Everywhere You Need to Eat in Detroit Right Now
From birria tacos and döner kebab to caviar and steak.
The pandemic hit restaurants extremely hard, but Detroiters are no strangers to pickings ourselves up and hustling harder, and our city’s restaurant workers are proof of that resilience. From shifting to carryout and delivery to finding ways to serve the community, Detroit’s culinary community rose to the occasion. The city’s restaurant boom has slowed, but restaurateurs and chefs are still opening up during these extremely challenging times. To keep up with all these happenings, we've rounded up some of the newest hot spots to check out along with some of the standbys from the past few years.
The gist: The pandemic has paved the way for all sorts of interesting new dining structures, from life-size lanterns in Southwest Detroit to posh yurts at joebar/frame in Hazel Park. This east-side Detroit dining destination boasts physically distanced dining domes.
The food: Each night features a different menu. In the mood for birria tacos? How about vegan sandwiches and salads? EastEats’ eclectic offerings cater to all sorts of tastes and cravings.
The cost: You’ll have to pay $10 to reserve your spot and prices vary depending on the event, from $6 for a taco to $15 for a vegan Philly “cheesesteak.”
The Great Commoner
The gist: A boutique breakfast and brunch cafe from chefs Matt Knio (the master baker behind Cannelle Patisserie) and Zane Makky.
The food: If Matt Knio is involved, you know you’re in for carb excellence. The extensive menu spans the globe in terms of flavors, from shakshuka and ful mudammas (stewed fava beans) to breakfast staples such as Belgian waffles and French toast.
The cost: Sides go for $3 - $8, with toasts ranging from $10 - $12. Expect sweet and savory brunch mains as well as salads and sandwiches in the ballpark of $9 - $18.
Joe Louis Southern Kitchen
The gist: The former New Center Eatery, which was known for its waffles and chicken, is now Joe Louis Southern Kitchen, named after the legendary boxer who has been immortalized along the riverfront with the iconic fist sculpture and is now immortalized through Southern comfort foods. The restaurant is in good company on this block of Woodward, with Supino Pizzeria and Yum Village a few doors south and Baobab Fare across the street.
The food: Aside from the chicken and waffle staple, the menu boasts a variety of classic Southern fare fit to satisfy a heavyweight champ’s appetite, from buttermilk marinated fried catfish to Cajun fried turkey leg. The menu clearly pays homage to Louis, with “Champ’s Specialties” like shrimp and grits to “Training Camp,” which is spicy beef sausage, fried wings, and blackened shrimp with eggs your way with rice and potatoes. The breakfast of boxers.
The cost: Prices range from about $6 for a breakfast biscuit to $18 for buttermilk marinated catfish.
The gist: David Landrum, the owner of local distillery Two James, has branched out with this stylish space offering up Berlin-style döner kebab, tinned fish, and, naturally, cocktails (mostly gin, so if that’s your preferred spirit, you’re in luck).
The food: A well-edited menu explores the globe with dishes like Verschicken Chicken (whiskey, green beans, piri piri sauce); sticky ribs with black tea, apricot, and allspice; and the big draw, the döner kebab, with three different versions (lamb and beef, chicken, and eggplant). A section of the menu is dedicated to gin and tonic in different iterations including a cherry blossom-infused libation. For those who aren’t as into gin, there’s still some options such as a mai tai, “Mediterranean Mule,” and other inspired cocktails. There’s also a low ABV and nonalcoholic beverages including the Jallab, a fig, date, sumac grenadine, rosewater, and jasmine tea concoction.
The cost: Breads and bites start at $8, with tinned fish going for $15 for one and $28 for two. Sandwiches range from $11 to $14 and plates top out at $48.
The gist: Sophisticated yet familiar and approachable shareables and thoughtful cocktails are served in an equally stylish space in a former bank vault.
The food: The food is upscale and meticulously prepared but doesn’t take itself too seriously, with playful dishes like “Escar-no,” which is cremini mushrooms with parsley breadcrumbs and mushroom bouillon, and creative combinations like the smoked whitefish financiers. But it’s also a spot if you aim to impress, with high-end offerings like the Miyazaki A5 Wagyu with sour tomato honey and roasted bone marrow potatoes.
The cost: Shelby covers all price points, from $6 for Shelby nut mix to $150 for caviar and chips and everything in between.
The gist: An Argentinian-inspired restaurant that uses ancestral methods of Patagonian cooking (a nod to chef Javier Bardauil’s experience as an alum of Francis Mallmann’s renowned Patagonia Sur) on a wood-fired grill to prepare simple yet bold dishes. It’s located in the former Magnet space, which was vacated after chef Brad Greenhill and Philip Kafka dissolved their partnership last year. Bardauil, along with Allenby former chef Michael Goldberg, marries his traditional European training with ancient South American flavors.
The food: The European meets Argentinian approach is typified by dishes like Peruvian potatoes with huancaina sauce, roasted cauliflower with bagna cauda and breadcrumbs, and strip loin steak with chimibutter.
The cost: Lighter fare such as glazed beets starts at around $16 with entrees ranging from $20 to $59.
Coriander Kitchen and Farm
The food: Simple doesn’t mean basic, and at Coriander they take care to make good food that’s packed with flavor. The menu features requisite staples such as a fish sandwich and loaded fries but also more globally inspired seasonal fare such as grilled lamb shoulder with green garlic zhug (a Yemenite green hot sauce) and a spicy soba noodle salad. No matter what the dish is, everything is inspired by ingredients and what’s going on at the farm.
The cost: Appetizers like Great Lakes fish dip starts at $11 with heartier flatbreads and sandwiches in the ballpark of $8 - $15.
The gist: Burundi refugees and wife and husband team Nadia Nijimbere and Hamissi Mamba followed a long road to open the highly anticipated Baobab Fare, with the vision to serve homey and flavorful dishes that pay homage to their East African roots and culture while also serving as a space to give back to the city that gave their family a second home and a second chance.
The food: Traditional East African dishes are prepared with care, from the signature nyumbani (slow-simmered beef in tomato sauce served with peanut stewed spinach and rice) to the samaki (fried fish with peppers and onions serve with corn salad, fried plantains, creamy yellow beans, and rice).
The cost: Prices range from $13 - $18 for hearty dinner plates piled with meat, vegetables, and rice.
The gist: New American dishes highlighting local, fresh, and seasonal ingredients prepared on a wood-fired grill and pizza oven served under the rafters of a 300-year-old barn. So when they say farm to table it’s not just cheesy marketing. The restaurant sits on 5 acres, with 3 acres dedicated to a farm where produce such as kale, beets, carrots, a variety of peas, beans, and lettuces are destined to end up on your plate. There’s also beehives, chickens, and fruit trees.
The food: The farm dictates what the menu will look like but expect comforting and familiar fare such as ribeye, chicken, pastas, and trout.
The cost: Starters (think flatbreads and salads) are $8-14 with entrees ranging from $18 to $29.
The gist: It’s a bold move to open a sushi concept into Clawson, which is the home of venerable Noble Fish, but Sozai is up to the challenge. Chef and owner Hajime Sato relocated to Metro Detroit from Seattle, Washington, where he opened the award-winning restaurant Mashiko in 1994. The restaurant helped define sustainable sushi and he is hoping to do the same in Michigan.
The food: Impeccably prepared, fresh, and pristine sushi and sashimi offerings, as well as staples like onigiri, poke, maki, tempura, and more.
The cost: Miso soup starts at $4 with an assortment of sashimi going for $42. Splurge on the omakase, ranging from the Mori (a six-course vegetarian feast) for $45 to the Nami (explore more adventurous choices of sustainable sushi with small plates, nigiri, a fish plate, and dessert) for $70.
The gist: The flagship restaurant within the Daxton Hotel, Madam showcases executive chef Garrison Price’s approach to sustainable, locally focused, and seasonal new American fare. Price honed his craft under some of the industry’s top chefs, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Jose Andres, and worked at highly lauded restaurants such as Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria.
The food: This place is swanky and posh (it is Birmingham, after all) but the fare is approachable and familiar with a few high-end flourishes. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Madam offers favorites such as hummus made with beets, a variety of pizzas, and entrees such as chicken, fish, and steak.
The cost: Appetizers start at $6 for sourdough and top out at $19 for tuna tartare. Pizzas and pastas range from $16 up to $26. Expect to pay between $26 and $52 for entrees.
Olin Bar & Kitchen
The gist: Owner Holly McClain, who grew up Downriver, has worked at hot spots in Chicago and Las Vegas and worked side by side with husband and partner chef Shawn McClain in opening Highlands at the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit a couple of years ago. While in Chicago, she had the idea to open an American brasserie back home. That dream came to fruition last year, in the middle of a pandemic no less.
The food: The menu is influenced by Mediterranean and Spanish flavors with dishes like potatoes and artichokes bravas, charred octopus, and an assortment of paellas. Brunch follows the same vein, with fried paella rice, shakshuka, and crispy potato bravas.
The cost: Brunch ranges from $4 for bites and goes up to $17 for plates. For dinner, expect to drop anywhere from $12 for cheese to upwards of $56 for arroz negro paella.
The gist: Chefs Jennifer Jackson and Justin Tootla dish up an eclectic menu spanning Asia, South Africa, and the American South, in an Eastern Market space with an ‘80s tastic vibe.
The food: Jackson and Tootla, who were executive chefs at Chicago’s Thank You Chinese where they did American-Chinese fare and then later at Ferndale’s seafood-centric Voyager, are combining their culinary experience and backgrounds in dishes ranging from lump crab salad, black-eyed peas, cilantro and Bombay mix to shrimp dumplings with smoked ham broth and watercress.
The cost: Most dishes cost $11-$16, with appetizers and sides starting at $8.
The gist: Formerly a fine dining white tablecloth restaurant with luxury yacht inspired decor with high-end fare to match, this Birmingham hotspot is now a fully red and white checkered tablecloth classic joint serving up Italian cuisine, which is chef Luciano Delsignore’s specialty.
The food: Upscale Italian fare with options like spicy palomino pasta and ravioli and hearty entrees like branzino and veal chop parmigiana.
The cost: Pane (bread with your choice of accompaniment, from giardiniera to buffalo mozzarella) are $6 - $8 and entrees are $30 - $78.
Fork In Nigeria
The gist: Launched last year, this buzzy food truck quickly built a following for its traditional Nigerian food and expanded with a food truck rolling in Columbus and an upcoming brick and mortar in Midtown. Founder Prej Iroegbu grew up on a farm where he learned how to prepare traditional dishes with pots on firewood.
The food: The fufu—pounded yam served with your choice of Egusi, Okra, Edikang Ikong (spinach and kale stew), or tomato stew—is Fork in Nigeria’s signature dish. Feast on hearty offerings like jollof with your choice of protein (chicken, goat, oxtail, and more), stewed dodo (plantains), and suya steak.
The cost: Prices range from $4.50 for a meat pie up to $20 for oxtail.
Michigan & Trumbull
The gist: After slinging Detroit-style square pan pizza in Pittsburgh, husband-and-wife team Nate Peck and Kristen Calverley have firmly carved out their niche in the Motor City’s pizza scene with their popular pies dished from their restaurant near where the old Tiger Stadium used to stand (the name of the restaurant is a nod to the ballfield’s cross streets and the indoor space has touches of sports flair like a metal cage and wood paneling from a school gym).
The food: Square pies in all of its crispy edges, cheesy glory, with toppings that range from traditional (red sauce with the option to add meat or veggies) to craveworthy (mozzarella, cheddar, ground beef, iceberg, onion, sesame seed, and awesome sauce).
The cost: Salads start at $7 with pies going for $10 to $15.
Oak & Reel
The gist: Michigan native and chef Jared Gadbaw left his home state to study and work in New York (as well as around the world with stints in Hong Kong and Istanbul), building up an impressive culinary resume. The Michelin-starred chef came back home to open this high-end seafood-forward restaurant in a neighborhood where the dining and drinking options are growing.
The food: Combining local ingredients with ethically sourced seafood, Oak and Reel boasts contemporary Italian cuisine punctuated with bright and clean flavors as evident in dishes like hamachi with calabrian chili and caperberries, scallops with peas and prosciutto, and paccheri with tuna bolognese.
The cost: Starters like salad and crostini go for $16, while housemade pastas range from $16 - $20 and entrees start around $29 and top out at $42.
The Balkan House
The gist: The homey (as in literally, it’s located in a former house) Hamtramck spot built a large and loyal following for its döner kebab and expanded to the inner-ring ‘burb of Ferndale.
The food: Specializing in Eastern European fare, Balkan House offers chevapi (sausage links in homemade bread), Bosnian burgers, and sandwiches, but really the main reason why anyone goes here is for the döner kebab, with your choice of beef/lamb, chicken, or falafel enveloped by creamy döner sauce and sandwiched between crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside bread.
The cost: Soups and salads cost from $5 - $13, while sandwiches and mains start at $8.50 up to $27.
The gist: This Corktown full-service breakfast and lunch restaurant in a made-for-Instagram space is now your friendly neighborhood market/café with walk-up window service, patio dining, and grocery shopping and pickup.
The food: Seasonally focused sandwiches, salads, and select hot food like quiches as well as waffles, espresso service, and pastries. Want to prepare your own meal or stock up on staples? Choose from locally sourced provisions such as farm fresh vegetables, eggs, meats from sister restaurant Marrow, booze, and more.
The cost: Snag a pastry like cinnamon rolls for around $6.50, and expect to pay around the ballpark of $11 - $13 for waffles or a sandwich.
The gist: This neighborhood butcher shop and restaurant aims to be a solution to the industrial meat complex with its offerings of locally and ethically sourced meat available for purchase to bring home and cook or enjoy at the West Village hot spot.
The food: Prix fixe dinner menu that highlights its meat-centric ethos, from the housemade charcuterie to Michigan “Beef and Broccoli” (there’s also pescatarian and vegetarian options). The carefully curated wine list by proprietor Ping Ho, who also owns The Royce in downtown Detroit, perfectly complements the flavor-forward fare.
The cost: The chef’s tasting menu costs $60. Not into prix fixe? Any dish can be ordered a la carte.
Flowers Of Vietnam
The gist: Former pop-up turned permanent full-service Vietnamese restaurant in an updated coney island space has become a go-to spot for modern Vietnamese food and creative cocktails in a chill setting.
The food: The menu still has many of the modern Vietnamese staples that made it a quick favorite, such as the Bún Thịt Nướng (rice vermicelli, aged nuoc mam, Viet style egg roll, and an option to add grilled pork, shrimp, or tofu) and Bò lúc lắc (“shaky beef” or a prime 30-day dry-aged ribeye cap, shallot, and salt, pepper, and citrus dipping sauce), but also includes the comfort food we need and demand at this time, with “Middle of the Mall” chicken and house smoked ribs.
The cost: Prices range from $15 for Vietnamese street corn to $49 for pork chops and rice for two.
SheWolf Pastificio & Bar
The gist: One of Thrillist’s Best New Restaurants in the country, this modern Italian restaurant is a love letter to old Rome. Chef Anthony Lombardo honed his craft working in Washington, DC, where he got involved in nonprofit DC World Kitchen, which planted the seed for him to build a similar organization when he returned home. When the pandemic hit, he not only shifted the restaurant to a market model but also leaned into helping vulnerable hospitality workers. He used money initially meant to lease space for a culinary training organization for citizens returning from prison and other at-risk populations to help restaurant workers reeling from the pandemic.
The food: From the delicate crudos to the zeppole donuts, every dish is expertly and meticulously prepared. At the heart of the menu you'll find housemade pasta (not to be missed is the cacio e pepe), as well as hearty entrees like manzo (bone-in prime rib-eye) and orata (whole roasted sea bream). Except for the legit Champagne, all of the wines are Italian, and the servers are well versed (without a hint of pretension) in selecting the perfect vino to pair with your halibut and carpaccio.
The cost: Antipasti starts at $7 up to $16, pastas range from $17 to $25, and entrees are $42 to $91.
The gist: Now with three locations all sharing the same signature modern and minimalistic aesthetic, ima continues to expand its footprint as chef Michael Ransom (who is a local James Beard semifinalist) slowly and surely builds up his noodle empire in Metro Detroit.
The food: Steaming hot bowls of ramen, udon, and pho (the spicy tori ramen is on point as is the umami-packed forest udon, which is satisfying for plant-based and meat eaters alike) are the focal point, but in the rare moment when you are not in the mood for slurping noodles, the crispy chicken sandwich is always a good idea. And when they say spicy, they are not playing.
The cost: Shareables range from $5-$11 and rice, noodles, and soups go for anywhere between $13 and $25.
The gist: This neighborhood spot in a renovated garage has become a restaurant staple for its sophisticated yet casual vibes with a seafood-driven menu and creative cocktails to match.
The food: Seafood is the star here, from chilled offerings such as peel and eat shrimp and snow crab legs to substantial mains such as seared scallops and housemade fettuccine.
The cost: Prices start around $3.50 for an oyster up to $29 for entrees.
The gist: Named after the matriarch of the restaurateur’s family, this sleek and stylish restaurant is the newest from the father and son team Sameer and Samy Eid behind Birmingham institutions Forest and Phoenicia. It quickly garnered buzz for its take on modern Lebanese food, with the Eids nabbing a James Beard semifinalist nod for Outstanding Restaurateurs.
The food: Lebanese favorites such as fattoush and tawook get a contemporary spin, and flavor-packed options like Creekstone rib-eye with Lebanese zip sauce and grilled branzino round out the menu.
The cost: Soups and salads range from $9 - $13, while entrees start at $21 and top out at $59.