Jewish: Stage Deli
With the large Jewish population we have in metro Detroit, you would think that there would be an abundance of really awesome Jewish food. Sadly, there is not. The Stage Deli, however, has been a local favorite since it first opened its doors in 1962 and serves heaping piles of corned beef and pastrami on sandwiches as big as your head, along with Jewish comfort food favorites like matzo ball soup. It is not kosher though, so be warned.
Russian: Royal Eagle
It's one thing to eat borscht. It's another thing to eat borscht in an storybook environment that looks like the cottages and castles straight out of a Romanov-era Russian fairytale, a St. Petersburg-turned-Narnia. And that's what you get at the Royal Eagle in Harper Woods -- a secret land of magic and wonder hidden away in plain sight on the otherwise not-at-all wondrous or magical stretch of Kelly Rd just south of 8 Mile.
Polish: Polish Village Cafe
Ah, the age-old debate: Polish Village or Polonia? Bourdain might be behind Polonia, but we feel that Polish Village just has the slightest advantage over places like Polonia and the Polish Yacht Club, located in the basement of an old hotel with year-round Christmas lights. Sure, it might still be stubbornly cash only, but that's also part of its Old World charm.
German: The Dakota Inn Rathskeller
The Dakota Inn is the best of the worst (or WURST!) Teutonic restaurant in town. They have a fantastic German beer selection, and the place is usually a good time, especially during the holiday season (which begins in September with Oktoberfest, and ends when people get bored of drinking huge amounts of beer).
French: Le Petit Zinc
While it's not quite so easy to find the kind of high-end French dining in metro Detroit that dominated the (inter)national fine dining scene for decades, you can still find places to drop a few hundred bucks on cold seafood towers and decadent dessert courses that consist of cheese and chocolate. Le Petit Zinc is more everyday French food -- crepes both sweet and savory, two kinds of ratatouille, ham and brie sandwiches on crusty baguette bread. The space is the definition of "charming," and the food is fully French without being any kind of fussy.
Spanish: La Feria
"Tapas" is a word that gets abused. Yes, it means "small plates." It does not mean any kind of damn small plates ("A half-sized order of our jalapeno cheese poppers -- tapas!"). At La Feria, Spanish food and culture take center stage as the only thing more cheerful and colorful than the interior space is the food itself. Mussels, many kinds of pork, cured anchovies, grilled sardines, many kinds of mollusks, Spanish cheeses, marinated olives, and one of our favorite wine lists in the city -- this is a Spanish tapas restaurant as the gods of Spain intended.
Mexican: Taqueria El Rey
Of all the taco trucks and taquerias and Mexican restaurants and taco stands inside gas stations and convenience stores, it is nigh impossible to pick "the best one." Still, we tend to favor Taqueria El Rey for its wide selection of taco meats (pork stomach, beef tongue, beef head, etc.) and its excellent grilled chicken.
Salvadoran: Pupusería y Restaurante Salvadoreño
Otherwise known as THE pupusa place, and famous long before Bourdain showed up to eat unlicensed pupusas out of someone's actual house, Pupusería y Restaurante Salvadoreño is a mouthful to say... so it's best to just fill your mouth with pupusas instead.
Romanian: Bucharest Grill
Foxtown (& Other Locations)
It would be sportsmanlike to say we considered anything other than Bucharest Grill for the best Romanian food, but we didn't. Their chicken shawarma is one of Detroit's most iconic dishes, which is why the little back-of-the-bar food counter has since expanded to a location in Corktown and a third getting ready to open in Milwaukee Junction.
Puerto Rican: Angel's Place
All the tacos al pastor in the world won't cure a craving for pork pernil. For that Puerto Rican specialty, you need to hit up Angel's Place.
Venezuelan: El Rey de Las Arepas
What is an "arepa"? Delicious corn flatbread, here split and made into sandwiches in the Venezuelan style, serving as another kind of delivery mechanism for many kinds of pork including chicharrón (aka pork rinds). Trust us, you’ll love it.
Caribbean: The Jamaican Pot
Jerk chicken from a born and bred Jamaican. We know how you love your ethnic authenticity.
Ethiopian: Taste of Ethiopia
For a hot minute there it seemed like the Ethiopian buffet was really going to catch on. It didn't, but places like Taste of Ethiopia (and their buffet) are still popular, as it seems people really dig piling scoopfuls of spiced semi-solids onto injera bread.
Dominican: El Caribeño
Given their geographic proximity, Puerto Rican food and Dominican food have a lot in common, but one is a US colony territory and the other is not. As with most of the cuisines on this list, shades of difference almost imperceptible to most non-natives are what distinguish one from the other, but one thing is for sure: the food here is delicious.
Nigerian: Squindles Africa Restaurant
Efo riro served on Styrofoam plates through bulletproof glass right near Marygrove College. Fun fact: there are not many African restaurants (be it West or North or any other general continental direction) in Detroit, but those that do exist are mostly located on the west side, near the University District, or in Windsor or Ann Arbor, and while only one of those is an entirely different country the other might as well be. What we're saying is African food, Nigerian or otherwise, is pretty hard to come by. And that’s a shame, ‘cause it’s great.
Cuban: Vicente's Cuban Cuisine
Get the big big big paella with 18 different kinds of fish and meat (that's hyperbole, but not by much) and a bunch of mojitos, then salsa the night away. It's a bit of Havana right here in Detroit; all that's missing are the vintage Chevy Bel Airs and the pain-in-the-ass Visa process.
There are so many great Lebanese places, but Al-Ameer is the top go-to. Get all of your raw kibbeh and fried kibbeh and roasted baby lamb and shish tawook/kafta/kabob along with your hummus and falafel and ghallaba and baba ghanoush, AND your raw juices. Did you know most other cities have terrible Arabic food? Yeah, count yourselves lucky there, Detroit.
Iranian/Persian: Pars Restaurant
If you're down with saffron rice, you're down with Persian food. Pars Restaurant is a best-kept-secret out in Farmington Hills, much like everything else in Farmington Hills. It's definitely different than the predominantly Lebanese places you find all over metro Detroit, but not so much so that you won't love it just as much.
Italian: Bacco Ristorante
Luciano is The Man. Bacco is his restaurant. Any questions? No? Good, because you don’t earn accolades from Zagat, Gourmet, Wine Spectator, Hour, Freep, and the James Beard Foundation by NOT running the best Italian restaurant in town.
Iraqi: Sullaf Restaurant
"There's a Chaldean Town in Detroit?" Yes. "They have a Chaldean restaurant there?" Yes. "And it's good?" Yes. Order the beef shawarma and rice.
At Bibimbab you can get Korean barbecue like bulgogi, and, obviously, bibimbab (cooked and served in a hot stone bowl), as well as Japanese hot pot dishes cooked table-side. And it’s crazy tasty.
Japanese: Izakaya Sanpei
It is known that if one wants really excellent Asian food, one must travel far outside the city. For Vietnamese, you go to Madison Heights. For Japanese, you head west to Novi and Canton. Izakaya Saipei isn't just a "sushi restaurant." They are a full-on Japanese restaurant. Yes, there is sushi and sashimi, but there is also ramen, yakisoba, yakitori, tonkatsu, shabu shabu, soba noodles, and so on and so on. All of that is Japanese for beef and chicken and noodle soup, and all of it is delicious.
Chinese: Golden Harvest
Here's the thing: it's a buffet. The cleanliness of the place will always be in question by virtue of the fact that it is a buffet. But where else are you going to get a wide variety of dim sum served daily, with up to 60 items on the dim sum carts on weekends, with all dim sum items $2.95 on Saturdays? Answer: nowhere.
Thai: Lue Thai Cafe
All Thai places in metro Detroit are exactly the same. Every last one of them. And everyone always orders the same thing -- chicken pad Thai -- and everyone is always all, "OMG sooooooo good" all over their Instragram and everything is boring and terrible. Lue Thai Cafe is at least new, and trying to be more of an actual Thai restaurant than a place for people to order chicken pad Thai to-go while on their lunch break.
Vietnamese: Thang Long
All of the pho. All of it, please. All of the pho places in Madison Heights have a slightly different tinge to them -- some of them cater to more of an ethnic Japanese clientele, some to Filipino. Thang Long is Vietnamese with Thai sensibilities, which is great news for those who love basil and lime.
Filipino food in metro Detroit has historically been hit-and-miss, mostly miss. Kusina, while mostly a carry-out place, might be just what the area needed with noodle dishes and meat-and-rice entrees, house-made sweet and savory baked goods, and the very popular halo halo ice cream-ish dessert. And also, everything is STUPID cheap.
Indian: Phulkari Punjabi Kitchen
NAAN! NAAAAAAN!!!!!!!! (Get it? No?) Get your fix of samosas, fried paneer, biryani, chaat, tandoori chicken, and more at Phulkari Punjabi Kitchen, as well as a solid naan.
Syrian: Al Chabab Restaurant
It's just a bit bigger than a hole in the wall, with a sign predominantly in Arabic that might make you think, "I am not going to have any idea what's even on this menu," until you actually pick up the menu and realize it's basically a coney island, but with Syrian food. In addition to good ol' 'Murican burgers, there's also kebab helabi, lamb kofta, fatteh shamia, and Aleppo omelets.
Yemeni: Yemen Café
Fun fact: there are nearly as many people from Yemen living in Hamtramck as there are in actual Yemen. We're exaggerating (hence the qualifier “nearly”), but what we're saying is Yemen is a small country, and there is a disproportionately large number of Yemeni in Hamtramck. Anyway, if it's Yemeni food specifically that you seek, Yemen Café is where to find the best.
Greek: KouZina Greek Street Food
This was a hard one because we wanted so bad to make this Golden Fleece in Greektown, because we love the whole meat-from-the-spit-in-the-window thing and the plastic-grapes-on-a-trellis-on-the-ceiling-that-occasionally-get-lit-on-fire thing and the upstairs-nightclub thing, but if we're being honest about food and ONLY food here, it's KouZina all the way. Greektown restos really need to get it together. Or KouZina just needs to open a location with a liquor license there, whichever.
Bangladeshi: Aladdin Sweets & Cafe
Aladdin Sweets & Café is an Indo-Pakistani restaurant, but we're filing it as "Bangladeshi" because that is how they describe themselves on their website. Their menu is huge and covers a lot of territory, but you generally can't go wrong with a curry.
Irish: O'Connor's Public House
Most places drape themselves in green, white, and orange, put Guinness on tap, and call themselves an "Irish pub." And there's nothing wrong with these places -- Irish pubs are great, regardless of how deep that green blood actually runs. But at O'Connor's Public House you can actually get traditional Irish food and NOT just whatever half-assed effort at a corned-beef-something you'll get at most places. Bangers and boxties, beat THAT.
British: Commonwealth Club
It's a private club open to the public on Fridays with proper fish and chips and an oh-so-very British atmosphere. No, you've never heard of it. Yes, you should go. Please don't ruin it.
1. Stage Deli, West Bloomfield6873 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield Township
2. The Royal Eagle18745 Old Homestead Dr, Harper Woods
3. Polish Village Café2990 Yemans St, Hamtramck
4. The Dakota Inn Rathskeller17324 John R St, Detroit
5. Le Petit Zinc1055 Trumbull St, Detroit
6. La Feria4130 Cass Ave, Detroit
7. Taqueria El Rey4730 Vernor Hwy, Detroit
8. Pupusería y Restaurante Salvadoreño3149 Livernois Ave, Detroit
9. Bucharest Grill2040 Park Ave, Detroit
10. Angel's Place Restaurant7824 Michigan Ave, Detroit
11. El Rey De Las Arepas7701 McGraw St, Detroit
12. The Jamaican Pot14615 W 8 Mile Rd, Detroit
13. Taste Of Ethiopia2453 Russell St, Detroit
14. El Caribeño8065 Vernor Hwy, Detroit
15. Squindles Africa Restaurant16155 Wyoming Ave, Detroit
16. Vicente's Cuban Cuisine1250 Library St, Detroit
17. Al-Ameer Restaurant12710 W Warren Ave, Dearborn
18. Pars Restaurant30005 Orchard Lake Rd, Farmington Hills
19. Bacco Ristorante29410 Northwestern Hwy, Southfield
20. Sullaf Restaurant814 W 7 Mile Rd, Detroit
21. Bi Bim Bab43155 Main St Ste 300, Novi
22. Izakaya Sanpei43327 Joy Rd, Canton
23. Golden Harvest1625 Turner St, Lansing
24. Lue Thai Café22215 Michigan Ave, Dearborn
25. Thang Long Thai & Vietnamese Restaurant27641 John R Rd, Madison Heights
26. Kusina, Madison Heights
27. Phulkari Punjabi Kitchen27707 Dequindre Rd, Madison Heights
28. Al Chabab Restaurant12930 W Warren Ave, Dearborn
29. Yemen Cafe8731 Joseph Campau St, Hamtramck
30. KouZina121 N Main, Royal Oak
31. Aladdin Sweets & Cafe11945 Conant St, Hamtramck
32. O'Connor's Public House324 S Main St, Rochester
33. Commonwealth Detroit2111 Woodward Ave, Detroit
This is our favorite Jewish deli in Detroit
Go here if you are interested in eating the best Russian food in Detroit.
Everything about this Hamtramck restaurant is authentically Polish: the interior feels like a real Eastern European pub with an emphasis on dark mahogany fixtures and stained glass, while white Christmas lights hang overhead, intersecting strings of faux ivy. Whether stuffed with potato, cabbage, cheese, or beef, the pierogies here are absolutely amazing -- and the rest of the menu is just as solid, boasting traditional fare like kielbasa, golabki (stuffed cabbage), and the ever popular dill pickle soup. The family-owned eatery has a huge following, and even the most dedicated of regulars often have to wait for a table at this walk-ins and cash-only spot.
For over 80 years, The Dakota Inn has been Detroit's go-to for authentic German tastes: hearty schnitzels, Bavarian bratwurst, charcuterie boards, and the signature Rathskeller Reuben Soup. As if the extensive list of German brews (ranging from rotating drafts to a plethora of bottled options) wasn't enough to attract the masses already, live music on the 80 year-old piano, nightly sing-alongs lead by a brave soul willing to step up and belt out drinking songs about the schnitzelbank while standing upon it, and regular community events (themed cookouts, Oktoberfest rituals) combine to make the cavernous beer hall a consistently lively outpost.
Le Petit Zinc is as close to a French-style bistro as you can get in this part of the Midwest. Expect lighter French fare like pastries, Jambon et Fromage (ham and cheese) crepe salees (savory), Miel (honey) or Nutella crepe sucrees (sweet), to slightly heartier meals like quiche lorraine, ratatouille, and Salade de Chèvre aux Noix (rosemary olive oil over goat cheese on a a toasted baguette with walnuts, potatoes, tomatoes and greens). Named for the zinc bar tops common in French bistros, Le Petit Zinc welcomes you to leave your mark on its easy-wearing zinc surfaces in this low-ceilinged, friendly neighborhood spot. In warm weather, the quaint, romantic backyard garden patio will transport you (and your date) to the French countryside.
This colorful Spanish joint has plenty of house-made sangria to help you wash down tapas from almond-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates to grilled fresh sardines with lemon and tarragon.
Family-owned Mexican restaurant Taqueria El Rey prides itself on dishing out the best grilled chicken in Detroit. While this is a tall order, El Rey certainly holds its own in the poultry market with its menu of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, all stuffed with chicken that’s freshly cooked on an outdoor grill. You can also select from shrimp, ribs, and ceviche menu options. Have a seat in a red pleather booth and stay awhile; you’ll be surrounded by locals who are all in on El Rey’s masterful grilled chicken secret.
Pupusería y Restaurante Salvadoreño in Southwest is a one-stop-shop for your Salvadoran cuisine cravings. Here, you’ll nibble on pupusas, thick cornmeal tortillas filled with refried beans, chicken, pork, veggies, and cheese. With the consistency of a Greek pita, pupusas at this casual restaurant are served with a portion of curtido, a cabbage salad peppered with jalapeno and delivered to your table, which is decked out in a blue and white checkered plastic tablecloth.
Just a quick walk from the ballpark, Bucharest is a great spot for both lunch and late-night shawarma. BG is open until about 2am on weekends, so you can get your spiced beef or chicken (or vegetarian venison, which they have) fix on your way home from a night out. Best of all, this location includes plenty of seating and free parking.
This local spot is very much no-frills and offers some of the most authentic Spanish food in the area. We're talking chicken stew, rice & beans, fried plantains, and champagne cola.
This little restaurant serves authentic Venezuelan food in Detroit's Southwestern region. Definitely order the stuffed arepas with chorizo and avocado when you go.
This little neighborhood gem serves flavorful Jamaican staples like jerk chicken, cabbage, plantains, and beef patties. Stop in for a snack or a full plate with meat and veggies.
This Ethiopian restaurant takes traditional Ethiopian dishes and provides a healthy twist on their soul food. Try the fresh injera bread and the Ethiopian coffee when you go.
This spot is the place to go if you want some real Dominican food. They have fried empanadas, and also offer a variety of Spanish dishes like tostones con salami, yucca, and arroz con leche.
Come here for some great Nigerian dishes like efo riro, jollof rice, and plantains. This spot is definitely no frills though. Be prepared to order your food through a bullet proof window.
Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine brings a spicy, colorful slice of Havana to Detroit. Home to both a dining area and salsa-dancing space, Vicente’s buzzes with energy every night. The menu consists of colorful paellas, empanadas, sandwiches, salads, meats, seafood, and sides, the highlights of which include seafood paella and pan con lechon, with marinated roasted pork leg, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and mayo on Cuban bread. Portions are generous, so be sure to ration out bites to leave room for dessert; the tres leches cake is heavenly, topped with sinfully sweet, fluffy vanilla meringue.
The first restaurant in Michigan to receive the james Beard Award (an award honoring distinguished restaurants), this Lebanese spot doles out timeless middle eastern classics, including reputable Lamb and beef shawerma with housemade hummus, stuffed lamb with rice, and falafel platters. You can recognize the mom-and-pop ownership by the plush booths and window decor, which bear a domestic touch in their comfort and homeyness.
This spot serves up traditional Iranian and Mediterranean dishes like koubideh and Bademjan. Everything here is full of flavor and be sure to ask for the specialty rice. You won't regret it/
This is the flagship restaurant of Luciano del Signore, the Godfather of Detroit food. It is one of the only modern-style Italian restaurants in the metro area and is known for fresh ingredients and simple yet stunning presentation. The menu is constantly changing, so you can be eating Branzino imported from the Mediterranean on one visit and pasta from Abruzzo, Italy on another.
This spots serves up Chaldean food like beef shawarma with rice and ghallaba. They also have some really great falafel here that you should try.
Definitely get the hot stone bowl here. It makes a great crispy rice. For dessert get the tempura green tea ice cream.
This place is famous for their duck hot pot dish and are one of the few Japanese restaurants to have shabu shabu. Definitely check this place out for some great Japanese finds.
It's virtually impossible to miss Golden Harvest. The entire front façade of the diner is a made of traffic signs and lawn decorations, and any surface that isn't covered boasts vibrant street art and graffiti. Yes, your waitress still can hear your order over the dubstep or metal blaring from the speakers, so you'll still be able to get your Fruity Pebbles-topped, BAM BAM waffle fix. The hip joint is a ATM-less, reservation-less operation, so make sure you're flush with cash and try arrive early in order to get a table at this Lansing hotspot.
This Thai restaurant serves all your traditional curry dishes and entrees as well as offering large portions for a satisfying meal.
The shrimp & pork appetizer rolls at Thang are arguably the best in the area -- truly meriting the adjective "fresh". A special nod also goes out to the Canh Chua Tom – a massive serving of hot & sour shrimp soup, packed with veggie goodness.
This dessert spot serves up Filipino sweet dishes like maja blanca as well as savory dishes like barbecue chicken and rice. They even have ice cream here. It's a bit of everything.
This Indian eatery has modern decor and traditional Indian dishes as well as street fare. Be sure to order the samosas.
The food here is super fresh. Try the meat platter with chicken, lamb, fatoush salad, and hummus. If you don't want all the meat, try their falafel salad.
Definitely order the lamb or chicken for dinner, and even stop in for breakfast at this Arabic restaurant where you can order fassolia and foul.
They are serious about Greek food; so serious they stay open 'til 4a on the weekends just to make sure your sudden itch for gyros wrapped in homemade pitas gets scratched.
This spot in Hamtramck specializes in Bangladeshi cuisine and is one of the most affordable meals you will ever have. Nothing on the appetizer menu is even above $3.50, and that includes a kabob, tandoori chicken wings,and 4-piece braised shrimp in coconut cream.
This Irish pub serves classics like fish n' chips as well as shepherd's pie.