Proof That Iceland's Ring Road Is the World's Most Beautiful Road Trip
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1. Mabel Gray23825 John R Rd, Hazel Park
2. Grey Ghost47 E Watson St, Detroit
3. The Peterboro420 Peterboro St, Detroit
4. Standby225 Gratiot Ave, Detroit
5. Sister Pie8066 Kercheval Ave, Detorit
6. Pie-Sci5163 Trumbull St, Detroit
7. Selden Standard3921 Second Ave, Detroit
8. Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails15 E Kirby Suite D, Detroit
9. El Asador Steakhouse1312 Springwells St, Detroit
10. Wright & Co.1500 Woodward, Detroit
11. Rock City Eatery11411 Joseph Campau St, Hamtramck
12. O.W.L.27302 Woodward Ave, Royal Oak
13. Rusted Crow Distillery and Spirits6056 N Telegraph Rd, Dearborn Heights
14. The Morrie511 S Main St, Royal Oak
15. Craft Work8047 Agnes St., Detroit
16. Gold Cash Gold2100 Michigan Ave, Detroit
17. Bon Bon Bon2756 Evaline St, Hamtramck
18. Pepe Z Pizza4114 W Vernor Hwy, Detroit
19. Parc800 Woodward Ave, Detroit
20. ima2015 Michigan Ave, Detroit
21. The Conserva201 E 9 Mile Rd, Ferndale
22. Otus Supply345 E 9 Mile Rd, Ferndale
23. Supino Pizzeria2457 Russell St, Detroit
Created by former Top Chef contestant James Rigato and partner Ed Momou (the minds behind The Root Restaurant & Bar), Mabel Gray in Hazel Park boasts a seasonal, nose-to-tail (handwritten) menu and full bar. Charming interior design details like an otter mural paint the space, while thoughtfully plated dishes like sweet potatoes with queso fresco and pumpkin seeds, match the in-the-moment vibe. Dishes are changed on a regular basis, though, so you can expect your best friend's dinner suggestions to be replaced with something even better on your next visit.
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.
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 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. Take the "C.R.E.A.M.," a cocktail made with bourbon, rice and almond milk, cinnamon syrup, and bitters that might as well be double as your dessert as well.
Discreetly nestled in The Belt art alley, Standby serves inventive New American fare and creative booze-forward cocktails in a trendy, sultry space. Helmed by chefs Jesse Knott and Lindsay Salminen (of Detroit Delhi fame), the kitchen puts a modern spin on classic dishes like pierogies, served here with a whiskey-mushroom filling with tamarind, chile d'arbol, and scallion; in a similar vein, meat offerings like chicken liver mousse and country terrine illustrate the emphasis on house-made recipes. Accessible mixology continues to define the cocktail list, which is organized by spirit type and blends quirkily named signatures with timeless classics. If the place gets too crowded for your tastes, it's worth the short walk down the road to The Skip, Standby's seasonal sister bar. The libations go down just as quickly, and the open-air patio features a massive Shepard Fairey mural.
West Village's Sister Pie is renowned for its unique pies whose thick and flaky crusts have a melt-in-your-mouth texture that can only be attributed to an indulgently high butter content. Options include salted maple, ginger peach, blueberry plum, and more seasonal flavors... good luck limiting yourself to one slice.
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.
Made moody and proper with charcoal black tables and seats, and a white-tiled full-service bar that intimidates with its wide liquor selection, Selden Standard marries the upscale with fresh, rustic fare usually seen in more whimsical settings. The menu is brought to you with the help of partnerships with michigan farms, and features simply dressed courses like charred octopus, chicken and ricotta campanelle, and half grilled chicken.
Located by the Detroit Institute of Arts, this large, lime-green hued restaurant sports glossy wooden tables, botanical touches, and a dried flower installation that makes you feel like you're part of the world's coolest garden party. The vegetable- and seafood-heavy menu aligns with the earthy theme as well, with entrees like grilled spanish octopus and Michigan shrimp served with polenta.
El Asador proves that finding authentic Mexican food is as simple as heading to southwest Detroit. El Asador serves an array of approachable Mexican dishes, like crispy quesadillas overflowing with melted cheese and shredded chicken; three-cheese enchiladas dipped in house-made sauce; and soft shell tacos filled with fried or grilled mahi mahi. However, you'd be remiss not to order one of the speciality steaks, like the immaculately char-grilled filet mignon with three-chile butter sauce or the New York steak topped with homemade ranchero sauce. Don't forget to bring along a six-pack of your favorite cerveza, as El Asador is BYOB.
Serving upscale New American tapas and craft cocktails in a refined, Deco-inspired space, Wright & Co. is a popular destination for happy hour and date nights alike. Food offerings range from elevated gastropub fare like pork belly sliders with tomato jam and arugula to larger plates like sautéed sea scallops with yellow squash purée, asparagus and succulent chive butter sauce, and the sheer variety makes for a myriad of ways to approach the market-driven menu. While the cocktail list changes seasonally, expect eclectic ingredients, house-made infusions, and top shelf liquors like añejo rum, mezcal, small batch whiskeys, and chartreuse to make regular appearances. The six-course Sunday brunch tasting menu attracts the masses, but daily happy hour steals make for a lively ambience any night of the week.
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.
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.
Joining the Royce Detroit Wine Shop, Rusted Crow is a sexy steampunk space in Dearborn Heights sporting craft cocktails made with house-distilled liquor and greasy bar bites. The Rosemary's Baby, prepared with Detroit Steam vodka, housemade rosemary syrup, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and ginger beer, will easily one up your favorite Moscow Mule, and the Crowstache is refreshing and complex with Ginstache Gin, blackberry, cucumber, lime juice, and simple syrup. The food menu is equally unique with options like a branded Mac and Cheese burger, a half pound chuck patty layered with bacon and a gooey block of fried macaroni and cheese, and the specialty Shootie on a Shingle, a 6 ounce flatiron steak served over a hill of Texas toast and topped with gravy-smothered Brussel sprouts and corn.
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.
Chef Aaron Solley put in a lot of work to remake the West Village's Craft Work, classing up the offerings with Mediterranean and French touches in the library-like space. Come for the cocktails -- which keep things classic with Moscow Mules, Manhattans, negronis, and Old Fashioned -- but stay for the food. Red curry mussels, lamb over couscous, and pork should plates make for elevated eating. Even the venerable bar burger is spruced up with Wagyu beef. Perhaps most notable the raw bar, serving up oysters, ceviches, crudos, and fresh sushi that beg to be had with any of the European and Californian white wines.
Gold Cash Gold, named for the pawn shop that previously occupied the space, serves up farm-fresh American fare in the cleverly repurposed space. GCG kept the shop’s iconic exterior murals and signage and even used salvaged wood from the old shop, along with warehouse windows re-welded and set with stained glass, and serves a menu just as timeless and unique. Whether you stop in for brunch or dinner, expect to find upscale dishes like Buttermilk Soup au Lait (pistachio dumplings with a pecorino crisp), dry-aged duck with tequila red beans, pork sausage, sweet potato purée, and chilis, and pickle-brine fried chicken and waffle with homemade ranch. Keep an eye out for the fresh-baked daily doughnut that’s definitely worth the calories.
Bon Bon Bon describes their coconut bonbon as "lightly toasted, just like us." It is an artisan chocolate and confection manufacturer with a tiny storefront in Hamtramck that's only open for their "Hot Mess" retail Saturdays. The "Hot Mess" is another bonbon flavor, only available in-store, but we can probably go ahead and assume it also describes some of the people you'll spot there on Saturdays.
At home in the back of El Club, a Southwest Detroit bar and music venue, Pepe Z Pizza serves up reasonably priced, gourmet, New York-style pies (and slices) from scratch. Baked in a hybrid wood fired and gas oven, Pepe Z’s homemade dough has a distinctly thin yet dough-y crust that remains pleasantly chewy instead of crunchy or burned. Sip on one of El Club’s signature cocktails or craft brews while you dig into one of Pepe Z’s masterpieces like a classic margherita or the signature Pepé-roni made with freshly-sliced pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, and honey. They even have a kimchi-topped pizza! For those of you who don’t like your pizzas saucy, Pepe Z also serves a variety of cheesy white pizzas like Olive You (hint: it has a lot of olives), and Arug Arugula.
Nestled in the heart of bustling Campus Maritus Park is Parc, an upscale restaurant with floor to ceiling windows and a knack for dressing up Michigan comfort foods and other familiar American favorites. Parc serves up dry rubbed and honey glazed ribs (still best eaten with hands) and oysters on the half shell. The pastas, like everything else, are artistically plated and loaded with goodies, like the King Crab Tagliatelle made with baby fennel, toasted garlic, crab cream, and butter roasted King Crab that falls apart in your mouth. Whether you get the Giant Prawns or lamb chops, the sommelier curated list of international and vintage wines has you covered, but you can also order a craft cocktail like Just My Imagination (dark rum, basil, lemonade, mint, and blood orange bitters).
Ima scratches Corktown's noodle itch with its large bowls of Japanese udon. The thick wheat noodles are served with a variety of broths and toppings: the porcini broth Forest Udon comes with an earthy array of sesame tofu, smoked trumpets, and rosemary, while the Spicy Pork Udon has a ramen-like disposition thanks to red-hued chili broth, tender pieces of pork loin, and a soft-boiled egg. Aside from noodle soups, Ima serves Asian-influenced comfort foods including bibimbap-like rice bowls and jicama shell tacos.
Supino bustling Pizzeria, located in Eastern Market, serves thin crust New York style pizza pies. This spot makes Detroit's most famous not-Buddy's pizzas, and while some people might come to blows championing the Bismarck as their Supino pie of choice, our money is on the Smoky, with smoked prosciutto, smoked Gouda, and the roasted garlic.