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Jan 14, 2013 06:08 PM

Foodies Visiting Michigan (Grand Rapids, Central MI, Detroit)

A friend has a one-year job in Alma, MI this year, so my wife and I are visiting here there this weekend. We're flying into Grand Rapids just in time for dinner, then spending three days in the middle of the state, on one of which we'll probably go to Detroit. Any can't-misses in those three areas? We're pretty adventurous. Probably not up for super-duper fancy, but any price range is OK. Thanks!

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  1. As always, the Detroit area (specifically Dearborn) has the highest population of Middle Eastern people outside of the actual Middle East itself, lending itself to some extremely good Middle Eastern restaurants. Say what you will about our sushi, our lack of avante guard cuisine, our dis-and-dat...unless you're planning on using your passport and ringing up a severe airline bill, you can probably get better Middle Eastern here than anything else. Several good places to choose from.

    1. In Detroit we are not ashamed of our BBQ, Polish, pizza or Italian. But, since you are from North Carolina, I would be nervous about steering you in any other direction than Middle Eastern. It is memorable.

      The only other thing that comes to mind is an expensive night out in Ann Arbor. An experience which combines solid food and great atmosphere. Another personal favorite is Blue Nile Ethiopian in Ferndale, but many on the board would not support me in that rec, particularly if you have had Ethiopian elsewhere. Bounce around Detroit's (Saturday) Eastern Market if you get a chance-- Lots of snacks in and around. Fun. Autoshow is starting, too. Pretty awesome.

      1. In GR:
        San Chez Tapas Bistro is a loud, fun place. Good wine and tapas, but loud and crowded (just so you know). If you like this type of sorta hip environment, I highly recommend.

        I also had dimsum at a Wei Wei Palace (4242 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids, MI 49548 ) - it was good. This place is nothing at all to look at, dingy in a not so great part of town, but the dimsum was good.

        616 is supposed to have some pretty exceptional food, but I can't speak from experience. Some say the best in the city.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Markcron

          I went to San Chez this evening, and yes, very loud and packed, but wow, much better tapas than anything I've had in metro Detroit. The sangria was also excellent.

            1. re: boagman

              A rhetorical question? If not, there have been a few over the years. Casa de Espana, which had its moments, and some weird place in Farmington, I think, in a hotel, that was pretty good the first time and then not so much. I never went to Sangria--I seem to have an aversion to restaurants in Royal Oak.

              1. re: missmind

                I remember the place in what used to be the Farmington Hills Holiday Inn. Never went there, but I remember it. Sangria I avoid because it's in Royal Oak, and I fully admit that I'm developing (have already developed?) a bit of a prejudice with regard to any restaurant that opens in Royal Oak, especially downtown.

                I've heard of Casa de Espana, but never been there, either.

                1. re: missmind

                  >> I seem to have an aversion to restaurants in Royal Oak.

                  Worried they get their food supplies from the Detroit Zoo?

                  (I kid, I kid!)

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Nice! I wasn't even being that bad, but since you've decided to, I give you your props! ;)

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      One would have to live in metro Detroit to appreciate that joke...pretty good coming from a nonDTWer! :-)
                      Okay, Sangria is fun and it is not an affront to and a scam against eaters. But, as a Spanish food fan I sadly say that it is not good. Just passable.

                      1. re: nsxtasy

                        >>>Worried they get their food supplies from the Detroit Zoo?

                        I might be up for that. :)

                        1. re: missmind

                          Caution, the place may have closed. It recently sold for over $1.5M. What the heck? Mediocrity has its rewards.

              2. In Grand Rapids, six one six is indeed excellent, but if I had to choose only one place, it would have to be Grove, which has a chef-driven creative small plates style menu. I really loved dinner there the last time I was in town. I've also enjoyed Leo's, for creative fresh seafood. Those would be my top three choices.

                I've posted detailed reports on dinners at all three of these in these comprehensive discussions of Grand Rapids dining:



                1. Zingermann's Deli in Ann Arbor is an experience every foodie should have at least once!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Niki in Dayton

                    Second this. Zingerman's is one of the top delis in America. Last year "Saveur" magazine awarded its rye bread "best bread in the country". I would also add the Roadhouse, but recommend reservations.