You know what makes summer so great? It’s 1) the way she totally dressed like Wonder Woman to impress Seth Cohen, and 2) it’s the perfect time to check out the 22 places on our list of Detroit's best new bars & restaurants...
For those of you not in the know, Jolly Pumpkin is the only all-oak-aged wild ale brewery in the country. It makes all sours and nothing but sours, and also really excellent wood-fired pizzas that happen to be some of the best in the state. And now it has a location in Midtown on Canfield, which is officially a powerhouse block for craft beer.
Quick, name a restaurant in Wolverine Lake: exactly. Benstein Grille is a welcome addition to the tucked-away lake community, because instead of being the kind of dimly lit townie bar with shabby pool tables and live country/rock bands on weekends that dot many of the other northwestern Oakland County lake communities -- we’re looking at you, Waterford -- this upscale American comfort foodery would be right at home in Birmingham, thanks to a menu reminiscent of Zak Sklar's and Bill Roberts' restaurant groups, and a Ron & Roman design that plays on the words "Ben" and "Stein."
The first in what they hope to grow into a national brand, Brera Pizza & Salad Co. has opened in Dearborn and is already working on its next locations. Chef Justin Vaiciunas has made a major shift away from the ultra-high-end fine dining of Top of the Pontch to the growing industry of fast-casual restaurant concepts that promise great food made from quality ingredients at affordable prices in a laid-back (often self-serve) setting. Think Chipotle or Shake Shack, but with pizza, salads, and wraps.
Taking over the spot once filled by the noble social experiment Sunday Dinner Company, the Bridge serves American comfort food like crab cakes and mac & cheese with cheap lunch specials, half-off wine happy hours, Sunday brunch, and liquor lockers for VIPs (think bottle service with leftovers you can stash for future visits). There is also a stage for live jazz and R&B, making this a great new date night destination.
Frank Fejeran, the former chef at the Raven's Club who previously worked in the high-profile kitchens of Alinea and Tribute, has opened a Pacific Island-style barbecue trailer in Ann Arbor along with his brother Gabe Golub. Conveniently close to Michigan Stadium (hello tailgating without all the hassle!), Ricewood serves 100% wood-smoked, no-nonsense barbecue over rice and topped with a spicy Chamorro sauce, keeping true to the brothers' Mariana Islands heritage.
The old Hamtramck dive bar K. Hank's Lounge is now the new Hamtramck dive bar Bumbo's, but a little elbow grease has gone a long way to update the look and feel of the place: dusty old glassware is now cute vintage glassware (it's the same glassware, but it's cleaned and contains more "cocktails" than "mixed drinks"), and the menu of modern Polish food aspires to be just a step above the typical Ham-town Polish dive bar fare.
Whoever said Canton "CAN'T" have a brewery? (LOLOLOL... lol?) Okay, that was lame, but Canton Brew Works is not, and now people who live in Canton have a microbrewery to call their own.
The wildly anticipated new bar and restaurant from the owner of The Oakland in Ferndale is now open in the old Rodin space next to the Detroit Institute of Arts. The sexy space is totally transformed -- but still sexy! -- by living wall art and hanging flowers, but the real star here is the menu from Chef Doug Hewitt, who spent far too long being hidden away at Terry B's in Dexter and how has his chance to shine.
Pizza, tacos, burgers, and ribs: Iron Horse has a little bit of all of the things you want when you're not pretending to care about your health or being a savvy gourmand. Go there, immediately.
Taking its cue from Ford Field, Comerica Park has steadily been improving its food and booze game, and The Corner Taproom, officially replacing the old Leo's Coney Island inside the ballpark, is the latest improvement, with bistro menu items and an emphasis on Michigan craft beer. The décor pays homage to old Tiger Stadium and the restaurant will also be open on non-game days.
What fuels the Motor City? Booze. Which is why the newest distillery in metro Detroit is named Motor City Gas. (That's probably not actually the reason but we like it all the same.) The tasting room and cocktail bar serves tastings, pours, and drinks made with its spirits, which include Royal Oak Rye and Belly Up Bourbon, a bourbon aged in American white oak that’s finished in a Caribbean rum barrel.
GreenSpace Café is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant designed by a cardiologist who presumably supports the growing research that drinking (in moderation!) is good for you since it also has a full liquor license (serving vegan wine and organic beer, of course, as well as local liquors). To your health!
Royal Oak's newest brewery has now opened the doors of its taproom and brewpub on the edge of Downtown, though its bottles and kegs started showing up on shelves/in bars about a month earlier. Stop in to the brewpub to check out its seven beers on draft and nibble on some pizzas and small plates.
Staking its claim to "Royal Oak's newest brewery" for about a month before ROAK Brewing Company took it over, River Rouge Brewing Company is still technically Royal Oak's newest nanobrewery, brewing on a 3.5-barrel system with a tiny tasting room to match.
Don't count the Greeks out of Greektown quite yet -- the owners of the cultishly popular Astoria Pastry Shop have opened a second Greektown baked goods shop called Krema, which offers a slightly different range of items. Where at Astoria you can always count on platters of baklava alongside artfully decorated European pastries, Krema takes a bit more of a Greek street food approach with cream-filled pastries as well as savory hot items like spinach pies and quiche. It's also fulfilling all of your 2012 fantasies with its take on the Cronut, the Kremnut, with fillings like Nutella and who cares what else because Nutella.
The winner of the 2014 Hatch Detroit small business contest, Sister Pie is a seasonally driven pie and cookie bakery that specializes in nontraditional flavor combinations. Stop in for a whole pie or buy by the slice and enjoy it in the charming bakery with a small number of seats for guests.
Okay, so a multi-tap is nothing new nowadays, but a 60-handle multi-tap is still pretty impressive. But with Rochester Mills Brewing Company, now the number one-selling brewpub in the state of Michigan (besting Grizzly Peak in Ann Arbor for the title) just down the road, and other craft-focused bars like Penny Black and Clubhouse BFD not too far away, you need to be. So let's also talk about that Brussels sprouts poutine.
Imagine that the team behind the first all-Michigan craft beer bar in Detroit, the Grand Trunk Pub, set out to open a wine and whisk(e)y bar. That bar is The Whisky Parlor, and it has a deep selection of interesting wines (read: not the usual list of boring, overpriced California cabs), over 100 whiskeys, and an eclectic cocktail program including a bourbon Bloody Mary served with prosciutto.
If you felt that Birmingham was really lacking for steaks and seafood... well, now there's Triple Nickel! The Ron & Roman-designed restaurant (you'll recognize the work of this architecture and design firm since it's worked on almost every major restaurant that has opened in Oakland County in the last decade, plus a few in Detroit) is owned by the folks behind Sinbad's on the Detroit riverfront, and is serving up items like sautéed lake perch and roadhouse-style frog legs swimming in garlic butter.
From the ashes of the former gelato and coffee shop Melt rises Treat Dreams Midtown, a second location of the enormously popular Ferndale ice cream parlor known for its weird and wacky and (mostly) wonderful flavors.
The proprietor of the Breakfast Clubs in Madison Heights and Commerce Township has now opened a lunch, dinner, and late-night spot in the same comfort food vein as her popular breakfast and brunch eateries.
The cute little Hamtramck chocolate shop that could has opened a second location, this one inside the Dime Building. This location is even more totes adorbs than the first, and means you can now get its Hot Mess bon bons six days a week, because sometimes Tuesdays happen, you know?
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1. Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery441 W Canfield St, Detroit
2. Benstein Grille2435 Benstein Rd, Commerce Charter Township
3. Brera Pizza & Salad Co1002 S MILITARY ST, Dearborn
4. The Bridge6470 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit
5. Ricewood1449 Jorn Ct, Ann Arbor
6. Bumbo's3001 Holbrook St, Hamtramck
7. Canton Brew Works8521 N Lilley Rd, Canton
8. Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails15 E Kirby Suite D, Detroit
9. Iron Horse316 W 4th St, Royal Oak
10. The Corner Taproom2100 Woodward Ave, Detorit
11. Motor City Gas325 E 4th St, Royal Oak
12. GreenSpace Café215 W Nine Mile Rd, Ferndale
13. ROAK Brewing Company330 Lincoln Ave, Royal Oak
14. River Rouge Brewing Company406 E 4th St, Royal Oak,
15. Krema531 Monroe St, Detroit
16. Sister Pie8066 Kercheval Ave, Detorit
17. Rochester Tap Room6870 N Rochester Rd, Troy
18. The Whisky Parlor608 Woodward Ave , Detroit
19. Triple Nickel555 S Old Woodward Ave, Birmingham
20. Treat Dreams4160 Cass Avenue, Detorit
21. The Wicked Table38503 West 10 Mile Rd, Farmington Hills
22. Bon Bon Bon2756 Evaline St, Hamtramck
Sour oak-aged ales and brews are the focal point here, but a hearty selection of salads, sandwiches, and pizzas with creative toppings like creamed shiitakes, hand-pulled mozzarella, and Korean short rib with scallions. In the spirit of roundtable pizza dineries, pies, as well as beers, can be consumed at communal picnic tables in a room lined with huge windows that lend the pub an airy and cafeteria-like social mood.
Benstein Grille is a welcome gift to the tucked-away lake community of Wolverine Lake, because instead of being the sort of dimly lit town bar with crusty pool tables and live rock/country bands on weekends found in most other northwestern Oakland County lake communities, this upscale American comfort foodery would feel right at home in Birmingham. That's thanks to a menu reminiscent of Zak Sklar's and Bill Roberts' restaurant groups, plus a Ron & Roman design that plays on the words "Ben" and "Stein."
Brera Pizza and Salad Co. in Dearborn, helmed by Chef Justin Vaiciunas, is a casual pizza and salad shop. However, the fast-casual designation doesn’t mean it skimps on quality or creativity. The pizzas are well-priced and crazy good, but we're partial to the Wild Forest: wild mushrooms, red sauce, fresh basil, shaved garlic, truffle oil, and goat cheese.
In the spot once filled by the noble social experiment that was Sunday Dinner Company, the Bridge serves American comfort food that includes crab cakes and mac & cheese, along with cheap lunch specials, half-off wine happy hours, brunch (on Sundays), and liquor lockers for VIPs. There is also a stage purposed for live jazz and R&B, making this a great date night destination to boot.
Frank Fejeran, who was former chef at the Raven's Club, opened this Pacific Island-style barbecue trailer in Ann Arbor alongside his brother Gabe Golub. It's super close to Michigan Stadium (hello tailgating without all the hassle!), and serves 100% wood-smoked, no-nonsense BBQ over rice, topped with a spicy Chamorro sauce, keeping true to the brothers' Mariana Islands heritage.
Somewhere between old-school dive and classic cocktail bar, this spot is a local favorite. The repurposed 1930's tin ceiling is vintage but not stale, the jukebox is filled with recent tracks, and the black leather bucket seats lining the bar are somewhat timeless. Detroit natives can treat themselves to house cocktails served in thrifty glassware while perusing the menu of classic Polish eats, or chatting with the ever-present power couple who founded the joint. As with the atmosphere, the fare consists of updated versions of reliable Polish staples -- things like Gouda-Dijon pierogis and kielbasa served over chipotle sweet potato puree -- along with a handful of standard bar snacks. Typically populated with a crowd of Detroit natives, Bumbo's is reliably affordable, low-key, and somehow still pretty chic.
People who live in Canton have a microbrewery to call their own, and it's nothing to snort at -- a sweet mug club, frequently rotating taps, and even soda and coffee make this a great stop for locals.
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.
Iron Horse in Royal Oak is the place for any craving, with a variety of menu items that range from pizza and tacos to burgers and ribs. Chanderliers, dark wood and dim lighting give the space a surprisingly handsome quality, juxtaposing the gut-busting pub fare. Add an excellent craft cocktail program to the list and you've got a very unique, albeit confusing, dining and drinking venture.
Baseball enthusiasts can pick up some bistro menu items at The Corner Taproom. This place offers good food on top of a great selection of Michigan craft beer.
This distillery houses a tasting room and cocktail bar. They serve up a variety of drinks but are known for their Royal Oak Rye and Belly Up Bourbon.
Marrying health-conscious cuisine with elegant presentation, this Ferndale spot attracts vegans and omnivores alike. Regulars rave about the Tamale Pie, a layered slice of masa, black beans, red bell peppers, finished with enchilada sauce, corn, avocado and a dollop of their signature cashew sour cream. The wellness kick carries over into the cocktail offerings, as specialty libations often include fresh-squeezed juices and eclectic liquors (house-infused cardamom and birch bark rum, anyone?). The ambience is hip, but the impeccable service makes for a lack of pretention; combined with the unfinished wood interior and the glow of hanging bulbs, it’s an ideal setting for a convivial dinner amongst friends.
This taproom and brewpub offers seven beers on draft as well as pizza and small plates.
River Rouge Brewing Company produces great beer, pumping it out on a 3.5-barrel system. There is a tiny tasting room on site for casual sipping.
Krema offers a great selection of Greek pastries as well as hot items. Get a creme-filled pastry, a spinach pie, or a quiche
West Village's Sister Pie is renowned for its unique pie recipes, always prepared using thick, flaky hand-kneaded crusts using a high-fat butter that gives each bite a melt-in-your-mouth texture. You can pick from options like salted maple, ginger peach, and blueberry plum, and relax, slice in hand, in an intimate space that aspires to an indoor backyard.
This suburban bar in Troy boasts 60 taps, 100 wines, a cocktail menu, and an extensive list of savory food pairings. The largely Michigan-sourced beer might be the main attraction, but the space itself is a point of attraction: barrels, plush bar stools, exposed brick, and dim lighting all dress the room in a Prohibition-era vibe. It's enough to make you forget all 6,000 square feet are packed into the middle of a strip mall.
Located above the more baroque Grand Trunk Club, the Whisky Parlor is finished in cozier dimensions, with a carpeted floor and tableclothed tables that illuminate under candle lights. Guests here can choose from over 100 whiskeys, while sinking into a relaxed night backdropped by live jazz music.
Triple Nickel is a classic steak and seafood joint. Try the sauteed lake perch or frog legs smothered in garlic butter.
This is the second location of the popular Ferndale ice cream shop. This place is far from vanilla, offering crazy flavors like Macaroni & Cheese!
Wicked Table serves up comfort food for lunch and dinner. It's a great spot to hit up for some late night grub.
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.