MARTIN VECCHIO PHOTOGRAPHY
Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Detroit Right Now

Published On 10/06/2017
Joe Vaughn

Mabel Gray

Hazel Park

It's probably safe to call Mabel Gray the most famous restaurant in Michigan right now, thanks to the slew of national accolades and media attention it has garnered in part due to Chef James Rigato's larger-than-life personality, but also because he practices what he preaches. With an all-star team supporting him in the kitchen, behind the bar, and on the dining room floor, Rigato has achieved what many thought to be the impossible: creating a world-class restaurant in the sleepy inner-ring blue-collar bedroom community of Hazel Park. (For those of you keeping score, this is the second time he has achieved such a feat; the first with The Root.) By spearheading plans for more restaurant and bar concepts along John R between 9 & 10 Mile, transforming it into a culinary corridor, you can expect to see much more from Rigato & Co. in the coming year, but Mabel Gray will remain his culinary coup d'état, a flaming middle finger to the "conventional" restaurant wisdom that had metro Detroit dining stuck in stasis for decades and proof positive that, indeed, if you build it, they will come.

Michelle & Chris Gerard

Grey Ghost Detroit

Midtown

It's got "grey" in the name and honors a famous regional ghost (this one a rum-running pirate on the Detroit River rather than the ghost of a woman haunting the Indiana Dunes State Park) so it lent itself to comparisons to Mabel Gray long before its doors ever opened. The comparison is both fair and favorable, as Grey Ghost -- located in the old Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe space in Midtown, a space that has long offered incredible promise that previous concepts failed to deliver on -- is a kindred spirit in culinary ethos, from the house-made charcuterie and "we dare you to thumb your nose at this" fried bologna to the robust, boundary-pushing cocktail program overseen by local startender Will Lee.

Jason Leinart

The Peterboro

Midtown

This is just the kind of cheeky American Chinese restaurant Detroit didn't even know it needed. Located in what was once Detroit's Chinatown, the Peterboro pays homage to the area's cultural history with a contemporary American Chinese menu from Chef de Cuisine Brion Wong and a cool bar program that is nothing less than you should expect from the Detroit Optimist Society, the folks behind the Sugar House, Wright & Co., Café 78, and Honest John's. For example, there is a drink called "C.R.E.A.M." made with bourbon, rice and almond milk, cinnamon syrup, and bitters. Is it an homage to the Wu-Tang Clan or Prince? You decide.

Chris & Michelle Gerard

Standby

Downtown

As sister concepts, Standby -- the sexy, loungey cocktail space tucked away in The Belt art alley -- and The Skip -- its open-air cocktail bar counterpart with a Shepard Fairey mural backdrop -- are quite possibly the hottest game(s) in craft cocktails and Downtown hang spots in town. Recent changeups on the restaurant end of the business have shifted the nature of the concept(s) a bit, but the cocktails have always stolen the show anyway (with all due respect to Chef Brendon Edwards, whose food never deserved to be overshadowed and will surely go on to blow us all away elsewhere).

Jesse David Green

Sister Pie

West Village

The 2014 Hatch Detroit winner is an adorable corner bakery located in West Village, and it is worth every bit of "I just spent a small grocery bill on pies and pastries" and cheat weeks you can muster up. The cookies, scones, and other sweet and savory treats are all very much worth exploring, but you cannot pay a visit without trying some sort of pie in whatever playful flavor combinations baked into delicate, buttery crusts it should happen to be serving that day. They also were just named among the 50 "America's Best New Restaurants 2016" by Bon Appétit and for once that doesn't sound like hyperbole.

Olga Nayashkova/Shutterstock

Pie-Sci

Woodbridge

May the pie be with you! Long-time funky pizza pop-up Pie-Sci that had a regular Sunday rotation at the Woodbridge Pub for forever has finally opened the doors to its own brick-and-mortar pizza shop right next door to the Pub. Though mostly a carry-out spot, there is some space to dine-in as well if you just can’t wait to get home. Favorites like Skrimp City (white pizza with garlic butter, vodka, and Tabasco-marinated shrimp, white onion, mozzarella, balsamic glaze drizzle, and fresh lime wedge) and the ICP (Insane Cauliflower Pizza) are menu mainstays, while rotating specials include inventive concoctions like Lil' Kimchi and Drop the Beet.

Courtesy of Selden Standard

Selden Standard

Midtown

Selden Standard set the standard; all the rest are just following suit. There isn't a lot we can say about Selden Standard that we haven't said already, so suffice it to say that, even though the restaurant no longer has that new restaurant smell, Chef Andy Hollyday's menu continues to impress as one of the best in Detroit.

courtesy of Chartreuse Kitchens & Cocktails

Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails

Midtown

Chef Doug Hewitt works miracles with a small kitchen and VERY open line, which is all the more reason to be impressed by the quality of food Hewitt and his team put out there. From the popular twice-cooked egg and the cap steak to the house-made burrata and grilled octopus, every item is consistently outstanding, all complemented by owner Sandy Levine's small but excellent beverage program.

Featherstone Moments

El Asador Steakhouse

Southwest

Because naming a taqueria as a top go-to dining destination in Southwest Detroit is a little too nail-on-the-head, and also because this is the near-unanimously favored steakhouse of all those in the know in Detroit.

Joe Vaughn

Wright & Co.

Downtown

Wright & Company was already an excellent place to grab an after-work cocktail and snacks; now it is all the more so with a new happy hour Monday through Friday from 4-6pm with select beer, wine, and cocktails for $3-6 (How about a little Aperol Spritz in the afternoon?), and an adventurous three-course Sunday brunch that's by reservation only.

Jacob Lewkow Photography

Rock City Eatery

Hamtramck

Since relocating the Midtown, Rock City Eatery, headed by Chef Nikita Sanches, is getting much more experimental in his approach to rustic globally inspired cuisine. New additions to the menu including reasonably priced tacos, delectable pizzas, a lunch menu, and most recently brunch. We're not in pie-town anymore, Toto.

NADKI

O.W.L.

Royal Oak

The new diner in Royal Oak from the folks behind Market North End in Birmingham is a tiny Mexican-American joint that is open 24 hours (except on Sundays when it closes at 10, sigh). Order breakfast items like "chili chilaquiles' or basics like a bacon burger any time of the day or night, and wash it down with unique house-infused lemonade flavors or cold brew on nitro because Detroiters will suffer bad diner coffee no more.

Rusted Crow Detroit

Rusted Crow Distillery and Spirits

Downtown

Joining in on the gastropub and casual cuisine trend, Rusted Crow has expanded beyond its Dearborn distillery to Downtown Detroit. The new location inside the old Kales building touts a full menu, craft cocktail selections, and great beers on tap. The menu is highlighted by typical, yet high-quality pub fare such as sandwiches and burgers, alongside slightly more unusual selections like plates of mussels, oyster po-boys, and fish tacos. Although it’s the second location, the new restaurant is taking anything but a secondary role for the distillery. Sip some cocktails and stay warm here this fall.

The Morrie

The Morrie

Royal Oak

September saw the opening of this rock 'n' roll-themed eatery in Royal Oak. The casual “roadhouse” style restaurant features a musically themed menu, including signature dishes like the Kung Pao Cauliflower, spiced with dried chili, ginger, scallion, sesame seed, and the Agro Dolce ribs, brushed with a sweet and sour balsamic glaze. As the location continues to grow, it will eventually host live music -- perfect for the cooler months ahead.

Craft Work

Craft Work

West Village

This summer marked a new beginning and many changes for the already well-received Craft Work. The spot has gained a new Executive Chef in Aaron Solley, launched a new menu, ended brunch services, and began hosting weekly sushi pop-ups under Chef Shinya Hirakawa formerly of Ronin Sushi in Royal Oak. The revamped menu includes a raw seafood bar Tuesday through Thursday, new entrees such as the vegetarian roasted beets and carrots, served with tahini, lentils, walnut tabbouleh, and lemon, and delectable desserts like peanut butter pie. As the changes simmer down this fall, enjoy Craft Work's consistently well-done meals and seasonal specials.

Gold Cash Gold Detroit

Gold Cash Gold

Corktown

Announced via press release in mid-October, this famed Corktown restaurant saw a major shakeup with the loss of Executive Chef Josh Stockton who opened the location in 2014. Per the release and GCG’s social media, Stockton will be heading to Las Vegas. Taking his place will be Chef Brendon Edwards, who left Standby earlier this year. Under the new cooking leadership, GCG says it'll be adding new menu items, reflective of the chef’s style. But, don’t fret -- the pickle brined fried chicken is here to stay (thank god).

Michelle and Chris Gerard

Bon Bon Bon

Hamtramck

The Babes Babes Babes over at Bon Bon Bon used this fall to not only launch the Harvest Collection, but also to preview the soon-to-be real life chocolate factory in Hamtramck. The latest selection of chocolates include surprisingly delicious additions like the Squish Squash, made with squash confiture and pepita gianduja, and the Caprese, made with tomato confiture, basil ricotta ganache, a balsamic reduction, and glacee tomatoes. Now, we anxiously wait for the new flagship store and the subsequent (and deeply desired) increase in production.

Courtesy of El Club

Pepe Z Pizza

Southwest

Located inside of El Club in Southwest Detroit, Pepe Z’s offers up New York-style pizza with a crunchy, charred crust. It's a far-cry from your average dollar slice; these pies are topped with quality ingredients such as homemade mozzarella, kimchi, and even ground bison. Beyond late-night eats, the counter serves up Sunday brunch, with options like unique twists on eggs Benedict. Pepe Z’s is a bit elusive, with no official website -- just an Instagram @pepezpizza, which you should follow for updated menus and specials.

PARC

Parc

Downtown

With a prime location in Campus Martius, Parc has continued to impress diners since its opening in November. The kitchen, headed by Executive Chef Jordan Hoffman, serves up “re-defined Detroit cuisine,” pulling inspiration for Hoffman’s childhood and traditional Midwestern fare. The seasonal menu is highlighted by fresh pasta, meaty entrees, and flashy desserts like the flaming Baked Alaska. Oh, and if you're worried about ambiance, don't be: Parc's dining area is surrounded by glass windows, and offers a view of Downtown Detroit unlike anywhere else. Looking to sample? Stop in during the week for happy hour from 3 to 6pm to pair a $6 wire pour with oysters on the half-shell, served with lemon chile oil, mint gremolata, and fresh lemon.

Michelle & Chris Gerard

ima

Corktown

Noodle lovers rejoice: There’s a new place to get your udon fix in Detroit proper. Since opening in late December, Ima has already created a small cult following. Taking the place of Rubbed (RIP), the storefront serves up signature noodle soups, rice bowls, and curry in a communal setting. Unlike more traditional noodle shops, the location touts vegan and vegetarian fare, including the dangerously addictive steamed edamame, served with chilis, lemon, olive oil, and sea salt; and the forest udon, made with a porcini broth, sesame tofu, smoked trumpets, and seasoned with rosemary and garlic oil.

Janna Coumoundouros

The Conserva

Ferndale

Located in the former Torino space in Ferndale, The Conserva carries on Dinner Club Pop Up's legacy of excellence in brick-and-mortar form. Headed by Chef Matthew Baldridge, the kitchen's eclectic menu is highlighted by entrees like a foie gras bratwurst served with braised red cabbage and sweet onion-mustard marmalade, and a za'atar-rubbed octopus. Meanwhile, bartender Jarrod Kassis churns out equally interesting cocktails like the Dill Collins, made with vodka, dill-caraway syrup, lemon, and soda water. The simple and chic interior, designed by Baldridge’s artist wife Janna Coumoundouros, perfectly complements the upscale food. Still, the menu is reasonably priced, making it a perfect evening-out mainstay.

Otus Supply

Otus Supply

Ferndale

Since opening in December, this Ferndale eatery has continued to impress critics and locals alike with a breathtaking rustic interior, coupled with a noteworthy sharing menu. The venue’s sense of community is aided by nightly live music in the attached Parliament Room, and while the menu includes quite a few small plates, the large shareable portions steal the spotlight. Try the mollusks served with mussels, grilled octopus, fennel pollen, and saffron, all on grilled sourdough. The food and entertainment lineup does tend to change, so you'll want to follow Otus Supply on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

JEFF WARANIAK/THRILLIST

Supino Pizzeria

Eastern Market

Hearts were broken around metro Detroit after beloved La Rondinella shuttered nearly a year after opening. However, owner Dave Mancini has decided to shift his focus from high-end dining back to his original love: casual fare. Mancini expanded neighboring Supino’s pizzeria with a larger kitchen space, dining, and menu. Now, you’ll find paninis and plates like turkey, lamb, and beef meatballs with roasted polenta alongside its signature white and red pizzas. Still no word on whether or not the legendary housemade pastas will ever make a comeback, but we still have our fingers crossed for more pesto gnocchi.

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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.