Serving up some of his best
Published: October 20, 2010
Once inside, the first decision is whether to buy food from roaming vendors or at the concession stands. Relying on the vendors, you won't miss any of the action, but they do not offer a full array of items, and they are not always around when you want them.
On the other hand, you will probably have to wait in line at the concession stands and maybe miss an inning or two. Nothing is more depressing than to be in line and hear that roar from the crowd. What was it? A grand slam? A triple play? A bench-clearing brawl? ...
The person with whom I live claims that there is nothing like a hot dog at Tiger Stadium. She is not talking about the way they "plump" or that the griller has a way with wurst. She is talking about a uniquely sublime experience — the warm summer sun, the community of fans, those magical days when one can almost catch a glimpse of Horton and Kaline patrolling the lush, incredibly green field. On such days, even the London Chop House's finest piece of beef is no match for a Ball Park Frank.
"A Neighborhood Gem," Feb. 27, 1991; Maria's, 19220 Grand River Ave., Detroit; later moved to Southfield, then to Ferndale, in Mel's words "anchoring Ferndale's rise to culinary respectability."
Every now and then, one tires of trendy restaurants, generally in the suburbs, that vie with one another to introduce the most exotic lettuce variety, the most artfully decorated entrée, or the most dazzling Ron Rea interior. When the yearning for good old-fashioned grub in no-nonsense surroundings strikes, one could do worse than the nostalgia fix and culinary integrity presented at Maria's. ...
Maria's is the sort of place that Cher and Nicolas Cage — not Danny Aiello — would have frequented in Moonstruck. Earthy and authentic, it stands on Grand River Avenue as a dramatic response to those who say the neighborhoods of Detroit are dead.
"Going deep," May 31, 2006; Loui's Pizza, 23141 Dequindre Rd., Hazel Park; 248-547-1711.
Loui's makes the best deep-dish pizza in Detroit. I know those are fighting words among a legion of pizza lovers bitterly divided over the quality of their respective champions' square pies. But I dare any of the Buddy's, Shield's or whatever partisans to find a cozier venue to eat superior pies than in Loui's, a classic pizza parlor on Dequindre just north of Nine Mile Road.
Loui's has been winning awards and testimonials since it opened in 1977. Among notable patrons whose autographed glossies you can peruse as you wait for a table (limited reservations taken only for parties of 10 or more) are vintage Detroiters: the late Bob Talbert and John Kelly and Marilyn Turner, and Hollywood stars Mel Gibson and Dom DeLuise. ...
I hope ... that nothing changes among the colorful, all-female waitstaff, many of whom are in their second decade at Loui's. Typical is the exuberant Diane, who, placing her hand on your shoulder, may ask, "What can I get you, hon?" What else but the best deep dish in Detroit in near-perfect surroundings?
"Staying power," Dec. 19, 2007; Anchor Bar, 450 W. Fort St., Detroit; 313-964-9127.
Although I love hanging out in restaurants, I also enjoy my day job teaching history. Only rarely can I combine both pursuits. Perhaps that's the reason I'm fond of the venerable Anchor Bar on Fort Street in Detroit. ... Predating Prohibition, this fabled institution is crammed full of vintage local political, media and sports photos and memorabilia, some of which must make the curators at the Detroit Historical Museum envious. ...
According to Leo [Derderian]'s son, Vaughn, who now runs the place, one of his father's earlier moves was precipitated by a conflict with Martin Hayden, the editor of the Detroit News. Angered by the fact that so many of his employees drank their breakfast, lunch and dinner at the nearby Anchor, and also because the legendary Doc Greene, his star columnist with whom he did not get along, was a silent partner in the bar, Hayden's News bought the building and began eviction proceedings.
Today, the Anchor no longer relies on journalists to get by — there are fewer of them thanks to the JOA, continuing downsizing and the fact that young journalists, including those at the Metro Times, don't drink like their predecessors. Today, aside from the police, politicians, hockey-goers and neighborhood types who still frequent the bar, casino workers have adopted the Anchor as their gritty home away from the glitz of their workplaces. ...
They all come to eat waxed-paper-wrapped burgers, sandwiches and bar food from polystyrene plates with plastic utensils. The most popular burger is the Avah, named after Vaughn's sister, a double-decker, loaded with ham, Swiss and American cheese ($5.50). Cooked impeccably to order, thick and juicy, it is still one of the better burgers in town. ....
Whatever the occasion, if you need a quality late-night burger and a history fix, the Anchor, which closes at 3 a.m., should be your destination. No other historical "museum" maintains such long hours.
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