Food & Drink

The great People Mover pub crawl: a night of drinking via Detroit public transit

Published On 07/02/2014 Published On 07/02/2014
People Mover Bar Crawl DET
Megan Frye

The People Mover is Downtown Detroit’s public transportation option: a 2.9-mile loop with all the charms of a lurching and creaky carnival ride, but with fewer freaks thanks to an increase in the price of each ride to a whopping $0.75.

However, it can also be a gateway to endless entertainment and debauchery, as one group of hedonistic drinkers discovered as they embarked on a People Mover pub crawl. Here’s what happened:

Megan Frye


Mr. Steven’s Bar (address and info)
After a bomb threat nearly derailed (!) the plans for the evening (it was a duffel bag full of old clothes), we reach our first stop. Owned by an elderly Greek Couple, Mr. Steven’s Bar truly feels like a step back in time, with a brass rail (duct-taped in some spots) and an extensive collection of rusty vintage lunch boxes. The beer is acceptably chilled and if Mr. Steven offers you a shot of butterscotch schnapps on the house, you should be obliged and down it in respect of a Detroit institution.

VOLT at the Marriott

Renaissance Center

VOLT at the Marriott (address and info)
After our minute-long ride, we realize we’ve lost two members of our party. A text message reveals they’ve opted for lap dances rather than public transportation, and that they plan to meet up later after a supposedly brief rendezvous at the Bouzouki Club. So we press on. If you spent all your cash on People Mover tokens and are too broke for Coach Insignia, Volt makes a solid alternative at the Renaissance Center stop. Being that it’s a hotel bar, try not to go alone lest you be confused for a prostitute or a potential John. If a meat market is your bag though, order a dirty martini, enjoy the views of the river, and indulge in the sweet smells of desperation. 

Megan Frye

Financial District

Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub (address and info)
Still no word from team lap dance, so we roll into this dome-shaped watering hole which used to be a ticket station for the Grand Trunk Railroad, and now serves as a preferred intoxication station for seemingly all types. With more than 20 Michigan beers on tap – including the coveted Short's Hopstache – you’ve got your pick of tasty suds. If you’re planning to coat your stomach for the night ahead – don’t skip the fish & chips and the deep-fried pickles. A few people in the group throw some bombs (of the boozy variety) into the mix -- this is a bar crawl, after all.

Megan Frye


Anchor Bar (address and info)
The entrance may reek of decriminalization, and you may well be invited to smoke in the boys’ room of this classic rock-pumping Red Wings bar. Try to keep the pool balls on the table, and order a cold bottle of domestic and perhaps a shot of something brown. We stick around long enough for a lively discussion about the effects of coconut oil on the longevity of an erection, only to head back to the People Mover and run into a pack of 15 bachelorettes fresh from a margarita-packed dinner cruise with a Jimmy Buffet cover band (a thing, apparently), who insist on using the train’s support poles in a way our wayward strip club friends likely would have enjoyed. 

Megan Frye


Centre Park Bar (address and info)
After being denied entrance to an outdoor party in front of the Detroit Opera House (can’t imagine why?!), the group collectively decides to put all our phones on airplane mode to avoid unwanted contact from the outside world. Our Bouzuki Club friends are still MIA, and, at this point, most assuredly nestled into a stripper’s ample cleavage and unlikely to surface again before last call. We wander into Centre Park Bar – a newly opened joint where everyone is dressed to the nines. We discuss the musical genius of Pharrell Williams as we notice that nearly every dance hit blasting at this bar is something that he’s had a hand in. This leads to a conversation of all of our guilty pleasure pop songs as we chug $3 PBR cans and pints of Stella.

The Well

Cadillac Center

The Well (address and info)
This is a good place to go if you want to relive your college years in a less intellectual setting, or dance like you’re at the most awkward wedding of all time. We come across our second bachelorette party of the night, and a scene is started when one of our girls approaches the bride-to-be by strongly urging her, "don’t do it". She did this to the previous bride-to-be as well. Meanwhile, the bartenders have seemingly choreographed pour moves to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and the lighting effects are surely inducing some MDMA flashbacks among the crowd. Our party is now engaged in uncomfortable conversations with men wearing button-up shirts who continuously bump into us on the outskirts of the dance floor. We slam some some Jim Beam and get the hell out.



The Old Shillelagh (address and info)
The activity on the dance floor is often somewhere between a '90s prom and a crime scene, with people more interested in looking on than moving. Depending on the night, you may find booty music or traditional Irish folk being played here. Either way, be sure to order up a pint of Guinness and enjoy watching people fall down. After a couple rounds and a few unseasonable exchanges, we head back to a Detroit house and proceed to do some backyard drinking until long after the birds have started chirping.

Lessons learned:

Can you use the People Mover as a means to an evening of booze-addled shenanigans? Yes! Should you? Why not?! Will you? That choice is in your hands.

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1. Mr. Steven's Bar 439 E Congress St, Detroit, MI 48226

Mr. Steven's is owned by an older Greek couple that will be the ones to pour your drinks themselves. Enjoy a beer at this neighborhood institution, and be prepared for an offer of a free shot of schnapps here and there.

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2. VOLT 400 Renaissance Dr, Detroit, MI 48243

Located in the Marriott at the Renaissance Center, this bar and lounge offers views of Downtown Detroit in tandem with breakfast, lunch, and dinner service. Bar fare includes baked pretzel sticks, a turkey club with fries, blackened shrimp tacos, and house-braised corned beef. Choose a seat at the fuchsia neon-lit bar or a plush velvet armchair and take advantage of the prime people-watching real estate.

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3. Grand Trunk Pub 612 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

Detroit's Grand Trunk Pub, sometimes referred to as Foran's, has a storied history as home to a variety of random local businesses. This place was once a jewelry store, a railway ticket office, and possibly the home of a Harry Houdini magic shop. Nowadays, it offers over 170 craft beers, killer deep-fried pub food platters, and an Irish pub good-time atmosphere. They also host regular beer dinners and one of the best brunches in the city.

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4. The Anchor Bar 450 W Fort St, Detroit, MI 48226

Anchor Bar is a great place to catch Wings games, where fans can enjoy the game while sipping on Michigan brews beneath the wall of fame. Also, they have tater tot nachos. They are called totchos, and trust us, you want them.

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5. Centre Park Bar 1407 Randolph St, Detroit, MI 48226

Sultry lighting, great music, and cheap drinks will keep your party going at Centre Park Bar.

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6. The Well 1228 Randolph St, Detroit, MI 48226 (Greektown)

The Well is the place to go to let loose, get down on some cheap drinks, and dance to whatever classic song the DJ is playing at the moment.

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7. The Old Shillelagh 349 Monroe St, Detroit, MI 48226 (Greektown)

The Old Shillelagh is an iconic Irish pub in the heart of Detroit's Greektown. It’s old, it’s dingy, but that means you're getting the authentic and time-honored pub drinking experience. Shillelagh's regularly hosts a band on its upper level; downstairs, you'll find your standard order of Guinness, Jameson, and Jager. With a St. Paddy’s Day celebration this unparalleled -- you can't ask for better!



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