Detroit food trendometer
A look at Detroit dining, where it’s been, and where we’d like to see it go.
Published: February 25, 2014
Bacon: Once an extreme-eating hipster trend, bacon is now so 2009, passed over by trend-followers for this year’s fat-kid food. But real bacon aficionados can still find a BLT crammed with a dozen slices at Honest John’s in Detroit, as well as “bacon with a side of bacon” at Ferndale’s
Flatscreen overkill: If you’re going out to watch the game, we totally understand, bro. But is it really necessary to have 100 flat-screen televisions to gaze into while dining? For sports nuts, though, the fabled flatscreen palace would be TAP sports bar at the MGM Grand Detroit Casino, with its gazillion flatscreen TVs.
Flair: When servers are forced to wear a golf shirt with a logo, that demeans everybody. And on the higher end, even on a formal occasion, when you want to impress a date, having old-fashioned liveried service can feel a bit … strained?
Extreme burgers: A few years ago, it seemed everybody wanted to build the world’s biggest burgers. It would normally take a whole family to eat that sort of thing. But if you must have a giant burger, visit Mallie’s Sports Grill & Bar in Southgate, home of the world’s largest burger (338 pounds!), and the place where the kitchen regularly turns out the 10-pound “Monster Burger.”
Competitive eating: Maybe it was the glitz and drama of the annual hot-dog eating contest at Coney Island that cemented it, but food dares got a little overheated there for a while. Good solid tests of intestinal fortitude do abound, though. Challenges await you at Birmingham’s Hunter House, Big Beaver Tavern in Troy, and Gracie-See Pizzeria in Detroit, where you get a T-shirt if you can finish the 3-pound “Godfather.”
Big food: Relying on a global supply chain of drugs, GMOs, fertilizer, herbicide and fossil fuels, and abusive to workers and the environment, the industrial food system is focused on one thing like a laser beam: Making the most profit it can. The plastic tubs of food churned out by large food companies can make a basket of fries from McDonald’s seem prosaic and healthful. For your sake — and for everybody’s sake — dine at such places sparingly if you must.
WiFi-mania: Remember when WiFi first came out? It was so darn cool to take your laptop everywhere, watching it gallantly struggle to detect wireless service. These days, wireless abounds to the point where it’s sort of refreshing to find a place where people are reading paperback or writing in notebooks. You can set yourself apart from the crowd at neo-Luddite-friendly places that offer actual physical reading material for those who must peruse in all four dimensions, such as as 1515 Broadway in Detroit, or the book-filled library room at Café 1923 in Hamtramck.
> Email Michael Jackman