2012 Best of Detroit
Nutritional Value - Reader's Choice
Reader's choice for dining in Metro Detroit
Published: April 25, 2012
558 Monroe St., Detroit; 313-964-6800; pegasustavernas.com
Pegasus is a charming restaurant that serves authentic and flavorful Greek recipes. Even the most simple of dishes, such as the vegetarian platter, are cooked to perfection — full of hearty spices and herbs that are sure to satisfy your taste buds. For meat eaters, the lamb is tender and tastes like it's been slow cooked for hours, even though it'll be briskly served by the attentive wait staff.
Best European Cuisine
Polish Village Café
2990 Yemans St., Hamtramck; 313-874-5726; thepolishvillagecafe.com
Your polish grandmother would approve — Polish Village Café is known for its authentic pierogis, potato pancakes, dill pickle soup, and stuffed cabbage, all moderately priced. There's usually a line, but it's worth the wait. Cash only.
Best Mexican Cuisine, Wayne County
3409 Bagley St., Detroit; 313-843-0179
This popular Mexicantown eatery offers generously portioned Mexican staples at reasonable prices. The chimichangas are deep-fried and gooey, smothered in cheese and guacamole. The hot chips and salsa are addictive, and it washes down well with a house margarita.
Best Mexican Cuisine, Oakland County
28 S. Broadway St., Lake Orion; 248-693-0100; mysagebrushcantina.com
The chips and salsa are made in-house, and the guacamole is fresh and tasty. Sagebrush offers traditional Mexican staples, as well as signature dishes, such as shrimp ranchero. Expect to be carried out after ordering the chimichanga: It's large enough to feed you for a week.
Best Mexican Cuisine, Macomb County
21519 21 Mile Rd., Macomb Twp.; 586-598-7556; see elcharrousa.com for more locations
Sure, El Charro offers Mexican classics, but the spot is also popular for its puffy soft-shelled tacos. For dessert, order the fried ice cream or the sopariaz, a fried tortilla with honey and cinnamon.
Best Mexican Cuisine, Washtenaw County
La Fiesta Mexicana
529 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti; 734-483-1666; lafiestamexicana.net
This family-owned Mexican eatery serves Mexican classics as well as more unusual menu items — such as potato tacos, a house specialty. The house-made tamales are steam cooked and wrapped in cornhusk. They don't serve alcohol, but you can BYOB.
Best Caribbean Cuisine
539 E. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-528-1674
19600 Haggerty Rd., Livonia; 734-542-0891; see bahamabreeze.com for more locations
Decorated in tropical decor for the Hawaiian-shirts set, this chain restaurant brings you American-friendly Caribbean-style fare. Think coconut shrimp and jerk chicken. The island-themed alcoholic beverages, such as the BahamaRita, are crowd-pleasers.
Best African Cuisine
545 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-547-6699
221 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; 734-998-4746; bluenilemi.com
The Blue Nile is a great place to explore traditional Ethiopian dining. This includes eating with your hands (although American utensils are available on request), sharing the injera, a tangy flat bread used to scoop up morsels of food. The menu includes a wide range of vegetarian dishes, as well as some meat options. Spicy Ethiopian teas are available, as well as a full bar.
Best Chinese Cuisine,
4710 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-974-7669
Shangri-La is a low-key Asian restaurant with attentive service and a full bar. The kitchen offers traditional Chinese-American cuisine as well as roast duck, Singapore noodles and fried squid. The dim sum selections and sushi make Shangri-La a kind of one-stop shop for Asian classics.
Best Chinese Cuisine, Oakland County
Mon Jin Lau
1515 E. Maple Rd., Troy; 248-689-2332;
This modern Asian restaurant offers an extensive sushi and cocktail list, a wide range of seafood and meat items, as well as tofu dishes for the vegetarians, all served up in a sophisticated setting.
Best Chinese Cuisine, Macomb County
6880 E. Twelve Mile Rd., Warren; 586-751-5288
This low-key eatery is known for its specialty dim sum and fresh seafood options, such as walnut shrimp and soft-shelled crab. The menu also includes items more familiar to American diners, such as sweet and sour pork and almond chicken.
Best Chinese Cuisine, Washtenaw County
332 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-668-6638; annarbormiddlekingdom.net
625 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-668-4787; everydaychinesefood.com
Middle Kingdom serves up Americanized fare, such as sesame chicken, chow mein and spicy shrimp, and even grander dishes, such as lobster. San Fu, however, is a popular takeout spot for students, serving the usual American-friendly options. Clearly, our Washtenaw County readers value inexpensive and quick comfort food. And who can argue with that?
Best Thai Cuisine,
3400 Russell St., Detroit; 313-831-1302
2751 E. 14 Mile Rd., Sterling Heights; 586-939-5456; salathai.us
Sala Thai is known for its authentic Thai curries, noodles and rice dishes. Their pad Thai — made to order to your choice of spiciness — has just the right levels of succulence. Along with the extensive appetizer list, the menu includes squid and scallops, pork, beef and chicken, as well as vegetarian selections.
Best Thai Cuisine,
323 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-548-5373
Warm and unpretentious, Bangkok Café offers fluffy noodles dishes, spicy curries and combo options that include house-made soup and fried rice. The kitchen upholds standards of quality, which means no dish is a misfire. Better yet, prices are budget-friendly and portions leave room for leftovers.
Best Thai Cuisine,
23519 Nine Mack Dr., St. Clair Shores; 586-776-8424
Entrées include noodles, curry and variations of fried rice. Each entrée is offered with a choice of chicken, shrimp, squid, krab, squid, pork, tofu, beef or vegetables. Even the mild spice level will prickle your taste buds; advance to medium and your sinuses may go into overdrive. No spice is an option.
Best Thai Cuisine, Washtenaw County
4896 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-528-5588;
Coconut ginger soup, fried tofu (light and crunchy with a peanut dipping sauce), nam prik pao and other hard-to-find authentic dishes are served at this laid-back Thai restaurant.
Best Indian Cuisine,
Aladdin Sweets & Café
11945 Conant Ave., Hamtramck; 313-891-8050
11917 Conant Ave., Hamtramck; 313-893-9902; zamzamcafe.com
The winners both sit on the same block in Hamtramck, along Bangladeshi Avenue (Conant's honorary designation). Aladdin's offerings include the usual Bangladeshi classics, such as fried homemade cheese with spinach, all served on polystyrene plates with plastic cutlery. Prices are budget friendly — no dish surpasses $8.99. But down the street at Zam Zam, you get actual plates and silverware, if many of the same offerings. Zam Zam's meat and vegetable samosas are more substantial, and the entrées may be a bit more geared to American tastes. Your bill will hardly breach $10 per diner; an $8 buffet runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.
Best Indian Cuisine, Oakland County
72 W. Maple Rd., Troy; 248-269-0100; priyarestaurant.com
Priya's vast menu of South Indian food contains massive portions of hard-to-find dishes, such as rice-lentil crêpes stuffed with onion-chili-ginger mix or curry. Food is cooked in the tandoor, a clay oven that gives the dishes their tender consistency.
Best Indian Cuisine, Macomb County
43734 Schoenherr Rd., Sterling Heights; 586-532-5200; michiganmasala.com
Michigan Masala's menu includes a wide-range of fresh Southern Indian tandoori, curry, seafood, lamb, vegetarian and Balti-style dishes. Dishes are served medium-spicy, but can be changed upon request.
Best Indian Cuisine, Washtenaw County
307 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-663-1500; shalimarrestaurant.com
This modern-styled Northern Indian eatery offers Mughlai cuisine. The menu has plenty to offer both vegetarians and meat lovers. Better still, you can wash the dishes down with a cocktail thanks to the full bar.
Best Middle Eastern Cuisine, Wayne County
22681 Newman St., Dearborn; 313-563-7482; lapitadearborn.com
This charming eatery offers traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, such as chicken shawarma and vegetarian stuffed cabbage, even such ambitious dishes as char-broiled swordfish. A full juice bar, a long list of appetizers and combinations, and the addictive hummus and pita will keep your taste buds happy.
Best Middle Eastern Cuisine, Oakland County
22651 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-0680; anitaskitchenonline.com
Ever since the folks at Anita's kitchen claimed the old ice-cream shop on Woodward Avenue as their own, gave it a chic, contemporary makeover and filled it with the smells of Anita Farah's classic Lebanese fare, loyal foodies have been naming Anita's Kitchen the best Middle Eastern Cuisine in Oakland County. Made with only the freshest ingredients, menu highlights include the roasted red pepper hummus, the out-of-this-world mujadara (topped with the most perfect caramelized onions: perfectly crispy, perfectly sweet), and their falafel, which comes baked or fried depending on your preference. The lentil soup, bursting with the taste of fresh lemon, is a must. Also, you'll find a surprising and welcome choice of Michigan beers available.
Best Middle Eastern Cuisine, Macomb County
22114 Harper Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-777-9600
An east-side classic, Sahara crowds them in at its location out in St. Clair Shores. Expect the usual offerings — juices, falafels, hummus — but with a touch of care that made the joint Macomb County readers' favorite.
Best Middle Eastern Cuisine, Washtenaw County
307 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-995-5060; jerusalemgarden.net
Billed as Ann Arbor's oldest Middle Eastern restaurant, Jerusalem Garden offers a cheap, quality meal to be enjoyed on their quaint, brick garden patio. Your budget and your belly will thank you for visiting one of Treetown students' favorite haunts where you can get the basics for less than $5 or $6: falafel with baba ghanoush and hummous options, shawarma, kebabs. Splurge and have a cup of lentil soup.
Best Korean Cuisine
New Seoul Garden
27566 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield; 248-827-1600; newseoulgarden.com
15 E. Kirby St., Detroit; 313-638-1272; wasabidetroit.com
We note with interest that both winners of the Best Korean Cuisine category also serve Japanese food as well. New Seoul Garden has the Korean dishes covered, offering such classic fare as bibimbap and bulgogi, even with tabletop grills that could find you grilling your own slices of beef tongue to taste. Wasabi offers no tabletop grilling, but excellent renditions of the Korean food that, until recently, was so hard to find in Detroit.
Best Japanese Cuisine
1933 W. Maple Rd., Troy; 248-280-1831; cafesushitroy.com
A first-time winner in the Best Japanese Cuisine category, Café Sushi boasts an impressive sushi bar and complete Asian kitchen. Having just won Best Entrée in the Taste of Troy, the tonkatsu curry rice is their most popular dish. It features panko-breaded pork fillet atop Japanese curry. Of their sushi rolls, the Maui roll is a must-try — panko-fried calamari, pineapple and asparagus topped with albacore tuna, seared spicy sauce, banana peppers and eel sauce. Almost everyone in the Café Sushi kitchen is family, lending the place an intimate, friendly atmosphere, something akin to having dinner at a relative's.
Best Chicken and Waffles
Fort Street Brewery
1660 Fort St., Lincoln Park; 313-389-9623;
Fort Street Brewery's Chicken and Waffles dish appears under the menu heading "A League of Its Own" — and our readers couldn't agree more. Providing a cool, Northern twist on a traditionally Southern meal, Fort Street Brewery serves up a crisp Belgian waffle topped with cheddar cheese, beer-battered chicken slivers, a fried egg, peppered bacon and a side of maple syrup. Other menu highlights include the Brewery Burger and a dinner basket of beer-battered cod or perch, not to mention a tasty selection of beers brewed in-house.
Best Coney Island, Wayne County
Lafayette Coney Island
118 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit; 313-964-8198
One of the best hot dog spots in town, Lafayette's real charm lies in its character: food orders shouted into the steamy kitchen, the sound of plates rattling and the cast of characters strolling in at 2 a.m. Lafayette's plain coney dogs make a quality meal, boasting thick, meaty chili sauce, fresh onion and mustard, and only all-meat franks — not the filler-laden "hot dogs" common at lesser establishments.
Best Coney Island,
Best Coney Island,
National Coney Island
1812 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-398-6111
More locations at nationalconeyisland.com
Located just across the street from Luna, this coney island is open 24 hours, perfect for satisfying late-night stomach rumblings at 3 a.m. or taking a midday lunch break. Although their coney dog is their most popular seller, don't be afraid to try a crispy garden burger on grilled sourdough or a plate of hot blueberry pancakes.
Best Coney Island, Washtenaw County
Abe's Coney Island
402 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-485-2008
Billing itself as "Ypsilanti's finest four-star coney dog, steak-and-egg joint," this popular after-bar stop has a kind of self-deprecating humor. Whether you're rolling in with crazy bed head for eggs over easy with "burned" hash browns in the morning, or sopping up booze and making ironic jukebox selections at 3 a.m., Abe's will hit the spot.
Best Slider, Wayne County
33406 Five Mile Rd., Livonia; 734-427-3464
This slider stop is a venerable west side institution, with some saying you haven't lived until you've tried one of Bates' "gut bombs." The blandishments are few — just the essentials: salt, pepper, mustard and ketchup — but it doesn't get any more authentic than this. Great for going alone, eating at the counter and rubbing elbows with the people.
35075 Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-646-7121; hunterhousehamburgers.com
Founded in the 1950s, Hunter's burgers are served on moist hot buns, with a glistening sheen on them. But the patties are all about the onions — the folks at Hunters carefully press tasty onions into the patty while it's still on the grill. In fact, if there's a single ingredient that sums up the burger, it's onions. Even seldom-ordered items on the menu show a similar attention to detail.
See whitecastle.com for dozens of locations
This year, the white-enamel-steel-clad mini-burger chain only won out in two counties instead of the near sweep they achieved some years! Their website's helpful Find-a-Castle function will help you when you have your next craving.
Best Cheap Breakfast, Wayne County
488 Selden St., Detroit; 313-832-5646;
Honest John's brings in all types: hipsters wearing big glasses, students, working stiffs, the occasional cop, even a doctor or two. You can get a full breakfast for $5 or $6 — omelets bursting with veggies and cheese, steaming French toast with turkey sausage or grilled cheese on Texas toast.
Best Cheap Breakfast, Oakland County
24060 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge; 248-548-5355; maesdetroit.com
For decades, this snug diner was home to Anna's Coffee Shoppe. In 2010, the folks at Mae's updated the little restaurant while still keeping with the 1950s charm. It's not hard to see what our readers love about this place — cheap, quality food in a comfy neighborhood nook. If you're regretting last night's festivities, order the "Hangover Platter": two eggs scrambled with cheddar cheese, hash browns, a biscuit with sausage gravy and your choice of bacon, sausage links or ham. Or try the Aebelskivers, an order of five spherical Scandinavian "pancakes" served with fresh whipped cream and your choice of strawberries or raspberries in syrup. They aren't lying when they say you'll never be able to eat regular pancakes again.
Best Cheap Breakfast, Macomb County
Best Breakfast or Brunch,
34220 Van Dyke Ave., Sterling Heights; 586-939-1370
44945 Morley Dr., Clinton Twp.; 586-465-5514
58884 Van Dyke Rd., Washington; 586-677-4135; thepantryrestaurant.com
Whether you're breakfasting or brunching, Macombers agree, the Pantry is the place to go. A successful mini-chain that's been catering to locals for years with the usual eggs, waffles and pancakes, the Pantry also offers some delicious surprises, including fresh fruit crêpes, a prime-rib steak Caesar salad, and out-of-this-world baked apple pancakes that look like little deep-dish pizzas and have customers lining up out the door on weekends.
Best Cheap Breakfast, Washtenaw County
306 E. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-482-0550; thebomberrestaurant.net
As the Bomber's website proudly proclaims, breakfast here is not for the faint of heart. Featured on Food TV's Top Five Overindulgences, the Bomber is home to a number of popular breakfast feasts including the "Nature Lovers Pancakes," made with blueberries, raspberries and pecans (sunflower seeds may be substituted) and, for those with super-sized appetites, the "Bomber Breakfast," complete with four eggs and a heaping plate of breakfast potatoes, meat and toast.
Best Breakfast or Brunch, Wayne County
1241 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-237-1000; hudson-cafe.com
The Hudson Café is situated downtown, right on Woodward Avenue. Whether you're grabbing a specialty coffee and hitting the road, enjoying a selection from the baked goods counter and relaxing in Hudson's comfy lounge, or sitting down for graham cracker-crusted French toast with cream cheese drizzle or a create-your-own omelet, our readers insist there's no better spot for brunch in the county.
Best Breakfast or Brunch, Oakland County
23144 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-398-0444
203 Pierce St., Birmingham; 248-258-6278; eatattoast.com
At the Birmingham spot, you'll find great food and wine "with humor in a fun, casual environment." The hostess station is an old white Detroit Liner stove, a 1940s model with legs and drawers. In Ferndale, you can't go wrong with the Grand Marnier French toast— a perfect blend of vanilla-soaked challa bread with toasted almonds and other ingredients. If you want a real delight, try the more-than-filling granola banana cakes. Both locations serve breakfast and lunch seven days a week and have similar menus. Hours vary slightly between the two.
Best Breakfast or Brunch,
20 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti; 734-485-9625;
112 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor; 734-769-2020; cafezola.com
Hardly a surprising tie here. At Ypsi's Beezy's, their sign promises simple, honest food and that's just what you'll get, with a side helping of the friendliest staff you could meet. They pour on the quality, serving excellent breakfasts, and there can be lines on a Sunday morning. Café Zola, with its brick walls, large picture windows and, in season, sizable outdoor patio, is one of the more comfortable restaurants in Ann Arbor — especially around brunching time.
Best Late-Night Eatery
Leo's Coney Island
30967 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-655-1080
More locations at leosconeyisland.com
Leo's extensive menu features American, Greek and Italian foods and stays open till 10 p.m. Whether you're heading out or heading home, Leo's is sure to add a little flavor to your evening.
Best All-Around Buffet
13017 Warren Rd., Westland; 734-641-9163;
see goldencorral.com for more locations
At Golden Corral you don't have to worry about freshness — the food is served hot and fresh each day. It's all-you-can-eat fare that features such familiar favorites as simmered pot roast — along with new menu offerings whipped up to keep things exciting. You won't want to miss the bakery and dessert buffet, so make sure to leave room.
Best Soul Food, Detroit
575 Bellevue St., Detroit; 313-393-4930; southernfiresrestaurant.com
Southern Fires packs 'em in, particularly the Sunday after-church crowd. The prices here are family-oriented (lots of food at low cost). Sweet, cheerful-yellow cornbread comes with your entrée and you get the traditional choice of two sides, which include mac and cheese, collard greens, fried corn, mashed potatoes and baked beans.
Best Soul Food, Suburbs
Beans and Cornbread
29508 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield; 248-208-1680; beanscornbread.com
This is the place for upscale soul food with a fresh twist, including excellent meat loaf, salmon croquettes and a dreamy sweet potato cheesecake. Arrive early and plan to stand in line for this perpetually full house. A busy, colorful dining spot which features bright artwork and a bustling open kitchen, and another frequent winner in this category.
45 E. 14 Mile Rd., Clawson; 248-585-2314;
Out front are aisles of packaged foodstuffs. But in back is a magnificently serene sushi bar, staffed by iron chefs of the first order: a no-nonsense, inexpensive, delicious alternative to too-Westernized sushi madness. The insular Japanese keep things intensely focused, be it decor or food customs or table manners, which is what makes Noble Fish an experience.
Best vegan or Vegetarian Cuisine
Inn Season Cafe
500 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-547-7916; theinnseasoncafe.com
A provider of vegetarian cuisine in metro Detroit is a rare treat, and Inn Season Café has only improved with age. Fine, organic ingredients have always been its hallmark, but it's so much more than "health food." With great effort, they comb farmers' markets and community supported farms to ensure only the freshest, best and most local food makes it to your plate. Very open to diners with dietary restrictions.
Best Raw Food
204 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-336-9043; cacaotreecafe.com
Cacao Tree's vegan and gluten- and soy-free menu has the health-conscious crowd crowing. Favorites include the falafel, as well as the Mexican menu. Everything is made onsite from scratch, and ingredients are locally and seasonally sourced. Seats 20, with an additional juice bar.
Best Food Truck
The first modern food truck allowed in downtown Detroit by the city government. Its menu includes creative variations on south-of-the-border specialties — such as the pork belly confit taco and Korean short rib taco, both customer favorites.
Best New Barbecue
202 E. Third St., Royal Oak; 248-584-4227;
Named after the reputed barbecue capital of Texas, Lockhart's opened in late 2010. The kitchen turns out reasonably priced, hefty portions, with appetizers averaging around $8, sandwiches with one side around $9 and barbecue plates with two sides around $14. The thin slices of brisket are well-trimmed and tender, as are the ribs. Wash it all down with an excellent selection of Michigan microbrews — there are 12 on tap.
27475 Groesbeck Hwy., Roseville; 586-775-7427
43203 Garfield Rd. Clinton Twp.; 586-247-7427; lazybonessmokehouse.net
Billing itself as "authentic slow-smoked Southern-style barbecue," Lazybone's has sandwiches for around $8, and smoke plates starting at $8.99. It boasts 'cue styles from Texas to Kentucky to our own Detroit-style tips. Lazybones caters with party pans that can have as many as 100 ribs.
Joe Muer Seafood
GM Global Renaissance Center, #1404, Detroit;
While Joe Muer Seafood is relatively new, the Muer brand, going back to 1929, is known throughout southeast Michigan. But the relaunched institution also has a big staff, big menu and big dessert cart. There are a number of offerings from a fairly classic raw bar, including oysters, a poached shrimp cocktail and steamed mussels; original Muer dishes include the Shrimp Ilene and deviled crab balls.
410 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-591-5459; lilysseafood.com
Mitchell's Fish Market
370 N. Adams, Rochester Hills; 248-340-5900; mitchellsfishmarket.com
Straight from the kitchen of "Grandma Lily," Lily's offers a stunning interior, friendly service and a dedication to homemade food. Even the beverage menu includes house-brewed beer and root beer for the kids. Both entrées and desserts are delights of flavor and texture. Saturdays and Sundays cater to a "build your own Bloody Mary bar," and Tuesday is "create your own combo" night. Mitchell's has variety: With more than 80 seafood choices, menus are printed twice a day to reflect changes in availability. Summer is the season for soft-shell crab as well as an Alaskan halibut, though there's a short window in early summer when high-quality Copper River salmon from British Columbia will be on offer. Outdoor dining is a draw, as is Monday oyster night.
25901 Hoover Rd., Warren; 586-759-0010;
Macomb County has great seafood dining, from the famous Nautical Mile all the way out to Harbor House on Groesbeck. So .... What's with choosing Red Lobster? Must be those Cheddar Bay Biscuits.
Best Seafood Restaurant, Washtenaw County
Real Seafood Co.
341 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 888-456-3463; realseafoodcorestaurant.com
A hot spot for the freshest top-catch fish and premium seafood for 37 years and counting. With an atmosphere that's comfortable, open and lively, it draws its catches from the waters of Boston, the Pacific Coast, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. One highlight is its raw oysters, served to order on the half shell.
Ruth's Chris Steak House
755 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-269-8424; ruthschris.com
What's it going to take to outdo a Ruth's Chris steak? With more than 100 locations worldwide, this is the second consecutive year the chain has won this category.
Mr. Paul's Chop House
29850 Groesbeck Hwy, Roseville; 586-777-7770; mrpaulschophouse.com
More than 40 years old, Mr. Paul's is a charmed place lost in time somewhere back in the early postwar era. Here you can have one of the area's best Caesar salads, prepared with a theatrical flair at tableside, often by the owner himself. The chateaubriand steak for two and the cherries jubilee for dessert also involve a tableside show. Liveried waitstaff and impressive French red-dominated wine list complete the picture.
2324 Dexter, Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-665-8644
Old-time dining in a somewhat casual environment. Knight's has both kinds of food: surf and turf — including perch, crab, filet mignon, New York strip, Delmonico, sirloin, porterhouse, prime rib, pork tenderloin schnitzel, baby back ribs, char-grilled London broil and much, much more.
Best Burger, Wayne County
23700 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-565-2577; millersbar.com
Metro Times readers consistently rate Miller's Bar's burger best in Wayne County. Don't let the simple setting and limited menu options fool you, the choices are few, but they're finely tuned classics. Table service has been paperless for years — all on the honor system. Don't ask for a menu or a tab. Just order the burger and a beer. When you're done, tell the bartender what you got. Done and done.
Red Coat Tavern
31542 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-549-0300
6745 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-865-0500
Another stubborn winner: When it comes to the Best Burger in Oakland County, Red Coat comes out on top year after year. Choose among 20 add-ons — burnt onions to olives to smoked Gouda — and five breads. The thick, succulent two-handers require lots of extra napkins. This place never seems to see any sort of downtime.
Five Guys Burgers & Fries
29387 Mound Rd., Warren; 586-751-4897;
see fiveguys.com for more locations
Five Guys empire is far removed from its first shop in Arlington, Va. With more than 1,000 locations in 40 states, the gimmick of allowing customers to custom-order a burger has cemented its place in the burger biz. As of last fall, Five Guys stands as the country's fastest growing-chain, with five stores opening per week.
Sidetrack Bar & Grill
56 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti; 734-483-5230; sidetrackbarandgrill.com
In Ypsi's historic Depot Town district, Sidetrack has been serving delicious grub for over 150 years. The "Famous Burger" cracked GQ's "20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die" list in 2006, with its secretly blended meat on a small, soft and grilled sesame bun. Sidetrack sits so close to the Amtrak line that passing trains rattle the foundation.
Buffalo Wild Wings
More than a dozen locations in metro Detroit;
see buffalowildwings.com for info
If you're packed into a booth surrounded by a calamity of screaming HD TVs, buckets of chicken wings and beers the size of your forearm, you're probably sitting in a Buffalo Wild Wings. The bar maintains mid-day and late-night happy hours, and it proudly flies flags of local pro and college sports teams. Those unable to snag a ticket for the big game can do no better than finding a seat at B-Dubs.
Best Neighborhood Pizza, Wayne County
Best Gourmet Pizza
2457 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-7879;
Imaginative fresh ingredients — even an egg — with a delectable thin crust! They serve five red pizzas and six white, meaning no tomato sauce; almost all are made with traditional ingredients. The red sauce is supremely simple, nothing much besides some fresh-tasting though canned crushed tomatoes. The Primavera, a white, is topped with fresh tomatoes, artichokes, eggplant, red onion, mozzarella and spinach — lots of flavors.
Best Neighborhood Pizza, Oakland County
Several locations in metro Detroit, including Oakland County; see buddyspizza.com for info
Before we broke up our pizza by county, Buddy's was the perennial winner of our Best Neighborhood Pizza category. After a full life as a speakeasy, Buddy's original location on Conant only started pumping out pizza in 1946. And though it has expanded all over southeastern Michigan, it has retained the neighborhood cred.
Dozens of locations in metro Detroit; more than 20 locations in Macomb County; see jetspizza.com for info
Jets' deep-dish, square, Detroit-style pizza is a regular crowd-pleaser. But it's not just a Macomb County thing; with locations all over the metroplex — as well as Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. How do they do it? It's right on the box: The pizzaiolo wears a jetpack!
Aubree's Pizzeria & Grill
39 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti; 734-483-1870
2122 Whittaker Rd., Ypsilanti Twp.; 734-483-1525
8031 Main St., Ste. 101, Dexter; 734-424-1400;
For more than 20 years, Aubree's Cross Street location has been catering to Ypsilanti's pizza-lovers. They offer many kinds of pies, from classic round to square deep-dish to build-your-own to thin-crust, even whole wheat crust.
Best Deli, Wayne County
1300 Porter St., Detroit; 313-961-2000;
This Corktown spot used to be the old Eph McNally's, and they carry on the sandwich tradition with a slew of options. The sandwiches are grand; one contains turkey, apple-wood-smoked bacon, avocado, tomato, romaine lettuce and melted pepper jack cheese layered on an 8-inch-sub spread with Mudgie-made garlic mayo.
Best Deli, Oakland County
Bread Basket Deli
32906 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-549-3663
101 N. Telegraph, Waterford; 248-683-2244; alsfamousdeli.com
Voted Best Deli by Metro Times readers off and on since the mid-1990s, Bread Basket serves more than cheese blintzes: Expect huge sandwiches, such soups as cold beet borscht, even stuffed cabbages. For best effect, drop in for a breakfast, which can include a lox platter, omelets and fried matzo.
Best Deli, Macomb County
23839 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-776-9898; nauticaldeli.com
New York Deli
25008 Little Mack Ave., St. Clair Shores;
Nautical Deli bakes, prepares and mixes everything fresh each morning. And the menu of soups, salads and sandwiches may not be pretentious, but it does offer a lot to choose from. Plus, Nautical is vegetarian-friendly, with triple-cheese and even tofu sandwiches. New York Deli is more on the traditionalist side, where you can get your deli classics — subs, burgers, any and all concoctions created with cold cuts — all served in a family-style environment with friendly service.
422 Detroit St., Ann Arbor; 734-663-3354;
Zingerman's is more than a deli, with its huge selection of olive oils, vinegars, cheeses and sausages, many from the far corners of the world. With excellent corned beef and pastrami, sandwiches available in numerous combinations, and artisanal breads fresh from the Zingerman's Bakehouse (yes, they have their own bakehouse!), this is deli central for the county.
Best Brewpub or Microbrewery,
Motor City Brewing Works
470 W. Canfield St., Detroit; 313-832-2700;
This brewpub has a quirky tiled interior, with its concrete bar, its Wednesday-night art shows, and its sturdy menu of pizzas and small plates. For less than $10, you can get a pizza made with ingredients as local as possible. The excellent beers include classics and a rotating cast of summer brews, meads and more.
Best Brewpub or Microbrewery,
Woodward Avenue Brewery
22646 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-546-3696; thewabsite.com
Dubbed, "a neighborhood bar with lots of style," the top floor has huge windows overlooking Woodward. Downstairs has a sidewalk café and lounge with a view of the brewhouse. WAB serves a selection of its own award-winning microbrewed beer and root beer, plus gourmet sandwiches, huge salads and more.
Best Brewpub or Microbrewery, Macomb County
14600 E. 11 Mile Rd., Warren; 586-776-9428; dragonmead.com
Tucked away in an industrial-looking building on I-696's service drive, inside it's all about the beer. Dragonmead aspires to a level of sophistication, a nice mix of relaxed couples and cap-and-T guys out for a few, the sort of relaxed, friendly and affordable evening out more people are willing to splurge on. And some of Dragonmead's brews can run to 10 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).
Best Brewpub or Microbrewery, Washtenaw County
720 Norris St., Ypsilanti; 734-480-2739;
Operating on the "reverse mullet" premise (i.e. party in the front, business in the back), CB is a cozy microbrewery equipped with a beer garden and a special tasting room. They'll open at noon, and you can kick back with a pint of one of usually eight beers on tap, including Sacred Cow or Phat Abbot Tripel.
Best Wine Selection
in a Restaurant
Cork Wine Pub
23810 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge;
This year's laurels go to the first-ever recipient of a liquor license in Pleasant Ridge. Not only is Cork's wine list broad and inventive, the menu of small plates to accompany the pours are varied and wine-friendly, never too acidic, spicy or salty to pair well.
Best Wine Bar
Motor City Wine
608 Woodward Ave., 2nd floor, Detroit; 313-483-7283; motorcitywine.com
Up above Woodward Avenue, in a second-floor space in downtown Detroit, is the wine shop of husband-and-wife team David and Melissa Armin-Parcells. Hundreds of bottles of affordable but quality wine line the walls, and a steady stream of customers comes in, tastes a few glasses of wine, and leaves with a bottle or two. Special events, like jazz combos, also are a draw.
Good Girls Go To Paris
15 E. Kirby St., Detroit; 877-727-4727
14929 Charlevoix St., Grosse Pointe; 313-331-2425; goodgirlsgotopariscrepes.com
The traditional French pancake gets an American treatment at this stylish eatery. Each crêpe takes almost four minutes, from careful pouring to when it is handed to the customer. Some come savory, some sweet, but given the variety of choices, nobody will leave unsatisfied. You can even design your own.
or Patio Dining,
La Dolce Vita
17546 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-865-0331; ldvrestaurant.net
La Dolce Vita is one of those gems Detroit offers to those in the know, marked only by the neon letters LDV on a building just north of McNichols Road. Park in back, then walk through a courtyard that, in summertime, will transport you to a romantic oasis. Sunday brunch is punctuated with jazz that accompanies the mimosas and Bloody Marys, a prelude to a short menu of eggs Benedict, Mascarpone-stuffed French toast and similarly delectable treats.
or Patio Dining,
22812 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-5005
Whether it's pizza, pasta, or anything that can conceivably be breaded and deep-fried, this fixture on the corner of Nine Mile and Woodward has been serving it up since 1961. Como's sheltered outdoor dining area offers a place for eating and boozing, with heating elements for added comfort on chilly days.
or Patio Dining,
23722 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-498-3000
More locations at fishbonesusa.com
The outside dining area, which seats about 150, has a lot to offer. The large, covered bar, the stone paving and walls, the marble fire pit and umbrella-covered marble tables offer a kind of European atmosphere. The four 50-inch flatscreens and 30-foot projection screen keep you in touch with your all-American sports.
or Patio Dining, Washtenaw County
812 Monroe St., Ann Arbor; 734-662-5414
Located south of U-M's Ann Arbor campus, Dominick's serves up pizza, pasta, apps and sammiches. Two faves are the chicken quesadilla and the tomato bruschetta on a toasted baguette. Michigan microbrews are also on tap. And then there are the sprawling outdoor options, as seating is available in three spots: the balcony, the front or the back yard — your choice!
Best Bakery, Wayne County
Avalon International Breads
422 W. Willis St., Detroit; 313-832-0008; avalonbreads.net
Sure, Avalon's breads are among the best, regularly featured at restaurants far beyond their Cass Corridor location. But if you like your sandwiches made for you, show up at lunchtime as the focaccia comes out of the oven. It might be topped with organic roasted zucchini, tomatoes, basil and Parmesan. Avalon has branched out from the baguettes and crusty peasant loaves of yore.
Best Bakery, Oakland County
220 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-398-8018; pinwheelbakery.com
Their scones are among the best we've had, crisp on the outside, moist and soft on the inside, coming in a variety of flavors. Last year, they joined forces with the new Red Hook coffee shop; Pinwheel bakes in the back and Red Hook brews up front. Now that's a tasty sort of synergy!
Best Bakery, Macomb County
36578 Moravian Dr., Clinton Twp.; 586-791-0360; vitosbakery.net
In the same family for almost 40 years, this is Vito's second annual win in this category, and with good reason: Vito's does it all! Expect cakes, breads, candies, cookies, pizza dough to go, and so much more than just loaves. In fact, more than a bakery, Vito's qualifies as a pasticceria, a genuine pastry shop. If you're not convinced, try a cannoli; you'll be back!
Best Sweets shop
541 Monroe St., Detroit; 313-963-9603
320 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-582-9220; astoriapastryshop.com
Astoria has logged more than 40 years in its Greektown location. How do they do it? By serving the kinds of desserts that make you want to snap a photo before they go down the hatch. And it's quite a sight: a glistening array of mouthwatering cakes and pies and cookies and puddings. Then there's the chocolate-peanut butter frozen yogurt, a rich delight made from low-fat frozen yogurt, but chock-full of thick peanut butter, a necessity for low-carbers.
Best indie Coffeehouse, Wayne County
2124 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-638-2989; astrodetroit.com
Calling Astro Coffee a coffee shop doesn't do it justice. Superb coffee, food and community spirit all abound in this excellent, comfortable neighborhood café. Exposed brick, high ceilings, and eclectic furniture create a fun, approachable space. And the food is local, fresh, seasonal and delicious.
Best indie Coffeehouse, Oakland County
515 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-515-2551; five15.net
It's more than the good java, friendly folks, gift-shop-lite atmo, free Wifi and appetizing snacks that make Five15 a destination. It's also the fun events that lend a surreal quality to your cup of coffee, such as their Friday and Saturday night Drag Queen Bingo (poll winner for the Best Bingo). See their website for a video of the fun, honey.
Best indie Coffeehouse, Macomb County
90 Macomb Place, Mount Clemens; 586-954-2677
23415 Greater Mack Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-774-5000
Che Cosa is a quirky little joint in downtown Mount Clemens has snacks, coffee, couches and a friendly vibe. Plus, if you want to grab some coffee to go, you can walk right over to the Clinton River and take it easy. And Luna Café is a chill, comfy spot to have a latte or maybe just a regular cup of joe and use the Wi-Fi.
Best indie Coffeehouse, Washtenaw County
The Ugly Mug
317 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti; 734-484-4684; uglymugcafeandroastery
Since 2004, this microroastery has attracted a following with its increasing focus on small-lot coffees from farms and cooperatives in Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia and Peru. The comfy setting doesn't hurt, with tables, couches, barstools, even an open-air seating area out back.
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