Summer is in the rear view, and it's time to start packing on the protective layers of blubber that'll allow you to survive another harsh Michigan winter. Luckily, Detroit's been blessed with plenty of exciting new establishments ready and waiting to feed you (and serve you drinks!), as Detroiters cannot survive on Vernors alone.
Zenith New Center
Zenith exudes a "doesn't give a #$%@" effortless cool. It's the Ziggy Stardust of Detroit restaurants. Zenith is all punk rock ambiance and Polynesian Tiki gods, with a creepy clown room thrown in for good measure. The food is a mix of Southwest/Mexican and down-home Southern. Because whatever, man. They also now have a full liquor license AND they'll soon be opening a heavy metal karaoke club in the basement called The Wrecktory. So now you can carve "SLAYER" into your arm while enjoying some "Insane Catfish Posse" tacos.
As Midtown, Corktown, Downtown, and Eastern Market approach the closest thing to a critical mass of bars and restaurants the city has ever seen, the most enterprising of food entrepreneurs are pushing out into the "other" neighborhoods -- i.e., everything that isn't Midtown, Corktown, Downtown, or Eastern Market. Rose's Fine Food is an airy, old-school diner located on East Jefferson that serves dressed-up diner food made from scratch, including their donuts. It's so cute you'll want to pinch its counter, then get back to your Toad In The Hole (aka grilled cheese with an egg fried right into the middle).
Brought to you by the fine folks behind Rock City Eatery, Campau Tower is also an old-school diner reborn, but this one is decidedly more masculine, gritty, and, well, Hamtramck-y. This "Americana Eatery" still looks like the beloved, decades-old 24-hour dive diner it once was, and while it's still a dive diner, the hours have changed to lunch and late-night (until 4 am) and the greasy-spoon food now includes classed-up versions of burgers, hot dogs, and shakes, as well as the kind of menu twists regulars of Rock City Eatery might expect -- like bao buns -- because owner Nikita Santches does what he wants.
Bon Bon Bon describes their coconut bonbon as "lightly toasted, just like us". So. Bon Bon Bon 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.
By contrast, absolutely nothing about DROUGHT -- or its devotees -- will make you think "hot mess". Because, you know, healthy. The newest DROUGHT cold-pressed raw juice retail location has opened in Royal Oak, to be followed by its fifth spot in Birmingham next month. It certainly seems like DROUGHT is in anything but a dry spell, though it's probably for the best that the company is based in Michigan -- in California, where juicing is king, the name "DROUGHT" might seem a little insensitive right now.
If you want to throw Detroiters into a tizzy just ask them about whether or not "Our/Detroit" is really "ours" (in the sense of being authentically Detroit enough). Whatever, it's another new bar, to which we say: YAY ANOTHER NEW BAR. (Technically it's a distillery with a tasting room. To which we say: YAY ANOTHER NEW BAR.)
Detroiters are blessedly free of brunch shame. In Detroit, brunch is not an ethical dilemma. It is a cause for weekly celebration. It is a valid excuse to get after it in the middle of the day (much like a Tigers game or a Lions game or a World Cup game or a Detroit City Futbol League game or the St. Patrick's Day Parade or Paczki Day or the Marche du Nain Rouge or the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival or Saturday or any other weekday). The Dime Store in Downtown Detroit calls itself an "American Brunch Bar", which means Benedicts come in varieties such as pork belly, smoked salmon, and cheesesteak, and sandwiches include geniuses like the "PBLT" (the "pb" is for pork belly) and a duck Reuben. The only thing wrong with Dime Store is that they don't have their liquor license yet, but we are told patience is a virtue, and proper brunch is worth the wait.
Boogie Fever, the quintessential nightclub for all Detroit-area phallus-themed bachelorette parties, has closed. Long live Boogie Fever. In its place, the owners have opened Twisted Tavern, a restaurant in front and party in the back (with Twist Night Club). They're billing it as a from-scratch small plates tavern (think polenta fries and pork belly flatbreads), but some questions remain, including: now where will all the cougars coug? And the dudes who try to prey on sad, single bridesmaids, only to end up cougar food? This is a delicate ecosystem!
Located in the old VFW Hall in Ferndale, M-Brew is part Up North-y lodge -- with pine walls and ceilings and a wrap-around porch -- and part Atari-era teenager's dream basement -- filled with vintage pinball machines and arcade games known fittingly as "The Basement" -- made all the more awesome with the more than two dozen Michigan craft beers on tap upstairs. Which is way better than any Atari-era teenager's basement ever could have possibly been. There're also Michigan-made food products for sale, plus Detroit-style pizza, rotisserie chicken, ribs, and pastries for dine-in or carry-out.
Another distillery! And, lucky for it, this one's inherent Detroit-ness is not in question. Detroit City Distillery is a small-batch artisanal distiller of whiskey, vodka, and gin, using locally sourced ingredients from area farms and Eastern Market, where the distillery and tasting room is located. The branding really plays to Detroit's prohibition history, and the cocktail list is fairly extensive. To which we say: YAY ANOTHER NEW BAR.
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1. Wright & Co.1500 Woodward, Detroit
2. The Zenith3011 W Grand Blvd, Detroit
3. Rose's Fine Food10551 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit
4. Campau Tower10337 Joseph Campau Ave, Detriot
5. Bon Bon Bon2756 Evaline St, Hamtramck
6. Drought441 W Canfield St, Detroit
7. Our/Detroit2545 Bagley St, Detroit
8. Dime Store719 Griswold St, Detroit
9. Twisted Tavern22901 Woodward Ave, Ferndale
10. M-Brew177 Vester Ave, Ferndale
11. Detroit City Distillery2462 Riopelle St, Detroit
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.
Zenith exudes effortless cool; the food is a mix of Southwest/Mexican and down-home Southern and the atmosphere is exceedingly hip.
The small building that Rose’s Fine Food inhabits has been a diner for decades and has retained all of its original, crusty East Detroit charm. But by making everything from scratch from locally-sourced products, Rose’s delivers an "ultimate" gourmet twist on typical American diner food. For breakfast it serves options like decadent, gluten-free buckwheat pancakes and the Poodle Platter (2 poached eggs, sautéed greens, potatoes, and homemade toast with homemade ricotta cheese and jam); lunch is more savory with options like buttery lamb tacos with homemade turmeric yogurt on homemade tortillas. The owner’s believe in paying their employees a living salary, as in they don’t need tips to survive but they are still appreciated and part of those proceeds go to local charities.
Brought to you by the people behind Rock City Eatery, Campau Tower is an old-school diner reborn into decidedly more masculine and gritty digs. Burgers rule this menu at this dive; go HAM on Juicy Lucys, the best coney chili in Detroit, onion rings, tots, and, of course, their own take on the Detroit Dog.
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.
Drought has raw juice made from all organic fruits and vegetables -- grab a single juice or shot, or try one of their multi-juice routines called The Rinse or The Wash.
This bar/distillery offers hand-bottled vodka (under the brand name Our/Vodka) and aims to bring "authentic Detroit flavor to the brand".
This American brunch bar, located inside the Chrysler house, offers a trendy downtown meal at an affordable price, packed with gourmet ingredients. The space is high-ceilinged and festooned with eclectic wall art, neon lights, and a bright color palette that evokes mimosas. As if the menu of omelettes and sandwiches weren't telling enough, the meal du jour here is breakfast and lunch, with a side of booze (even beermosas!), and it's all by way of Detroit. If you're curious where any of your courses come from, look to the last page of the menu, which lists all of its midwestern sources. Midwestern gastropub fare
From the people behind Boogie Fever, Twisted Tavern is a restaurant in front (featuring small plates like polenta fries and pork belly flatbreads) and party in the back (with Twist Night Club).
Located in the old VFW Hall in Ferndale, M-Brew is part Up North-y lodge -- with pine walls and ceilings and a wrap-around porch -- and part Atari-era teenager's dream basement -- filled with vintage pinball machines and arcade games known fittingly as "The Basement" -- made all the more awesome with the more than two dozen Michigan craft beers on tap upstairs. There's also Michigan-made food products for sale and Detroit-style pizza, rotisserie chicken, ribs, and pastries for dine-in or carry-out.
Detroit City Distillery uses locally-sourced ingredients from area farms and Eastern Market -- where the distillery and tasting room is located -- to offer a wide breath of spirits, including Bloodline Whiskey, Two-Faced Bourbon, Gilded Age Vodka, and Railroad Gin. The food menu doesn't go beyond finger foods and charcuterie, but with a killer cocktail list with both classics and Distillery-exclusives, the bar proves an ideal crowd-free pre- or post-dinner spot.