Restaurants

 

 

Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles is located on Livernois between 7 Mile and Outer Drive, we arrive just after 3 pm and the place is packed!  Open for less than a year their creative menu of southern comfort food keeps people coming back. The place is very attractive inside; red walls, open ceiling, funky floors, great art, very cool.We are seated at the only open table, I look around to see what surrounding diners are eating–everything looks delicious. Our server drops off our drinks, takes our order and reminds us everything is made to order from scratch, so it takes a little time. The crowd thins out after 3:30 and our food arrives.

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Ok, so we went a little crazy ordering, that’s what take-home boxes are for….Here goes: The Big Red is a red velvet Belgian waffle served with a scoop of cream cheese icing in the center, a side cup of bourbon maple syrup, 3 large, hand-breaded, luscious chicken tenders and a side–we are having collard greens. Every single item is outstanding, and the bourbon maple syrup, well, you’re gonna have to try it for yourself! Biscuits and Gravy are the ultimate comfort food, we got 2 buttery, crispy on the outside-flaky on the inside biscuits and a bowl of chicken gravy, over-the-top good! Then there’s the LALA, it comes with a waffle, this one has tiny little squares that really hold onto the melted butter and syrup, 2 eggs, ours are scrambled and a cup of cheese grits, yum! I can see why the restaurant is so popular.

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Dime Store opened on the ground floor facing Griswold in 2014. Funky vintage lights hang above the counters, an over-sized mercury head from dimes minted between 1916-1945 is painted on the far wall, old kitchen items rest on shelves. They call themselves an American Brunch Bar specializing in breakfast, lunch and booze; they do all of it well. It’s nearly 3 pm and the only available space is two counter seats, we make ourselves comfy as we read over the menu. Once we place our order we’re mesmerized by all of the activity in the open kitchen, staff members hustle among a sea of stainless steel preparing french toast, omelettes, benny’s, hash, salads and sandwiches.  

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Our server delivers a bowl of classic Mac & Cheese, topped with bread crumbs and chives the sauce is thick and smooth, the noodles are the perfect texture. Todays special is the Hercules Omelette, 2 eggs packed with house-made chorizo, roasted eggplant, spinach and smoked Gouda topped with tzatziki sauce and pickled onions. Filling out the plate is a side of breakfast potatoes and toast, every bite is delicious. 

 

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24 Grille is located on the ground floor of the Book Cadillac Hotel. The restaurant is cozy and attractive, decorated with lots of wood and black accents. The lunch crowd has diminished, we have our choice of tables, Kris chooses a window-side table facing Washington Blvd. Our server is friendly and helpful. A quick scan of the menu and we place our order. Before we know it lunch arrives, the Wedge salad is nearly half a head of iceberg lettuce smothered in tasty blue cheese dressing sprinkled with crumbled bacon and chopped tomato. The veggie burger is huge! The house made patty is delicious, it sits on a brioche bun and is loaded with tasty toppings, served with a side of pasta salad it’s definitely big enough for two to share. 

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It’s 2:00 on a Sunday, with no reason to rush out the door we’ve slept in late and are now in search of food. Why is it anything with eggs or maple syrup tastes even better after noon?  Craft Work in West Village is said to have a great brunch, we’re here to check it out. Located on the ground floor of the Parkstone Apartments, the restaurant is integrated into the neighborhood perfectly. That’s one of the things Kris and I really like about this area; restaurants, cafes and shops are intermixed with single family homes and apartments making it very walkable. Mature trees, gorgeous architecture and well-kept homes create a charming district.

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Housed in a space that was originally a pharmacy, then occupied by the Harlequin Cafe, Craft Work has kept the old-world charm alive and well. Dining room tables are full when we arrive, there’s plenty of room at the community tables in the bar area. Everything on the menu sounds appealing; we choose one sweet and one savory dish to split. Before long, large plates piled high with breakfast foods arrive at the table. Lets start with the savory; tender bacon fat biscuits are literally smothered with house made sausage gravy nicely seasoned with tender chunks of sausage. Next to the biscuits are two perfectly fried eggs; I put mine on top of the biscuit, eggs Benedict style. Cutting into it, golden liquid yolk drips down the biscuit and combines with the gravy, delicious! Golden french toast made from eggy, tender, slightly sweet challah is stacked high, pats of butter melt slowly and eventually slip down the stack, a cup of syrup shares the plate, Kris is in his glory, it’s exceptional.

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As we drive around midtown we notice people sitting at picnic tables, drinking beer in front of Jolly Pumpkin‘s new location on W Canfield. Only in its second day of operation we thought we’d take our chances and see if we could get in. It seems the crowd has dwindled and left several open tables, we take menus, sit at the table of our choice and begin the decision-making process. Making my way back to the counter I place our order, pick up my Furry Black India Pale Ale at the bar and set my order number on the table. We sip on our drinks and take in the large space. The open ceiling leaves the duct work exposed, floors are terrazzo, walls are covered in reclaimed pallet wood, quite attractive. Vintage glass light fixtures illuminate the room, the flat screen TV is behind the bar and unobtrusive, nice. Then there are the 32 taps………

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The Chopped Salad is delivered to our table; a mix of lettuce, salami, ceci beans, olives, peppers, mozzarella and basil dressed in a red wine vinaigrette; very good. Our Meatball pizza soon follows; charred tomato sauce, caramelized onions, olives, mozzarella, Parmesan, basil and miniature meatballs all atop a thin crust, tasty! Known for its Sour Beers, the Detroit location is Jolly Pumpkin‘s third Gastro Pub, looks like it’s already a success. 

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 Milano Bakery and Cafe is located on Russell Street in Eastern Market; the bakery, originally opened in 1958, has been at this location since 1999. Inside you’ll find a bevy of breads, pastries, whole cakes, tarts, cookies, well, you get the picture. Today we are having lunch in the cafe, large menu boards hang on the wall above the pastry cases, one for pizza, one for sandwiches; everything sounds delicious. We place our order at the counter, Kris takes a seat at a table while I study our dessert options. 

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Before we know it lunch is delivered to our table. We chose an onion roll for the pepper-jack roast beef sandwich; roast beef topped with sautéed mushrooms, red and green pepper, onion, pepper-jack cheese and Milano’s homemade sauce. The onion roll is toasted so it keeps the sandwich from becoming soggy, the meat is tender, the cheese has melted, all the flavors have combined into one tasty combination. Sandwiches come with a side, we had potato salad and ordered an extra side of pasta salad, both are very good; the pickles are excellent too. About the time we came in the door, our willpower went out, it’s impossible to resist temptation with such a gorgeous selection of pastries in view. Choosing which to have is an entirely different dilemma….. Caramel Bumpy Cake proved irresistible; moist yellow cake topped with pastry cream and submersed in caramel frosting, yum! Scrumptious food, delectable desserts and fair prices keep us coming back.

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Today we have our mind set on a particular place, Rubbed, a sandwich and charcuterie shop on Michigan Ave. The small but quaint dining spot offers a tasty variety of cured and preserved meats, cheeses and accouterments available on a sandwich or charcuterie board; it smells amazing when you walk in the door. The interior has a retro feel; wood floor, vintage globe lights, an assortment of table and chairs, make the completely open space feel homey. Shelves by the counter are stacked with preserved vegetables, Rubbed t-shirts and old license plates. A chalkboard menu is placed near the register, we walk over and begin the decision-making process. Soup and sandwich sound good, we place our order and have a seat by the front windows overlooking all of the activities on Michigan Avenue.

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We help ourselves to cucumber water and look around, charcuterie board menus are written on plain brown paper near the counter, they all sound delicious; meats, cheeses, breads, pickles, olives, nuts…..Our food arrives, it looks and smells wonderful. I dip into the steaming hot bowl of mushroom soup, well seasoned, packed with mushrooms and a fair amount of bacon, it’s delectable. Kris stabs a potato from the dill and red skin salad and nods his head in approval. The Little Italy sandwich is huge, certainly big enough for two, it comes wrapped in butchers paper and cut in half. The bread is the perfect combo of crisp and tender, stacked with capicola, mortadella, pepperoni, provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, banana peppers and mayo it is quite a mouthful, a scrumptious one at that.We eat until we have polished off every last crumb, the meal yummy and satisfying. Be sure and check out their monthly dinner series, maybe we’ll see ya there!

 

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The tour and shopping have left us starving, we park in the lot at Third Street Bar to grab some lunch. The room is dimly lit, tables are made from split logs, there’s a fireplace to the left, above it logs have been sliced into thin pieces and attached to the wall creating interesting patterns. It is late afternoon, the skee ball, dart board and shuffleboard table are still. We are here for some Dangerously Delicious Pie. I walk to the back corner where I find a wall- mounted menu of savory and sweet pies, on a table, a doorbell-like button  says “press for service”, so I do. I place the order, pay the man and join Kris back at the table. Before long, two pie tins piled high with leafy green salad and a piece of pie arrive. The BBQ pork is unbelievably delicious, the meat just falls apart, it is juicy and flavorful, the crust is to die for. The ham and cheese quiche is divine, it has the same wonderful crust; you get a nice slice of pie and a generous portion of salad for just 6 bucks. As much as we would like to try a piece of one of the dessert pies, we just can’t do it. The bar is open daily, pies are served for lunch, dinner and late night, we’ll be back………

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Detroit is full of unexpected surprises. In 2012 a majority of the Hollywood film Red Dawn was shot in and around Detroit. In one scene, a smallish, irregularly shaped building on Clifford St was blown up (kinda) in a fiery explosion, it was also a run-down liquor store in Transformers 3. Fast forward to 2014, there sits the building, wearing a brand new facade, wrought iron accents, lanterns and thick wooden door that looks as if it came straight from a castle.  A narrow vertical sign calls it Downtown Louie’s Lounge, the neon sign in the window says “open”, so we go in. The place is beautiful inside, they used high-end materials like dark wood, quartz and leather, the leaded glass entrance doors are gorgeous. Two stories tall, it is completely open to the second floor ceiling, a mezzanine level at the back of the restaurant is made cozy with a lovely fireplace and built-in booth across the far wall, did I mention the walk in wine cellar? The main level is a combination of high top tables, booths and the bar, there are several flat screen TV’s but they don’t seem obtrusive.  

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Given our choice of seating, we go up to the second floor, a table overlooking the place, light fixtures and wallpaper panels give it a bit of a Modern feel. The restaurant is owned by the same folks who give us Louie’s Ham and Corned Beef on Riopelle near Eastern Market; this location serves classic American Cuisine, craft beer, wine and cocktails. It’s hard to pass up a good Reuben, so we don’t…..we did order the house salad too, just to balance things out. The sandwich is delicious; piled high with tender corned beef, sauerkraut and dressing– don’t forget to ask for extra napkins. The house salad is large, full of leafy greens and veggies, the citrus balsamic dressing is tasty. We would not hesitate to come back again.

 

 

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La Dolce Vita Nestled away on Woodward near the Palmer Woods neighborhood is one of Detroit’s hidden gems, La Dolce Vita. Serving superb Italian cuisine, the building goes unnoticed by most passersby, but don’t be fooled, the restaurants excellent reputation keeps the place packed most of the time. We are having an early dinner on Friday evening, I made a reservation in advance. We turn in behind the building and are greeted by a valet, Kris hands him a $5 dollar bill, we head inside as the Jeep is whisked away. The warmth of the building is soothing, the outdoor temperature is hovering at 5 degrees. The host takes us to our table, large chandeliers light the patio-looking room, archways separate the dining area from the bar. Everything on the menu sounds delicious, we make our selections and nibble on fresh-baked bread. Windows overlook the garden area, the snow is piled high, in the summer there isn’t a prettier place in the city to have a meal than in their courtyard. Service is impeccable, our glasses are never empty and empty dishes are cleared quickly. Kris is having the Petto Di Pollo Alla Sorrentina; sauteed chicken breast, roasted eggplant, mozzarella and a veal-demi marinara sauce to die for. Truly outstanding, the chicken is so tender, no knife is needed. I ordered the Gnocchi Alla Bava, being a fan of both pasta and potatoes, I cannot resist. Without a doubt this is the best gnocchi I have ever had; tender pillows of heavenly deliciousness smothered in a six cheese cream sauce, I found myself grinning with every bite. We definitely have to come here more often! mary 005 mary 009

 

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*          diaish 053 diaish 051 diaish 047diaish 044 We are off to try the latest restaurant to open in Midtown, La Feria, on Cass Ave. Serving hot (calientes) and cold (frias) tapas, the owners have brought a little bit of Spain to Detroit. Open from 11 to 3, and then again from 5 to 11, we settled on a late lunch to hopefully avoid a long wait. There are two empty tables, we help ourselves to the high-top in the front window, the late afternoon sun warms our backs as we glance at the menu. The place is lively, tables are filled with jovial customers passing dishes and catching up with one another. The ceiling is a deep blue, a red soffit adds a splash of color above the bar, a small chalkboard calls out today’s specials. Everything on the menu sounds delicious, our waitress is super friendly and helpful in our decision making. We start with a glass of house made red Sangria, be sure to have one yourself……First to arrive is the ensalada mixta: tender greens, cucumber, red onion, hard boiled eggs and Spanish olives, sprinkled with coarse salt. The tortilla Espanola is next, two triangular slices of cold Spanish omlette with fried potatoes and carmelized onion topped with roasted red pepper strips, mmmmmm, really good! The Sabor de Espana is a charcuterie board with exceptionally good meats, cheeses and charred bread, we had the small one and it was just right for the two of us. The food is outstanding, we look forward to eating our way through the entire menu!

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We are having a late lunch at Ottava Via on the corner of Michigan Ave and 8th Street (hence the name). Open just a short time, we are anxious to give it a try. The building itself was built sometime in the early 20th century, brown brick and white terracotta, it began life as the Dime Bank, did time as a bakery and before its current reincarnation was a pawn shop, the red-letter LOAN sign is still attached to the building. The inside has a rustic charm, architectural elements are a mix of vintage and contemporary; terazzo floors, high ceilings, communal tables and a gorgeous clock add to the atmosphere. The menu features Neapolitan style pizza baked in a stone oven, antipasti, share plates and pasta dishes. Our meal arrives quickly, the chopped salad is delicious; the greens are fresh with some crunch, the basil is a nice touch, meat is thinly sliced in bite-size pieces. The vegetarian pizza is flavorful, the crust Neapolitan-style thin, toppings include mushrooms, asparagus, onion and olives laying atop a tasty red sauce, yum!

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Having grown up with a great many Polish relatives, a good Polish meal satisfies both my stomach and my soul. Our favorite restaurant in Hamtramck  is Polish Village Cafe on Yemans. Enter through the ground level door of this former hotel and make a left down to the basement. Pull the door open to reveal this tiny gem of a space cranking out authentic perogi, golabki (stuffed cabbage), potato pancakes,  nalesniki (crepes), and many other dishes. The room exudes charm with it’s dark wood wainscoting, and Polish mementos, miniature lights line the beamed ceiling, the  colors change with the season. Ever had dill pickle soup? If not, quiet that voice in your head that just said “pickle”? and try it. The line can be long , afterall, Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II have eaten here, not at the same time of course….A seat at the bar and a nice Polish beer is a great way to wait for a table, recently a second floor was opened so the wait time is shorter. Polish Village Cafe does not make reservations, and only accepts cash. Seriously, try this place!

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 We had lunch at Polonia Polish Restaurant on Yemans. Serving up some of Hamtramck’s best Polish and Eastern European food for over 40 years, it has a loyal following. The inside is quaint, a mural depicting life in old Poland covers the back wall, tables and booths line the dining space, authentic Polish dishware is displayed on shelves, Polish music plays in the background. The front of the menu is a Polish Short Dictionary, it includes: Good Day, Please and Thank You, and of course, Kiss Me and I Love You. The phrase is first written in English with the Polish next to it, now if I only knew how to pronounce it……. The combination plate gives you a bit of everything; pierogi, kilebasa, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and golabki, it’s so good! My mouth waters just thinking about it. We love potato pancakes so we ordered those too. Fried to a crispy brown outside, tender and moist inside, slathered with sour cream of course, delicious. Back in 2009 Anthony Bourdain filmed a segment here for the Travel Channel and introduced a whole new audience to the restaurant.

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We walk over to Broadway, we are having lunch at The Detroit Beer CoOpened in 2003 they were one of the first restaurants to take a chance on Detroit’s revival, by the amount of people seated at tables, I’d say it worked out well. The space is cool, long and narrow it encompasses the first two floors of the historic Hartz Building. The brew house was custom fabricated to fit the building, with four fermentation tanks and five serving tanks they offer up to eight house beers daily. Tall windows make up the front of the space, local art hangs on the walls. We choose a high-top table near the front window. The hostess and servers are friendly and efficient, we get the rundown of the day’s specials. We place our order for a Door County Harvest Salad, the Dagwood Burger, and the People Mover Porter. Salad and burger arrived simultaneously, love that. Lots of fresh greens, fruit, cheese and nuts on the salad; the cherry maple vinaigrette is a great compliment to the mix and is delicious. The burger was prepared perfectly; BBQ sauce, Canadian bacon, cheddar cheese and onion rings on top, so good! The waffle fries were crispy and tasty too. I love a good Porter and was not disappointed in my selection. As we ate we had a good view of folks walking up and down Broadway to or from an event; the Monster Truck Show was at Ford Field, so I suspect that was cause for much of the traffic. It’s good to see the city vibrant and alive, and this is just the beginning.

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We walked over to Woodward for lunch at Forans Grand Trunk Pub; in the mood for a great sandwich and a beautiful setting, it fit the bill perfectly. The building went up in 1879 and was known as the Traub Brothers Jewelry Building. In 1911 it was renovated and turned into the ticket office for the Grand Trunk Railway, the company’s Grand Trunk logo still graces the terracotta detailing on the front of the building. Inside they removed the second floor and installed a gothic style vaulted ceiling, the antique brass chandeliers are still hanging. The place has a definite sense of character, I can visualize folks lining up to buy their train tickets in this very space. The ticket office remained until 1934, in 1935 it was established as a bar and has been one ever since. We arrived after the lunch rush and took a table near the window, our waitress was quick to come over, take our drink order and offer us menus. Forans is well known for its commitment to the city and the state; they have 15 Michigan craft beers on tap and 100 more in bottles, they take the”Buy Local” trend seriously. The menu is filled with delicious things, they even  have some of the old Eph McNally’s sandwiches (oh, how we miss that place!). It has been too long since our last Sabrina Duncan; turkey breast, dill havarti cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo and honey mustard on an onion roll…..it was even better than I remembered. A side salad with their homemade maurice dressing and a pile of Better Made wavy chips completed our meal, it was delicious! Did I mention they serve Faygo? Yep, regular flavors come in a glass bottle, diet in cans, you just can’t beat a Faygo Root Beer. 

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It was late and we had yet to have our dinner, we had been meaning to get back to Small Plates since the ownership change and interior make-over, so that was the plan. We were lucky enough to score a table near the expansive front windows; greeted immediately by our waitress, we quickly scanned the menu. The premise of the restaurant is to promote communal dining by offering a wide selection of small sharable dishes or “plates”.  After we placed our order we had a chance to look around; the walls are painted black, several graffiti pieces by Shades decorate the walls along with work by other local artists. The bar extends further now and was busy with patrons both eating and drinking, the place has a great vibe. Our small plates began arriving, first to hit the table was the hand-cut fries, served with sides of malt vinegar and a spicy aioli, they were really good. Thankfully the Pretzel Sliders and Hudson’s Maurice salad followed quickly along with the skillet cornbread. The sliders were wonderful, I especially like the pretzel buns. The salad was unique in that the greens were dressed and the other items were cut in chunks and lined the side of the good-sized bowl. The cornbread had just the right amount of crunch on the outside and was still moist inside, served with a side of black beans it made for a tasty combination. We ate and we drank, our waitress was a delightful mix of friendliness and great service. I couldn’t help but inquire about dessert; while I was longing for the Key Lime pie, I just couldn’t do it. We’ll have to come back soon and give the desserts a try!  

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Midtown we made the short drive over to Motor City Brewing Works for Pizza and Beer.  Walking in the door we were greeted by the smiling face of a friend who had also just arrived. The three of us headed up to the deck to enjoy both the sunshine and the food.  The more the merrier I always say, that way we can have  two kinds of pizza instead of just one! We always go for the salad of the day, this one was outstanding, a nice selection of baby lettuce, blue cheese crumbles, golden raisins, grape tomatoes, and the most awesome fruity vinaigrette, we’re guessing blueberry, it was so flavorful! For Pizza we went with the BBQ Chicken and the Maui, delicious as always. The crust is that great combination of crispy and chewy, cooked in a wood burning oven.  I usually have the Honey Porter, but they were out of it, so instead I had their seasonal Cider, which was quite nice and went perfectly with the meal and the weather. Image and video hosting by TinyPic Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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Traffic Jam and Snug in Midtown is quite inviting. Traffic Jam opened in 1965 in this very space, it has an in-house bakery, microbrewery, and dairy, three of my favorite food groups! The menu is large and offers traditional standards like steak and Mac & Cheese to vegetarian dishes that will knock your socks off. One added bonus of having their own dairy is the award winning cheese they serve. We ordered the special of the day,  a platter with Camembert cheese, crackers, and a salad of spicy arugula and fresh berries tossed in a banana vinaigrette, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. The Camembert was wrapped in puff pastry and baked to perfection, the cheese creamy and mild like a Brie, delicious on it’s own or atop a cracker. The salad was scrumptious, the sweetness of the berries a nice compliment to the peppery arugula, and Oh that dressing, with just a hint of banana it pulled all the flavors together. Along with that we got TJ’s much loved nachos, a good sized serving of corn chips covered in melted white cheese with black beans, served with jalapeno slices, sour cream and salsa, makes you want to drive there right now doesn’t it? I have to say it was such a pleasurable meal, the food of course was delectable, but sitting outside with the sun shining, listening to the water trickle from the fountain just added to the experience. Here in Michigan we know how to appreciate a beautiful day

 

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Conveniently located on the corner of Porter and Brooklyn is Mudgie’s Deli, the perfect place for us to have lunch. We have known the owner Greg for many years, he does a great job with the place from its cheery orange walls and vintage tin ceiling to the artisan sandwiches, homemade soups and salads. The menu features many local products and vegan selections as well. Our “usual” is the Ivey; a delicious vegetarian sandwich with Greg’s house-made spinach spread, avocado, and an assortment of veggies, topped off with cheese and sunflower sprouts, along with a house salad it’s enough for two. The house specialty desserts are waffles, either the Fudgie Mudgie, or the Sweet Ruth, we went with Ruth. A warm bread pudding waffle, Calder Dairy Butter pecan ice cream melting into the indentations, and decadent caramel sauce, all topped off with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon, lip-smacking good!

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Wasabi is a Korean/Japanese restaurant in the Park Shelton on Woodward in Detroit. The menu is large and provides a good variety of choices, we like the Sushi. We sat in the modern interior of the restaurant, but you can also sit in the section that is actually in the Park Shelton lobby itself. They have tables set up as if you were outdoors on a patio, some even have umbrellas. From here you can admire the the interior of the building itself; marble floors, ornate ceilings, beautifully carved moldings. When our food arrived we couldn’t wait to dig in, the Sushi was delicious, the perfect meal on such a hot day. We tried the Gyoza this time and loved it. Overall we had a really nice meal, in a wonderful setting.

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       Our plan was to have lunch at Slows Bar-B-Q on Michigan Ave over in Corktown, but getting in can be difficult. You see, Slows has this amazing reputation for out-of-this-world Bar B Q. They have been on every Food Network show, movies stars in town filming eat there and then tell about it on the late night talk shows, USA Today and Bon Appetit have written about them,  the hype is enormous. Ordinarily I find when I eat at any of the in vogue restaurants they don’t live up to my built up expectations. That is NOT the case with Slows. Whatever you have heard is TRUE, it’s that good!  At 2:45 on a Friday afternoon the place was still packed, but we were fortunate enough to snag a table.  We ordered the Longhorn sandwich on Texas toast, this is a sandwich to die for; the most tender beef brisket you will ever have the pleasure of eating, sliced and piled high on toast, smothered with homemade onion marmalade, and topped off with smoked gouda and spicy sauce. We are also partial to the House Salad with their Honey Jalapeno Vinaigrette, what makes this salad stand out from the usual green salad to me is the sliced green olives, the Split Pea and Okra Fritters are something everybody should try, I know what you’re thinking, but I’m telling you; taste them. They slice up the okra dip it in a split pea batter and fry them up, served with a sassy dipping sauce and sliced dill pickle, delicious. The place is busy from open to close, once you eat here you can see why.

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 Roma Cafe, Detroit’s oldest Italian restaurant sits on Riopelle, they have been serving classic Italian dishes since 1890. From the decor to the menu the atmosphere is unquestionably  old-time. Waiters wearing tuxedos serve you crusty bread with real butter, salads are prepared in the dining room where you can watch the action. We ordered Cannelloni and a Roma salad, the salad was really good, crisp lettuce, nice chunks of meat and peppers, seasoned with salt and pepper. The canneloni was excellent, tender meat filling in perfectly cooked pasta all smothered in red sauce and topped off with melted mozzarella, delicious.  

 

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Fountain Bistro re-opened in July and is a welcome addition to Campus Martius. Everything about it is new; from it’s sleek contemporary interior, outdoor patio and menu, to the recently acquired liquor license. We decided to have lunch there and check the place out. The staff was extremely friendly and welcoming, our waiter informed us that it was Happy Hour (Mon-Fri 2-7pm) and that all appetizers were half-off, domestic beer was $2.50, and wine was $3.00 a glass, yeah! The French-inspired menu has a lot to choose from, and it all sounds good; we narrowed it down to three. The Lamb Sliders, topped with homemade yogurt sauce that has a little kick to it, were delicious. The house salad was huge, for $4.00 we didn’t expect something that large; tossed in house made dressing it was tasty and not over-dressed. Sandwiches come with fries or a small house salad, we ordered the BLTA (applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado) served on a tender croissant it was entirely flavorful, the fries were good too. For $3.00 I ordered a glass of the house Cabernet Sauvignon, it was quite nice and a fair portion too. We really enjoyed our experience there and will be sure to come back. Next time you are in the city looking for someplace new to eat, or just have cocktails, stop in!

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After reliving childhood memories of Bob-Lo Island and riding the Giant Slide lunch had to somewhere fun too. Lafayette Coney Island; This place is legendary. It has had it share of visits from the Food Network, local personalities, and movie stars. The food fight scene in Whip It! was filmed here too. But it’s the food and atmosphere that has been bringing people back for decades. The place was packed, so we were relieved to find an open table. You can tell who the regulars are, they are greeted by name and order “the usual”. Kris ordered 1 and 1, me, a loose hamburger with everything and fries. Keep an eye open for waiters performing gravity defying tricks with tableware and beverages. Our food arrived lightning fast, served up with icy cold cans of Diet Coke, is was just as good as I remember.

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After a combination of walking and driving to take pictures, we were ready for lunch. We strayed from the beaten path a little bit to Junction and Michigan where El Barzon is located. When you walk through the door you will notice this is not your typical Mexican restaurant; a bit more upscale with white tablecloths, glass stemware and a rose on each table. When you are seated you are offered a wine list and menu, open the menu to the unexpected; one side is traditional Mexican dishes, the other side Italian. Servers are very attentive, our water glasses were filled quickly and the chips and homemade salsa arrived shortly thereafter. Immediately we dug into the chips eager to try both the red and the green salsa; red being spicy, this is a smooth sauce bursting with flavor and just the right amount of kick to it. The green on the other hand was very light and fresh tasting, it had a creaminess to it that I would bet came from avocado, both are delicious! We didn’t stray from the Mexican page and ordered a Tamale; over-sized, moist and flavorful. The enchiladas; filled with cheese and topped off nicely with a green sauce, this is not your usual melted white cheese that oozes out when you cut into the enchilada, but more of a mild crumble type, oh it was so good. We also tried the Pozole, served in a large bowl, it is a spicy broth base with pozole (hominy), vegetables, tostadas, and chicharrones, and we chose the chicken; break up the tostadas and use them like crackers in soup, then top with the vegetables, a little radish, some avocado, so tasty. We have to come back and try the Italian one day soon

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The Bronx Bar is a Midtown mainstay, located on Second Ave, word is they have great burgers. It was still kind of early for the bar crowd to file in, so we thought we’d drop in. Walking in your  immediate observation will be that it is dark, very dark, but once your eyes adjust you notice the personality of the place; vintage ceramic tile covers the walls, the wood is stained dark and varnished in high gloss. Posters of Jean Harlow and Raquel Welch compete for every males attention. Tiffany lamps hang from the ceiling providing only dim light. The side by side jukeboxes are legendary for the wide variety of music selections.  Order at the bar and then have a seat, wanting to soak up as much of the pleasant evening as possible we sat outside. Before long our food arrived; a club sandwich with turkey shaved thin and piled high, crispy bacon, mayo, lettuce and tomato served on a delicious bun. The blackbean burger was out of this world; a slice of pepperjack cheese to give it a kick, next a stack of spinach then topped off with sliced ripe tomato, a wonderful mix of flavors. Unable to decide between fries and onion rings we got a half order of each; the fries were fresh cut, crispy and delicious, the onion rings were the small rings fried to a perfect crunch. Definitely a step above your average “bar food”, many items are homemade. Bronx is within walking distance to Wayne State and seems to be a popular hang out for students and hipsters alike. Most weekends you can’t even get in the place, if it seems like someplace you’d like to try I’d say the earlier the better. Prices are fair, portions are good and the bartender was helpful and friendly. 

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Vicente’s  over on Library was our best bet, we hadn’t been in a while so it was a good choice all around. The interior has a great Havana feeling to it; light-colored walls with large paintings, wood plank flooring, and a dance floor in the middle. Every Friday and Saturday night they offer Salsa lessons, afterward you can practice your new moves right there on the dance floor. This family owned restaurant opened in 2005 and was one of the first places in the metro area to offer authentic Cuban cuisine. The menu is extensive; Tapas, Entrees, Sandwiches, and a killer Sangria, it’s hard to decide. The Chilean chef does a wonderful job capturing the flavors of Cuba. We had the Cubano Grande Sandwich, so, good; pressed perfectly the meat was warm, the cheese gooey, the pickles crisp and all the flavors were melded together. The Cuban pepper salad was delicious, the vegetables were fresh with a nice crunch and it is topped with a tasty vinaigrette. The fried sweet plantains were some of the best we’ve had. 

 

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 We had made up our minds to eat at Red Smoke in Greektown, and because we were sort of in between lunch and dinner we had no problem getting in. The restaurant is housed in a 2-story historic building on Monroe, the floor plan is open, you can see right up to the second level where an over-sized mobile dangles red and pink cut-outs of pigs. The decor is contemporary; stained concrete floors, light colored wood, black chairs and indirect lighting, very nice. The menu offers a nice variety of BBQ fare, it all sounds so good! There were four of us at our table, all together we ordered the Rib Tips with homemade spicy potato chips, a brisket and pulled pork combo, the Bar B Q Beef Brisket sandwich on Texas Toast, the cole slaw, corn relish and Macaroni and cheese. It was all delicious, my favorite side was the Mac & Cheese; the noodles were cooked perfectly, the sauce creamy, and the topping had a little crunch to it, one of the best I’ve had. We had the Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Bread Skillet for an appetizer, scrumptious, I definitely recommend trying it. The two favorite sauces at our table were the Roasted Poblano and the Michigan Cherry Molasses.

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There’s a great little pub on Trumbull across from the Wayne State athletic field called Woodbridge Pub, it takes its name from the historic neighborhood  where it resides. The facade is brick with large windows overlooking Trumbull, the interior is vintage with the majority of it rescued from old buildings and re-purposed. The tin ceiling and rich wood give it just the right amount of charm. The menu varies season to season, they say the majority of their ingredients come from within a 5-mile radius, talk about local! This is not your typical bar food, as a matter of fact I don’t think there is even one item on the menu that is fried. Meat-eaters and vegetarians will be equally impressed with the quality and selection.  We were really hungry, so we ordered the Queso Fundido appetizer; pork chorizo, cheese, and bell pepper blended smooth and served piping hot with corn chips. Next up the Cherry Chicken Salad with the homemade cherry vinaigrette, delicious, and one of our go-to menu items. Finally, the Stever McFever; a black bean burger topped with grilled onions, tomato, avocado creme, and a balsamic glaze, scrumptious. The pub has a great neighborhood feel, and has been a great addition to the area.

 

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The Vivio family has been feeding Eastern Market-goers in this location for over 40 years. The first thing most folks think of when you mention Vivio’s Food and Spirits is a full pint of Bloody Mary served with a generous slice of dill pickle and a shot of beer along side it, and it’s easy to see why. I don’t think there was a single table that did not have at least one of their famous cocktails. The building itself has a homey feel to it, like when you were a kid and you’d visit you Aunts and Uncles for large family gatherings, The decor runs the gamut from vintage Budweiser and sports memorabilia to animal heads  and collectibles.  Stained glass lamps light the room along with a large stained glass piece over the bar. Service is quick and friendly even when there’s a crowd. We had the Pastrami Burger, one of their specialties; an Angus burger topped with pastrami and melted Swiss served on a baked pretzel roll with a side of McMahon’s Irish ale mustard, it makes for a nice combination of flavors, they give you a stack of fries along side, add some soup and there’s enough for two.                                                                                                                          

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   Opened by Karl Kurz in 1933 the Dakota Inn exudes Bavarian charm; servers wear traditional German-style clothing, dark wood paneling and furniture combined with stone block walls, wrought iron and German style chandeliers give this place an old-world feeling. Family pictures and animal heads hang on the walls, a collection of beer steins are scattered about, hand-painted German scenes fill the faux arch windows.

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Along with its delicious food the Dakota Inn is famous for its sing-alongs. In the main dining area what looks like a huge wooden barrell lays on its side as a stage, as the  piano that sits inside is played, a man with a long pointer taps out the words to the song that hang on a plaque on a nearby wall. The first time Kris and I were here we had a great time and told our parents all about the place. Come to find out my parents had been regulars at the sing-alongs in the early 60’s, Kris’s parents had dined there maybe a decade earlier. We had the opportunity to take them there, each was amazed by the fact that time had changed nothing at the Dakota Inn.

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We had arrived well before the sing-along, we needed to be at the theatre at 7:30, so there was enough time to have dinner before people with reservations would start filtering in. We always have to have an order of potato pancakes, they are scrumptious, puffy and loaded with shredded potatoes, we like ours with sour cream. You can’t miss with the Jager Schnitzel, tender pork cutlet breaded and fried, topped with mushroom sauce, served with mashed potatoes, vegetables and soup or salad. Ok, here’s the thing, you can’t have soup OR salad at the Dakota Inn; they have this incredibly delicious hot bacon dressing, so the salad is a no-brainer, but they also make a Reuben soup that is out of this world; a cream based soup with chunks of corned beef and cabbage, topped with swiss cheese and pumpernickel croutons, you have to try it! The restaurant is still owned by the Kurz family and is operated by the second and third generation. It’s nice to know some things never change! Next time your looking for a good German meal you know where to go. Super Yum !

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The Elwood Bar and Grill is a 1936 Art Deco diner that sits on the corner of Adams and Brush behind the Comerica Park scoreboard. Originally located at the corner of Elizabeth and Woodward, which is how it got its name: El(izabeth)Wood(ward), owner Chuck Forbes had it moved in 1997 to it’s present location to make room for Comerica Park. This place is great! From the exterior of cream and blue enameled steel to the interior of light wood, terazzo entry way and globe shaped light fixtures, this place screams Art Deco. We parked for free at the adjacent parking structure and went inside for some lunch. After we arrived it started to get busy, as their was a matinee at the Gem/Century theatre. We sat at a high-top table near the window and looked over the menu, we decided on the Sunrise Salad: baby spinach and spring mix, topped with cashews, almonds, mandarin oranges, blood oranges and poppy seed dressing; the portion was large and it was very tasty. We also had the Club sandwich served on  herb foccacia: along with the usual “club” fillings they put a wasabi aoli on it for a nice kick. The sandwich was large, enough to split, along with a generous portion of fresh hand-cut fries, soooo goood! The place underwent a complete restoration after it was moved; from the unique enameled steel fascade to the interior, Chuck Forbes always does things right. When you enter Elwood there is a cool terazzo floor with the year 1936 inlaid, if you look up there is a recessed map showing the streets of downtown where Forbes owns properties in the city; The Gem and Century, The Palms/State/Fillmore, The Colony Club and of course The Elwood. On a nice day you can sit outdoors, even better when the Tigers are in town, you can hear the game from the patio. Be sure and check the website for hours as they change from season to season. Next time you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind place for a meal, a snack, or a drink, check out the Elwood Bar and Grill. 

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 We drove over to Broadway for dinner at Angelina’s Italian Bistro. The four of us walked in the door to an empty restaurant, the host asked us if we had reservations, I looked around and thought “do we really need them?” Turns out many of the tables were reserved as Detroit theater was hopping! Between The All Night Strut at the Gem, Sister’s Christmas Catechism at the Century and Wicked at the Opera house, reservations were a good idea! We sat at a table by the window and watched the rain come down, it was just before 5pm but because of the weather it looked much later. The dining room is floor to ceiling windows, in the summer they open them up making it feel as if you are eating outdoors. Overlooking Grand Circus Park, The Detroit Opera House and Comerica Park, there is always something going on. The restaurant has a contemporary look and feel  to it, in addition to tables they have a full bar that seats 35 and serves up many of Detroit’s local brews. The menu is filled with appetizers, small plates, house made pastas, pizzas and full entrees. At our table we enjoyed the Bibb Lettuce Salad; candied almonds, grapefruit and red onions over a bed of tender bibb lettuce, dressed with a tasty honey mustard vinaigrette. The Smoked Chicken Pizza was delicious; basil pesto on a thin parmesan crust with smoked chicken, mozzarella and caramelized red onion, excellent. One of our friends ordered the Seafood Risotto, it looked wonderful with plump shrimp and scallops in addition to the vegetables, he said it was very good. Oh, and I can’t forget the Butternut Squash Ravioli, simply to die for. 

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For years we have eaten at Seva which opened in Ann Arbor back in 1973. Much to our delight they recently opened a second location right here in Detroit. Tucked away on E Forest between Woodward and John R next to the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, they offer both indoor and patio dining. The menu selections are completely vegetarian, don’t let that scare you, the food is fantastic, vegetarian or not! The indoor space is light filled, exposed brick walls remind you that the building was a historic garage, art work decorates the walls. The restaurant offers a full bar, fresh juice bar and coffee bar, not to mention some of the best food in the city. When we eat at Seva we have to have the Enchiladas Calabaza, try it and you’ll understand why….The delectable enchiladas  are filled with a creamy concoction of butternut squash, cream cheese, green onions and chiles, topped off with a spicy tomato sauce, a winner every time. We paired the enchiladas with the spinach salad: baby spinach, avocado, char-grilled tempeh, cukes, red peppers and onions tomatoes and croutons served with an awesome smoky maple dressing, so good! We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and a cherry-lime Ricky cocktail, yum. 

 

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Our restaurant of choice for the evening was Union Street located on Woodward, just a short distance from the theatre.  The atmosphere at Union Street is unique; patrons vary from students and professionals to the theatre crowd and hipsters. Built in the early 1900′s the building started out as a hardware store. In the 1930′s Arturo’s opened in the space; it would turn out to be the first of many Italian restaurants in this building. The wood is dark and glossy, the ceiling unique; indirect lighting glows a soft reddish-orange from the recess surrounding  the room. Art Deco details are evident in the distinctly shaped ceiling, cool medallion, swanky bar and lighting. The current owner bought the place in the late 80′s, by the mid 90′s he put in a new kitchen and remodeled the Michigan Room in the same Art Deco style and colors as the main dining room. One of my favorite things about Union Street is they have something on the menu for everyone! The food is good, from pasta and fish to sandwiches and jambalaya; portions are generous, prices affordable. At our table of six each person ordered something different; it was all delicious. 

 

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We had made up our mind to have lunch at Green Dot Stables on West Lafayette; only opened for a short time it has already become quite popular. This horse-race-themed establishment serves a variety of sliders, fries and sides, all right around three bucks each. Newly refurbished, the interior has red brick walls and wood floors; it has a sort of retro feel to me. Two of three televisions had live horse racing on, while the third had soccer; photos of jockey’s adorn the walls. The menu is simple and straightforward, Sliders are served on Detroit’s own Browns Buns and come in an array of choices: Corned Beef, Lamb, Catfish, Shredded Pork to name a few along with traditional and Mystery Meat. French Fries are the super skinny type; crisp and delicious; these are also available in an assortment of ways: Cajun, Ranch, Truffle and Herb and our choice of  malt vinegar. For the ease of ordering we asked our waitress to bring us one of each of the first five sliders on the menu; that makes life easy, next time we get the next five…..The food arrived swiftly; each of the burgers comes in its own little cardboard dish garnished with pickle slices. We cut them in half and dug in; each had its own unique flavor, the combinations of meat and toppings very tasty, the traditional as good or better than any  I’ve ever had. Next time I have to remember to save room for dessert: a Smore Slider; cinnamon, Nutella and marshmallow fluff served on a bun, sounds good doesn’t it?

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