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In Detroit for 3 weeks work–help with food experiences?


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Hi guys,

I was hoping you could help me out. Next week I will spend 3 weeks working in Windsor (at the Ford Essex plant - which is a couple of miles south of the river. Google map here) as well as a bit in Dearborn. I haven’t quite decided if I’ll stay in the Windsor or (greater) Detroit area yet. Now, I live in Melbourne, Australia which is a beautiful, vibrant city with a fantastic food/nightlife/bar/cafe scene – I’m hoping to find the same whilst away! A Canadian friend of mine living here lived and worked in Windsor/Detroit for 5 years about a decade ago. He didn’t paint the best picture of the food and nightlife scene in either Windsor or Detroit… Now, I am hoping that with your assistance we can prove him wrong! I have already spent a lot of time reading some of the post here but didn’t come up with much. So what I am hoping for is:

2.Recommendation of places to eat/foodie things to do/good wine bars/etc in the greater Detroit area (i've heard good things about Ann Arbor and Royal Oak)

Feel free to throw anything at me that you think I should check out. I’m keen to try anything you think I should ‘experience’ during my stay yet personally (when eating out solidly for 3 weeks!) I try to keep on the healthier side (i.e. good quality food with light cooking techniques letting the raw ingredients come out speak for themselves). But I will still be keen for burgers, ribs, etc. Just tell me the places you like! And I do like good wine…!

Oh, and if you have any recommendations for an area to base myself in (or things to do, wine regions etc), that would be appreciated. Thanks very much in advance!

Adam

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Both places at the Book Cadillac hotel in detroit are excellent choices for dining. For drinks I would suggest the Royal Oak Brewery or Detroit Beer Co. The nightlife is probably the best in Royal Oak compared to the scene in Detroit.

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Adam...you lucky dog! Australia is so awesome, and I never even got to go down to Melbourne! I do have a Melbourne Storm jersey that I wear here around the Detroit area with pride, though.

We're fat in Detroit for a reason: we like to eat! I'll recommend a couple of places, and if there aren't too many responses to your query, I'll add some more later.

First, the Dearborn area is the highest concentration of Middle Eastern people in the entire world, outside of the Middle East itself. Most ME cuisine will fall under your "healthier side" mantra, and while there are *tons* of ME places in the area, I happen to be partial to La Pita in Dearborn. Last time I was there, I had the lamb ghallaba, and it was absolutely *terrific*, but I only ate 1/3 of it due to filling up on all the other wonderful things I had before that. Fantastic fatoosh salad, unbelievable bread, smack-you-upside-the-head garlic sauce (a minor upcharge, but totally worth it)...the whole meal was just a feast for the taste buds, and I took home enough food for another *entire* meal. Trust me, though: it's not a place that gives you lots of food to make up for the fact that it isn't *good* food; this food is completely top-notch.

Second, Giovanni's Ristorante in Dearborn for Italian. Not too far from the Ambassador Bridge, this place definitely won't get defended based on its neighborhood. However, their Italian is unmatched. Their pasta, handmade by a woman named Irma in their own kitchen, will honestly redefine pasta for you. Never in my life have I understood that pasta could be as light and wonderful as this stuff is. It's not just that, though: the server's are completely concentrated on your needs, and the menu is just drool-inducing. That pasta, though...I just can't ever get it out of my mind. They're also known for their veal and their calamari. All entrees come with a side of pasta (unless it's a pasta entree, obviously), so even if you're not in the mood for an all-pasta meal, you'll still get to try this wonderful stuff.

Any other specific food requests?

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Polish Village Cafe in Hamtramck will give you a great Eastern European food experience. It's about a quaint as you can get for a restaurant in a basement of a vintage building. Try the City Chicken if it's on the menu. Get there early or go on a weeknight if you don't want to wait in line.

Also, look up Bourdain's Rust Belt episode of No Reservations for some other strictly Detroit food experiences. It's on youtube.

Edited by lemniscate (log)
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Polish Village Cafe in Hamtramck will give you a great Eastern European food experience. It's about a quaint as you can get for a restaurant in a basement of a vintage building. Try the City Chicken if it's on the menu. Get there early or go on a weeknight if you don't want to wait in line.

Another great suggestion, that. Though, if I may, I've got to add this: the city chicken is pork only, not pork and veal, as I've traditionally understood city chicken to be. Nonetheless, it's still good, and if you're wanting a dirt cheap meal, this is your destination. Don't deny yourself the dill pickle soup, either: it's fantastic.

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I have been to Detroit a few years ago as I have family living there. From what I gathered Detroit is far far from Melbourne in terms of food quality and variety. Detroit is no Melbourne because it is primarily a 2nd/3rd tier city and not a 1st tier type of city - indeed I dare say Melbourne is the same level of international city and urban and cultural significance as San Francisco or Chicago.

The average suburban food fare at shopping centres' food courts, such as at Somerset Collection, is vastly better than the comparable suburban food fare in Melbourne, sure, but the urban dining scene is rather lacking. I believe there are a few good restaurants serving good Greek food and good soul food and barbecues, but there is nothing like Nobu Melbourne, Flower Drum or Bistro Vue.

I think others have more information about the special eats for example, and I had been to suburban chain restaurants for most of the meals I had when I was in Detroit. Still, keep an open eye, because there should be some good surprises cropping up.

If you are into Chinese food, give Hong Hua a try. It's no Flower Drum but is still fairly good and is on par with Chinese food in Auckland, for example:

http://honghuafinedining.com/

Hong Hua Fine Chinese Dining

27925 Orchard Lake Rd,

Farmington Hills, MI 48334

Hope this helps.

PS My relatives went to Sydney last year and they were absolutely wowed by the food compared to Detroit, even if they didn't step into the likes of Neil Perry or Matt Moran or Justin North's restaurants. This would show how great the gulf between food in Melbourne and Detroit would be considering Melbourne has superior food than Sydney.

Edited by johung (log)
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Michael Symon (currently an Iron Chef) recently opened a new restaurant in Detroit. I would look that up. I'm sure, as with his other restaurants in Ohio, this one is high quality all the way.

Simon's place is called Roast and is in the Book Cadillac downtown.

To the original poster:

I second the recommendation that you look at Bourdain's 'Ruth Belt-Detroit' segment for a couple of places that are quintessentially Detroit. The brewpubs mentioned are worth a look too.

If you have the time to take a bit of a drive (40 minutes from downtown). I like Gravity Bar and Grill in Milford. It is located in on an old style small-town Main Street which is a nice setting. Ann Arbor is also about a half an hour away and has some good places.

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Hey, Smitty, just exactly where in downtown Milford is Gravity? I was there about a week ago (trying [and failing] to have lunch at Cinco Lagos) and didn't see Gravity. Is it south of Cinco Lagos, or north of it?

Edited by boagman (log)
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Hi guys,

I was hoping you could help me out. Next week I will spend 3 weeks working in Windsor (at the Ford Essex plant - which is a couple of miles south of the river. Google map here) as well as a bit in Dearborn. I haven’t quite decided if I’ll stay in the Windsor or (greater) Detroit area yet.

Adam

I know very little about either city (they both leave a lot to be desired), but if you are actually WORKING in Windsor, I would also stay in Windsor. One thing I would NOT want to do is to cross the border twice every day. Sometimes the line-ups are horrendous.

DH wants me to add that it can take an hour or more to cross.

Edit #2: Ed remembered that you can buy a 'Pass' which allows you to cross the border in a special fast line...but would they sell one to a non-Canadian/American? I don't know.

Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Hi guys,

I was hoping you could help me out. Next week I will spend 3 weeks working in Windsor (at the Ford Essex plant - which is a couple of miles south of the river. Google map here) as well as a bit in Dearborn. I haven’t quite decided if I’ll stay in the Windsor or (greater) Detroit area yet.

Adam

I know very little about each city, but if you are actually WORKING in Windsor, I would also stay in Windsor. One thing I would NOT want to do is to cross the border twice every day. Sometimes the line-ups are horrendous.

Yeah, but he said he's already going to be over here to go to Dearborn, so moot point.

V

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Hey, Smitty, just exactly where in downtown Milford is Gravity? I was there about a week ago (trying [and failing] to have lunch at Cinco Lagos) and didn't see Gravity. Is it south of Cinco Lagos, or north of it?

One block south at 340 N. Main St. It is a pretty small place.

Gravity's Website

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Hi guys,

I was hoping you could help me out. Next week I will spend 3 weeks working in Windsor (at the Ford Essex plant - which is a couple of miles south of the river. Google map here) as well as a bit in Dearborn. I haven’t quite decided if I’ll stay in the Windsor or (greater) Detroit area yet.

Adam

I know very little about each city, but if you are actually WORKING in Windsor, I would also stay in Windsor. One thing I would NOT want to do is to cross the border twice every day. Sometimes the line-ups are horrendous.

DH wants me to add that it can take an hour or more to cross.

I lived in Windsor & commuted to one of the Ford offices in Dearborn for 4 years (2000-2004). It's not a great situation, but it's not bad. I'll send you a PM with some information.

But back to the food! Dearborn is a great place for middle eastern food. It is one of the things I miss most about not working in that area any more.

As for Windsor, I'm not sure if it exists anymore, but one place that I liked in Windsor was the Cook's Shop on Ouelette st (Windsor's main street). Another place many people liked (but was never one of my favorites) was Tunnel BBQ for the ribs. It's just a block or so off Ouelette. Windsor's also got a lot of asian restaurants near the University (at the foot of the Amassador bridge), but I don't know much about them.

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I forgot to mention that there are a lot of wineries in the Windsor area. If you do a search on line you should be able to come up with a few to visit if that's something you're interested in.

For nightlife I'd agree that Royal Oak would be a possibility, although Pontiac is also a possibility depending on what your interests are.

I'll second the other poster's note that good Greek food can be found in Detroit, but I'm not familiar with the scene there anymore.

Heather

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