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Places to eat in Detroit, end of September

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  • serac Aug 24, 2012 11:37 AM
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Hi, Houston Eater here (formerly of SF Bay Area). My husband and I are traveling to Detroit the last weekend in September and were looking for some recommendations. We are both adventurous eaters and willing to try anything at least once, with the one caveat that I am a vegetarian (cheese and other dairy items okay, but no meat, poultry, seafood or fish). We will most likely be staying downtown, but will have a car and are willing to travel. Any recommendations for food, cheap eats for the daytime, maybe one really nice place for a Friday or Saturday night out, would be very much appreciated. I have read a number of discussions of food in Detroit, but I would like your not to be missed Detroit restaurants.

Also, and I know this is not really food related, but what do you recommend for an early thirties couple to do in Detroit. I am an architecture and art nerd, my husband is a beer nerd, and we both love music of all kinds.

Thanks!

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  1. I'd like to get back to you about a fall menu tasting I'm going to next week before I recommend a certain place. But as far as beer nerd and architect/art nerd, you are in the right place. Beer nerd: motor city brew works. Art nerd: Detroit Institute of Art (world class collection, going there tonight to see the Vermeer on loan). Architect nerd: many, many, many buildings designed by Albert Khan, and other gems -- take a Detroit tour!

    Cheap(ish) eats - check out Supinos in Eastern Market, and check out Eastern Market. If you have a car, get out to Dearborn for some middle eastern food (extremely vegetarian-friendly!).

    5 Replies
    1. re: charlesbois

      All solid recommendations!

      Since you'll have a car ...

      Consider adding Dragonmead Microbrewery:

      http://goo.gl/maps/7EfSu

      For vegan; consider a visit to NeeHee's Indian Street Food

      http://goo.gl/maps/cll68

      For architecture:

      https://encrypted.google.com/search?q...

      Hopefully, this bldg will endure:

      http://www.freep.com/article/20120823...

      1. re: charlesbois

        Just had a special tasting dinner at Iridescence and in a word - ZOWIE! The view alone is worth it. So incredible! They are very vegetarian friendly too, so that's a plus for you. I can't speak to a lot of high-end dinners in Detroit (I'm poor, we just bought a house), but that one was definitely a dining event, and not just a dinner. It would be a great choice for a really nice place for Friday or Saturday. Get there when it's still light and watch the night fall on the city, it's pretty amazing.

        1. re: charlesbois

          This does look good. Thanks! We don't do fancy meals very often either (also just bought a house, and a car so I know the feeling). But this is a trip for a special occasion (birthday/anniversary), so we get one nice dinner out. For my husband's birthday we happened to be in Vegas for work and we went to Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, very interesting meal, but the view over Las Vegas is incredible. It would be nice to have a nice view of Detroit for my birthday!

          1. re: serac

            The Detroit restaurant with the best view of the city is: Coach Insignia

            Sadly; the latest reports say that the food is slipping.

          2. re: charlesbois

            Donna and I were impressed-as-all-get-out when we went to Iridescence a couple of years ago. It's more definitely high end, but what we experienced was worth it.

        2. All good advice so far, but on the architecture front don't miss the Guardian Building, 500 Griswold. Inside are not one but two excellent coffee places, one of them with decent inexpensive soups and sandwiches. One of the great exuberant office towers of the 1920s. Also, if you want to see the country's greatest movie palace, get tickets to a show at the Fox Theater. http://www.olympiaentertainment.com/d... Decent new Italian in area: Angelina. For veggie options, you can't do better than MIddle Eastern in Dearborn.

          1. In the city: daytime snack or meal at Avalon Bakery. Good local color of the reviving Detroit scene + amazing baked goods, good coffee, etc.

            Dearborn: the largest Lebanese community outside of Beirut. My out-of-town guests are always impressed by the Cedarlands www.cedarlandrestaurants.com/ Cruise around Warren Rd, Shaeffer Av. Check out the bakeries, produce marts.

            1. As Charlesbois says, Eastern Market and surroundings for food on Saturday

              Art: DIA and MOCAD, Heidelberg Project

              Architecture: in addition to others' recs, I suggest, if you are into pre-WW II US history, a trip to Shrine Catholic Church in Royal Oak. An amazing piece of history and interesting art deco touches.

              3 Replies
              1. re: coney with everything

                When in Eastern Market....Try Supino's pizza....

                1. re: coney with everything

                  re: Shrine Catholic Church, that was the pulpit of Rev. Charles Coughlin, who broadcast on CBS radio from 1938-1942 until he was finally forced off the air for expressing sympathy w/the Nazis.

                  1. re: Michigan Mishuganer

                    Yes, that's part of the fascination to me. Such a beautiful church from such hatred, and built literally with pennies during the Depression.

                2. I have to put in a word in for the Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum for things to do. They're having a fall flavor event that weekend.

                  Not a foodie or beer destination to be sure, but I would think an architecture buff would love to spend time there.

                  http://www.thehenryford.org/village/i...

                  1. Thanks for the information on Detroit. I am really looking forward to our visit. We love Middle Eastern, so a trip to Dearborn is a must, also the Eastern Market. I have looked at the DIA, and will try to drag my husband to check it out. I know he will enjoy Dragonmead. Also, any other beer spots to check out? My husband is more likely to go to the museum, if I can promise him great beer after.

                    Thanks!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: serac

                      Just an FYI, the DIA cafeteria is really good and has beer and wine there.

                      Other beer in the area is at the Detroit Beer Company and at an eclectic restaurant called Traffic Jam & Snug (they have a couple of house brews).

                      Not a Detroit company, but New Holland Brewing Company has a beer called Dragon's Milk that is 10% and tastes a bit like bourbon. It's pretty excellent.

                      There are a ton of Michigan micro breweries, like Original Gravity, Arcadia, Arbor Brewing, Founders, Jolly Pumpking, etc. And they are usually readily available at numerous watering holes around the city. This website is a pretty good reference:

                      http://www.drinkmichigan.org/beer/mic...

                      1. re: charlesbois

                        I second the nomination for Traffic Jam. Who can go wrong with a place that bakes it's own bread, brews its own beer and makes its own ice cream. It's in the Midtown area near the campus of Wayne State U and GM's old HQ building. Pretty artsy area down there. Hard to find a bad beer in the D really - so many good brew pubs or places that carry multiple microbreweries. Union Street grill near downtown on Woodward has a pretty massive selection of good beers and isn't too far from DIA either. Have a great time!

                    2. If you like Indian food, Indian Flavors in Westland is not to be missed. It is all-vegetarian, and unlike the nearby highly-touted Neehee's, the food is FLAVORFUL and made THOUGHTFULLY. It's almost like going to a friend's home for a meal--very welcoming, dishes made with a grandmother's love. They specialize in Gujarati dishes, and always have a very unique special (e.g. khandvi, undhiyu, dhokla) that you can't find anywhere else in Detroit, and are actually tough to find quality versions of anywhere in the US. There's a lot more to their menu, as well--typical stuff like aloo gobi, veg biryani, aloo paratha, etc. This is honestly the only place I'd recommend a vegetarian drive from Detroit to the 'burbs for.

                      http://www.indianflavorsdining.com/De...

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: jjspw

                        I think this is your first mention of this establishment. Have you been holding out on me? <g>

                        1. re: rainsux

                          > Have you been holding out on me?

                          Not intentionally! :-) I guess this really *is* the first mention of Indian Flavors here on Chow. I had reviewed it previously on "the four-letter 'Y' word", but it really never got much traction there. Am I allowed to post a link to my review of Indian Flavors?

                          1. re: rainsux

                            I'm just going to post the link. Hope it doesn't get removed.

                            http://delited12.wordpress.com/2011/0...

                            1. re: jjspw

                              Just back from Indian Flavors. I had business nearby. Yup; business, nearby.
                              Boagman, too. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

                              I was indecisive. I thought poor Boagman was gonna fall off his chair when I told the
                              owner, "Surprise me. Delight me." And they did!

                              Excellent recommendation. I'm adding this to my rotation of "going home from the
                              airport" dinner stops.

                              1. re: rainsux

                                Glad the recommendation worked for you! If not for the location, I'd eat there a good 10x more frequently than I currently do. It's just so out of the way for me, and I rarely find myself in that neck of the woods--even to/from the airport, I don't go that way.

                                1. re: rainsux

                                  Yeah, this was good stuff. I wasn't horrified by RS's suggestion or anything...I just hadn't actually gathered the wherewithal to toss that pitch by the guy and see if he'd swing. I told him, "We're wanting to try as much as possible today to try and get a feeling for you and your place..." and RS came up with the "Surprise me." line, and while at first the gentleman was a bit perplexed by it (I think he was, anyway), he soon understood that we were wanting as much of the full monty (so to speak) as we could reasonably experience.

                                  Very, very good. And what a lovely couple they are!

                                  Oh, and while I'm sure that RS liked Indian Flavors well enough, it's no joke to say that the restaurant that was most prevalent on his mind was a place called "Denny's". He just couldn't stop talking about it! ;)

                                  1. re: boagman

                                    I wonder what other joints jjspw is holding back from us, keeping them for her enjoyment only?

                                    1. re: VTB

                                      VTB, both RS and myself were pondering that very question onsite. Multiple times, in fact. ;)

                                      1. re: boagman

                                        I shall reveal my tightly-held secrets on 8 Sept. ;-)

                                        1. re: jjspw

                                          No chili-oil dumplings for you ... until you share you secrets.

                                          1. re: jjspw

                                            we are waiting!
                                            sept 8 was last week!
                                            :)

                                      2. re: boagman

                                        > it's no joke to say that the restaurant that was most prevalent on his mind was
                                        > a place called "Denny's". He just couldn't stop talking about it! ;)

                                        Whoa, big boy!

                                        I did NOT focus exclusively on Denny's. I also mentioned ... Boston Market.

                                        Why? My employer has decided that we should spend our per-diem at [cough]
                                        contract restaurants, so that they can collect a rebate. Last week, I was supposed
                                        to eat (only) at Denny's and Boston Market.

                                        So ... where did I eat? R&R Taqueria. It's in a Shell Station. Yes, a gas station,
                                        I kid you not. Seven, count'm seven, stools. No tables. No booths. Wonderful
                                        food.

                                        I told my employer that neither Denny's or Boston Market are Kosher. How do
                                        I rationalize R&R Taqueria? I'm a bad Jew, a very bad Jew. The Al Pastor was
                                        heavenly. <g>

                                2. re: jjspw

                                  Well, I think Indian Flavors is definitely on the list of places to go. It sounds delicious, and we love Indian food. I just won't tell my husband that it's vegetarian.

                                  1. re: serac

                                    If he really has taste, he won't care. The flavors are great, and I certainly didn't miss or need meat at lunch today. Hope you like it as well as we did!

                                3. Since you are interested in architecture and food you may want to check out Wheelhouse Detroit

                                  www.wheelhousedetroit.com

                                  they provide bicycle tours of Detroit and have many types of tours...there is an architecture tour and there are also rides that stop at Eastern Market, Urban Gardens, etc.

                                  1. All the Detroit 'hounds 'recommendations are great. As far as architecture, I sure wouldn't miss Cranbrook Educational Community --- fully designed through by Saarinen (buildings, windows, door knobs, landscape). In Bloomfield HIlls, about 15 miles, quick trip, from downtown. Gorgeous campus, good art museum, beautiful grounds.

                                    The Radisson Kingsley Inn (Long Lake & Woodward) has a terrific deli/coffee shop - Deli Unique. Best corned beef hash I've ever had, also great turkey hash. Full deli menu with excellent corned beef/brisket/soup/salad. Small little place but a perfect stop if you venture to Cranbrook. Higher end seafood restaurant Northern Lakes Seafood at the other end of the hotel is well-regarded as well.
                                    Please post where you stop! Enjoy the D!

                                    1. If you bring valid passports you can go to Canada for the best views of Detroit!
                                      In Detroit, I'd suggest Slow's BBQ (it is possible for a vegetarian to eat there) Have not tried Green Dot but it's supposed to be pretty good.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Michigan Mishuganer

                                        Two friends were mugged there within the past 5 weeks. Only go, if you'll have a car ... No public transport. And for gawds sake, don't act like tourist

                                        1. re: rainsux

                                          Mugged at Slow's? Or Green Dot?

                                          1. re: tokyo

                                            I'm sorry, I forgot to include the location: Heidelberg Project

                                            Both mugged while waiting for their taxi(s) to arrive. Both were
                                            acting like tourists (prey).

                                            One was an Assault & Battery (because she wouldn't surrender
                                            her backpack) ... but she gave it up once the beating commenced.

                                            The second involved display of a firearm, and demands for purse,
                                            wallets, cellphone & jewelry.

                                            Local merchant declined to call police in the first case.

                                            DPD response: Very, very slow - and, "You don't belong here."

                                            1. re: rainsux

                                              Sorry to hear about that!
                                              I would only go by car not taxi early in the morning.

                                              also useful for visiting Detroit is the People Mover
                                              http://www.thepeoplemover.com/

                                      2. non-food:
                                        another only in Detroit art experience is visiting Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project
                                        http://www.heidelberg.org/

                                        (oops, I see Coney w/everything already mentioned Heidelberg)

                                        1. As a couple also in our early thirties, we used some of the recommendations on this thread for our recent weekend in Detroit. Saturday morning munching our way through Eastern Market was time well spent! We loved it. (See separate trip report)

                                          Besides the must-have Middle Eastern food in Dearborn, if you need more veg-friendly options downtown, I have some vegetarian friends who enjoy Seva and Woodbridge Pub, though I haven't been to either myself. Woodbridge Pub would also satisfy a non-vegetarian. :)

                                          Another trip note: We spent Sunday from 10-2 at the DIA and were glad we did. The building itself is just gorgeous and it really houses an impressive collection. I would consider this a must-do. The Sunday Music Bar added to the experience for us as well. I would add a stop at Pewabic Pottery on Jefferson to the list. The tiles are used on both the outside of the Guardian Building (the lobby of which I also feel is a must see) and in the DIA.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: tokyo

                                            The Woodbridge Pub is fun for drinks, but I can't recommend the food. It's just not good, though it sounds decent on paper. I can recommend Al-Ameer in Dearborn for several vegetarian options. The meat options are delicious too.

                                          2. Sorry it has taken me so long to write about our wonderful trip to Detroit. We had an amazing time, Detroit was wonderful and we met some of the nicest people. On to the food (and the rest of the trip)...

                                            After our arrival on Saturday we checked into our hotel (the Book Westin, gorgeous) and headed to the Eastern Market. I got a slice at Supinos. The pizza, that days' special, was very good (and I wish I had written down everything that I ate, but of course I wasn't thinking about that at the time just enjoying). My husband had a coney from a place a couple of doors down, then we wandered around the market for a while. I wish we had something like this in Houston, I was so tempted to buy some vegetables and fruits. After the market we went on a short food and drink tour of the city (of course we didn't get to as many places as we would have liked).

                                            Motor City Brewery - The pizza and beer were pretty good, and the people were great. One of the servers here gave us even more ideas of places to go to both eat and just visit.

                                            Traffic Jam and Sung - We crossed the street from Motor City to check out Traffic Jam. Maybe it was because we sat at the bar, but it seemed a little self-consciously hipster for my taste, and I wasn't really impressed with what we ate, but the beer was fantastic. For a place that is known for their cheese and bread, you would think that the cheese would be really good, but all three cheeses tasted the same and the server couldn't tell us which was which, and there was no bread with the cheese just crackers. The fig/hazelnut compote on the cheese plate was tasty though. I don't remember what I had to drink, but it was dark and stouty and really good.

                                            Sugar House - Great drinks, reminded me of Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco, except the bartenders tried to spend a little more time talking to the patrons at the bar even though they were quite busy. We had a blast here!

                                            Mercury - We went here for dinner after Sugar House, decent veggie burger and fries, not much else to say about it.

                                            On Sunday we slept in late then went to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. Very cool place if you are into cars, trains or Buckminster Fuller. On our way to the museum we stopped off at:

                                            Cedarland - Amazingly good middle eastern food. We ate way too much. The pickles (turnips and some other vegetable) were worth the visit.

                                            After the museum we went to the Edsel and Eleanor Ford house in Grosse Pointe Shores. Worth the trip if you are into architecture and gorgeous homes. The rooms on the tour that were redecorated in the 30's were some of the best examples of streamline Art Deco that I have seen.

                                            Sunday night, after driving from one end of Detroit to the other we got dressed up and went to:

                                            Iridescence - Definitely worth the trip and the money. Although we got lucky and we happened to be in Detroit during Restaurant Week, so it wasn't nearly as expensive as it could have been. The food was spectacular as was the view, and our server was wonderful. I can't remember anything that we ate or drank but all was very tasty, and our server did special wine pairings with each course, including desert. The server and my husband, who has a friend who is one exam away from being a Master Sommelier and who is himself pretty knowledgeable about wine, had a great time talking about the wines we drank and wine in general.

                                            On Monday morning we got up and walked over to the Guardian Building to get a cup of coffee in the lobby. The coffee was decent, and the tilework was spectacular. After geeking out over the architecture downtown we went to breakfast at a place around the corner from our hotel, the Hudson Cafe. Pretty good breakfast, nothing really amazing.

                                            After breakfast we wandered around a bit before heading to Green Dot Stables for lunch. The food was great and very fun. I had Grilled Cheese and Black Bean Sliders and a kale salad, my husband had Buffalo Chicken and Korean sliders and we shared Truffle and Cajun fries. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my food, the best part of Green Dot Stables was the decor. It was like walking into a time warp in the 70s.

                                            Our last stop on the trip, just down the street from Green Dot Stables, was the John King Bookstore. Four floors of used, vintage and antique books. We were in heaven and would visit Detroit again just to be able to spend more time here.

                                            In short, we had a great time, ate some tasty food, drank some really good beer, cocktails and wine, and met some wonderful people. We plan on visiting again to go back to some of our favorite places and visit the ones that we missed this trip. Thank you everyone for all the fabulous suggestions, if we missed one of your favorites we will try to fit them in on the next visit.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: serac

                                              Awesome post, thanks for the thorough report!

                                              You might want to come back in a week or so for the World Series parade :)

                                              1. re: serac

                                                I stinking *loved* reading this post. You really did yourself a great service in trying a lot of different places, and getting a good feel for what the area actually offers, food-wise. I would never classify Detroit as being a place to find the newest, latest, gastronomic trend-stuff, but there ain't no doubt about it: we do know how to eat well!

                                                I'm especially glad that your beer jones was satisfied, because that's one area where I'm absolutely useless...it's like asking me where to find the best cheese in the area. For those that know me, they know how ridiculous that is!

                                                It also sounds like you ran into some good, solid people, and that's a definite plus. Everything is better when you're around people who are comfortable in their own skin, and make you feel welcome. I'm told that it's almost uniquely Midwest, but I'm pretty sure the South can be that way, too.

                                                Glad to hear things worked out for you!