Best of Detroit 2011
Photo: Marvin Shaouni
Spend the Night - Readers' Choice
The music venues and watering holes our readers treasure
Published: April 27, 2011
If you've only been to Club Bart for breakfast, you're missing a whole different side of the Bart experience. On Honky-Tonk Night, the stage hosts some of the mainstays of metro Detroit's honky-tonk scene, including John Holk & the Sequins, Whitey Morgan & the 78's, Carrie Shepard, and — if you're lucky — you might come on a night when the Honky-Tonk Poetry Society is in full attendance. Eat it: The kitchen stays open late.
Best Irish Pub
160 W. Maple Rd., Birmingham; 248-642-1135
Birmingham is known for its bourgie boutiques and the like, so a trip to Dick O'Dow's always feels like somewhat of an escape. Cozy, the bar looks and feels older than it actually is, and there's something that suggests Tolkien more than Joyce, but still, it gives you an onslaught of Irish, from the beer to the food, and when there's soccer to be watched, watch out!
Best Karaoke in Wayne County - Tie
Big League Brews
20428 Ecorse Rd., Taylor; 313-406-6931; facebook.com/bigleaguebrews
2114 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-962-0013; myspace.com/ljslounge
Big League Brews is packing the place on Saturday nights to hear brave souls sing their hearts out. Hosted by Matt and his book of 90,000 songs, the bar rocks the karaoke tip from 9 p.m. to closing time. We hear the singers, who are as likely to pick rap as country, ain't half-bad. The lovable Corktown dive LJ's Lounge, sometimes referred to as the Slows Bar-B-Q Waiting Room, gets its karaoke rocks off on Thursdays for Terryoke. Terry has been in the biz for 10 years, and runs one hell of a night. Expect regulars and walk-ins to delight you with their renditions of favorites such as Seger's "Turn the Page" and "Sweet Dreams" by Eurythmics.
Best Karaoke in Oakland County
22740 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-591-3466; dinoslounge.com
Dino himself would be the first to tell you that karaoke is growing. It's such a popular attraction at this Ferndale joint that you can find host Michael Shea doing his thing every Wednesday and Friday. A total pro, Shea's been at it for seven years at Dino's, and 15 years before that. Dino calls him the consummate karaoke host king, because he keeps the night rolling smoothly, gets involved with the crowd, and is known to even joins in at times. In fact, it has become somewhat of a tradition for him to sing the Metallica classic "Enter Sandman," during which the crowd chants for him to take his shirt off! Not your mama's karaoke. Or maybe she's just awesome and it is?
Best Karaoke in Macomb County
Based in Eastpointe; 248-259-1917; facebook.com/moonglowentertainment
David Moon has been carrying the east side's karaoke community for 15 years. In the last 90 days, Moon says that his company, MoonGlow Entertainment, has entertained some 10,700 karaokeites. That's a lot of "Freebird." Tipsy McStaggers, in Warren, is bumpin' from Wednesdays through the weekend, when more than 150 boozers show up to watch, sing or both. Maybe they're vying for the current karaoke contest? First place gets $800 in cash! "The person who's up there singing is the most important person in the room," Moon says. "We're hired by the bar but we're working for the singers." MoonGlow not only handles karaoke at five bars in southeast Michigan, including Universal Lanes in Warren, but they also simulcast performances six nights a week at livedetroit.tv.
Best Karaoke in Washtenaw County
Birdman Presents Hairy Karaoke at Woodruff's
36 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti; woodruffsbar.com
First, if you will, a word about Woodruff's. If you've followed the Ypsi music crowd around town, then in recent months you've been playing hopscotch from the sorely missed Elbow Room to the ill-fated Savoy to Woodruff's. And what that really means is that you've witnessed a rare kind of patronage toward one man: Andy Garris. Say word? Word. As for the Birdman and his Hairy Karaoke? It's taking flight. Sorry — had to. It's replacing the Elbow Room Guitar Hero Karaoke nights of yesteryear. But it's even better. In fact, it's the best.
Best Happy Hour in Wayne County
1128 Washington Blvd., Detroit; 313-961-2500; roastdetroit.com
When Iron Chef Michael Symon opened this semi-swank eatery in late '08, it quickly became home to the hottest table in town. So, it's an obvious choice for weekend food adventures, but Detroiters are taking advantage of its decadent happy hour all week long. From 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, Roast offers up a happy hour menu that not only includes affordable pints of kind beer or glasses of wine, but a rich crock of mac and cheese, Parmesan and truffle oil french fries, tacos filled with the "beast of the day" and what might be the best burger in all downtown.
Best Happy Hour in Oakland County
30 E. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-619-9060; konagrill.com
You don't immediately think of national chain restaurants when you think happy hour specials. And, around these here parts, you don't think of Troy as a city in which you might save a few bucks on, well, anything. Kona Grill is evidently quite the exception. During happy hour, signature drinks and eats start at just $4 and don't rise much higher. Arrive anytime between 3 and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, or Saturday between 1 and 5 p.m., to find out what all the fuss is about.
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