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Seeking car show dining guidance (round 2!)

Its time to buy a new car again and this year's show looks like there are going to be a million cool things I haven't seen before, so we're heading back to your fair city. Last visit ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/674390 ), we did a Coney taste-off and ended up with our fine dining night at Roast. This year I've got three days and nights and a rental car, so I've got more options open this time. We are staying at the hotel where Roast is located, but I'm not adverse to driving if it is worth the trip!

One thing I always like to do is to hit any real local specialties that I haven't had elsewhere. Clearly, I have to get a Detroit pizza. It seems that Supino is the most famous, although Buddy's has its advocates as well. Leaning towards Supino since its pretty close to downtown. Anything else uniquely Detroit I should look for? Paczkis? Any place that strikes you as a must-do even if the food isn't necessarily a regional thing?

It sounds like Roast is still going strong and I have very fond memories of my last trip there. Assuming my friend loses track of his credit card or I find the local poker players inferior to me, any other high end joints I should make an effort to check out in addition or instead?

I assume Detroit has also figured out that if they add an ingredient or two that I've never heard of to a cocktail, they can charge three times as much for it. Any can't-miss craft cocktail spots?

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  1. For cocktails, Sugar House (directly next to Slows BBQ in Corktown) is pretty much hands-down a winner. I have as of yet to hear anyone complain about anything, and the praises I've heard border on the ethereal. Not cheap, but the quality and (possibly more importantly) the *ability* is worth it.

    I haven't tried it yet, but if you're willing to drive a bit (not too far), Marais is new, and I hear it's outstanding. It's been put together by the former executive chef at Forest Grill, and under his watch, Forest Grill was amazing. This, again, is going to be your high end joint, but it sure looks terrific. I haven't been there myself yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

    I'd also suggest that you skip the coneys this time, since you've already done it, and since I just don't think they're worth the time. Instead, experience the best Middle Eastern food outside of the actual Middle East in the Dearborn area. Check this board for various threads on the subject. I don't want to influence you one way or the other.

    One more thing: Supino's Pizza may be great (haven't been there myself), but it IS NOT Detroit-style pizza. For that, I'd suggest Loui's Pizza in Hazel Park as the hallmark of Detroit-style pizza. It's better than Buddy's IMHO, but Buddy's can be just fine, too, on a good day. On a bad day? Buddy's isn't all that. Last time I had it, though? Quite good. Fair's fair.

    1. Fancy cocktails: Sugar Shack; downtown, take a cab from your hotel.

      If you are willing to get waaay out of the city; The Root in White Lake Township has yet to disappoint.

      I really like the breakfasts at:

      - The Flytrap in Ferndale
      - The Chocolate Gallery in Warren
      - Fritattas @ Fritatta in Clawson (plan on $20/head)
      - Everything @ Cafe Muse in Royal Oak

      I prefer to get my Coney and Italian Beef fixes @ Hippo's in Troy.

      Chicken Shawarma @ Budapest Grill (downtown)

      Pizza? Supinos (downtown) is probably the best in the
      area. Buddy's is fine. Some like Loui's better (Hazel Park)

      Do you like Polish food? Consider Polish Village Cafe in Hamtramck.

      We had a recent debate re: Italian subs ... considerable debate, little agreement. Well, we did agree that paying a bit extra for the hard roll is money well spent. At Ventimiglia, ask for the artisan roll.

      3 Replies
      1. re: rainsux

        That's Bucharest Grill, not Budapest Grill. Supino is New York-style pizza and very good, and inexpensive. I'm not sure you can get a Detroit-style pizza downtown—the big places in Greektown are Chicago style.

        1. re: Jim M

          Jim M. Is correct regarding Bu* Grill... Sadly, auto-correct on this tablet will not let me enter the correct city/restaurant name... Grrrr

          1. re: rainsux

            I hate to say this, but I'm pretty sure that it's Sugar *House*, not Sugar "Shack", too. But I'm not that picky. ;)

      2. Not sure what you're really looking for at the higher end, but I might suggest Torino, in Ferndale. It's just up Woodard on Nine Mile. The tasting menu changes each week...not for the hearty eater...more for the adventurous. The menu is unique and each bite is truly an adventure for your tastebuds. They also serve craft cocktails.


        1. I like Sugar House but rather than having two drinks there, I urge you to have one, and then drive just down the street (westwardly) and have one at Two James Distillery as well. Great vibe in there, and the (craft) homemade taste is a unique experience. Why not try whiskey that DIDN'T come out of the back end of a factory? I really liked the gin, too, though I would encourage them to go more "experimental" with the spices and botanicals. I exchanged some emails with one of the partners, Andrew, and these guys really just seem cool. I can't wait for them to release their calvados and wormwood absinthe! (My brain was fried long ago, anyways)

          PS-- for food, definitely don't miss middle eastern. .. a tour of Warren Ave would be great. Shatila, Al-Ameer, Cedarland, New Yasmeen, Hamido?

          1. I'm wandering completely off the grid, and going to suggest a breakfast at the Plaka Cafe on Monroe Street. The place features impatient wait staff, cops, gamblers, hipsters, occasional street people; a montage of humanity calling metro Detroit home.

            The food: forgettable. The experience: memorable.

            4 Replies
            1. re: RedTop

              I'll do you one better and say the food is terrible. But you're spot on about the ambience. I find it best enjoyed at 2:30 am after the bar crawl.

              1. re: charlesbois

                Wow, that sounds...awful. In every way. ;)

              2. re: RedTop

                I've only ever been to Plakas while hung over, and it was perfect for that!

                1. re: RedTop

                  I'm a semi-professional poker player, so someplace to eat at 3 or 4 am with surly wait staff is likely to be on the agenda. Duly noted.

                2. Supinos is not "Detroit Pizza". It's good pizza, but not in the Detroit style. Go to Buddy's for the most famous example of that, but you can't find it downtown. I am not sure Roast has reopened yet, they had a fire before the holidays and were closed. Let me be Boagman's first complainer about Sugar House. I'd say it's just okay, not great. They specialize in hipster style old timey cocktails, and they don't really serve much food, it's more like snacks. If you want food with your hipster old timey cocktail, I'd recommend Vellum in Ann Arbor for that, or even Raven's Club, or the Last Word if you just want the old timey cocktail. But you are looking for places to go in Detroit so I guess I've digressed....if you want good Middle Eastern food, Dearborn is a better bet than Bucharest Grill, if you want to venture out of the city. Boag, where is Marais at? In Birmingham???

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: momskitchen

                    MK: thanks for backing me up on Supino's as not being Detroit-style pizza.

                    You are, indeed, the first person I've heard to complain about Sugar House. I neglected to mention it but, yes: you're right about SH not being about food. Since the OP specifically mentioned craft cocktail spots, that's why SH came to mind. You're also correct about it being a hipster joint, but I challenge you to find me *any* place in Corktown that isn't. I'll win that bet, and you know it. ;)

                    Bucharest Grill isn't Middle Eastern in origin...it's more eastern European or something like that. Nonetheless, their chicken shawarma sandwich continues to be magic in a wrapper for me.

                    Lastly: Marais' info is below:

                    17051 Kercheval
                    Grosse Pointe, MI 48230

                    1. re: boagman

                      Boag, thanks for setting me straight- I haven't been to Bucharest Grill yet because the guys I work with (we eat a lot of shawarma in Dearborn) tell me the shawarma is just okay, not great. But I'll get there someday! I looked at the menu and it's got lots of middle Eastern content on it, but they describe it as "The food ranges from traditional Romanian dishes to middle eastern cuisine and hot dogs dressed every way imaginable." I'll stick with my assessment on the craft cocktails....I think "The Last Word" in Ann Arbor does the best job. But that's a long drive from Detroit, so by all means, go to SH. And you are right about the HQ (hipster quotient) in Corktown!!!LOL

                    2. re: momskitchen

                      I see no particular point to having good pizza that isn't Detroit style. I've had a lot of pretty awesome pizza, but never Detroit pizza. I'll hit up Buddy's. I'm doing my homework on Middle Eastern options and will probably post a follow-up question on that later, but totally happy to get any suggestions in advance. Boagman read me right in that I was thinking of the cocktail bar as a thing more or less independant of food. I'm kind of an anti-hipster, but I have enough game to talk to the most pretentious bartender and hold my own for at least an evening. My buddy has the hipster goatee, so I'll make him do most of the talking. I'm willing to drive some, but Ann Arbor is probably a bit father afield than I'm looking for -- Dearborn I can handle!

                      1. re: SouthernGent

                        You might try Loui's Pizza in Hazel Park—very good, and a bit safer than the original Buddy's if you're not from around here.

                        1. re: Jim M

                          Hmm. I'm reasonably street smart and at 6'4" 220# not someone that is usually singled out for trouble. However, given Detroit's rep and the fact that I'm really a lover, not a fighter, I suppose it would be wise to listen to advice like that.

                        2. re: SouthernGent

                          Just go to the Buddy's pizza in Dearborn, its a safer location and a straight shot down Michigan Ave from your hotel.

                      2. Lots of new places have opened very recently in Midtown (between downtown and Wayne State University along I-94). I haven't even tried any yet, but several are getting good word of mouth. If you want to enlighten us on our own turf:


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Jim M

                          Is La Feria one of the ones getting good press? I'm always up for a good authentic tapas joint.

                          1. re: SouthernGent

                            Yes. A friend went and loved it. Street parking only.

                        2. i have a feeling places like roast and slow's and supino will be very very busy bc of their national media attention. personally im not a huge fan of supino. i find their pizza to be decent but doesnt come remotely close to good or even average neapolitan places in the northeast or very good places in the SF area. something is just off in the dough texture and flavor whether it's the yeast or the water. and i wouldn't call it new york style. i would say it's a variant of neapolitan.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: prcentauri

                            Due to scheduling issues (my day job thinks they have first claim on my time), I have to go to the show for the last four days this year, so I'm betting that the crowds will be thinned out somewhat. It sucks, because I had an invite to the Press Day, but I just couldn't make it work. I'm a backyard pizza oven having, full-tilt pizza snob, so its unlikely that I'm going to be blown away by any sort of neapolitan 'za. Plus I'd probably end up thinking I make better pizza and everyone hates that guy, even me.

                            1. re: SouthernGent

                              Well good, because if you go to Loui's you're unlikely to find anything like it anywhere else, and you can't really duplicate it. It simply is one of a kind. The place is rundown and locals oriented. And Hazeltucky, I mean Hazel Park, is grim. It's a bit of a drive up 75 from Detroit, but if you don't mind driving it will give you a glimpse of Wayne and Oakland counties.

                              But if you want to save your rental car mileage Buddy's will give you the detroit pizza experience almost just as well.

                              1. re: SouthernGent

                                Oh, my condolences about missing press days. I spent yesterday and today there, and it utterly spoils you for public days :)

                                And for future reference, Audi has the best food. Like the cars, love the bier

                            2. MetroTimes recently listed ten (10) bars for NAIAS visitors to consider:


                              1. Cobo now has a food court that will have several Detroit specialties. I know there is Detroit style pizza and polish food from Hamtramck among other offerings.

                                1. I'm enjoying the banter here!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: RedTop

                                    Yes. It must be mentioned that while Supino's is not Detroit style pizza, it IS a GREAT slice of Detroit style atmosphere (safe version). Love Eastern Market area.

                                  2. Maybe try El Barzon off Michigan Avenue. High quality Italian and Mexican Restaurant. Not fusion; it is both an Italian and Mexican Restaurant. Very good and pretty out of the ordinary.

                                    1. It's getting late to add to this thread, I know. Still, a few comments ...

                                      Original Buddy's is far superior to the Buddy's in Dearborn. Original Buddy's has guarded parking. I (non-intimidating female person) go there. No problem.

                                      I know Loui's has its fans. I just don't know why, when Original Buddy's is available. It's all about the crust.

                                      I loved Bucharest's shawarma a year ago, but think it has gone way downhill of late. They changed the way the chicken is cut (thinner now) and they just keep burning it-- uck! Still they'll deliver around downtown, and quite late, so I'll tolerate it in a pinch.

                                      El Barzon gets such mixed reviews (some serious service problems) and their prices have gone up so much I don't think I'd even bother in this weather. Their new patio is lovely, so maybe just maybe that would be worth the price of admission during the summer.

                                      Senor Lopez nearby on Michigan Ave has some so the same Mexican specialties I most enjoy at El Barzon, close in quality and at less than half the price. Currently they're running an Auto Show special-- 40% off (!!!) if you show your ticket stub. Open later is Nuestra Familia over on W Vernor near Central-- consistently good Jaliscan food. Up Vernor a bit, La Terraza with their seafood focus is another option, and often has live entertainment in the evening. The make-up of the crowd tends to depend on the entertainment. LaT also does a huge after-church business on Sundays, going through many crates of fresh oranges. I'm not thrilled with their breakfast dishes, but they'll serve their entire menu pretty much any time.


                                      1. As partial payment for your helpful advice, I thought I'd share with you my experiences on the trip. Before I begin, I'd like to offer up a word of advice. I know that it may be hard to hear, but be assured that I speak from a place of love and kindness. The weather that you fine folks seem to accept as a normal part of human existance is not actually your only alternative. I strongly suggest that you pack up and move! Walking the downtown streets last weekend with temps near zero and winds whipping through the buildings off the water at 30-40mph really made me question my will to live.

                                        The first night upon arriving in town, we did the Ford Rouge tour and Ford Museum and decided to try some Middle Eastern food since we were already in Dearborn. I ended up selecting Al-Ameer on Warren and we ordered one of the combination platters to try to get the greatest variety of tastes, after consulting with the waitress. She seemed a bit baffled that two grown men could be so ignorant of her cuisine until we explained that we were refugees from Virgina. Once it became clear that we weren't hopelessly lacking a sense of adventure, but rather that we had no places remotely similar to try, she became very enthusiastic about guiding us through a meal. We started with a tabbouleh salad and some toasted pita with garlic sauce. I have had tabbouleh before, but never quite like this. It had a much more intensely parsley base and a far more interesting spice profile than I had ever tried and we found it delicious. We also went with a lemon smoothie that was great. The garlic sauce was simple, but pleasing. Our favorites from the combo platter were the shawarma (especially the chicken) and the tawook, although the lamb kabob was also quite delicious. The hommous was great, although the pita was not the best I've had. The falafel and the stuffed grape leaves were good, but not astonishingly so. I wasn't much of a fan of the friend kebbie -- the ground beef was a bit mealy and I didn't love the spice mix which had a kind of musty aroma, but the crust was tasty. Our waitress insisted that we drive a few blocks down Warren to her preferred Middle Eastern bakery and order baklava. We followed her guidance and had a few other tasty pastries as well. If I had to pick just one dish to order, I'd probably go with chicken shawarma, but I quite loved the parsley salad. I wish we had this option at home, I'd be very happy to do some more exploring of the menu.

                                        The following evening we ventured out to the original Buddy's. We went with a relatively simple pepperoni pie and, well, I'm not totally smitten with Detroit pizza. You probably shouldn't care much, because I'm also not entirely sure I understand the love for Chicago's stuff either. I've concluded that I just prefer the thinner, crisper styles with less of everything. I did prefer Buddy's to any of the famous Chicago houses I've tried and I think the crisper bottom crust of Buddy's is the key reason why, although I'm pretty sure you could halve the amount of grease without losing anyone who is a big fan of the stuff.

                                        On our third night, it was snowing and we felt as if we were going to die if we ventured out into the evil night again, so we bailed on our plan to check out the tapas at La Feria and instead just ate at Roast to repeat our 2010 experience. I was able to use my southern charm to secure a table at 6 despite the fact that they were ostentiably sold out until 10:30 with a combination of shameless flirting and praise for our prior meal there. We started with the beef cheek pirogis and bone marrow and the pirogies convinced me that we made the right decision to return. They were truly spectacular. The bone marrow was actually a bit over-salted to my taste, but still decadent and delicious. I'm used to just getting a smidge to savor from my osso bucco, so it was pretty neat to have such a huge portion. They had a marvelous mushroom soup as a seasonal special with spaetzle, which was just the ticket for your frozen clime. I went with the wild boar ragu, which was absolutely brilliant and my friend went with some kind of steak smothered in crabmeat that he reported being quite pleased with. Since we last visited, the bar at Roast has stepped up their game with some excellent craft cocktails with cutesy games. I had a "Falling Leaves" that tasted mostly of lemon and Demerara and was lovely. The wine list was fairly solid, with several options that appealed to me, although their markups were sometimes a bit egregious, even by high end restaurant standards.

                                        I did try Sugar House, which was not overwhelmingly hipster-fied probably as a result of the poor weather keeping them elsewhere. I started with a Sazerac, which is one of the cocktails I use to judge someone who fancies themself a good bartender and was not overly impressed, but as I sat making small talk and discussing our shared love of good small-batch bourbons and I had an excellent Old Fashioned w/ bourbon that is another of my review standards, I became convinced that this did indeed know their stuff. My third cocktail was something with Lillet that was kind of a spin on a Corpse Revivor, but I forgot what imaginary name he assigned it. It was delicious. By hipster cocktail bar standards, the prices were quite inexpensive

                                        I do appreciate all the good advice I received here, even if it was from people with anti-freeze in their veins. I hope you all survive the winter relatively intact. You also might want to have a word with whomever runs your highway maintence organization -- they are not really excelling in their chosen profession.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: SouthernGent

                                          It sounds like you had a pretty decent visit despite the polar weather...but just FYI this is an astonishingly unusual winter. This morning at -10 we are setting another record and this month was the snowiest January ever recorded. I can deal with snow and cold, but I agree that the wind is physically painful

                                          Any cars strike your fancy?

                                          1. re: coney with everything

                                            The friendly folks who underwrote my visit by playing poker with a certain disdain for money at the Motor City Casino also tried to convince me that this winter was an anomaly, but I'm not sure how many times you should put up with this sort of nonsense. It seems to me that living through just one of these winters is one too many. I do agree that I had a fine time in your fair city and I wish I had both more time and the appropriate temperament to brave the cold and experience more dining options.

                                            In terms of what I'm going to buy, I find myself alternating between the Tesla S and Audi RS7 with a surprisingly warm feeling towards the new Lexus RCF. I think I'm going to end up with the Tesla because it has all sorts of geek cool.

                                            I am convinced that Ford is on a great track with the new Mustang and the aluminum F-150. In fact, I'm so convinced of this that I bought some stock this afternoon when it dropped to 15.60 for a short while. One of the things I love about the Detroit show is that I always end up in conversations with actual engineers from the company in question. I talked to at least three different Ford people, one in design, one in engine design (fascinating info on some of the challenges in the new Eco Boost engine) and one in IT with a spirited defense of the indefensibly stupid Microsoft Sync integration. I liked the Corvette Z06, but I'm convinced that if I bought one I'd have to start dating a stripper and I think my wife would object strenuously. I'm seriously pissed off that Toyota STILL hasn't built another Supra and their stupid concept that will never get built did nothing to assuage my hurt feelings on that score.

                                            1. re: SouthernGent

                                              No thoughts of an ELR?

                                              As we are seriously wandering off topic here, I won't say too much other than I'm glad you had a good time and come back again, hopefully able to experience more of the city--next winter cannot be this bad...please god...

                                              1. re: SouthernGent

                                                Glad you enjoyed yourself. Just wanted to add that I don't get Chicago "pizza" either. Once was enough.

                                                1. re: SouthernGent

                                                  Glad you liked the F150....that's what I do for a living!