Poutine, that unholy trinity of French fries, gravy, and cheese curds, is one of Canada's great gifts to America. In Detroit, a city that's located right across the river from our benevolent Northern neighbors, it sure did take a while for the poutine trend to take root. Luckily, Detroit's come to realize that crossing the border for some late-night eats isn't really practical, which is why we've started making it everywhere. Here are the eight best spots to get it:
The best poutine in all of metro Detroit is at Rock City Eatery in Hamtramck. And that's not just because Nicole's Poutine is, in the interest of full disclosure, named for the author of this article. It's also because it features an outright decadent combination of duck confit gravy with cheese curds and an optional (but basically mandatory) fried egg over fries, and is exactly what poutine is supposed to be -- a bunch of really delicious slop on a plate.
Leave it to genuine, bona fide Canadians to bring a proper rendition of this Canadian delicacy across the border. Order it traditional-style with hand-cut fries, organic cheese curds, and beef or mushroom gravy, OR go nuts and get the breakfast poutine with bacon or tempeh and a sunny side-up egg. They also have a vegan version, which we are told vegans enjoy, but cannot vouch for ourselves, obviously.
Before Americans' poutine awareness had been raised, variations existed across the country under a different name: "disco fries". At Vinsetta Garage in Berkley, they're made with house-cut fries, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery cheese curds (out of Wisconsin -- legit), whole-grain mustard gravy, chili flakes, and scallions. In other words, it's poutine, with an ever-so-subtle spicy kick, and it is glorious.
While Green Dot Stables wasn't the first place in the city to put poutine on the menu, they can certainly be credited with bringing poutine awareness to the masses at their ridiculously popular and ridiculously cheap bar in "Corktown Shores". Many a Detroiters' poutine cherry was popped by their Le Poutine, and at $3 per order it definitely made the uninitiated more open to poutine experimentation. For that, we are forever grateful.
So pork belly is kind of a big deal right now, so it seems only natural -- inevitable even -- that pork belly and poutine should be combined. Behold, the pork belly poutine at One-Eyed Betty's, made with fresh-cut fries, curds, gravy, pork belly confit, and a poached egg. Thankfully Betty's has a gi-normous beer list, because you'll need it to wash down this massive trough of poutine.
Spend a Sunday out in Ann Arbor and make your first stop Grange Kitchen & Bar for their breakfast poutine, made with duck confit, duck sage gravy, curds, and topped with two fried eggs. Two! Grange prides itself on diligent local sourcing so you can also take comfort in knowing that your breakfast poutine is helping the local economy in addition to your hangover. Which it is most definitely also helping.
It's a food truck, it's a pop-up, and their Instagram pictures are really, really pretty -- which makes Stockyard a triple-threat of all the hottest things in Detroit right now. And their poutine is even hotter (ZING)! Their chorizo poutine is made with waffle fries, chorizo, gravy, cheddar cheese curds (they'll be using curds from Michigan's own Pinconning Cheese Company soon), and scallions. Follow them on Twitter to track their latest locations.
Inside Comerica Park
Move over, coney dog, your days of being Detroit's signature dog are over. Well, probably not, but at least Detroiters have discovered something they can layer over a hot dog besides chili. The poutine hot dog, a natural-casing frank covered with beef gravy and cheese curds that debuted this year at Comerica Park, is the perfect marriage of all things American (baseball! Tube steaks!) and Canadian (putting gravy and cheese curds on things!). Isn't it nice to see an international border city like Detroit being so very international?
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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.
Founded in 2012 by a Canadian couple, Brooklyn Street Local is a homey Corktown lunch destination for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Ingredients are sourced fresh from Detroit's urban farms and are used to create an array of flavorful favorites, such as The BSL, traditional poutine made with organic cheese curds and beef gravy (can be adapted to vegan appetites), The Works, a thick, organic beef patty topped with cheddar, bacon, and a fried egg, the Vegan Reuben served on rye, and rich banana walnut pancakes. The interior has all the marks of an American diner (banquette seating, warm hanging lamps, framed photographs on the walls), but the stylish outdoor patio calls to mind the industrial cityscape of Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Vinsetta Garage serves up deliciously up-ticked comfort food. The space's got a well-worn mechanical vibe from the former service station that'd been around since the Model T days.
You expect sliders to be on the bar menu. But how about 22 different kinds of them? Lansing's Greed Dot Stables takes the slider staple and brings it to its most elaborate end with a selection of playful takes. You can always get a buffalo chicken or cheeseburger slider (which are on offer, don't worry), but try out the unexpected combos: the Korean hosts kimchi and peanut butter atop a beef patty while a PB&J is given a savory zing with chipotle-raspberry jam. And because surprise is the spice of life, you can always order the mystery meat. The rest of the wood bar, designed to recall a horse stable, feels familiar as any neighborhood drinking hole... just with fried baloney on the menu.
Answering the prayers of those who crave craft brews and top-notch bar food at 12am on a Tuesday, O-EB's a raucous ale den loaded with communal picnic tables, spacious leather booths, a trifecta of classic pinball machines, a stocked jukebox, and an unfinished beer cap mural you can contribute to.
Chef Brandon Johns has been a leader in Ann Arbor when it comes to championing local producers in his cuisine, and Grange Kitchen & Bar is serves as his biggest celebration of the area's growers. Ask about the bread you're eating and it may be from Avalon Bakery in Detroit. That butter you're spreading on it? From Calder Dairy in Carleton, very possibly. Seasonal menus change in the homey dining room dotted with tall-backed wooden chairs and armoires, and could feature fried pig's head (one of Johns' signatures), housemade chorizo, duck breast with rye berries and pears, and spice-roasted whole hog. It should be known that duck-fat fries taste better when the duck are sourced from within 100 miles.