Where to Eat in Detroit Right Now
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. Here's where to eat and get carryout/delivery from in Detroit right now.
The gist: New restaurant from Jennifer Jackson and Justin Tootla, former executive chefs at Voyager in Ferndale, with an ‘80s-tastic vibe in the former Gather restaurant space in Eastern Market.
The food: Jackson and Tootla, who were executive chefs at Chicago’s Thank You Chinese where they did American-Chinese fare, are exploring different regions of China through lesser-known dishes like cumin lamb, dried fried eels, and fried eggplant and potato with garlic sauce. No General Tso’s chicken but there are wontons and spring rolls.
The cost: Most dishes cost $11-$18, with appetizers and sides starting at $2.50.
How to order: Order online for carryout (delivery coming soon).
Cajun Boiling Crab
The gist: Detroit is seeing a proliferation of boiled seafood in a bag options, with more on the way, and this neighborhood joint opened amid a pandemic. But with people wanting more takeout options (and no doubt tired of quarantine cooking), Cajun Boiling Crab has quickly netted fans.
The food: The main draw is the seafood in a bag: Pick your seafood (lobster tail, snow crab legs, shrimp, crawfish, and clams, to name a few), select your sauce and spice level, and throw in some sides like corn and potatoes. There are also po-boy sandwiches (shrimp, oyster, soft shell crab, fried fish, and oddly enough chicken) as well as appetizers (don't miss the gumbo).
The cost: Appetizers start at $4. Depending on what kind of seafood you choose for your bag, the prices range from $13-$34.
How to order: Call 313-693-9692 for curbside pickup and carryout.
The gist: Initially a fine dining white tablecloth restaurant with luxury yacht inspired decor with high-end fare to match, this Birmingham hot spot has rebranded itself after the departure of co-opening chef Takashi Yagihashi and pivoted early on during the pandemic to shift to a more casual setting 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 Bistecca Fiorentina, a dry-aged Wagyu with blistered tomato, fennel, and herb salad.
The cost: Pane (bread with your choice of accompaniment, from giardiniera to buffalo mozzarella) are $5-$9 and entrees are $30-79.
How to order: Order online or call 248-940-0000 for curbside pickup or make a reservation to dine in the socially distanced dining room or patio.
Fork In Nigeria
The gist: Launched this summer, this buzzy food truck can be found posted up on the Avenue of Fashion. Founder Prej Iroegbu grew up on a farm where he learned how to prepare traditional Nigerian food with pots on firewood and he’s bringing that experience to the Motor City.
The food: Feast on hearty offerings prepared in “the Nigerian way” 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.
How to order: Order online for pickup or delivery through UberEats and GrubHub.
Michigan & Trumbull
The gist: Husband-and-wife team Nate Peck and Kristen Calverley brought Detroit-style square pan pizza to Pittsburgh to fill a void and now they’ve come back home, setting up shop near 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 and pepperoni with a touch of honey) to craveworthy (chorizo and cilantro ranch).
The cost: Salads start at $7 with pies going for $7 to $14.
How to order: Order online for curbside or get delivery through GrubHub or Postmates.
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 yellowtail with walnut agrodolce, octopus with grilled polenta, and mafaldine (ribbon-based pasta) with shrimp.
The cost: $60 for a three-course prix fixe menu and $75 for four courses.
How to order: Make a reservation.
Saffron De Twah
The gist: Intimate and cozy Moroccan bistro on the east side of Detroit that doubled down on its community focus in the wake of the pandemic by adding a community kitchen that feeds hundreds of people. It garnered a Best New Restaurant semifinalist nod from the James Beard foundation this year.
The food: Moroccan-inspired dishes, with street style twists evident in options such as the Moroccan chicken sandwich as well as lamb and eggplant beef tagines and zaalouk (eggplant dip).
The cost: Mains are $8.50 to $14, and starters will cost you around $6.
How to order: Order online for carryout.
The Balkan House
The gist: The homey (seriously it’s located in a former house) Hamtramck spot built a cult following for its döner kebab and expanded soon 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 $5-9.50, while sandwiches and mains start at $8.50 up to $25.
How to order: Order online or through DoorDash.
The gist: Corktown full-service breakfast and lunch restaurant in a made-for-Instagram space shifts to your friendly neighborhood market/café with walk-up window service, patio dining, and grocery 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 sour cream coffee cake for around $4, and expect to pay around the ballpark of $12.50 for waffles or a BLT.
How to order: Order online (you can also order from sister restaurant Mink on the same link) or walk up to the window for espresso service and pastries.
The gist: West Village hot spot leaned into its butcher shop offerings at the height of the pandemic, underscoring the need for premium cuts of locally and ethically sourced meat when the industrial meat complex was breaking.
The food: Prix fixe dinner menu that highlights its meat-centric ethos, from the housemade charcuterie to Michigan “Beef and Broccoli.” 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: Prices start around $4 for blueberry muffins and go up to around $22 for heartier fare.
How to order: Make a reservation for the prix fixe menu or order meaty provisions like housemade hot dogs, grass-fed beef, and more online through Mercato.
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 caramel chicken wings are staples, and in the time of the coronavirus the restaurant has leaned in to the comfort food we need and demand at this time, with full slab Vietnamese ribs and Vietnamese-Cajun rubbed fried chicken. Fans of the modern Vietnamese fare can be rest assured there are still plenty of options such as 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).
The cost: Prices range from $12 for oyster mushrooms to $49 for pork chops and rice for two.
How to order: Order family meal, a la carte, or cocktails to go online or make a reservation for the patio or main dining room.
SheWolf Pastificio & Bar
The gist: One of Thrillist’s Best New Restaurants in the country, this modern Italian restaurant is a love letter to Rome. When the pandemic hit, customers got to know chef Anthony Lombardi on a more personal level as the restaurant shifted to a grocery model and he started doing fun YouTube videos teaching people how to cook Italian food.
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, as well as hearty entrees like coppa (grilled pork shoulder) 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 scallops and carpaccio.
The cost: Antipasti starts at $6 up to $17, pastas range from $18 to market price (the chef’s special), and entrees are $27 to $72.
How to order: Order online through the Mercato platform or DoorDash or make a reservation for the indoor dining room or patio.
Lady of the House
The gist: Located in a renovated Catholic church that was previously a beloved local pub, this upscale modern American restaurant from lauded chef Kate Williams has turned heads locally and nationally since opening in fall 2017, steadily building buzz from the likes of the New York Times to the James Beard Foundation.
The food: Standout items include shrimp butter, carrots reimagined in different ways from “tartare” to “steak,” whole roasted chicken, and creative desserts such as the potato donuts with dried yogurt and sugared thyme.
The cost: Starters, shareables, and salads go for around $6 to $13 while heartier plates are $13-$69.
How to order: Make reservations for dine-in through the website.
The gist: Now with three locations all sharing the same modern and minimalistic vibes, ima continues to expand its footprint as chef Michael Ransom (who was among this year’s local James Beard semifinalists) 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 forest udon, which is so packed with umami it’s 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.
How to order: Order online for carryout and delivery or dine on the patio at the Corktown or Madison Heights locations.
The gist: This neighborhood spot in a renovated garage quickly built buzz for its sophisticated yet casual vibes with a seafood-driven menu and creative cocktails to match. In 2018, it was one of Food and Wine magazine’s Restaurants of the Year as well as Esquire’s Best New Restaurants.
The food: Seafood is the star here, from chilled offerings such as peel and eat shrimp and Dungeness crab to substantial mains such as salmon on the hibachi and crab cakes.
The cost: Prices start around $3 for an oyster up to $26 for entrees.
How to order: Order online or snag a table on the first-come, first-served patio (there’s a casual “fish camp” menu with select beer, wine, and cocktails; you place your order with the host and then your food is served in recyclable paper and plastic. In an attempt to keep things safe, customers are asked to help bus their own tables).
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 $6-$11, while entrees start at $21 and top out at $55.
How to order: Book a reservation online for the patio or dine-in service (Leila has digital menus at socially distanced tables with personal hand sanitizers).
The gist: After working in the corporate world and getting downsized, Lester Gouvia launched a food truck and pop-up named Norma G’s (an homage to his mother). After several years working the circuit in 2018 he opened this colorful spot on the east side of Detroit where there was a dearth of sit-down restaurants. Dining here is a full-fledged experience with live music on the weekends. At the height of the pandemic, Norma G’s helped feed marginalized communities through the Pay It Forward initiative where a crowdfunding campaign helped restaurateurs of color stay busy during a time when restaurants were closed.
The food: The eclectic menu highlights the diversity of Caribbean flavors, which are inspired from cuisines from around the globe. The jerk chicken, whether it’s the wings or entree, is a must but don’t miss out on the perfectly cooked oxtail or curry.
The cost: Appetizers are $6-$10 and entrees are $11-21.
How to order: Call 313-290-2938 for carryout. The restaurant is also open for in-room dining and patio dining.
The gist: Starting off as a sub shop with homestyle Lebanese breakfast on the weekends, the former concept was dropped for the latter, and it was a wise choice. Al Tayeb quickly grew a loyal fanbase flocking to the tiny no-frills spot in Garden City so a second location opened this year in Dearborn.
The food: It’s all about the garbanzo bean here, from the fool (freshly cooked fava beans and chickpeas mashed with fresh garlic and lemon juice) to the fatteh (fried pita bread topped with chickpeas, garlic yogurt, and pan-fried nuts -- you can also get it with meat or tahini) to falafel by the dozen. Round out your meal with housemade labneh and spicy potato (deep fried diced potatoes in garlic cilantro sauce).
The cost: Sides start at around $3 for olives and go up to $6.99 for labneh, while the main events of fool and fatteh start at around $8.50 up to $14.
How to order: Call for carryout (734-237-4606 for Garden City and 313-908-9527 or 313-633-1752 for Dearborn).