Hoo lawd, where to even start here? Focusing strictly on brick-and-mortar locations in Detroit city proper, these are dishes that are among the most memorable, the most iconic, and/or the most experientially "Detroit." A lot of long-held favorites and obvious picks were left off in the interest of diversity (sorry to anything from Mudgie's or Supino or Green Dot or Slows), so go ahead and vent your listicle rage in the comments, like an adult who confuses listicles with real life.
Selden StandardAddress and Info
There are many dishes worth mentioning at Selden Standard, but I will bang the drum of that lamb ragu until the day I die.
Batch BrewingAddress and Info
There were a lot of contenders from Batch -- the grilled Caesar salad and shrimp po-boy bolillo among them. Ultimately, though, we have to go with the chocolate bread pudding with raspberry cream, because a fine bread pudding deserves its dues.
Rock City EateryAddress and Info
Nikita Sanches is known far and wide for his poutine, his Brussels sprouts, and his mac and cheese. Nikita Sanches would like nothing more than for you to eat and appreciate his green beans. These are probably the best green beans you will ever eat in a restaurant that tries to fancy them up by calling them "haricot verts." They're fucking green beans; eat them.
Bone marrow fritters
RepublicAddress and Info
Back when Roast first opened and started serving roasted bone marrow on a sawed-off bone like meat oysters on a half-shell, that was like, DETROIT MIND BLOWN, what is this craziness?! Now? Bone marrow shooters are a dime a dozen. Bone marrow fritters, however, are not.
StandbyAddress and Info
I had venison here a couple of months ago that was one of the best things I've ever eaten in the city of Detroit ever, but blah blah blah, SEASONAL MENUS, so, fine, beef tartar it is. It's good. It's very good! It's not the venison, but it’s very good.
Chartreuse Kitchen & CocktailsAddress and Info
I instated an arbitrary rule while putting this together that I would only highlight one dish from any given place, which was fine for most places but a bit more challenging when it came to Chartreuse. Especially when the Facebook masses unanimously clamored for the twice-cooked egg while I wanted nothing more than to expound, once again, on how delicious the cap steak with chermoula sauce is. So yeah, I just cheated a little bit.
The cinnamon roll
Parks & Rec DinerAddress and Info
These giant, gooey, decadent, house-made cinnamon rolls are stuffed with walnuts, covered with chevre honey icing, made fresh to order, and served hot. A cinnamon roll might not sound like much to crow about, but damn.
Al pastor torta or tacos
Taqueria Familia NuestraAddress and Info
Whether you like your pork "al pastor" in taco or torta form, Taqueria Familia Nuestra is where to get it. Nowish.
Food ExchangeAddress and Info
Made famous in the Fresh Off the Boat episode when rapper and Detroit native Danny Brown takes host Eddie Huang out for one, the Big Baby is BIG -- a massive beef burger topped with corned beef and several slices of American cheese, and is only $5.50 on Wednesdays. There are a lot of burgers in Detroit, but this one is extra special.
Union StreetAddress and Info
Union Street is one of those old standbys from a different time in Detroit, and the Dragon Eggs are a citywide classic. These "eggs" are chicken breast stuffed with gorgonzola cheese, battered, fried, and tossed in rasta sauce. And when the menu warns that these things are hot, THESE THINGS ARE HOT.
General Tso's Cauliflower
SevaAddress and Info
Detroit's first mainstream foray into upscale vegan dining introduced us to General Tso's cauliflower, taking the popular flavor of General Tso's and translating it to something arguably a bit more healthy than deep-fried chunks of chicken. It's still one of the vegan dishes Detroiters talk the most about.
Great Lakes chowder
Huron RoomAddress and Info
There is nowhere in Detroit more committed to Great Lakes fish than the Huron Room, and I gotta respect that. New England has a chowder, Manhattan has a chowder, and so, too, should the Great Lakes have a chowder -- and at the Huron Room, they do! This should become a local trend, like putting pork belly on every damn thing (and hey, there's bacon in this!).
Chicken n' Waffles
Honest John'sAddress and Info
Yes, everyone always talks about New Center Eatery for chicken and waffles. Yes, chicken and waffles are not "supposed" to be boneless, and at Honest John's it's basically a heaping pile of boneless battered tenders served on a waffle. Also, it's a heaping pile of boneless battered tenders served on a waffle. For vegetarians and those who appreciate a good meatless meal, the Pocket O' Joy is aptly named.
The Relish Tray
Polish Yacht Club/Ivanhoe CafeAddress and Info
Technically the relish tray isn’t so much something you order as it is something that you get with anything you order. Technically, the food at the Ivanhoe isn't anything more special than what you get at any other Polish restaurant in Hamtramck, but the whole package together is most definitely a singular Detroit experience.
Bis di pasta + chiles rellenos
El Barzon RestauranteAddress and Info
OK, so I broke my "one restaurant, one dish" rule here BUT, to be fair, since the menu is half Italian and half Mexican, it makes sense to highlight one of each, yes? Yes. The bis di pasta (Strozzapreti alla Norccina) and chiles rellenos are the best of both worlds.
Brooklyn Street LocalAddress and Info
The Canadian specialty made with fries, gravy, and cheese curds is kicked up a notch with bacon (or tempeh) and a sunny-side-up egg at this Corktown from-scratch diner.
Cutter's Bar & GrillAddress and Info
You need to get on board with the stuffed burgers at Cutter's. You just have to. The combos -- blue cheese and olives, mozzarella and pepperoni, feta and red onion, cheddar and bacon. Come on.
Chicken & fries BBQ shawarma
Byblos Café & GrillAddress and Info
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Bucharest. I know. But a chicken and fries shawarma -- this is a real thing that exists. Such is the ingenuity of this college campus café.
Johnny Noodle KingAddress and Info
Detroit's first (and still only) trendy ramen serves up a contemporary American/fusion twist to traditional ramen, pho, and curry dishes. The Shoyu with pork belly is a favorite, and a pro tip: add chicken fat for more flavor.
Fish and chips
Scotty Simpson's Fish & ChipsAddress and Info
This place is a Detroit institution. There might be better places to get fish and chips (though plenty of people would argue otherwise), but Scotty Simpson's is iconic.
Brussels sprouts salad
Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & BreweryAddress and Info
A lot of places serve some sort of Brussels sprouts dish, but instead of the fried-with-bacon varietal that has taken up residence on so many menus, Jolly Pumpkin's Midtown tasting room serves them shaved with dried cranberries, roasted pecans, bleu cheese, and cider vinaigrette.
Crispy pig's ear
Gold Cash GoldAddress and Info
If you've never tried a pig's ear before, this is your chance: it's served with fermented hot sauce to make it go down even easier (pig's ear is just chewy, no big deal). At Gold Cash Gold, it's Southern food gone high brow!
El AsadorAddress and Info
El Asador is something of a really well-known yet best-kept secret in Detroit. Whether you opt for steak, seafood, tacos, tableside guacamole, or my pick, the enchiladas verde, you won't be disappointed by anything at this popular (though still somewhat off-radar) Mexican restaurant and steakhouse.
Grand Trunk PubAddress and Info
This almost swung toward the lobster benny, but lobster bennies are somewhat more ubiquitous than bennies that swap out the hollandaise for sausage gravy. This Hillbilly Benedict is best for folks who can't decide between a sausage breakfast sandwich, biscuits and gravy, or eggs Benedict, so they took the best components of each and slopped them all together on one plate.
Red velvet pancakes
Hudson CaféAddress and Info
Cocoa-flavored pancakes with cream cheese icing -- how could this NOT make the cut?
Dill pickle soup
Krakus RestaurantAddress and Info
Dill pickle soup is a Polish specialty, and Hamtramck is where all the Polish food is, and Krakus makes the best soups out of all the Hamtramck Polish restaurants. This is just simple math.
Pupusería y Restaurante SalvadoreñoAddress and Info
Warm cucumber soup
The Bronx BarAddress and Info
You thought I was going to name a burger or BLT for the Bronx, didn't you? Well, HA! Occasionally, a listicle can hold a surprise! But really, get the warm cucumber soup.
Beef cheek pierogies
RoastAddress and Info
Once again, you thought I was going to say burger here didn't you? And again, HA! This list has enough burgers and Roast's burger has had enough press. The beef cheek pierogies have been a menu mainstay since day one and, in a city with no shortage of tasty Polish food, continues to be the only "upscale" take on this hearty, rustic dish.
Hygrade DeliAddress and Info
Detroit means corned beef. Hygrade Deli means Reubens. There are many famous sandwiches in the city, but none more so than this "Famous Reuben."
The CliqueAddress and Info
These are classic fluffy diner pancakes in a classic diner attached to a motel that has recently seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to the endlessly confusing attention span of white people. They're good pancakes, though.
Detroit Vegan SoulAddress and Info
VEGAN collard greens??? Oh, yes -- Detroit Vegan Soul will make a believer out of you.
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Nicole Rupersburg does it all for the shits and the giggles and knows listicles aren’t real life. Follow her on Instagram: @eatsdrinksandleaves.
1. Standby225 Gratiot Ave, Detroit
2. Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails15 E Kirby Suite D, Detroit
3. Batch Brewing Company1400 Porter St, Detroit
4. Selden Standard3921 Second Ave, Detroit
5. Rock City Eatery11411 Joseph Campau St, Hamtramck
6. Republic Tavern1942 Grand River, Detroit
7. Taqueria Nuestra Familia7620 W Vernor Hwy, Detroit
8. The Food Exchange8451 Harper Ave, Detroit
9. Seva66 E. Forest St., Detroit
10. The Huron Room2547 Bagley St, Detroit
11. Parks & Rec1942 Grand River Ave, Detroit
12. Union Street Saloon4145 Woodward Ave, Detroit
13. Polish Yacht Club5249 Joseph Campau St, Detroit
14. El Barzon3710 Junction St, Detroit
15. Honest John's Bar & Grill488 Selden St, Detroit
16. Cutter's Bar & Grill2638 Orleans St, Detroit
17. Byblos87 W Palmer St, Detroit
18. Scotty Simpson's Fish & Chips22200 Fenkell St, Detroit
19. Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery441 W Canfield St, Detroit
20. Brooklyn Street Local1266 Michigan Ave, Detroit
21. Johnny Noodle King2601 W Fort St, Detroit
22. Gold Cash Gold2100 Michigan Ave, Detroit
23. Hygrade Deli3640 Michigan Ave, Detroit
24. The Hudson Cafe1241 Woodward Ave, Detroit
25. Krakus Restaurant12900 Joseph Campau St, Detroit
26. Pupusería y Restaurante Salvadoreño3149 Livernois Ave, Detroit
27. Bronx Bar4476 2nd Ave, Detroit
28. Roast1128 Washington Blvd, Detroit
29. El Asador Steakhouse1312 Springwells St, Detroit
30. Grand Trunk Pub612 Woodward Ave, Detroit
31. Clique Restaurant1326 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit
32. Detroit Vegan Soul8029 Agnes St, Detroit
Discreetly nestled in The Belt art alley, Standby serves inventive New American fare and creative booze-forward cocktails in a trendy, sultry space. Helmed by chefs Jesse Knott and Lindsay Salminen (of Detroit Delhi fame), the kitchen puts a modern spin on classic dishes like pierogies, served here with a whiskey-mushroom filling with tamarind, chile d'arbol, and scallion; in a similar vein, meat offerings like chicken liver mousse and country terrine illustrate the emphasis on house-made recipes. Accessible mixology continues to define the cocktail list, which is organized by spirit type and blends quirkily named signatures with timeless classics. If the place gets too crowded for your tastes, it's worth the short walk down the road to The Skip, Standby's seasonal sister bar. The libations go down just as quickly, and the open-air patio features a massive Shepard Fairey mural.
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.
Co-owners Stephen Roginson and Jason Williams bring nano-brewing to Corktown, with delicious small-batch, handcrafted Detroit beer. Also on order is a dope assortment of bar snacks on a weekly rotating menu. We can't say for sure what'll be there when you stop by, but expect creative and flavorful takes on classic bar fare: past dishes include braised pork belly sandwiches, shiitake and bok choy arancini, and chili chicharrones.
Made moody and proper with charcoal black tables and seats, and a white-tiled full-service bar that intimidates with its wide liquor selection, Selden Standard marries the upscale with fresh, rustic fare usually seen in more whimsical settings. The menu is brought to you with the help of partnerships with michigan farms, and features simply dressed courses like charred octopus, chicken and ricotta campanelle, and half grilled chicken.
Food, booze, and pies are the pillars upon which Rock City Eatery rests, and the industrial-chic eatery in Hamtramck has entertained a steady flock of regulars because of it. The breadth of the globally-inspired menu attests to the culinary skill of owner Nikita Santches, who proves that it's totally possible to excel at everything from duck fat-fried poutine to Spanish octopus. here's a big emphasis on local solidarity, ranging from regional microbrews behind the bar to the ingredients used in the kitchen, so don't be surprised if certain items on this focused, market-driven menu run out towards the end of the day.
Located in the historic G.A.R. Building and overseen by Chef Kate Williams, Republic is a rustic-yet-refined tavern with a menu offering items like aged beef tartare, bone marrow fritters, beef tallow fries, rabbit pot pie, duck pastrami, and a whole roasted chicken for four.
Punch up your taco experience by opting for the lomo (shredded pork loin) or steamed beef tripe, beef heart, or beef tongue varieties at this Mexicantown spot. Spritz on the provided limes for a welcome accent.
Don't be fooled by the hole in the wall exterior: Hamtramck's Food Exchange is the real (really tasty) deal. This no frills joint specializes in comfort food standbys like burgers, chicken fingers, and hot wings, plus their famous dish, The Big Baby, a massive beef patty loaded with slice upon slice of American cheese. Let me be the first to say: yum.
Seva provides a haven of flavor for hungry vegetarians in Midtown. The restaurant’s original Ann Arbor location has been serving up quality vegetarian and vegan fare since 1973, and its younger Detroit spot doesn’t disappoint. Menu highlights range from small plates like yam fries with spicy mayo and vegan barbecue sauce to entrees like the TLT, a wheat wrap made with tempeh, cheddar, guacamole, tomatoes and greens. There’s fresh squeezed juices for diners on a detox and floral, fruit-forward cocktails for those who prefer to sip and savor. The space itself is bright and open, making it a decent lunch option for groups.
This seafood restaurant resides in the beating heart of the Great Lakes state, serving up local fish and sea fare in the form of hush puppies, gefilte fish sticks, fish & chips, and brews to pair. You can dine along the bar, or besides a nautical mural and on bright blue chairs that add a pop of color to the classic, iron- and wood-clad room.
Parks & Rec Diner is not the quintessential, old-school Detroit diner that the city knows so well. While it does have classic diner tendencies (open every day at 8am to feed Motor City's early morning masses), the menu is not one of them. While plenty of standard diner dishes still remain, like biscuits and gravy, omelettes, and a bologna sandwich, you’ll find elevated outliers, as well. Think coconut milk yogurt parfait, a house-cured salmon plate, and a cinnamon roll with orange-Chevre icing.
An Art Deco eatery in Midtown, Union Street's been an Detroit mainstay since the 1930s when it debuted on the local bar scene. The spot offers novel takes on American classics, including Brussel sprout skewers or lobster grilled cheese. Be sure to also check out their eclectic draft list.
This longstanding cafe, owned and operated with the Detroit landmark venue the Polish Yacht Club, serves up traditional, Eastern European bar fare. Nibble on kielbasa and pierogis inside the homey, nautical setting, which largely hasn't changed since its opening in 1909. Open weekdays only, slide into a wooden booth and chat with the locals who have been patronizing this establishment from the get go.
Since its debut in 2007, this Southwest Detroit spot has garnered a loyal following of regulars and significant acclaim for its unique Mexican-Italian menu. Helmed by chef Norberto Garita (who cut his culinary teeth in New York's fine dining scene), the kitchen serves upscale renditions of classic dishes like chicken Milanese and mole poblano, staying true to the staples of each cuisine. El Barzon also boasts a solid cocktail menu of vibrantly colored margaritas, top shelf liquors and rare mezcal selections. Combined with an inviting outdoor patio (decked out with lush plants and Christmas light strung from the wooden rafters ahead), it's a popular spot for relaxed yet refined dinners.
Honest John's is open 7am-2am every day (save 9am-2am on Sunday's) to serve you delicious omelets, burgers, and Hoovers -- a combination of cranberry, orange, pineapple juice, and vodka.
Cutter's Bar & Grill has an awesome happy hour (10a-6p!), strong and cheap drinks, and one of Detroit's favorite hamburgers. The greatest -- and most dangerous -- part? You can have a 2lb burger for just over $10. Your self-control is optional.
A low-key Greek resto, going to eat at Byblo's Cafe & Grill feels like hanging out with the nanna you've never had. She'll feed you big portions and constantly fill you drink, and you'll stuff yourself silly with her delicious eats and then think: Wow, I need to come here more often.
Scotty Simpson's fish and chips are made with cod that is flown in daily from Nova Scotia and hand-cut Idaho potatoes, so you know it's the real deal.
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.
Founded in 2012 by a Canadian couple, Brooklyn Street Local is a homey Corktown lunch destination for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Ingredients are sourced fresh from Detroit's urban farms and are used to create an array of flavorful favorites, such as The BSL, traditional poutine made with organic cheese curds and beef gravy (can be adapted to vegan appetites), The Works, a thick, organic beef patty topped with cheddar, bacon, and a fried egg, the Vegan Reuben served on rye, and rich banana walnut pancakes. The interior has all the marks of an American diner (banquette seating, warm hanging lamps, framed photographs on the walls), but the stylish outdoor patio calls to mind the industrial cityscape of Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Motor City was due for some ramen-y goodness, and Johnny Noodle King delivers with an eclectic menu full up with some Thai-style red curry ramen, a little Vietnamese pho, and plenty of Japanese-style goodness.
Gold Cash Gold gets its name from the pawn shop that previously occupied the space. They kept the iconic exterior murals and signage and even used salvaged wood from the old shop, along with flooring salvaged from a school gym, factory beams repurposed into benches, and warehouse windows re-welded and set with stained glass. But GCG isn't just another pretty repurposed space: it's also one of the best restaurants in all of Metro Detroit, with Executive Chef Josh Stockton's "farmstead" cuisine – upscale farm-to-table comfort food without all the gimmickiness of upscale farm-to-table comfort food.
This quality deli sells 400lbs of corned beef a week, owing to their delicious Reuben -- two kinds of corned beef with sauerkraut, melted Swiss, and mustard on buttery, grilled rye.
Once you get past the cafe and the comfy lounge area with its stone-hearth fireplace, you'll see that The Hudson Cafe is a modern take on an American diner serving hearty breakfast and lunch options in its bright, minimalist restaurant. Hudson offers an overwhelmingly large menu of standard options like pancakes, waffles, french toast, omelets, sandwiches, and salads that are equally as overwhelmingly large. But variety is the name of the game here: there are 6 types of Eggs Benedict (Voodoo made with corn cakes and chorizo is a must-try) and inventive options like a thanksgiving omelet with cranberries and turkey sausage, red velvet pancakes with a cream cheese drizzle, house-made corned beef hash, and fried catfish and waffle.
There are plenty of Polish restaurants in Hamtramck, but none are as affordable as Krakus, where a half dinner of stuffed cabbage is $4.95.
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.
Dimly lit, graffitied, and complete with a shot board and pool table, the Bronx bar is everyone's favorite dive. Sure, the staff is exceptionally cranky in a city where "cranky" is often a best-case scenario, but with juicy burgers, and a make-your-own-Bloody Mary bar on weekends, they've gotta make concessions somewhere.
Headed by Iron Chef Michael Symon, Roast is a massive, highly decorated, 200-seat steakhouse. Its bar/lounge is also known for dishing out some of Detroit's best cocktails, each made with fresh ingredients. Located within the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, the bar’s Renaissance-style ambiance will make your night out feel classy as can be.
El Asador proves that you don't have to go south of the border to get authentic Mexican food -- in reality, It's as easy as heading to southwest Detroit. Food offerings range from traditional staples like flautas, quesadillas, and guacamole (mashed to order right at your table), but the immaculately cooked filet mignon with guajillo-ancho-chipotle butter sauce and New York steak à la rancheros prove that steaks reign supreme here. Just don't forget to bring along a 6-pack of your favorite cerveza, as this casual eatery is BYOB.
Detroit's Grand Trunk Pub, sometimes referred to as Foran's, has a storied history as home to a variety of random local businesses. This place was once a jewelry store, a railway ticket office, and possibly the home of a Harry Houdini magic shop. Nowadays, it offers over 170 craft beers, killer deep-fried pub food platters, and an Irish pub good-time atmosphere. They also host regular beer dinners and one of the best brunches in the city.
In the words of Kanye West, "ain't nobody fresher than my clique." Take yours here, a real Motor City gem that's worth writing home about. Serving up American home-cooked comfort foods inside a mid century modern locale, it doesn't get much cooler than this Clique.
Marrying vegan cuisine with soul food flair, this cozy West Village spot serves up some serious flavor. You’d think it’s impossible to create authentic Southern barbecue fare using 100% plant-based, organic ingredients devoid of trans-fat, but Detroit Vegan Soul executes it perfectly -- for example, take the signature “Catfish” tofu sandwich, a gluten-free option with cornmeal-battered tofu, broccoli-corn slaw, redskin potatoes, and onions. Combined with the cute, contemporary digs and friendly staff, it’s a neighborhood staple.