We've been there
Restaurants Metro Times has recently reviewed
Published: August 8, 2012
Hot Taco 2233 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-963-4545; hottacodetroit.com; $: The tacos are bent toward American tastes, coming with cheese (mostly Muenster) with a choice of either flour tortillas or corn. They use plenty of cilantro and red onion on all (check and check) and a variety of salsas, depending on the meat: salsa verde for chicken, mango for pork, pico de gallo for steak. Burritos are of the kitchen-sink variety, with all the taco stuff plus rice, beans, avocado and sour cream, rolled in an unwarmed wrap. Owner Sean Harrington says he's not trying to reinvent the taco trucks of southwest Detroit — rather the taco shacks of the Baja peninsula. At the same time, he won't be bound by convention. Drinks at Hot Taco are cheaper than most, a dollar for pop from the fountain or $1.50 for Jarritos or Mexican Coke in a bottle.
Hudson Café 1241 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-237-1000; hudson-cafe.com; $$: Opened last fall in the space that formerly housed Frank Taylor's Detroit Breakfast House, Hudson Café fills a void for upscale breakfasters. The menus has several Benedicts, a satisfying club sandwich, challah French toast, and chicken and waffle. The fine corned beef hash is clearly made on-site, with a nice crust and lots of scallions. The café is open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends, but it stays open later for special events downtown.
Joe Muer Seafood 400 Renaissance Center, Suite 1404, Detroit; 313-567-6837; joemuerseafood.com; $$$: Everything about the new Joe Muer Seafood is big. Obviously, it's a big name: While this restaurant is new, the Muer brand, which goes back to 1929, is well-known throughout southeast Michigan. But the relaunched institution also has a big staff, big menu and big dessert cart. And it has a really big dining room. The decor likewise looms large. Some will undoubtedly find this eclectic, vast space opulent and beautiful, the blend of old and new a metaphor for the resurrected restaurant itself, and Muer's menu is also large, providing plenty to choose from. There are a number of offerings from a fairly classic raw bar selection, including oysters, a poached shrimp cocktail, Mediterranean-inspired steamed mussels, or a comprehensive platter for $24 per person. Muer also prepares several designer sushi rolls, each very attractively plated. And recipes from the previous incarnation of the Muer brand are available along with the more contemporary choices.
Korea Palace 34744 Dequindre, Sterling Heights; 586-978-0500; $$: The wood-trimmed, simple, warm decor is similar to plenty of Asian restaurants around town, though specific menu items and prices are affixed to the walls in hangul, the written characters that represent the Korean language. The staff promptly greets all of the customers, most of whom are Korean, and presents them with the exhaustive, four-page menus. There are about 50 main dishes from which to choose, each generous with regard to portion size. Indeed, all but the heartiest diners will assuredly leave with at least one small takeout container of leftovers. Broths and noodles encompass a significant portion of the menu. For those not in the mood to slurp noodles or spoon up bowls of broth, there are plenty of other entrée choices. They're a bit pricier, but the quantity of food and focus on fish justifies the heftier cost.
Mani Osteria & Bar 341 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-769-6700; maniosteria.com; $$$: This Italian restaurant has embraced the national trends toward comfortable dining and shareable plates, adding energy and buzz to the area between State and Main streets. Inside, the bar and several high tables occupy the front area, and a few stairs lead to the main floor. An open kitchen overlooks everything, and the glow of wood-fired ovens set into the tiled cooking space is visible across the spacious, contemporary dining room. Meeting the growing demand for better drinks even at casual establishments, Mani offers some creative cocktails. Most are thematically on point, featuring ingredients of Italian provenance: Carpano Antica vermouth, prosecco, Campari, and so on. When ordering, one will find a long, thoroughly appetizing list of small, shareable antipasti plates. Try as many as you can. They feature a nice selection of charcuterie and cheese, house-made pastas, and thin, 12-inch pizzas, cooked at high temperatures in those wood-fired ovens.
Mazza Indian Cuisine 3354 W. 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-543-6299; mazzaindiancuisine.com; $: Co-owner Razur Rahman, a pharmacist, is the son of the man who opened Passage to India in the same space in 1986. Lessees ran it after 1989, and Rahman reclaimed the space 20 years later and gave it a new name and a facelift. The space is comfortable and visually appealing, with padded chairs and paisley placemats. Entrées are served in pretty hammered-copper bowls; the walls feature Taj Mahal-shaped cut-outs inlaid with colorful history scenes depicting the Mughal Empire. The menu ranges widely, from the dosas of south India to a dansak from Persia. There are 68 entrées, mostly from northern India.
Northern Lights 660 W. Baltimore St., Detroit; 313-873-1739; $: Though many MT readers may be familiar with New Center's Northern Lights Lounge as a stylish bar and performance venue, for several years the nightspot has kept its kitchen open Monday through Friday in a bid for Detroit's weekday lunch and dinner crowds. There's a full bar that can mix up classics and offbeat, eye-catching concoctions, and the menu's appetizer section has several strong choices, the larger ones averaging about $8. The fried calamari appetizer is especially good, and the chili con carne is more meat than bean. Sandwiches average around $7, and include a turkey burger, a club with turkey, ham and bacon, and even a Philly cheese-steak. Even if bar food isn't especially vegetarian-friendly fare, veg-heads are accommodated with a nachos appetizer, a grilled veggie pita, a veggie burger, hummus with pita triangles, and the small tossed salad. Kitchen open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 21 and older only.
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