A short guide to stews, chowders, gumbos, chilis and more
Published: October 6, 2010
Tap Room 201 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-482-5320: Established in 1941, the Tap Room enjoys a quaint existence on the corner of one of downtown Ypsilanti's main drags. The narrow bar remains clear of intense crowds, providing a perfect venue for student types to 40-plus folks to talk and hear music. But it's not all just beer and song, there's a full menu of bar fare, including warm soups and homemade hearty chilis that get a bit of extra attention from the chef in the kitchen, as a former Tap Room chef told us that the chili comes from "an old recipe, handed down to me from the owner. It's very basic — your normal chili — but you put a little bit of love into it. It could be the way I sautée the vegetables, meat and spices together before I start adding stuff. But mostly it just takes a little bit of extra care and love. You have to pay attention and make sure it doesn't burn. Nobody likes burned chili!"
Tavern on 1317600 W. 13 Mile Rd., Beverly Hills; 248-647-7747: In a strip mall at the corner of 13 Mile and Southfield roads, Tavern on 13 serves a large menu of crowd-pleasers, including wings, potato skins and salads that are more meat than greens. It's one of the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group's comfort-oriented spots that doesn't try to swim upriver against what guests want. And the hearty chili choices fit right in with Midwestern notions about fortifying food. Even the vegetarian chili is baked with cheddar and jack cheese, topped with sour cream and scallions for good measure. But what could be heartier than a ground porterhouse chili? That selection has chunky vegetables, chilies, peppers, tomatoes, and also gets the full dairy-and-scallion topping.
Tom's Oyster Bar519 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit; 313-964-4010; find other locations at tomsoysterbar.com: With its tin ceiling, dark paneling and blue-and-white checkered tablecloths, the restaurant creates the feel of an authentic New England chowder house. The large, U-shaped bar is accented with brass railings and is surrounded by tables; there's plenty of room for socializing with friends and colleagues. The well-stocked bar offers an extensive wine list and a fine assortment of microbrews. Check the blackboard for a list of the daily specials; they include six ever-changing varieties of raw oysters. The oyster bar also serves several other hot and cold appetizers, from Maryland crab cakes to smoked whitefish to Tom's famous clam chowder; the main menu features a large selection of entrées with an emphasis on seafood — up to 20 fresh items daily. And then there are those satisfying and warm soups, including seafood chowder, crawfish bisque or seafood chili.
Union Street 4145 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-831-3965: Hearty bowls abound at this stylish Midtown fixture. There's a seafood chowder, New England-style, with bay scallops, shrimp, clams and even fresh hickory-smoked salmon ($4 a cup, $5 a bowl). Then there's the chili, with genuine Black Angus steak tips "simmered in red Mexican chili beans, assorted herbs and spices, delicious and full-bodied." Hotter than most, it can be topped with sour cream, scallions and cheddar cheese.
Special thanks to editorial intern Ali Harb for his assistance compiling these listings.
See any inaccuracies in our listings? We try to get everything right, but if you see anything that needs a tweak, let us know. E-mail Short Order at email@example.com or call 313-202-8043.
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