The west-side way
A handy shortlist of restaurants in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights
Published: February 16, 2011
Al-Ajami 14633 W. Warren, Dearborn; 313-846-9330; $: Al-Ajami is comparable to a slew of other Middle Eastern restaurants in the area, but is much less expensive than most of them. Chef and co-owner Stephan Ajami offers more than a dozen seafood dishes. Also good are the chicken lemon, which combines grilled chicken and pilaf with vegetables doused in lemon butter, a terrific chicken rice soup, and a good lentil soup. Servings are ginormous.
Alcamo's Market 4423 Schaefer Rd., Dearborn; 313-584-3010; $: We asked our friends for tips on eating on the cheap, and our former photo intern Antal Zambo identified the ultimate turkey sub deal. He told us, "There's an Italian deli in East Dearborn called Alcamo's that serves up big turkey subs for $3," adding, "I'm kind of loath to give up this secret, but they're nice people — so I don't mind waiting in line." We appreciate it, Antal!
Amani's 13823 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-584-1890; $: Amani's is a halal neighborhood place, across from Dearborn City Hall, that serves all the tried-and-true dishes of Lebanese cuisine that Westerners tend to order — hummous, kebabs, tawook, shawarma — plus some that deserve to be more widely known. Ever accommodating, Amani's also offers more standard items like hamburgers and chicken strips for the less adventurous.
Andiamo Dearborn 21400 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-359-3300; andiamoitalia.com; $$: The Dearborn outpost of the Andiamo mini-chain is led by executive chef Mike Osinski, ever so lightly tweaking the old-line cuisine that's made Andiamo a regional success.
Bangkok 96 Restaurant 2450 S. Telegraph Rd., Dearborn; 313-730-8161; $: Open since 1996, this bright, warm space decorated with wall hangings and elephant imagery enjoys a steady stream of loyal dine-in and take-out customers. The menu boasts traditional Thai favorites such as gang gai, pad prik khing, pad almond, pad kra tiem and pla lad prik. The restaurant is located between Michigan Avenue and Oxford Street and is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, closed Sundays.
B.D.'s Mongolian Barbeque 22115 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-792-9660; $: This place gives new meaning to the term "open kitchen." As anybody familiar with the Mongolian way knows, you pick out all the various things you'd like to eat from a raw buffet, then give them to the skilled cooks, who turn it into a tasty stir-fry dish right before your eyes. It's very high energy on the weekends, and, best of all, fussy eaters always get their way.
Benihana 18601 Hubbard Dr., Dearborn; 313-593-3200; $$$: The theatrical dining experience that has made Benihana a household name, with chefs who turn cooking into a performance on their special grill tables. There are also booths for those who'd rather dine the traditional, a la carte, way. Excellent sushi too.
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, bar food, and a chance to shoot some pool.
Big Fish Seafood Bistro 700 Town Center, Dearborn; 313-336-6350; $$$: One of the Muer family restaurants, which now number 15 in seven states, Big Fish has a twin in Dearborn at 700 Town Center Drive. There's plenty of fish bric-a-brac about, some lovely, some kitschy, including a painting of fish chatting on the phone in the telephone booth. The menu is grand, filled with over-the-top seafood wonders, starting with the three-story "tower of shrimp" appetizer and moving up from there. Large cocktail bar.
Bistro 222 22266 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-792-7500; $$$: Bistro 222's reasonable prices and stylishly retrofitted space are complemented by imaginative Californian-Italian cuisine. Starters ($7-$14) are highlighted by "April's crispy calamari," a mess of little cephalopod rings accompanied by a marinara sauce enlivened with red peppers, olives and garlic. Much of the fare is assertively spiced, such as the zesty and generous portion of bruschetta topped with tomatoes, onions and peppers, and small scallops sautéed in a tangy lemon-garlic sauce and artfully presented in three scallop shells. Lunchgoers can keep their meals relatively light by choosing among five individual pizzas, a dozen sandwiches with potatoes and salad featuring the curious, patented ground shrimp burger on ciabatta, and several entrée-sized salads. As for dinner, most of the entrées are priced between $15 and $18, a surprisingly low price considering the quality of the ingredients and the careful thought that has gone into their creation and presentation. All of the desserts, except for the ethereal, ultra-light house-made tiramisu, come from the respectable outside supplier, Sweet Street Desserts.
Cariera's 6565 Telegraph Rd., Dearborn Heights; 313-278-4060; $$: Charming little family-operated Italian restaurant with authentic Italian cuisine. Portions are big enough for two. In two cozy rooms, with bare wooden tables and thick cloth napkins and walls full of family photographs and wine and oil bottles, Cariera's turns out a familiar array of old-fashioned classics. As befits a restaurant with few pretensions, most patrons do not dress up for a night out at Cariera's, even from Wednesday through Saturday when they feature mellow live music. The serviceable list of 24 California and Italian wines, split fairly evenly between red and white, is fairly marked up, with most less than $30. And the house wine, at $23 a liter for a decent pinot grigio or chianti of Italian origin, is another option. As for brandy, it is difficult to resist ordering an earthy grappa along with dessert (or maybe for dessert) for $6.
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