do get up to the Woodshop - head out to Cook's Dairy Farm in Ortonville for an ice cream or shake amidst the cow manure

                  1. Skip Cottage Inn in Ann Arbor--not bad, but nothing memorable.

                    1. and shawarma at Bucharest Grill

                      1. I'd probably skip at least half of those sub-par options and go to some quality restaurants instead, e.g. Forest Grille, Root, Zingerman's Roadhouse.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: darkom

                          well, he did say "cheap eats" and the Roadhouse definitely does not qualify

                          1. re: charlesbois

                            "Cheap eats" are $5-20 and the OP has a lot of wastes of time on his list. Cutting a few of those would provide plenty of cash for Roadhouse, Forest Grille and Root -- while making his list stronger.

                            1. re: darkom

                              Great point, but it's not what the OP asked for. I'm sure the OP will take your suggestions for the new plan for his trip under advisement.

                          2. re: darkom

                            Forest Grille and Root are the opposite of cheap eats. That would be for another thread.

                          3. If you ever do a NYC area food tour posting on Chowhound, please let me know!

                            Here's something different & pretty cheap-
                            Somali food at
                            Samosa House
                            1785 Washtenaw Avenue Ypsilanti, MI 48197
                            (734) 340-6121
                            here's a review:

                            not far away is doms 24 hr doughnuts
                            1305 Washtenaw Rd
                            Ypsilanti, MI 48197

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Michigan Mishuganer

                              Well, speak of the devil.

                              And this one I pretty much had to do solo...

                              NYC Food Gluttony Tour:

                              1. In Mexicantown, be on the look out for "carne en su jugo": a soup-like concotion with frijoles, grilled beef, & bacon. This is typical of Jalisco (western Mexico) & half of Mexican Detroiters have roots in Jalisco.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: trapani

                                  Taquería Mi Tierra way out on Oakwood at the Detroit/Melvindale line does that dish well.

                                2. What is seriously missing from this list is Corned Beef on Twice baked Rye!

                                  I would say Plaza Deli on Northwestern.

                                  1. Some suggestions:

                                    1. Do Loui's Pizza in Hazel Park, and you can skip Buddy's. Loui's is the better pie, and you're talking about the exact same style. One will suffice.

                                    2. Skip Polonia in Hamtramck. I find it to be pretty lousy overall. Polish Village is great, though.

                                    3. I hate to say it, but Miller's Bar in Dearborn hasn't performed up to my expectations the last 2-3 times I've gone. You could skip this.

                                    4. Green Dot Stables in Detroit, based on my initial experience, is definitely worth your time. Definitely check out what the Mystery Meat slider is that they're offering, the catfish slider, and a Summer Soda.

                                    5. Definitely skip Pizzapopolis. Having lived in Chitown for 3.5 years, this is a substandard example of Chicago pizza. Don't bother.

                                    6. Corned beef sandwich at Stage Deli in West Bloomfield is worth the trip.

                                    7. Mr. Kabob in Berkley is a local institution...located inside of a gas station. They've been around forever, with good reason. Also, Bucharest Grill in Detroit's chicken shwarma sandwich is worthy.

                                    8. Roast for Cocktail Hour. Get *that* burger for $4, and you will be happy. While there, the stuffed peppers are great, too.

                                    I'd overload you if I kept going. Have fun and eat well!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: boagman

                                      Hey Boag

                                      I'm not sure if you're spoiled, jaded or what but we stopped at Miller's yesterday for the much ballyhooed burger and thought it was every bit worth the reputation. Right up there with Blimpy Burger for best I've had in the US.

                                      Could it be because they no longer grind in house. They get fresh patties delivered every mornign from Davis' Meat(??)


                                      1. re: Davwud

                                        Heh. I saw this post after seeing your post in the other thread.

                                        Anyway, I don't *think* I'm spoiled, but it's quite possible that I am, and don't know it. Perhaps, too, my tastes have changed. Even so: I used to *love* the burger at Miller's Bar, and based on my last three or so trips there, it's certainly not worth the travel. I'm certainly a big fan of the honor system they use for billing (thank you for trusting me!), and I'll certainly be the first person to defend a "simple" burger (as opposed to piled toppings which can mask lower quality), but there seems to be a lowering in their meat's quality within the last few years, at least according to my palate, anyway.

                                        One of these days I'm going to have to make the trip to A2 for Blimpy's. Never done that yet, and it sounds good.

                                    2. Your Ann Arbor selections are fine, although I would dump Cottage Inn. It's not bad, but nothing unique and you'll have better experiences at the Detroit-style pizza places others have mentioned.

                                      If you are looking for another spot in AA, I would suggest Pilar's Tamales out on Liberty, just west of Stadium Blvd. It's run by a El Salvadorean woman. Awesome tamales and pupusas. The watermelon drink and fried plantains (maduros) round off an excellent cheap eats meal.

                                      Another spot in the area that might be worth checking out is the Wurst Bar in Ypsi. They are doing elevated/gourmet sausages, burgers (though I haven't had any yet), and also have a good craft beer list and lots of whiskeys.

                                      If you do end up going to Zingerman's Deli, you should swing by Kerrytown Plaza across the street and hit up Monahan's Seafood inside there. It's solid seafood counter that also has a menu of seafood sandwiches and other specials. I did a writeup of it here:


                                      1. Super fun reading all these ideas! Nice job chowhounders from the D & environs.

                                        1. What a great thread! Responding so I get any subsequent replies.

                                          1. I have another Ann Arbor thought. I finally made it to the Elks Lodge last night. They recently opened up their kitchen to the public on Thursday-Saturday nights and host live jazz in their rec room in the basement. The chefs that run the kitchen have worked previously at Eve, Frita Batidos and Gandy Dancer. The menu is straight soul food and changes somewhat regularly: ribs, buttermilk fried chicken, fried catfish, collard greens, black-eyed peas, mac-n-cheese, etc. And it's cheap eats too - $10 for an entree + 2 sides + cornbread w/honey butter. I did a more thorough recap at my blog:


                                            If you can make it to AA on a Thurs, Fri, or Sat - you could hit up Blimpy Burger for "breakfast" when they open, go to Pilar's for an afternoon snack, and then finish it off with the Elks Lodge at night for soul food and jazz. Actually, I might have to do that myself next weekend.

                                            1. First off Id drop any of the chain restaurants/fast food. Culvers and Sonic? Don't bother.
                                              Looks like your trying to round up Burger places, Im making my way to the ones I can hit...

                                              Try Burgerz in either Royal Oak or Rochester Hills. Goofy name aside they're excellent and stands with the best burgers Ive had.
                                              I could suggest the Red Coat Tavern for a burger as well but they're not exactly cheap. So may not qualify for the list depending on your definition of cheap. Though you do have Zingermans on there and they are far from what I would consider cheap.
                                              Nemos...how can you miss Nemos... haven't been there for years though.

                                              For sliders I have not had a Motzs or Bates slider, but I have had plenty of Telways, These IMO are the best ever. I think you missed Hunter House in Birmingham for sliders too, if you wanted to round out the list. I've had them though and not only are they about twice the price of a Telway slider, they are not nearly as good. Also yes Telway is 24 hours..except on Christmas lol.

                                              For Michigan unique I have to say you need to hit some Middle Eastern places
                                              I haven't been to either, but I hear Al Ameer and Habibs are excellent for Middle eastern food. Though I haven't really found ANY Middle Eastern place I would consider cheap.

                                              I gotta be honest Pita Way in Clarkson makes an excellent shwarma, he doesn't use Taziki sauce, says it doesn't go good with his food and who am I to argue. One of the best Shwarmas Ive had outside of a Bahrain street vendor and Id consider it cheap eats especially considering the size of it.

                                              While in Clarkston stop at the Clarkston Union for the best Mac and Cheese you have ever had.....or just get it as a side at the Union Woodshop its the same stuff. That would be my sugestion

                                              For the best soft serve you've ever had try Ermas frozen custard in either Utica or Warren. Get one of the special flavors.... doesn't matter what it is it will be excellent.

                                              I don't know if your a drinker or want to be drinking while driving around the state, but it would be almost criminal to come here and not enjoy some of our fine beer in its natural habitat.
                                              Ann Arbor
                                              Arbor Brewing, Jolly Pumpkin, Arcadia.
                                              Dragonmead and kuhnhenns

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: loki993

                                                minor detail, but Arcadia is from Battle Creek.

                                                Another AA brewery that is doing good stuff is Wolverine State Brewing on Stadium. Unlike most craft beer places, they do lagers and not ales. They only have two of their beers available for distribution (lager & dark lager I think) but the have lots of beers on tap at their tap room. Good trivia on Monday & Wednesday nights as well. It is not too far from Pilar's Tamales (place I mentioned earlier), and since Wolverine doesn't cook their own food, they allow you to bring stuff in, so I'd get some stuff from Pilar's to go and take it to Wolverine.

                                                1. re: GreatLakesBetterFood

                                                  lol, why did I think Arcadia was in AA, I could have sworn they had a brew pup there, guess not

                                              2. Great list! Fly Trap in Ferndale for green eggs and ham, Buccharest for the buccharest shwarma, green dot (very creative menu and EVERYTHING is 2-3 bucks, including cocktails), and mexican town food trucks, maybe a stop at Nevería La Michoacana for popsicles and agua frescas, maybe treat dreams in ferndale too.