The west-side way
A handy shortlist of restaurants in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights
Published: February 16, 2011
Cedarland Restaurant 13007 W. Warren, Dearborn; 313-582-4849; $$: When the three brothers who own Cedarland converted the large bank building on the corner of Warren and Hartwell into a restaurant over 25 years ago, they retained the drive-through window for quick orders. Whether eating in or taking out, the baba is creamy in consistency, with a roasted, earthy aroma and just the right bite. The walls are painted with scenes of Lebanon including skiers among the cedars. Without a doubt, this is the best drive-through Middle Eastern food in the area.
Cheli's Chili Bar 21918 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-274-9700; $$: Hockey agnostics are unlikely to get it, but for puck-heads this is heaven, with 14 TVs in one room (and one in each restroom), displays of Chelios' jerseys, including those from his time as a Blackhawk and as a Canadien, and his shirts from the University of Wisconsin and Mount Carmel High. Expect a familiar menu of bar-style food, including burgers, steaks, salads, soup, sandwiches and a host of fried appetizers: cheese, calamari, wings, chicken fingers and potato skins roasted to a crackle. Age 21 and older only.
Country Chicken 5131 Schaefer Rd., Dearborn; 313-582-6677; $: This tiny Lebanese storefront serves mammoth portions, so prepare to share. Various shawarmas, meat coriander, baba ghannoush, lamb's tongue and falafel are enjoyable; skip the hummus. No alcohol.
Crave 22075 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-277-7283; $$$: The cuisine really soars at the sushi bar, manned by chef Sam Ness. The food emphasizes Japanese cuisine but successfully incorporates Mediterranean flavors. After 10 p.m., Crave the restaurant morphs into Crave the lounge, with DJs spinning and plenty of action at the bar, presumably to fulfill the "sensual" aspect of the establishment's mission. Saketinis in many fruity variations are a specialty of the house.
Deliziosa 22439 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-277-4990; $$: Deliziosa features traditional Italian cuisine with a few unconventional twists. Considering the gargantuan portions (which are practically anthemia to the restaurant's storefront-sized location), and that mains come with soup or salad, you might pass on the appetizers. The entrées include filet portabella, salmon with lemon sauce, eggplant Parmesan, and chicken Marengo and piccata. There are no wildcards among the 13 diverse pasta dishes, unless you think risotto belongs in a category of its own.
Edison's 20301 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn; 313-271-2700; $$$: Located inside the Dearborn Inn Marriott, this quietly elegant restaurant graced by rich early American atmosphere was until recently called the Early American Room. Open for dinner, dress code (shirt, slacks).
Famous Hamburger 5808 Schaefer Rd., Dearborn; 313-945-0002; $: Originally opened in 1970, as a small burger stand in Badaro, Lebanon, since the mid-'00s, the operation has grown by leaps and bounds, settling into a brand-new space on Schaefer Road, and opening satellite locations in Allen Park, Ann Arbor and the Los Angeles area. (!!!) With its Lebanese roots, you can order plenty of affordable Middle Eastern food — but even Famous' American diner fare is done with special Mediterranean care. The 1/3-pound burgers are inventive, and include the "egg burger," the "coleslaw burger" and the "guacamole burger." (Yes, there's a veggie burger too.) All meat is halal, even the bacon (made from veal). And the interior of the space is fun too. Famous is a very fun, friendly place that mixes the very best of Middle Eastern and American comfort food, attracting a diverse, equally friendly crowd.
Fuego Mexican Grill 7040 Schaefer Rd., Dearborn; 313-581-9800; The Mexican-gone-halal restaurant has an upscale feel to it. Open less than a year, Fuego Grill is attracting both Muslims and others with a menu that's all made in-house. Fuego's Sam Alvarado copes with the pork ban by fashioning a chicken-based chorizo using vinegar, cumin and a paste of dried Mexican peppers that he says has "fooled many Mexicans." You can design your own taco or tostada with two toppings of your choice. Chicken glazed with mango-chipotle is tempting.
Hamido Restaurant 13701 W. Warren Ave., Dearborn; 313-582-0660; $: Full-service Middle Eastern restaurant draws acclaim from those who dine there. Enormous portions will leave you full and asking for a takeout box.
Howell's Bar 1035 Mason St., Dearborn; 313-565-6322; $: This venerable corner bar used to cater to the old-man crowd years ago, but it has found a hip new identity amid the changes shaking up the Michigan Avenue strip in west Dearborn. Divey but clean, quirky but attractive, the bar's menu is brief but classic: Hamburger and cheeseburger and fresh-cut fries. Devotees of the hamburger will rave about it. No matter how much you want on your burger, it never costs more than $5.50, huge and juicy enough to soak through the bun (they're a reason they toast the buns lightly). So go with a friend, order two burgers, dragged through the garden, add on a pitcher of PBR for $6.50 and you have a great meal, ample drinks, and haven't even spent a Jackson. Don't forget to say thanks to the cook, Jimmy.
Kiernan's Steak House 21931 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-565-8975; $$: Picture an atmospheric room with fringed red lamps and leather booths, almost dark enough for you to feel around for the silverware. Expect surf and turf, with choices including steak, lobster tail and lamb chops. The expedient and friendly staff will explain the intricacies of one of the restaurant's most popular dishes, the European beef tenderloin with blue cheese and walnuts. Should you need a digestive aid, their fully stocked martini bar is there to help.
Kowloon Restaurant 22905 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, 313-565-4521; $$: Though it once occupied a cozy railroad car-sized spot on Michigan Avenue, it's now in an updated-looking park-in-front eatery between Outer Drive and Military Street. The Chinese fare is dependable, but, to those who would know the pleasures of boneless almond chicken — deep-fried in batter, drizzled with sauce and set on wilted lettuce — this is your perfect introduction.
> Email Michael Jackman