More than kielbasa
A quick and dirty guide to eating Hamtramck
Published: March 2, 2011
Hamtramck Coney Island 9741 Joseph Campau St.; 313-873-4569; $: Detroit's culinary gift to the world may be humble, but it's a point of local honor. Located in the midst of the busy street of Joseph Campau, this coney island is the perfect stop in between the bar hopping. Taste the pride for $1.90 with a classic coney dog: An all-beef frank placed lovingly in a bun, drizzled with beef chili, diced raw onions and mustard. It's the perfect spot for a quick meal of your favorite burger, gyro or sandwich. Also, stop in for breakfast the next morning after an adventurous night on the town.
Kelly's Bar 2403 Holbrook, Hamtramck; 313-873-9428; $: Don't let the appearance of a dive bar fool you. Inside, Kelly's Bar features a huge menu to pair up with your favorite drinks. Kelly's is known widely throughout Hamtramck for having one of the best Reuben sandwiches and great waffle fries to match. Not only do they offer the typical "bar food" (burgers, fries and different appetizers) but also chicken, seafood and rib dinners. Kelly's Bar is also participating in the "Hamtramck Blowout" so don't miss out on the live music over the weekend while you're enjoying your meal.
Maine Street 11650 Joseph Campau St., Hamtramck; 313-368-0500; $: Serving stick-to-the-ribs diner fare (daytime only; closed Sundays), Maine Street may not be a late-night hangout, but it's a likely spot to see the people you partied with the night before, probably at the full-service bar. It may appear as a typical family-style Greek restaurant, serving gyros and saganaki ("Opa!"), but Maine Street's menu also includes dishes that encompass Hamtramck's diversity by offering homemade chevapis and hummus. Breakfast is served anytime, except it costs $1 more after 11 a.m.; however, even then it's worth it for the enormous omelets they serve.
Maria's Comida 11411 Joseph Campau St., Hamtramck; 313-733-8406; $: Maria's offers complimentary homemade salsa and chips as appetizers while you decide what to order. Better than most choices are the jalapenos stuffed with lime cream cheese, the verde sauce for enchiladas, and the house-made desserts. Like the kind of tamales where the masa is dry? Maria's serves the best we've found of that category — they come from Mexicantown Bakery. For made-to-order fried ice cream, an American-born dish, the chef coats ice cream with Frosted Flakes, to good effect. For the last few months, Maria's has also ventured into fusion fare, offering a few Asian-inspired dishes as well.
Polish Village Cafe 2990 Yemans St., Hamtramck; 313-874-5726; $$: Digging into a big plate at Hamtramck's Polish Village Café might have you suppose you're eating food prepared by somebody's Polish mother. That's because, essentially, you are. During peak dining hours there's a steady flow of waiting customers first lining up at the bar and sometimes winding up the stairs and out the door. Most entrées run around $8 — a trifle when you consider the asking price for a dreary meal at the corner suburban strip mall chain. In a space with old-style character, with a full bar, this Hamtramck staple serves a few pages of meat-and-potatoes Polish dishes and their accompanying sides. Impressive soups, Polish standards, "city chicken," Hungarian pancakes, mushroom crepes, boiled ribs, fresh sausage in beer sauce, pan-fried chicken livers — plus a whole other menu page of such daily specials as stuffed green peppers and sauerkraut in crusty dough. Don't forget to order Poland's famous beer Zywiec along with your meal to truly enhance your Polish experience. Cash only.
Polonia Restaurant 2934 Yemans St., Hamtramck; 313-873-8432; $: Back in the 1930s, the second floor used to be a place where labor organizers would meet. Today, Polonia still serves authentic Polish fare, taking special pride in its freshness. Their kielbasa, for instance, is made at the restaurant from their own special recipe. The almost-100-year-old restaurant was bought and remodeled in 1986 by Polish immigrant Janusz Zurowki. Feel at home amid the cozy booths, the colorful Polish knickknacks on display and the aromas of Polish home cooking. That's why if you're looking for good, hearty and affordable food in a charming atmosphere, you can't do much better than Polonia. The menu is full of traditional Polish food, heavy on the meat and potatoes, but without gargantuan serving sizes. The decor is a hodgepodge of wooden curios and colorful plates beneath the warm pink glow of coated fluorescent lamps. There is no real sit-down bar, but drinks in all forms are readily served. Start off your meal with a shot of wisniowka, a very sweet, cherry-flavored vodka. If diet be damned, dive right in to an appetizer of smalec ze skwareczkami, a bread spread consisting of pork lard, bacon crumbs, onion and spices. There is a nice lineup of soups, and great pierogi stuffed with potato, cheese, kraut or meat. Open seven days a week and there are several daily specials.
Royal Kabob 3236 Caniff St., Hamtramck; 313-872-9454; $: Royal Kabob provides everything from an ambitious platter to a humble, wax-paper-wrapped falafel sandwich. And those sandwiches are deals: A falafel sandwich is $3.45, as are the four other vegetarian sandwiches. For carnivores, meat-kebab sandwiches are around $3.45. As for their entrées, they're big enough to guarantee you'll leave with a box. Jeez, their $24.99 takeout combo for two is enough food for a small army. Though it does a brisk take-out business, the interior is bright and commodious, with enough room for large parties. What's more, it has a gelato bar for your sweet finish.
Three-Star Bar B Que and Lounge 11941 Joseph Campau St., Hamtramck; 313-365-9494; $: Good old-fashioned comfort food in an environment your parents might approve of. But that's hardly a strike against it. Three-Star offers dine-in, carry out, delivery and a full-service bar that adds a "lounge" feel into the evening. Hearty breakfasts start at 7 a.m. and drinking hours extend until 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Hint: The ribs provide an excellent base for an ambitious pub crawl.
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