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Detroit: Eastern Market, Giovanni's, and beyond...

  • tokyo Sep 10, 2012 07:12 AM
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So, for our anniversary this year, we spent the weekend on a food tour of Detroit. We live four hours away and rarely get to see the city at all, so the only rules were: we had to eat in Detroit proper itself and we had to try to see as much of the city as possible. We loved every minute of it.

We started at Giovanni's Friday night- Thank you hounds for letting me know about this place. We love old-school Italian places and this one truly is tops. Lasagna, linguine, tiramisu, cannoli- all transcended any we've had.

Saturday was Eastern Market day. For anyone still wondering if it's worth seeking out, YES, YES, YES. Someone else on this board referred to it as superior to Pike Place Market in Seattle and I have to agree. Less frenetic, less touristy, and plenty of variety. We sampled McClure's pickles (spicy=swoon!), Maria's Salsas (picked up the habanero mango), Corridor Sausage (Vietnamese chicken was good, bacon beer Swiss didn't stand out), Slow Jams (liked the peach rosemary), hubs enjoyed a korean beef taco from El Guapo food truck, and I'm forgetting others. I wish I'd had room for People's Pierogi Collective, they looked dynamite. I especially wanted to try the sweet potato pierogis. Also missed out on Love's Custard Pies and Zingerman's cheese (no way to keep it cold). Coffee from Germack's was good & strong (we chose to go to their storefront, but Great Lakes Coffee and Urban Grounds were in the market as well). We picked up a few things at DeVries, including a giant $1.25 fresh apple fritter. If that's not enough for you, certainly Supino and Russell St. deli have the rest covered, but I was seriously in love with the scene going on at Bert's BBQ. Just didn't have the room. All of this rambling is to emphasize the point: Easter Market is a gem, the best of Detroit, a highlight of any visit. GO!

We rounded out the weekend with tacos and pollo asado at Taqueria El Rey, late night burger and fries at Union Street on Woodward, red velvet pancakes and Eggs Benedict at Hudson Cafe, poutine at Brooklyn Street Local, and the bread pudding waffle with horchata ice cream at Mudgie's. Washed it all down with Astro coffee, Vanilla Java Porter at Atwater Block, and cocktails at Sugar House. Yes, I gained five pounds. Yes, I need to work out today. Yes, it was all worth it.

In between eating, we did actually do some other stuff - the DIA, Pewabic Pottery, a driving tour of Palmer Woods and Indian Village, finally saw the lobby of the Guardian Building, and generally took in the startling contrast of urban decay in the shadows of new casinos and ball fields. We have a lot of love for this city and our hearts went out to the history it has seen.

Thanks for the memories, Detroit! And thanks to the Detroit hounds for all your input, which helped to shape our food tour. We were not disappointed!

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  1. Wow!

    What a great, well-planned weekend. Thank you for your report, tokyo.

    1. Fantastic post! Thanks for reminding us what we have, sometimes when you live somewhere you forget (like New Yorkers who've never been to the Statue of Liberty!)

      1. Soudns like a fun weekend! Next time add green dot to your list too! I miss the eastern market, now that I have move!!!!!!

        1. Great post. I'm actually Canadian (from Windsor) - but spent almost every Saturday or Sunday driving through or hanging out in Detroit when our Dad would take us over. I love the city, it's vibe, food, sports teams and culture. I don't live in the area anymore and don't get to visit as often as I like but love posts like this for new ideas when I do get to visit. Thanks for the excellent insight!

          1. Reviewing some older threads to get ideas for a trip this weekend. I hung out a bit at the Eastern Market during my last trip in October but wondering how the market is in the winter?? Still worth going to? Will be with a friend who hasn't been before. Earliest we could get there would be around noon on Saturday as we are driving up (or down I guess) that morning. Was thinking worse came to worse we could at least grab pizza at Supinos, loved my slice there last time.

            6 Replies
            1. re: ylsf

              If you like pork, the "oinking on Thursday, for sale on Saturday" vendor is worth patronizing but they were packing up around 1 when we were there a few weeks ago.

              1. re: coney with everything

                I still like it even during winter.
                PS-- the 'oinking on Thursday' place is called Gaier Farms. Love it. They also have another policy which is 'Cruelty free treatment of the swine, but not the employees.'

                1. re: coney with everything

                  I have to post my paen to the "oinking, hanging, for sale" folks, Gaier Farms. Man, that is some good, well priced (cheap) pork. I only cook for two, and we're trying to eat more veg, beans and grains than meat, so I don't buy a ton of meat, but I walked away last weekend with fresh, delicious smoky bacon, a great smoked pork chop (that tastes like good fresh ham and will cook with my home fermented kraut) and some pork belly for a Fuchsia Dunlop Chinese restaurant experiment for under $7. The pork belly was so fresh and clean that when I blanched it for 4 minutes pre-simmering, the blanching water was nearly clean - none of the "foam" you get from impurities in supermarket meat. Dang, wish they were there year round.

                  1. re: HillsofBeverly

                    My feelings exactly. I wonder if we could combine a bunch of small orders to get them to do a dropoff somewhere, during their 'off season' ??

                    1. re: HillsofBeverly

                      We did a pork belly a few weeks ago, my DH used an Ann Burrell recipe and it was great even though he let it get a bit dry. Better the second day too

                      And we always buy a pork shoulder roast ($2 a pound and they'll cut the size you want), cook it low and slow. Their pork has great porky flavor, unlike supermarket meat.

                      Now all we need is a similar source for beef.

                      1. re: HillsofBeverly

                        > a great smoked pork chop (that tastes like good
                        > fresh ham ... wish they were there year round.

                        Nitsche's Meat & Deli @ Shelby Township has what you
                        seek; year-round:

                        http://www.gomeat.net/
                        http://goo.gl/maps/YhCRF

                        Doug

                  2. I'm so glad you got so much out of you trip to my city.

                    1. This sounds like a great time! I'm so glad you loved Giovanni's. We do, too. It's definitely destination dining for us!

                      And isn't the Guardian building just absolutely amazing???

                      1. Great post. Thanks so much. Brooklyn Street Local was not on my radar, but it is now.

                        In my opinion, you didn't miss much with skipping People's Pierogi Collective. Last time I was there, they made them on the grill wich is nowhere near as good as a crispy pan fry.

                        Sorry you missed Love's Custard Pies. They're amazing. I ordered seven at Thanksgiving to disperse to friends and family. The prices were slightly less than Achatz, Zingerman, Grand Traverse and the like, but they were definitely as good as any custard pie I've ever had. I loved the caramel pecan. The rest of the family raved about the German chocolate and chess pies. And to top it off, they delivered the pies to my house the night before Thanksgiving.

                        1. I also must second your judgment of Eastern Market beating out the Pike Place Market. It really is a gem and we are so lucky to have it.