A selection of diners, restaurants and bars just down the river
Published: December 7, 2011
$=$5-10; $$=$10-25; $$$=$25-50; $$$$=$50+
Angelina’s Mexican 8425 Allen Rd., Allen Park; 313-216-7181; $: Warm service, colorful dishes, generous cheese-to-tortilla ratio, and a lunch menu with prices hovering around $5 per meal make this authentic eatery a prime location in the constellation of metro Detroit’s Mexican restaurants.
Auburn Café 3520 W. Jefferson Ave., Ecorse; 313-381-8133; $$: Brick archways and a pretend grape arbor overhead contribute to the atmosphere, but it’s basically your family bar scene — and people love this place. Both lamb and chicken gyros are nicely done, wrapped in an excellent warm, thick pita. Then there’s the famous chicken salad, a Greek salad with feta, Greek olives, mild peppers, cukes, tomatoes, homemade dressing and chicken char-broiled by the cook. What’s more, Auburn’s meat is always fresh, never frozen.
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! On one visit, we spotted one of our friends from Cass Cafe in the midst of league play, and she showed us the shortcut from the bar to go outside and smoke.
Big League Brews 20428 Ecorse Rd., Taylor; 313-406-6931; facebook.com/bigleaguebrews; $: Metro Detroit must be the capital of claims of peerlessness. Self-proclaimed as the “best new bar in the world,” Big League Brews is the consummate sports bar. The tavern often has deals on buckets of beer, and serves some tasty brews, such as Newcastle Brown Ale and Detroit Dwarf.
Black Pine Tree 16052 Eureka Rd., Southgate; 734-284-8700; blackpinetreesushi.com; $$: Lunch and dinner for dine-in or carry out, serving authentic Japanese cuisine, including sushi. Menu includes noodles, donburi, teriyaki, yakisaba, tonkatsu, as well as a few Korean specialties. Full bar. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 1 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays, 4 p.m.-9 p.m. Sundays.
Blufin Sushi Pacific Rim Grill 15801 Southfield Rd., Allen Park; 313-357-9500; $$: This pan-Asian menu offers everything from sushi and pad Thai to Korean bi bim bap. A saltwater aquarium and bamboo accents create a modern, Asian-inspired atmosphere. Open 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 4-11 p.m. Saturday, and 4-9 p.m. Sundays.
The Broadcast Booth 6550 Allen Rd., Allen Park; 313-389-5050; thebroadcastbooth.com; $$: More a restaurant than a sports bar, yes, the lounge is dominated by a huge U-shaped bar and scores of TVs, but other areas are sedate. The joint’s informality — wooden tables and paper napkins — reflect the menu’s budget-friendly meals. For example, only $8.95 will score a “Hat Trick” appetizer composed of four buffalo wings, five crispy fried-ravioli bites stuffed with cheese and jalapeño, and tortilla chips with a lively spinach dip. The ample portion of deep-fried but mercifully lightly floured little calamari rings with marinara is another decent starter. Among the other traditional bar-food appetizers, which average around $7, are steak bites, quesadillas, and “Katie Bar the Door” chili over mac ’n’ cheese. There are burgers, pastas, pizzas and more. Most mains are less than $17, with the kitchen justifiably proud of its tender, fall-off-the bone baby-back ribs basted with a mild hickory barbecue sauce.
Brown Derby 10661 W. Jefferson Ave., River Rouge; 313-843-0380; $: Right down the street from River Rouge’s police department, this little hole-in-the-wall is a relatively quiet place to sit down for a few brews, with a short menu that includes burgers as well as steak and onions. Ask if the jukebox works before using it.
Café West 2775 W. Jefferson Ave., Trenton; 734-676-2233; cafewest.biz; $$: Fresh seafood, steaks, chicken, entrée salads and lots of appetizers. Full bar.
Cloverleaf Bar 12625 Dix Toledo Rd., Southgate; 734-284-7211; $: It’s an unassuming, boxy building from the outside, with just a green metal door under a goose-neck lamp. But walk in and you’ll find an old-fashioned shot-and-beer bar with character to spare. The bar is in the actual shape of three-leafed clover, all under a scooped-out ceiling — a la the Bronx Bar. It sort of looks like a hipster bar without hipsters, or as our co-drinker joked, “a Downriver Donovan’s.” Though there were only a few old-timers when we visited — briefly singing along to “I’ll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again” — we hear it can get packed on a Friday night when they have karaoke. There’s also a short menu of bar food, including burgers, mini-burritos, pierogies, poppers and more.
Dohickey’s 232 Maple St., Wyandotte; 734-285-8370; $: Irish pub. Beer, wine and liquor, lunch and dinner featuring classic Irish fare like shepherd’s pie, billiards and darts.
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