When it comes to planning a date in Detroit, there are a lot of sweet things to do. A lot. There are so many that it’s almost a problem (almost as big a problem as the fact that everyone knows everyone), unless you’ve read our handy guide to the best date spots in every -- OK, 14 -- D-Town ‘hoods, obviously.
London Chop House (address and info)
The London Chop House is as old school as it gets, a throwback to a former era rich with sumptuous design and cuisine. Everything about it is over the top -- from the deep-red leather banquettes and glossy wood paneling, to the béarnaise-drenched aged steaks and decadent oysters Rockefeller, right down to the Rat Pack-era dinner music performed live with singer and piano. When you really just want to get all gussied up and be fussed over, there is really nowhere better in Detroit to do it.
Cliff Bell's (address and info)
Hands-down Detroit's finest cabaret club, Cliff Bell's is a cocktail bar, restaurant, and entertainment destination with dramatic Art Deco décor that includes a curved wood ceiling, mahogany leather banquettes, and a vintage Steinway grand piano. The very walls themselves ooze romance, whether it’s the romance between two people, the romance of song and stage, the romance of a bygone era, or the romance of the city itself. There truly is only ONE Cliff Bell's, and if you're aiming to impress, this is the place to do it.
Rock City Eatery (address and info)
Kick it with the Hamtramck kids at Rock City Eatery, where $40 will buy you a killer meal complete with cocktails in a casual rock 'n' roll atmosphere that still offers some of the best food in Detroit. Plus, you know if the two of you can get down on a plate of poutine together, the relationship has real potential.
Woodward & McNichols
La Dolce Vita (address and info)
Once again, everybody digs brunch. And while there may be better brunches in the city, La Dolce Vita's stubbornly remains one of the most popular, complete with bottomless mimosas, stuffed French toast, and a secluded "urban oasis" of a garden. Located just North of Highland Park on the East side of Woodward, there isn’t a whole lot else in the area to hit up before or after, but we recommend a stroll through the urban orchard in Palmer Park, a roughly 300-acre public park just on the other side of Woodward, to continue in that vein of "hidden gem" and "urban oasis."
Detroit Seafood Company (address and info)
Buttery yellow leather booths, hardwood floors and ceiling, cornflower blue curtains, exposed red brick walls, and floor-to-ceiling windows set the stage, and the lobster trio brings down the house. There are a lot of beautiful dining rooms in the city, but this one manages to be charming and colorful while still being luxe -- all with an added air of urban chic -- but still doesn't seem like it's trying to hard. It's comfortable yet sophisticated, and seriously, you just can't go wrong with the lobster trio on any date ever.
Prism (address and info)
Not for lack of trying, the Greektown Casino seems to be having a hard time keeping a fine-dining flagship restaurant. Prism is the latest effort, stepping down from the high-end dining of Brizola to a more affordable version of a casino steakhouse. It's too bad, too -- the space is stunning, in a "we have a ton of money to do whatever with" casino-ish way. It also has the advantage of not being terribly busy... errrrrrrr, "advantage" on the side of the diner anyway... so you don't have to worry about getting a table or having some privacy. Plus, afterwards you can go gamble by yourself if the date went bad, or go to Bouzouki if the date went REALLY bad (or... really well?).
Coach Insignia (address and info)
Where else in Detroit can you dine 700ft above the ground overlooking both Detroit and Canada? Only at Coach Insignia, one of the highest hotel restaurants in the Western Hemisphere. Because nothing says "romance" like vertigo. The massive restaurant, which inhabits all of the 71st and 72nd floors of the Renaissance Center's main tower, has plenty of space for semi-privacy so you and your date can enjoy dinner and drinks without sharing your conversation with your neighbors at the communal tables that are so popular at hipper dining spots. Coach is also a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner, and the place knows some things about steak.
Iridescence (address and info)
Another tall hotel, another outstanding city view. Detroit's only AAA four-diamond dining experience (through 2013, anyway) and another Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner, Iridescence inside the MotorCity Casino is all ultra-modern LED chic compared to Coach's plush neutrals. It's more elegantly flashy to Coach's understated handsomeness, but if you're really looking to impress, this might be your best bet, thanks to items like Osetra caviar, foie gras torchon, and chateaubriand for two. But really, we eat with our eyes, and the view from the dining room is a feast in itself, perfect for creating a little... um, atmosphere.
Craft Work (address and info)
If you want to be comfortable and low key, but still enjoy a stylish Detroit-minded atmosphere and excellent food, head East to Craft Work in historic West Village. Sit at the bar and order some Sage Advice in a setting that takes all the pressure off while still being date-worthy, and also impress your date with your inherent Detroitness, because not just anyone makes the trek all the way to West Village.
Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails (address and info)
Taking a date to the Detroit Institute of Arts is a no-brainer, and now that Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails has opened up in the Park Shelton building next door, the decision of where to go for dinner afterwards is too. Sit at the bar and watch Chef Douglas Hewitt Jr. and his cooks hustle hard, and do NOT, on pain of severe life choice disappointment, skip the steak.
The Rattlesnake (address and info)
If wooing is your goal, look no further than the Rattlesnake. Specifically the Rattlesnake's garden terrace patio overlooking the Detroit River. Enjoy high-end New American seafood and steakhouse fare, wines from yet another Wine Spectator-awarded list, a special 'Snake Bites menu for the patio, and an outdoor riverside view unmatched by any other restaurant in Detroit.
El Barzon (address and info)
Can't decide between Italian or Mexican? Do both! And do them in El Barzon's stunning enclosed patio courtyard that makes us believe in love again.
Detroit City Distillery (address and info)
Here's a thought: daytime dates! Start yours in a civilized way with a stroll through the Saturday market, maybe check out the works at Inner State or Red Bull House of Art, grab a coffee at Trinosophes, and eventually end up at Detroit City Distillery, because a date without some social lubricant is, well, a date without lubricant. That's bad. Stop in to partake of cocktails made from the small-batch Summer of Gin selections and let the city's best bartenders help you keep the conversation (and drinks) flowing. Saturdays also mean brunch. Chicks (and dudes) dig brunch.
Avenue of Fashion
Baker's Keyboard Lounge (address and info)
If you haven't been here yet, what are you even doing? Self-described as the "world's oldest jazz club" (we'll just take its word for it), Baker's serves up no-fuss soul food along with a heaping helping of live jazz for ridiculously cheap, and bless you Detroit for still being a place where a $5 cover is balked at. Sit at the bar that looks like a piano keyboard, and cherish the live music that will fill in those awkward silences.
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1. London Chop House155 W. Congress, Detroit
2. Cliff Bell's2030 Park Ave, Detroit
3. Rock City Eatery11411 Joseph Campau St, Hamtramck
4. La Dolce Vita17546 Woodward Ave, Detroit
5. Detroit Seafood Market1435 Randolph St, Detroit
6. Prism555 E Lafayette Blvd, Detroit
7. Coach Insignia100 Renaissance Ctr, Detroit
8. Iridescence2901 Grand River Ave, Detroit
9. Craft Work8047 Agnes St., Detroit
10. Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails15 E Kirby Suite D, Detroit
11. El Barzon3710 Junction St, Detroit
12. Detroit City Distillery2462 Riopelle St, Detroit
13. Baker's Keyboard Lounge20510 Livernois Ave, Detroit
Returning to its original location in the basement of the Murphy-Telegraph Building after a 20yr absence, London actually IS your grandfather's chop house (it first opened in 1938 as a power dining staple), so pay homage at the restored oak bar or polished classic red leather banquettes to devour meat and live jazz. Then, step into one of two working OG phone booths, and excitedly text everyone that you’re in a working phone booth. Seriously, the London Chop House is as old school as it gets, a throwback to a former era rich with sumptuous design and cuisine.
Hands-down Detroit's finest cabaret club, Cliff Bell's is a cocktail bar, restaurant, and entertainment destination with dramatic Art Deco décor that includes a curved wood ceiling, mahogany leather banquettes, and a vintage Steinway grand piano. Stop by to wash down great jazz and burlesque with quality martinis and other beverages mixed by well dressed and professional bartenders.
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.
A double-threat, La Dolce Vita is equally capable of satisfying you with bottomless mimosas and shrimp benedicts in the early hours or wowing your date with lobster-stuffed ravioli and house-made gnocchi in the evening. When the weather allows, don't settle for anything less than a spot on the patio as you fatten up to jazz music.
The charming interior of this Harmonie Park restaurant is perfectly complimented by the lobster trio. You could also order Flounder Rockefeller, Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallops, or Trout Amandine, but why would you when you can order the LOBSTER TRIO.
Tucked inside the Greektown Casino, this spot delivers the classic casino steakhouse menu at a more affordable price than the spaces previous occupants. The restaurant itself is beautiful, and they occasionally bring in live music acts.
This steakhouse is located on the 71st & 72nd floors of the GM Renaissance Center and has great views of the city. The menu is (suprise) a lot of steak, but unique standouts like lobster corndogs give specialty options.
This fine-dining Downtown restaurant sits on the 16th floor of the MotorCity Casino Hotel, offering stunning views of the city beyond from a sleek, dimly lit space. The American menu includes Black Angus beef filet, New York Strip Steak, oysters on the half shell, and South African lobster tail, all of which have a match from the restaurants considerable wine list.
Chef Aaron Solley put in a lot of work to remake the West Village's Craft Work, classing up the offerings with Mediterranean and French touches in the library-like space. Come for the cocktails -- which keep things classic with Moscow Mules, Manhattans, negronis, and Old Fashioned -- but stay for the food. Red curry mussels, lamb over couscous, and pork should plates make for elevated eating. Even the venerable bar burger is spruced up with Wagyu beef. Perhaps most notable the raw bar, serving up oysters, ceviches, crudos, and fresh sushi that beg to be had with any of the European and Californian white wines.
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.
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.
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.
What began as a humble sandwich joint in 1933 turned into a piano bar in the early 40s, at which point it became a pivotal venue in the history of American jazz. A frequent haunt for the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Art Tatum, and Miles Davis, Baker's is still thriving today, with touring musicians providing nightly jazz and weekly comedy shows in an authentic Art Deco space. Entertainment aside, the kitchen here is serious about soul food: succulent barbecue wings and ribs reign supreme, and regional tastes like grilled perch and whiting are equally as satisfying.