Bright lights big city
For the Auto Show crowd: Worthy restaurants in and around downtown Detroit
Published: January 11, 2012
Le Petit Zinc Creperie & Cafe 1055 Trumbull St.; 313-963-2805; lepetitzincdetroit.com; $$: Charles Sorel, raised in France but with the Caribbean personality of his native Martinique, is providing a splash of sunlight at his breakfast-and-lunch spot in Corktown. Excellent crepes range from simple to sweet to savory.
Loco Bar & Grill 454 E. Lafayette Blvd.; 313-965-3737; locobarandgrill.com; $$: Tex-Mex restaurant in Greektown featuring homestyle cooking, salsa music and tequila mixes.
Lunchtime Global 660 Woodward Ave., Suite 110; 313-963-4871; lunchtimeglobal.com; $: Co-owners Trish Ziembowicz and Ken Karustis have built a loyal clientele of downtown workers partial to the six soups a day and to the house rules: everything from scratch and made in-house. Open 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Majestic Cafe 4140 Woodward Ave.; 313-833-9700; majesticdetroit.com/majestic-cafe $$: Comfort foods drawn from around the globe served in an open, airy setting. Note: a great place to watch them set up for the Thanksgiving parade the night before. Closed Mondays.
Mario's Restaurant 4222 Second Ave.; 313-832-1616; mariosdetroit.com; $$$: Inviting Italian spot where generations of theatergoers have enjoyed multicourse meals before walking to the Hilberry Theatre.
MGM Grand Palette Dining Studio 1777 Third St., (inside MGM Grand Detroit); 313-393-7777; $$: Think of the food court at your local mall. Now ratchet up several notches, because everything is done to excess in casino-land.
Mosaic 501 Monroe St.; 313-962-9366; mosaic-detroit.com; $$$: With a menu culled from major world cuisines (Asian, Mediterranean, French, South American, Caribbean and more), it's fusion food, with Mediterranean given the most influence. Fascinating interior.
Motor City Casino Assembly Line Buffet inside Motor City Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave.; 313-237-7711; $$: All-you-can-eat fare, meat being the main attraction. The desserts, however, are all above average or better.
Mudgie's 1300 Porter St.; 313-961-2000; mudgiesdeli.com; $$: A pleasant 12-table sandwich spot with exceptionally friendly waitstaff, free WiFi, delicious house-made quality, and solidly local products. Delivery available daily 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Niki's Pizza 735 Beaubien St.; 313-961-4303; nikispizza.com; $: Just outside of Greektown, Niki's Pizza offers a full menu of Greek foods and square pizzas; patio seating in good weather.
Northern Lights 660 W. Baltimore St.; 313-873-1739; $$: A snazzy joint with a variety of environments to dine in from informal chairs by the free shuffleboard table to wraparound booths. The appetizer menu has several strong choices including fried calamari. Most sandwiches are on average $7 and come with a bag of Better Made chips or French fries seasoned with a dry ranch mix. Kitchen closed on weekends.
Opus One 565 E. Larned St.; 313-961-7766; opus-one.com; $$$$: Etched glass and marble are lavished on downtown's handsomest restaurant. The kitchen makes virtually everything from scratch, and the menu changes seasonally, typified by such dishes as medallions of veal with Madeira sauce, rack of lamb and seafood en croute. The pastry cart is hard to resist.
Orchid Thai 115 Monroe St., Detroit; 313-962-0225; $$: How to choose among the chef's 59 entrées? Actually, there are 337, since most are available with chicken, beef, pork, tofu, shrimp, scallops or squid as the anchor ingredient. Many offer "vegetables" as well. Soups are great, including the citrusy gai tom ka ($2.50).
Pizza Papalis Taverna 553 Monroe St.; 313-961-8020; pizzapapalis.com; $$: When Pizza Papalis first opened in Greektown in the 1980s, Chicago-style pizza was a gamble. Having now outlasted several neighbors, Papalis' several locations are a sure thing.
PJ's Lager House 1254 Michigan Ave.; 313-961-4668; $$: Everything but the fries and sweet potato fries are made in house at Corktown's popular music venue. The Corktown Classic is a Reuben grilled on rye, topped with Swiss and very fresh coleslaw made by the staff which corns its own beef. On Sunday's owner PJ Ryder personally cooks up Cajun specialties including barbequed shrimp, cooked with potatoes and tomatoes in a load of butter.
Plaka 535 Monroe St.; 313-962-4687; $: Who knew that a tiny 24-hour diner in Greektown would have not only the best French toast in the city, but in the entire universe? Lively at 2:30 a.m.
Rattlesnake Club 300 River Place Dr.; 313-567-4400; rattlesnakeclub.com; $$$: The name was chosen to denote energy and this place hums with it. Fresh, seasonal, simple menu: grilled fish, steaks and chops as well as imaginative dishes. Airy and sophisticated riverfront setting. Closed Sundays.
Roast 1128 Washington Blvd.; 313-961-2500; roastdetroit.com; $$$$: No ordinary steakhouse or barbecue joint, with all meat naturally raised and dry-aged for a minimum of 21 days. The same amount of gastronomic attention is paid to the poultry and seafood dishes.
Roostertail 100 Marquette Dr.; 313-822-1234; roostertail.com; $$$: For almost a half-century, the Roostertail has been synonymous with the sort of snazzy, riverfront fine dining and entertainment.
Russell Street Deli 2465 Russell St.; 313-567-2900; russellstreetdeli.com; $: This chattery Eastern Market deli serves lunch on weekdays and lunch and breakfast on Saturdays to a loyal crowd. Closed Sundays.
Sala Thai 3400 Russell St.; 313-831-1302; salathai.us; $: Curries, fried rice, Thai salads and noodles all done in authentic Thai style. Extensive appetizer selections, sushi service and tasty soups. Vegetarian entrées too. Lively setting.
Seva-Detroit 66 E. Forest Ave.; 313-974-6661; sevarestaurant.com; $$: Ann Arbor's long-standing stop for crafty vegetarian cuisine recently opened a second location in Midtown. The outstanding options such as Eggs Rancheros (corn tortilla stacked with black beans, Mexican rice, two over-easy eggs, broiled cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses and ranchero sauce) are paired with surprisingly cheap drinks. Friendly waitstaff and a relaxing open environment.
Shangri-La 4710-12 Cass Ave.; 313-974-7669; midtownshangri-la.com; $$: Quirky interior, extremely attentive servers, and excellent dim sum, those small plates that are something like Chinese tapas. Most dim-sum are $2.95 to $3.50, and most offer a bite or so for at least three diners.
Sindbad's 100 Saint Clair St.; 313-822-8000; sindbads.com; $$: Roadhouse fare with an emphasis on steaks, chops and fish. The all-you-can-eat brunch buffet makes a great Sunday morning.
Slows Bar-BQ 2138 Michigan Ave.; 313-962-9828; slowsbarbq.com; $$: In a meticulously revamped 1880s building, Slows caters to a mix of hipsters, folks from area businesses, and suburban brew lovers. Excellent barbecue and amazing beer selection. Often a wait.
Small Plates 1521 Broadway; 313-963-0497; smallplates.com; $: The diminutive dishes here run the gamut from hand-cut fries to pan-seared scallops. And they make almost everything in-house, including their own mayo and ketchup!
Supino Pizzeria 2457 Russell St.; 313-567-7879; supinopizza.com; $$: Brilliant thin-crust pizza with imaginative fresh ingredients and a delectable thin crust that's not too chewy. Also excellent is the house-made manicotti.
Tom's Oyster Bar 519 E. Jefferson Ave.; 313-964-4010; tomsoysterbar.com; $$: Right across from the RenCen, noisy and cheerful at lunchtime and after work, Tom's gives a very convincing impression of a well-preserved 19th century pub.
Traffic Jam & Snug 511 W. Canfield St.; 313-831-9470; trafficjamdetroit.com; $$: Serves interesting food, much of it is made in-house, brewing their own beers, baking their own bread, even making their own ice cream.
Union Street 4145 Woodward Ave.; 313-831-3965; unionstreetdetroit.com; $$: Art Deco decor, eclectic crowd. Menu ranges from chicken wings to homemade pastas to filet mignon. More than 100 beers; excellent wine list. Sunday brunch is noon-7 p.m.
Vicente's Cuban Cuisine 1250 Library St.; 313-962-8800; vicente.us; $$: Familiar elements from the Caribbean are here — plantains, yuca, papas rellenas, thin beefsteak and lots of black beans and rice. Come for dinner, stay for dancing lessons.
Vivio's 2460 Market St.; 313-393-1711; viviosbloodymary.com; $$: Decked out in historic ads and posters, Vivio's is the place to get a 20-ounce porterhouse, a full pound of crab legs, "pub style" mussels or a great Bloody Mary.
Wasabi Korean & Japanese Cuisine 15 E. Kirby St., Suite E; 313-638-1272; wasabidetroit.com; $$: Wasabi's bibimbab is best served in a heated stone bowl; it's huge and infinitely satisfying on a cold night. Sushi in all the usual varieties is offered, artfully done and of excellent quality.
The Whitney 4421 Woodward Ave.; 313-832-5700; thewhitney.com; $$$$: With its 52 rooms, 10 bathrooms and 20 fireplaces, the three-story pink-granite edifice built for a lumber baron in 1894 has been one of Detroit's most celebrated restaurants since 1986.
Woodbridge Pub 5169 Trumbull St.; 313-833-2701; woodbridgepub.com; $$: Open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, inventive burgers include a half-pound certified Angus and a vegan black-bean patty. Hip setting, friendly service.
Wolfgang Puck Grille 1777 Third St., (inside MGM Grand Detroit); 313-465-1648, $$$: Open, spacious, with a gazillion accent lights playing upon its clever interior design, Puck's restaurant serves the innovative, seasonal, organic cuisine he helped popularize.
Special thanks to editorial intern Ryan Felton for his assistance compiling this column.
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