Food & Drink

Detroit's Best Places to Grab a Bowl of Soup to Warm You Up This Winter

Published On 01/31/2017 Published On 01/31/2017
Johnny noodle king
Johnny Noodle King | Hayden Stinebaugh/Thrillist



Only recently opened (and before that, highly hyped), this chef-driven Corktown spot has already begun to impress the palates of critics and diners alike with its steaming bowls of udon noodle soup. Though most the menu is perfectly carnivorous, vegans and vegetarians rejoice: You have options! The Forest udon, made with porcini broth, sesame tofu, smoked trumpet mushrooms, rosemary, and garlic oil, is as fragrant as it is delicious. Pair it with a hot genmaicha -- green tea combined with roasted brown rice -- for the ultimate chilly weather meal.

Pho Lucky

Midtown & other locations

With multiple locations throughout metro Detroit, Pho Lucky is the local authority when it comes to the popular Vietnamese noodle soup. Made with beef broth, thinly sliced eye round steak, cooked beef, meatballs, tendon, and beef tripe, and served with Asian basil and cilantro for tearing, lime wedges for squeezing, and bean sprouts for mixing in the rich, clear broth, it is the ultimate bowl of comfort food. Feeling adventurous (and seriously hungry)? Try the pho challenge and take on a 5lb bowl of soup for a free T-shirt and meal. You only have an hour -- get to slurping.

Hayden Stinebaugh/Thrillist

Johnny Noodle King


This Detroit-inspired ramen shop features bowls you won’t find anywhere else. While the menu is decidedly of a Japanese inclination, selections like the Southwest, made with the Noodle King's signature both, shredded chicken, scallions, corn, tomato, cilantro, housemade créma, a fried wonton, and topped with shredded cheese, is a hybrid soup that's purely Detroit. If you’re low on dough, check out the Dorm Room ramen. For less than $10, you’ll get a massive bowl of simple noodles and broth. Brain food!

El Asador Steakhouse

El Asador


Every meal at this Southwest Detroit steakhouse is accompanied by a side order of soup -- but don’t let that fool you. The sopa here is no side player. The location touts regularly changing soups of the day alongside staples like the consomé de pollo, made with tender shredded chicken, cabbage, cilantro, and tomatoes in chicken-lime broth. For a sopa with slightly more kick, try the hearty tortilla soup made with guajillo peppers. Its creamy texture combined with crisp and salty tortilla chips will surely become a new winter favorite.

Sister Pie

West Village

Sister Soups are one of the newest additions to this West Village bakery’s lineup. Like the baked goods, soup flavors are unique and locally sourced, with past selections including a roasted carrot and sumac soup for lunch, topped with pistachios and mint yogurt, and thick carrot soup served with a cumin-cheddar pie cracker. Pair it with a Sister Salad or a hand pie for a filling, punchy meal you won’t find anywhere else.

Russell Street Deli

Russell Street Deli

Eastern Market

Sandwiches and soup are a match made in heaven at this Eastern Market Deli. The location features a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian soups like Italian vegetable, split pea, Cuban black bean, and more. The deli is so confident in its soup-skills that it started hosting classes, the Russell Street Soup Academy, to teach others the ways of the bowl. No time to make a pot of your own? No problem. Outposts like Avalon Breads and the Midtown Whole Foods also sell the soups to-go.

Lunchtime Global


Vegetarian? Vegan? Gluten-free? This Downtown lunch destination features a dozen rotating soups of the day, including hearty choices for every palate. Selections are vast, ranging from options like Tex-Mex chicken and black beans and rice to vegan split pea. Regional classics like chicken lemon rice remain a consistent favorite. Pair any of the soups with a fresh sandwich or salad for a lunch you can feel good about.

Cass Cafe


In the winter, the roasted curry lentil soup at this Midtown institution is a staple for students bracing cold treks across campus. The cafe features a variety of daily soup specials with interesting flavor combinations such as vegetarian roasted beet and apple bisque, and classics such as a good old-fashion tomato. Slurp while you sip on cocktails from the bar and admire the local art displayed in the space.

Sweet Potato Sensations

Sweet Potato Sensations

Old Redford

You could try and guess the soup specialty at this Detroit eatery, but you're probably wrong. Move over, sweet potatoes -- the real star of the show during lunch is the black eye pea and collard green soup, served with warm sweet potato cornbread. With this quintessential comfort food, you’ll be challenged not to curl up for a nap after finishing a bowl. During the week, the location specializes solely in soups and sandwiches, with a shorter wait compared to the full weekend offerings. Stop in for lunch Tuesday-Friday.

Krakus Restaurant


The soup menu at this Polish hole-in-the-wall is pretty straightforward: cabbage, chicken, pea, and Ukrainian are the only descriptions listed. What it lacks in descriptive words, Krakus more than makes up for in homestyle flavor. The Ukrainian, better described as a bright red beet borscht, is a classic favorite, served with simple white bread. Pair it with basic sandwiches or even some pierogis. With bowls priced at $1.95, you’ll be hard-pressed to spend over $10 at this cozy family spot.

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1. ima 2015 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216

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.

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2. Pho Lucky 3311 Woodward, Detroit, MI

With a few locations across the Metro Detroit area, Pho Lucky is a local staple for unfussy Vietnamese comfort food. Expect a focused menu of pho, summer rolls, and vermicelli bowls, plus rice combo plates topped with a fried egg. A few varieties of beef pho are available, but your best bet is to get the house special made with rare eye round steak, meatballs, tripes, and tendon. Wash it all down with a Vietnamese iced coffee.

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3. Johnny Noodle King 2601 W Fort St, Detroit, MI 48216

Johnny King Noodles serves a pan-Asian menu of noodle specialities. The noodle options are split between those served in broth (shoyu ramen, chicken pho, smoked duck udon) and those served with sauce (pad see ew, gong bao chicken). The broth-based red curry bowl leads the pack, with a spicy fish-flavored broth and pork belly floating on top. Non-noodles sides like bacon fried rice and house-made dumplings should start any meal here.

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4. El Asador Steakhouse 1312 Springwells St, Detroit, MI 48209

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.

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5. Sister Pie 8066 Kercheval Ave, Detorit, MI 48214

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.

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6. Russell Street Deli 2465 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207

You'd expect a favorite Motor City deli to serve a tasty meaty sandwich -- and Russel Street Deli, partnered with local vendors in Eastern Market, certainly does -- but their vegetarian sandwiches and soup options truly set them apart. The weekend lines are indication enough. Look no further than the standout potato-leek soup or Avocado Sandwich, on whole wheat with Swiss cheese, organic spouts, mixed greens, and house Ranch dressing, Swiss cheese, organic sprouts, mixed greens, and house-made Ranch dressing. We suggest you grab-and-go, but you’ll likely make a new friend or two if you linger at one of the buzzy, communal tables.

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7. Lunchtime Global 660 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

The reason Lunchtime Global in the First National Building has been going strong since the late 90s is because it's hardly your typical grab-and-go spot: a genuinely international menu is made in-house and has impressive range. House-baked breads support filling sandwiches like tahini-soaked falafel and oven-roasted turkey with creamy brie. In the mood for soup? The rotating list of specials are updated regularly and make for globe-trotting flavor tours, from African peanut soup to Brazilain seafood stew. Still, if you want what you know, count on familiar recipes like tomato-basil and chicken noodle, too.

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8. Cass Café 4620 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

Cass Café is perhaps best described as an art bar: a contemporary eatery to which art-savvy vegetarians and hole-pocketed hipsters flock on the weekends. The spot regularly hosts exhibitions from local and global artists, with canvases mounted throughout the white-walled space. Gourmet sandwiches, most notably the lentil, Parmesan, and walnut burger are a further lure, as is the full bar.

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9. Sweet Potato Sensations 17377 Lahser, Detroit, MI 48219

Is there one food you love more than any other, think about constantly, and integrate into nearly every dish you make? This New Redford bakery and cafe is a god-send if sweet potatoes are what come to your mind, but even the marginally curious will find something they like on a menu where nearly every option is touched by sweet potato. Expected dishes like sweet potato pies and mashed sweet potatoes are joined by less common fusions like sweet potato girts, sweet potato pancakes, sweet potato waffles, and sweet potato cornbread. Even if you opt for a turkey sandwich... you best believe it's coming with sweet potato fries. Pretty sweet, huh?

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10. Krakus Restaurant 12900 Joseph Campau St, Detroit, MI 48212

Everybody appreciates a cheap meal, but it's hard to get cheaper, more filling, or more Polish than Hamtramck's Krakus kitchen. It's not as well-known as Polish Village Cafe or Polonia, mostly due to its less-than-desirable location, but it's larger, charmingly dated,and arguably as authentic as Eastern European food gets in Detroit. Heaping plates like meat-stuffed cabbage, pork chops, and egg-topped veal cutlets come with a soup or a salad... and you'll get the soup if you know what's good for you. Mushroom soup is rich and smoky, while dill pickle soup is brine-y and botanical. A Ukrainian take on beet borscht? Order it. Naturally, mashed potatoes and kraut are on the house.