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.
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.
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."
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.
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.