Detroit Free Press food writer Sylvia Rector put together a list for those traveling to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show (see the list).
Sadly, the list is a hodgepodge of “been there, done that” and safe choices that give little in the way of a memorable Detroit dining experience. Let’s be honest, if you’ve been to Detroit before, you have probably dined at one or more off that list. In the spirit of offering more diverse choices and in getting the most bang for you buck, here’s a list of some of favorite spots that were not mentioned.
Also, staying in Detroit’s city limits is fine if you’re into that sort of thing, but we’ll give you some options that are just outside of Detroit, too, especially because the area’s most innovative restaurant currently resides in Ferndale.
Pizza, Sandwiches, Tacos and Late Night Eats
Vince’s: A Detroit classic for over 50 years, Vince’s is an old school Italian restaurant unlike any other in the city. Friendly service, warm & inviting ambiance, and Italian food prepared in a kitchen staffed by women who look strikingly similar to my Italian grandmother – it’s like a trinity of Italian dining. The pizza combines a wonderful crust with Oh, and their house wines are very affordable. Perhaps a little too affordable.
Vince’s is located at 1341 Springwells, Detroit, 48209
Mudgie’s: Sandwiches. Delicious sandwiches. And now craft beer and wine too. I mean just look at the sandwich above. You want that.
Mudgie’s is located at 1300 Porter St., Detroit, 48226
Duly’s Place: Forget about Lafayette and American, Duly’s is where it’s at for your definitive Detroit coney experience. From Bourdain’s Parts Unknown Detroit episode, “They’ve been doing Coneys at Duly’s for over 90 years,” he continues, “It seems like a simple thing. Hot dog, chili, raw onion, mustard, steamed bun. But the delicate interplay between these ingredients when done right is symphonic.”
Duly’s Place is located at 5458 W Vernor Hwy, Detroit, 48209
Golden Fleece: For over 30 years, Golden Fleece has been serving gyros sliced fresh off the spit. They’re basically opened around the clock, so if you’re out late, hit this place up. Gyros plate, fries, extra tzatziki – heaven.
Golden Fleece is located at 525 Monroe St., Detroit, 48226
Hygrade Deli: Corned beef. Hygrade is on the edge of Corktown and is often forgotten about, but if you want some fantastic corned beef, by all means you should eat there. They’re not open late, so make them a breakfast or lunch stop.
Hygrade Deli is located at 3640 Michigan Ave, Detroit, 48216
Los Altos: If El Barzon is the elegant choice for Mexican food, Los Altos is a true taqueria. The prices are low, the food is excellent, and the place is almost always full of families & friends enjoying meals together. From the complimentary salsa tray to the array of traditional meats and dishes to the tres leches cake, every aspect will leave you wondering why you haven’t experienced this place yet.
Los Altos is located at 7056 W. Vernor Hwy, Detroit, 48209
Madison Heights: Exploration is key to experiencing a city. Venture out to Madison Heights (a short drive up I-75) and you’ll be treated to an area filled with Asian markets & bakeries, Vietnamese restaurants, and even a Malaysian restaurant.
Fine Dining but Casual
TORINO: For the past 6 months or so, Chef Garrett Lipar has been creating exceptional food week in and week out. The thing is Lipar’s menu is always changing. Every week a new menu is announced. Attention to detail is meticulous – each and every course looks like a work of art. We have a pretty extensive set of past dishes on our Flickr page.
Dining at TORINO is an experience and, for the quality of food, it is affordable, too. At $59 per person plus $30 if you choose to partake in the optional pairing, your looking at around $90 plus gratuity. A meal of this magnitude goes for much more than this in other cities, but since this is such a cutting edge concept, TORINO is testing the waters and doing so with much fanfare.
Even if you’re visiting from out of town and don’t have a car, call up UBER and get a ride to Ferndale. Even with the cost of car, your bill will still be less than some options off the Free Press list.
TORINO is located at 201 E. 9 Mile Rd., Ferndale, 48220
El Barzon: If I was pressed to name my favorite restaurant in Detroit, El Barzon would be near the top. El Barzon typifies elegant dining in southwest Detroit with a tremendous wine list and a menu that is two sided – Mexican & Italian. Chef Norberto Garita’s menu is not some new type of fusion, but rather the best of old world Italian and Mexican served in classic ways. You are welcomed with a basket of tortilla chips and two tremendous house made salsas. Order the Bis Pasta to start and then go in whatever direction your heart desires for your meal. There’s no wrong decision.
El Barzon is located at 3710 Junction, Detroit, 48210
Grand Trunk Pub: Usually running a dozen taps, all of which are from Michigan, GTP is the spot to get your Michigan beer fix. If beer isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of other booze, too – even some of that is from Michigan. They even have a good brunch on Sundays – in case you partied too hard on the night before.
Grand Trunk Pub is located at 612 Woodward, Detroit, 48226
Great Lakes Coffee: A coffee shop with booze? Yup. Not only do they roast their own beans, but the beer, wine, and cocktails are given as much (if not more) attention. The tap list always something special focusing more on unique, boutique beers rather than all Michigan. The wine list is heavily (maybe entirely) focused on natural wines. Cocktails are handmade. While hanging out there is great, if you’re on the go, you can grab beer, wine, coffee – almost everything on their menu really – to go. They even have growlers for draft beer.
Great Lakes Coffee is located at 3965 Woodward, Detroit, 48201
Two James Distillery: “Detroit’s first distillery since Prohibition,” Two James opened recently and is producing some tasty spirits particularly vodka, bourbon, and gin. Their tasting room is open 6 days a week (closed Monday) and offers tasting flights and cocktails. You can also buy bottles of their stuff to bring home with you.
Two James is located 2445 Michigan Ave, Detroit, 48184
If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of these places further, leave a comment, find us on Facebook, or send us an e-mail.
FULL DISCLOSURE: TORINO is a client. They had no input in this article. The opinions about TORINO are strictly my own.