Best of Detroit 2011
Public Square - Readers' Choice
Our local riches, from media to politics to business and more, as judged by our readers
Published: April 27, 2011
The bingo experience transcended: Bingo in the company of lovely drag queens draped in vibrant coloraturas at Five15 — a cafe and "media shop" located in Royal Oak — the first and last Friday of every month as well as every Saturday. It's essentially a comedy show, with a drag queen reading out the bingo balls. And prizes: usually a mug, T-shirt and a little gift from the drag queen's box. Depending on the night, games are at 8 p.m. or at 7:30 and 10 p.m. — check the website for info (and to see a video clip of what you're in for).
Best Place to Tailgate
Easily accessible from I-75, I-375 and Gratiot and Mack, and about a 10-minute walk from Ford Field, it's got space to throw a football. If it's too cold, rainy, windy or snowy to be outside, Vivio's and Roma Café offer shelter, grub, drinks and shuttles to the game. For prices and a map of parking locations, see the website. For the best time before and after the game, see you at the market.
Metro Beach Metro Park
31300 Metropolitan Parkway, Harrison Township; 586-463-4332; metroparks.com
It's actually a peninsula, 750 acres jutting into Lake St. Clair. It's got a pool with waterslides, a white-sand beach, shaded bike paths, a par-three golf course, miniature golf, picnic areas, boat docks, volleyball, a nature center, a wooded trail and a pond where turtles sun on wooden rafts. It's got 1,600 feet of boardwalk. And the cross-section of metro Detroiters it attracts makes it equally interesting as a place to observe the parade of humanity. Gaze south to see the RenCen through the haze.
Best Place for a Picnic
In case you were wondering about renting one of the 20 picnic shelters for a large group event, the number to call is the Belle Isle Special Events Office at 313-628-2081. But there are plenty of spots for spreading a blanket and uncorking your jug throughout the 1.5-square-mile island. This Saturday (April 30) you can even help make the island attractive by pitching in with the Friends of Belle Isle's annual cleanup. Meet at the casino at 9 a.m., bring boots and gloves and be prepared to work until noon when there'll be refreshments. Call 313-331-7760 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Best Eastern Market Vendor or Shop
R. Hirt Jr.
2468 Market St., Detroit; 313-567-1173
Dating back to 1887, the store actually predates by four years Eastern Market's move from Cadillac Square to its present location. Pay attention to the space, with its wide aisles and high ceilings, and with a little imagination, you can get a feel of that earlier era here. Of course, folks come here first and foremost for the 300 or so varieties of cheese and a knowledgeable a staff to go with it. (Watch for the weekly specials.) There are pantry items galore: oils, coffees, teas, spices, pastas, chocolates, etc., etc. And the third floor has wicker items and a hard-to-describe assortment of things from oddball gewgaw toys to soaps and lotions to $300 wind chimes.
Best Farmers' Market in Wayne County
At 43 acres, it is reputedly the nations's largest public market, and we've yet to take an out-of-towner who hasn't been impressed on a fair-weather Saturday when the place bustles with life, from the breakfast line snaking out of Russell Street Deli to the engaging buskers, from just-off-the-vine vegetables to specialty vendors like mushroom man extraordinaire Don Schneider. In recent years, there've been physical improvements and an influx of new vendors bringing all-natural and organic options, and more specialty items. But has it lost its character? If anything, it's been enhanced.
Best Farmers' Market in Oakland County
Royal Oak Farmers Market
316 E. 11 Mile Rd., Royal Oak; 248-246-3276
Located in the Civic Center of Royal Oak (near the library and the 44th District Court), the Royal Oak Farmers Market is itself a civic operation, put on by the City of Royal Oak itself. The selection here is outstanding, and the event makes for a great way to spend a Saturday (especially a sunny one). Among the variety of products that are sold are breads, pies, flowers, fruits, veggies and soaps.
Best Farmers' Market in Macomb County
Clinton Township Farmers Market
37685 S. Gratiot Ave., Clinton Twp.; 586-469-2525
Quality imbues every product here, from the veggies to the meats. It has everything one desires in a farmer's market, namely the sight of fresh produce stacked ceiling-high: scattered towers of melons, apples, oranges, tomatoes, green beans, etc.
Best Farmers' Market in Washtenaw County
Ann Arbor Farmers Market
315 Detroit, St., Ann Arbor; 734-794-6255
Located in the Kerrytown District of Ann Arbor, the A2 Farmers Market is, of course, full of fresh and voluptuous fruits and veggies, but is also full of delicious sweet treats, such as sweet potato pecan pies. The market is producers-only (to those interested in becoming vendors), and serves at the moment as a base for more than 100 producers.
Best Local TV News
Local television is notoriously competitive, never more so than in our "Best of Detroit" contest. But Fox 2 narrowly "edged" the others this year. Was it, we wonder, the addition of former Detroit News writer Charlie LeDuff, who brought his quirky, renegade investigative style to the Problem Solver team? Is it Fox 2 Morning, the only fully local morning show available after 7 a.m.? Or could it be the fast-paced evening newscasts that include such segments as "The Edge" and "Let it Rip," all-too-rare volleys of lively discussion and spirited debate on local TV news?
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