From the divine to the dives
A guide on places that are swell, or where you can just swill
Published: October 17, 2012
Arbor Brewing Company Pub & Eatery 114 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; 734-213-1393; arborbrewing.com/pub: Sure, there are seasonal beer tasting events ($25 gets you a buffet ticket and a selection of 25-35 samples) and beers made for your taste buds (Sacred Cow IPA pairs nicely with the fried chicken). But more than a mere beer-geek hangout, Arbor typifies everything you hope to find in a pub: a nice selection of well-prepared food, good local music and — oh, yes — beer, most of it brewed on-premises.
Ashley's 338 S. State St., Ann Arbor; 734-996-9191; 5150 Carpenter Rd., Ypsilanti; 734-528-9898; ashleys.com: With an award-winning beer selection from the four corners of the earth, made-to-order food using fresh ingredients, and a genuinely hospitable attitude, Ashley's is an excellent bar for beer-lovers. Think you've run out of new beers to explore? Better stop in soon.
Belmar Lanes 4035 Fort St., Lincoln Park; 313-381-4242; $: You don't even have to pick up a bowling ball to have a good time here. Roll inside and look for the bar. It's a quaint little space serving the usual bar fare: Expect nachos and cheese, chicken tenders, french fries, cheese sticks, hot dogs, mini-tacos, mini-pizzas, hamburgers, as well as complimentary popcorn. So why pay $3 for a beer? Character, baby. This place is loaded with character — and characters!
The Berkley Front 3087 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-547-3331: The magic number, it turns out, is 42. That's how many beers you'll find on tap at this neighborhood biergarten. And, unlike most bars, the Berkley Front features an uncarbonated pull, which draws cellar-temperature beer into a glass without all the CO2. There are always several local creations to choose from, matched up against a genuine selection of German and Belgian ones. The beer pulls you in, but the juke, live music ($5 upstairs Thursday-Saturday) and conversation keep you there.
Bert's Marketplace 2727 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-2030: This granddaddy of the current jam scene is into its second decade. You never know what to expect — luminaries, swingin' grade-schoolers brought by doting parents or a waif of a singer from Central America with limited conversational English, fluently belting "Midnight Train to Georgia" — for the $3 cover. The regulars rave about the barbecue, and Friday and Saturday nights feature blues and jazz jams for a $5 cover.
The Biergarten 22184 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-561-7711: Part of a rapidly changing strip of Michigan Avenue on the west side of Dearborn, this family-style corner bar has a great beer selection for those brew mavens who investigate beyond what's on tap, including a good selection of bottles from Michigan. Expect beer specials and a chance to shoot some pool.
BlackFinn Restaurant & Saloon 530 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-582-9460; blackfinnroyaloak.com: Though we voted this Royal Oak hot spot "Best Pick-Up Bar" back in 2009, we weren't sure what to make of BlackFinn when its doors first opened; was it a sports bar or a family restaurant with a dance floor? Was it a swingers club? Though you may pick up something other than a drink, they have happy hour specials from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday. The newly remodeled dining room is also worth a look.
The Bronx Bar 4476 Second Ave., Detroit; 313-832-8464: This hip, student-packed venue, which was once an underappreciated dive bar, is a good place to hit up to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Expect to hear some early '80s post-punk, classic hip hop, deep soul, indie-rock favorites, and a slew of Detroit bands that make up a dumbfounding roster of lovable non-hits. You might spend more on their two jukeboxes (yeah, there are two) than on drinks. In warmer months, the new patio is the perfect spot to recharge with a beer and a burger.
Cadieux Café 4300 Cadieux Rd., Detroit; 313-882-8560; cadieuxcafe.com: Feather bowling is not the only draw to this Belgian cultural hub. Cadieux Café combines European flair with a unique menu, and the current owners have furthered the popularity by bringing in live musical acts and staying open until 2 a.m. daily. So whether you are in the mood for steamed mussels, Belgian beer or Elvis impersonators (sometimes), this is the place for you.
Cadillac Jacks 21600 Dequindre Rd., Warren; 586-486-5690; cadillacjacksdetroit.com: All bases are covered. You got your bowling, you got your beer, and you got your rock shows. What kind of rock shows? This week, it's the Nightmare, Detroit's Only Alice Cooper Tribute Show, at 10 p.m. Oct. 20. See website for more details.
Cass Cafe 4620 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-1400; casscafe.com: As if the vintage bicycles chained up outside weren't a clue. Then the walls tell the story. The music backs it up. Look over the shoulder of any messenger-bag-wielding patron and you're likely to find them — assuming they're not chomping into a turkey burger or sipping a pint— sketching, reading, knitting, writing, perhaps focused on a MacBook. Pretentious? Nah. Cass Cafe is the unofficial meeting place for Detroit painters, poets, musicians, etc.
CK Diggs 2010 Auburn Rd., Rochester Hills; 248-853-6600; ckdiggs.com: A family-style restaurant with a full, eclectic family-style menu with pizza, pasta, salads, sandwiches, steaks, ribs and fish. But don't miss the 41 beers on tap, including brews from Arcadia, Bell's and New Holland, and many more in the bottle, from North America and elsewhere.
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