Everywhere You Should Be Eating in Corktown
It all started with Slows. Then came Sugar House and Astro Coffee. Since then, Corktown has evolved into one of the hippest zips in the country for food and drink. Here's a quick primer to get you up to speed. Some of these places might be the only place that does [that one thing], but hey -- if you're not getting said thing here, where are you getting it? (... No really, tell us.) Otherwise, you're probably doing it all wrong.
Wouldn’t it have been funny if this had been something else??? OMG it would have been so. Funny. Alas, this is really it, and you know, it's pretty popular regardless.
Best cocktail bar
Maybe you've heard of this one before? (Probably. It's pretty popular.) Besides the slammin' cocktails, find cheese and charcuterie, and also relish trays, pickled vegetables, smoked salmon, and truffle popcorn.
Best new restaurant
Seriously, what IS this place and why did we have to wait so long for it?? "Thai-ish" cuisine inspired by Southeast Asia and beyond with its own radio livestream and in-house DJ/beverage director in a space that looks straight out of Blade Runner, and, sweet jesus, the cocktails.
Best wine bar
Half wine bar, half wine store stocked with worldly wines, MotorCity Wine has pairings of the best things that go with said wine, such as, cheese plates, charcuterie, and guest pop-ups. Plus, rosé on the patio. Rosé ALL day.
Best fried chicken
It's all about that pickle brine and some good-old Southern comfort food.
Ideally enjoyed on the patio in the summer or by the fire in the winter, either way you've got biscuits and gravy and rum cinnamon peaches over waffles with horchata ice cream.
Taking its cues from global cuisines but not a "fusion" of any particular one of them, Bobcat Bonnie's serves no-fuss gastropub fare in a friendly neighborhood bar with a nice mix of vegetarian- and vegan-friendly foods and down-home, rib-stickin', meaty Midwestern eats.
With excellent pizzas, pastas, cheese and meat platters, salads, and a bocce ball court out back, Ottava Via is a no-brainer for one of the top Italian restaurants in metro Detroit.
Yet another "obviously." Yes, you could have written this list yourself. But you didn’t.
Who needs multiple places serving the exact same items when you can have just one that does it really well? Detroit Institute of Bagels does bagels -- and many variations on the theme -- very well, and it is the only bagel shop we need. Unless a second one opens in Midtown. We could also maybe need that too.
Best French café
This place is so freaking charming you want to pinch it, and the menu, while super simple, is also simply elegant. Enjoy sweet and savory crêpes, oeuf de crudités, ratatouille, salade nicoise, Quiche Lorraine, and more, and if the bees are bee-having (HA!), do enjoy these items on the patio.
Best deli sandwiches
This kind of goes without saying, but for the sake of being comprehensive, we'll just go ahead and say it again. But if all you know about Mudgie's is its sandwiches, it's time you paid another visit: with a full bar, an excellent selection of Michigan-made beers, meads, ciders, and wines, full dinners, and Sunday brunch service, Mudgie's is so much more than just the deli that made it famous in the first place.
Best other sandwiches
There is another sandwich shop in Corktown, and it deserves your attention. Rubbed might be living under Mudgie's size-able shadow, but it stands on its own with a playful sandwich menu, beautiful cheeses, prosciutto plates, and an excellent "After Dark" menu with items like a King's Cut Black Angus prime rib and a three-bone lamb rack.
That's another word for sandwich! And Batch's come in varieties like shrimp po-boy and pork belly. Also, beer.
Brooklyn Street Local definitely has poutine. And it is definitely a poutine worthy of praise. But for the sake of giving every other item on the menu its proper due, every other item on the menu is sourced from local purveyors and made from scratch in-house. Whatever the daily-special quiche is, order it.
There are, sadly, not a lot of good places to get gumbo around town. And places that do serve gumbo, and are even ostensibly Louisianan in nature, do not necessarily serve good gumbo. PJ's serves good gumbo, as well as po-boys fit for a Detroit palate.
Best Irish(-ish) cuisine:
For a neighborhood called Corktown, there sure aren't a whole lot of Irish, or even quasi-Irish-ish, bars or restaurants left. McShane's is holding down this fort with items like bangers & mash and shepherd's pie. And also Irish egg rolls. (Hint: they have corned beef in them.)
Again, obviously. Blah blah blah, mystery meat, etc.
Best bar burger
The fact that Nemo's is still stubbornly holding out despite the many, many changes of the face of Corktown makes it charmingly a Detroit 'throwback,' if you will. This place has been around for over 50 years, since the days of Old Tiger Stadium (or, really just "Tiger Stadium"). There's absolutely nothing special about it, and that's what makes it special. And it does serve a damn good burger.
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