Since we last checked in, the Detroit dining scene has only continued to grow, following a new, casual trend. The end of summer was a mad dash for new restaurants looking to capitalize on patio weather that's quickly coming to an end. We’re still on the lookout for anticipated openings like La Noria and Atomic Chicken, which appear to have missed their mark of opening before fall. Maybe we'll be more lucky come winter. For now, let's celebrate what we did get, shall we?
This former pop-up finally opened the doors of its brick-and-mortar location in late July, directly next door to Woodbridge Pub, where it got its start. This pizza laboratory's rotating menu of less-than-typical pizzas is organized by class: Elementary, Pizza High, and U of Pizza. It recently launched fall menu craft signature pies, like the Fennel Countdown, made with a garlic-oil red sauce, Italian sausage, oven-roasted fennel, caramelized onion, sauteed bell pepper, and mozzarella. Vegans, never fear -- vegan and gluten-free options are in sight for a slight up-charge. Pair any pie(-sci) with a Detroit City fountain soda for the full city-centric experience.
Since moving into the old Kales Building, this wine bar-meets-retail shop has become a favorite for small bites and quality wines. The regal location sports an impressive wall of wines (which, yes, are all available to buy) stacked high, nearly to the vaulted ceiling. Glass pours change every other week and are accompanied by snacks like nuts, olives, meats, and cheeses. Beyond great wines and butcher’s boards are damn good morals -- The Royce pays its employees a living wage so they won’t need to live off of tips. If you still feel the need to give a little extra for great service, a portion of the tips are donated to a local charity, with the rest being split among the staff.
Easily one of the most anticipated openings this summer was Grey Ghost, which opened its doors in the historic Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe in July. Headed by chefs John Vermiglio and Joe Giacomino, the menu is packed with proteins like dry-aged rib-eyes, black forest pork chops, and racks of lamb. The venue pours a variety of signature cocktails served stirred, shaken, or from the tap. Go for the slightly spicy Not Your Libre, made with tequila, chipotle, cola, lime, and Angostura bitters.
Few things are more appealing than Mexican-American comfort food like warm sopa de pollo or fresh tacos. One of the only ways to really improve on that is to make it available 24 hours a day at affordable prices. Enter O.W.L., one of Royal Oak’s newest diners, which debuted in July. In true diner fashion, cooks can be seen behind the counter dishing out plates like avocado toast, chilaquiles, and nachos, as well as American classics like cheeseburgers and chicken wings. The breakfast menu easily steals the show with favorites like habanero bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches and grilled cinnamon buns. Although we may never know what the acronym stands for, if it keeps serving up dishes like this, it’ll be hard to complain.
One of the casual chain restaurants that now call Detroit home is Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. While it’s a chain -- chains have notoriously flopped in the city -- the spot has gained quite a bit of traction since its (delayed) opening in August. The Memphis-based chain uses only fresh chicken, served alongside classic comfort sides like fried okra, mac & cheese, and baked beans. The juicy and spicy fried chicken lives up to the hype, leaning on the same recipe that's been used since 1984. Combine the delicious chicken with reasonable prices and speedy service for a new, quick weeknight staple.
Formerly from Hamtramck, Rock City Eatery opened its doors in Midtown in September. The new location on Woodward is more than double the size of its previous venue. Beyond expanding the physical space, the restaurant has blown out its menu, adding an affordable lunch service with 10 new tacos available for $3.50 each or three for $9. The star of the midday menu is definitely the poutine, made with duck fat fries, duck gravy, cheese curds, caramelized onions, and scallions. Top it with a fried egg -- trust us. It may be the best poutine in the city.
This Royal Oak Rock n’ Roll Roadhouse (say that three times fast!) finally opened its doors this September. The casual eatery will also serve as a music venue, eventually hosting regular open mic nights. Vegetarian options like the Kung Pao Cauliflower are as delicious as the meaty counterparts, like the starred brisket-covered waffle fries and roadhouse ribs. Overall, the Morrie is a solid addition to Royal Oak’s already bustling culinary scene.
Move over, Cafe 78 -- the Detroit Optimist Society has taken over the small restaurant inside MOCAD as of September and has begun dishing out fresh sushi five days a week. Previously of Townhouse, sushi chef Rob Lee challenges the concept that sushi has to be serious with signature rolls like the Californication, made with crab salad, red bell pepper, cucumber, avocado, and sesame seeds, and contemporary cocktails like the Ferrari Collins, made with Campari, Fernet-Branca, simple syrup, lemon, and soda. Grab some lunch. Enjoy some art. Be happy.
It’s hard not to roll your eyes at a restaurant like Wahlburgers, but the highly anticipated burger joint opened to a massive audience this month. The franchise, founded by actor Mark Wahlberg’s brother Paul, features “family favorites” like sloppy Joes and signature burgers like the 1/3lb Our Burger, topped with house-made pickles, “government” cheese (it's just American cheese), onions, and Wahl sauce, a Sriracha-spiked Big Mac-type sauce. Although small joints like Miller’s Bar will continue to be the go-to for a bar burger, Wahlburgers is undeniably a fun place for tourists and out-of-towners looking for a star-studded lunch from Marky Mark and Co.
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1. Pie-Sci5163 Trumbull St, Detroit
2. The Royce76 W Adams Ave, Detroit
3. Grey Ghost47 E Watson St, Detroit
4. O.W.L.27302 Woodward Ave, Royal Oak
5. Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken4101 Third St., Detroit
6. Rock City Eatery11411 Joseph Campau St, Hamtramck
7. The Morrie511 S Main St, Royal Oak
8. Wahlburgers569 Monroe St, Detroit
Just as the bright orange-red facade of this Trumble Street pizzeria might alert, saucy, handmade pizzas are to be had here. They're prepared on thick, soft crusts, with generous, wonky toppings like balsamic glaze, shrimp, and white sauce that justify the sit-down pizza eating experience. The space is outfitted with plenty of two-tops and a kitchen in full view, and is all washed in that same shade of orange-red that might somewhere down the line -- decades from now -- you could see becoming an iconic representation of this delightfully novel pies shop.
The Royce Detroit wine shop and bar takes just as much pride in its products as in its philosophy. Committed to visions of sustainability, all prices include tips to ensure that employees are taken care of. To create community among its wino customers, The Royce hosts weekly tastings that highlight producers from around the world. Royce devotees have a great deal to talk about; glass pours change every other week, and they are always complemented by delectable bites, like hard and soft cheeses, meats, nuts, and olives. The atmosphere is straight out of a Williams Sonoma catalogue, complete with white exposed brick and chocolate leather banquettes in the upstairs loft area. The Royce is a destination to meet, to unwind, and to feel you’ve made the right decision in coming.
Craft cocktails and house-made charcuterie reign at the sleek and industrial Grey Ghost. The menu brings stereotypically lowbrow dishes to an elevated level, like bologna, which is fried and served on a toasted waffle with sharp cheddar and jalapeño. Fries, too, get the fancy treatment -- they're paired with the not-so-subtly named Fancy Sauce -- and for dessert, peanut butter & jelly gets a makeover in a sundae with concord grapes and peanut fry bread. Cocktails are strong no matter if you have champagne or PBR taste, given that veteran bartender Will Lee is behind the shaker.
Finally, a place where you can satisfy your 4AM avocado toast cravings. O.W.L. is open 24 hours a day, serving affordable Mexican-American comfort food like heaping portions of double layer nachos and spice-obsessed bowls of homemade chorizo chili, and the freshness of flavor is paramount no matter what time you go. The trendy outpost on Woodward Ave has a leg up on the nocturnal diners from olden days, sporting gleaming chrome bar stools and countertops, a hand-painted mural from designer Timothy Goodman, and the real kicker: nitro cold brew on tap to make sure you're awake and alert to take it all in.
Gus's is proof that Nashville-style hot chicken isn't the only Tennessee chicken that's worth your time. An import from Memphis, the Detroit spot has the super-crispy, just-spicy-enough fried chicken of your dreams. Not to mention, the sides, including the mac & cheese and fried okra, will rock your world.
Food, booze, and pies are the pillars upon which Rock City Eatery rests, and the industrial-chic eatery in Hamtramck has entertained a steady flock of regulars because of it. The breadth of the globally-inspired menu attests to the culinary skill of owner Nikita Santches, who proves that it's totally possible to excel at everything from duck fat-fried poutine to Spanish octopus. here's a big emphasis on local solidarity, ranging from regional microbrews behind the bar to the ingredients used in the kitchen, so don't be surprised if certain items on this focused, market-driven menu run out towards the end of the day.
The Morrie in Royal Oak is a roadhouse inspired, all-in-one restaurant, music venue, and bar whose menu is just as versatile. Divided into “Opening Acts,” “Headliners,” and “Encore,” The Morrie’s food offerings are American comfort at its finest; they range from Kung Pao cauliflower and potato skins with buttermilk ranch dressing to BBQ smoked chicken. Try any of the sandwiches; The Morrie is equipped with an imported Italian steam-injection stone oven for baking bread. While The Morrie is decidedly not a sports bar, it offers up to 14 flat screen televisions for those who aren’t keen on foregoing technology while stuffing their faces. The 8,000-square-foot joint has an open, spacious layout, so there’s plenty of room between grained wood and black steel tables. Don’t skip out on a brew here; The Morrie has16 taps that pour local craft beers.
Greektown’s rendition of Wahlburgers, the upscale burger joint from bros Mark, Donnie, and Paul, slings all-natural beef burgers, hot dogs, and (sometimes alcoholic!) frappes, like the Fluffanuttahh, with vanilla ice cream, marshmallow vodka, crème de banana, and peanut butter. Of course, for the health-conscious, there is a selection of “fresh to order” salads, and while the options are pretty standard, the essence of Wahlburg-ness is palpable with every lettucey bite. The space boasts signature lime green metal stools and chairs, a well-stocked bar, enclosed patio, flat screens, and more Wahlberg memorabilia per square inch than your 7th-grade GF's bedroom. If you’re feeling particularly touristy, you can even buy some Wahlburg souvenirs.