Katoi

Katoi

Corktown

Anyone who's in the know knows Katoi. What was once a regular pop-up series a few years back has become a full-on Asian-fusion eatery, which has earned high regard since its March opening (including a nod from James Beard Award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson during a recent visit). Chef Brad Greenhill's take on Thai-inspired cuisine in a proto-future space is some of the most exciting food currently being served in metro Detroit, one of a handful of places truly taking Detroit to the next culinary plateau. Although the menu changes frequently, it is consistent in its quality and creativity; recent favorites have included fresh and flavorful som tum and Thai fried chicken. The delicious food is brought to life by the cool and relaxed atmosphere, highlighted by colored lights, hip music, and occasionally even a fog machine. It just doesn't get much cooler than Katoi. Not yet, anyway.

La Rondinella

Eastern Market

This small Eastern Market cafe wowed the palates of diners and critics alike in 2016. The bistro features Northern Italian cuisine on a small, seasonal menu with a hearty and complementary wine list. The fresh pasta made in-house steals the show meal after meal, including daily specials honed by flavors like roasted butternut squash, fresh seafood, and salty speck. While rotating specials are appealing in exclusivity, mainstays like the ricotta gnocchi are consistently outstanding. Pair that with a knowledgeable and friendly staff happy to make suggestions, and you're left with a meal that would make any Italian grandmother proud (and maybe a little jealous). Easily some of our best meals of the year were served here.

Jason Leinart

The Peterboro

Midtown

Three words: cheeseburger egg rolls. Located in the previously defunct Chinatown, The Peterboro's signature dishes are a far cry from traditional Chinese-American fare. The location is known for its almond boneless chicken, a dish with roots in Detroit but a creation straight from the mind of chef Brion Wong. In true Peterboro fashion, the dish is made with a twist, incorporating Griffin Claw IPA beer-battered chicken in a savory brown gravy, topped with almond slices. Like the cuisine, the drink menu features both regular and seasonal craft cocktails offering unique takes on beloved classics. Favorites include the Kujaku Sour, made with bourbon, lavender syrup, lemon, egg white, and Angostura bitters -- the perfect cocktail for a relaxed ringing in of 2017 (after a crazy, crazy year). The location even earned a deserved special shout-out in Zagat's recent "26 Hottest Food Cities of 2016."

Michelle & Chris Gerard

Grey Ghost

Midtown

As perhaps the most anticipated opening of 2016, Grey Ghost lived up to its hype when it opened in late July. Headed by Chicago chefs John Vermiglio and Josef Giacomino, each dish and drink is carefully crafted, from deceptively simple plates of fried bologna sandwiches served on waffles, to a more ambitious steak tartare and fried quail. While the chefs may be from the Windy City, Grey Ghost is all Detroit. Located in the legendary and long-shuttered Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe space in Midtown, the name pays homage to a notorious rum-running pirate on the Detroit River. Fittingly, you'll find an impressive cocktail selection at the hands of Will Lee, formerly of Selden Standard, Wright & Company, and Standby. With a powerhouse staff like this, it's easy to see why Grey Ghost stole the spotlight in 2016.

Michelle & Chris Gerard

Flowers of Vietnam

Southwest

Easily one of the most interesting culinary concepts to come out of Detroit in 2016 was this Vietnamese pop-up that takes over the Vernor Coney Island in Southwest. Headed by eccentric Head Chef George Azar, the operation specializes in traditional Vietnamese cuisine like pho and vermicelli salad. Azar's pride and passion for both his neighborhood and project is obvious in his commitment to serving unique and high-quality cuisine. In one short year, this passion has created a loyal following of return customers. While the operation is still technically a pop-up, it's established regular hours every weekend and recently began taking reservations. FoV has quickly eclipsed its own concept, earning it a place on our list.

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Detroit's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
I t was another interesting and exciting year for metro Detroit’s culinary scene. From unexpected shutterings (RIP La Rondinella) to an influx of burger spots, arcade bars, new breweries and restaurants, there was certainly no shortage of food news in 2017. And, while the industry shows no immediate signs of slowing down, six new spots stopped us in our tracks, serving everything from elevated bar fare to hot bowls of curry. During another impressive year for Detroit, these newcomers earned the title of the 2017 best restaurants -- an increasingly impressive feat in a rapidly growing space.
courtesy of joebar

Joebar

Hazel Park

A new neighborhood favorite focused on decadent pub food and dip sandwiches
Nestled off of John R Road in Hazel Park, Joebar’s neighborhood vibe and communal seating were an unexpected addition in 2017, especially as this is owner Joe Vaughn’s first restaurant. As a renowned food photographer, though, it’s easy to see that Vaughn knows what makes good restaurants tick. Headed by executive chef Courtney Witter, previously of Mabel Gray, the menu features elevated bar fare and dip sandwiches and elevated bar fare that is anything but ordinary. Options like the famed Joe dip, made with tender, slow-roasted prime rib, caramelized onions, and house-made horseradish, or massive burgers specials made with brisket, chuck, and short rib, keep the “average Joe” spirit alive without skimping on quality. But that’s not all. On some nights, a second, “secret” dining space known as Frame hosts regular chef residencies, featuring notable names such as George Azar of Flowers of Vietnam.

Lady of the House

Corktown

Snout-to-tail butchering and subtle Irish influences at this highly anticipated opening
After months of anticipation, chef Kate Williams' first solo venture opened in late September, and the Corktown restaurant has more than lived up to the hype so far. Williams blends her Irish heritage with whole animal butchering and local ingredient sourcing for inspired, chef-driven dishes. Dinner service begins with a traditional Irish tea, followed by offerings like decadent tartars, whole roasted chicken, and seasonally rotating cuts of lamb. The location also touts a hefty beverage program, highlighted by sherry and sake on tap, rancio wines, and a proprietary Lady of the House gin. The former St. CeCe’s space has been completely redone, subbing out the old wood look for clean white walls and a warm, subtly feminine decor, which is more than appropriate given the concept and cuisine. From start to finish, Williams and her talented team have shown impressive attention to detail. Well worth the wait.

Jenna Belevender photography

Voyager

Ferndale

Coastal-inspired restaurant specializing in oysters and raw offerings
It’s no surprise Voyager was a seemingly instant success after opening in March. Headed by revered chefs Justin Tootla and Jennifer Jackson, the seafood-forward restaurant hits all the major points: fresh, flavorful, and inventive cuisine. Even with the closest ocean about 1,000 miles away, somehow this Ferndale serves seafood that solely tastes like it was just caught. Oysters are served from “tide to table” within 24 hours, even with well over a dozen varieties, and Voyager also prides itself on its sustainable fare, utilizing wild-caught and responsibly farmed fish. With so many offerings, including standouts like the chili crab spaghetti and rotating catch of the day, the menu can admittedly seem a bit daunting. However, the attentive and knowledgeable staff is more than happy to make suggestions. The restaurant rounds out the menu with a variety of seafood-friendly wines, various craft beers, a handful a craft cocktails like their signature mai tai, made with hazelnut orgeat syrup and tangerine liqueur.

Maty's African Cuisine

Old Redford

Hole-in-the-wall serving seriously comforting Senegalese cuisine
The city’s (and arguably the state’s) only Senegalese restaurant is a welcome breath of fresh air, specializing in eclectic West African cuisine with menu standouts like whole chicken and fish, lamb shanks, and shawarmas. Served alongside massive portions of flavorful sides like yellow rice, couscous, and fried plantains, each meal is seriously comforting and well worth the slightly elevated price point. Maty's is deeply personal for owner Amady Gueye, who opened the place with money saved from odd jobs (including a stint as an Uber driver) -- it's named after his wife, Maty, and the couple run the kitchen alongside Gueye’s mother. For any other restaurant it'd be a hopeless cliché, but you really can taste the love in every bite here.  

Michelle & Chris Gerard

Ima

Corktown

Japanese-inspired spot focused on noodle soups, rice bowls, and curries
While this Corktown hot spot technically opened right on the cusp of the new year, the restaurant truly found its stride in 2017 with a number of exciting updates and a continued commitment to making the most delicious food possible. Headed by chef and owner Mike Ransom, the Japanese-inspired eatery specializes in warm and comforting noodle soups, rice bowls, and spicy curries, with dangerously delicious shareable plates like the steamed edamame (served with chilis, lemon, olive oil, sea salt). The dishes are unapologetically untraditional, incorporating bold ingredients like rich smoked pork loin and barbecue-glazed eel, and in the last few months, the noodle house added a lunch service, extended dinner hours, and secured its liquor license. Diners can now choose from a curated list of beers, sake, and shochu, a popular Japanese distilled liquor. All in all, an impressive first year for a small noodle shop.

River Bistro

Rosedale Park

Cozy, casual spot for low country, Caribbean, and African cuisine
Headed by chef Maxcel Hardy, who's planning on opening three (yes, three) restaurants in the next year, River Bistro made a splash after opening its doors in August. While seating is minimal (the emphasis is on carry-out and delivery), the kitchen here is turning out high-quality, flavorful, chef-driven takes on soul food with African and Caribbean inspiration. Hardy's impressive resume has garnered him national attention, and for good reason -- he was first runner-up on the Food Network’s Chopped, with past clients including the prince of Dubai, the prime minister of Turks and Caicos, and former NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire, among others. Using his grandmother’s recipes (who was said to have cooked for some favorite Motown artists), he's created a inspired menu highlighted by familiar favorites like jerk ribs and chicken wings, and elevated by additions like house-made guava barbecue sauce. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this audacious chef.