The ultimate 48 hour guide on where to eat, drink, and play in Detroit, MI! Because eating your way across a city is the best way to experience it :)

My love story with Detroit was an unexpected one. Alex and I moved there from Ann Arbor in the fall of 2016 with no friends and with me having been to the city, like, twice. But Alex got into medical school downtown, so to this brand new city we went. 

The following two years were some of the most fun we ever had. We met amazing friends, ate insanely delicious food, and fell in love with the renaissance happening all around us. The way I always describe Detroit to people is like New York in the 80’s- a little harsh and a little grungy, but full of creativity, possibility, and community. We spent our years exploring, experiencing, and embracing as much of Detroit as we could.

Then in 2018, Alex got into residency in Boston. So we packed up and left our beloved city of Detroit.

A piece of my soul is still there. Alex and I both talk about moving back in four years. I can still feel it’s energy from here, a distant murmur buzzing through the 807 miles between us.

Alright enough sap for one day. Let’s get down to why we’re really here: food. I probably get 3 emails/dms/messages a week from you guys, asking me for my favorite Detroit spots. So what better way to tell you guys about my favorite spots than in a guide on where to eat when you only have 48 Hours in Detroit? Without further ado, bon appétit and let’s do this 🙂

DAY 1

nosh on the best diner food in town at

ROSE’S FINE FOODS

If neighborhood diners and Detroit go together like peanut butter and jelly, Rose’s is the best pb & j around. Don’t let the unassuming entrance fool you- inside you’ll find a comfortable interior and absolutely delicious farm-to-table diner food. Rose’s is also rooted in community– they pay their employees fair wages (no tipping necessary), are eco-friendly, and do a fabulous job of giving back to the underserved community around them. Be sure to get the Staff Favorite 3.0 (heirloom rice, maple bacon, kimchi, mushrooms, avocado, and a fried egg) and a plate of Grandpa Richard’s Pancakes for the table and spend the morning reading the paper as the sun rises.

        

        

grab a giant bowl of pho at

IMA

This cozy Corktown noodle bar delivers the ultimate comfort food in a no-frills environment. Their menu is intentional and well thought out with some of the most interesting flavors Detroit has to offer. What you’re ordering? Shrimp and Pork Dumplings and the Forest Udon with extra spice.

Ima Foodie's Guide To Detroit        

        

get an afternoon slice of pie and coffee at

SISTER PIE

Guys. If you eat one thing in Detroit, make it the Salted Maple Pie from Sister Pie. Nestled in one of the cutest neighborhoods in Detroit, this woman-owned bakery is known for their whimsical play on sweet and savory. Dishing out homemade pastries, pies (with a crust that’s TO DIE FOR), and cookies, Sister Pie is continually named one of the best bakeries in America.

        

        

        

then spend the rest of the afternoon drinking beer and playing games at

EASTERN MARKET BREWING COMPANY

A visit to Detroit wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Eastern Market, the largest historic public market in the United States. Walk around the market on a Saturday, see the local vendors, gaze at incredible street art, and stop in for a craft beer (or two!) at Eastern Market Brewing Company. This small-batch brewery has a welcoming space in an old meatpacking plant and a creative draft list that changes weekly. Grab a New England IPA and spend the afternoon sipping suds and playing board games.

        

        

eat the best burger in the city at

GREY GHOST

OMG I f*cking love Grey Ghost. Walking into this upscale yet comfortable cuts and cocktails concept you feel an immediate sense of community. It’s as if you’re dining at a restaurant owned and staffed by friends. These Chicago natives know how to have a meat-forward menu without going overboard (aka no meat sweats by the end of the meal). The food and cocktails are always on point and the burger is truly the best in the city. My perfect order: Octopus Puttanesca, Brussel Sprouts, and a Repeat Offender – I bet you can’t stop at one!

        

        

        

then walk across the street for late night food at

SECOND BEST

Second Best is the rebellious step child of the owners of Grey Ghost. This polished dive bar has a Fried Chicken Sandwich that absolutely blew my mind (beware: it’s as messy as it is delicious!). You can also (Smirnoff) Ice people, so there’s that. Order a bottle of champagne (ahem, a Miller High Life Forty) and end the night at one of the most fun spots in Detroit.

        

        

DAY 2

start the day off with a glorious bagel sandwich at

DETROIT INSTITUTE OF BAGELS

Alright, if you thougth Day 1 was epic, let’s get down to Day 2, starting off with my fave bagel place in the city: Detroit Institute of Bagels! Talk about bagel sandwiches that won’t disappoint. This contemporary Jewish deli has out of this world flavor combos like beef salami, provolone, mustard, and red peppers. Everything is fresh and homemade daily. Try my fave: the Super Nova, made with local smoked salmon, pasture-raised eggs, veggie cream cheese, and sauteed kale. YUMMMM.

        

then wash it down with some farm-to-table fare at

FOLK

I think Folk might be my favorite restaurant in Detroit. From their avocado toast on seeded wheat bread to their almond flour Belgian waffle with salted pistachio citrus butter, Folk’s food is a work of art. And the interior is bright yet cozy, with hints of worldly influences. They are all about their local community, have done a great job integrating into the Corktown neighborhood they’re located in, and always call attention to the farmers they source their products from. This is a place NOT TO BE MISSED for breakfast or lunch.

        

        

        

        

or if you’re feeling some classic breakfast grub, check out

PARKS AND REC

Parks and Rec is delicious diner food made by really good chefs. Think classic dishes like biscuits and gravy, just made the best way possible. All ingredients are locally sourced and everything is made from scratch. They even bake their own bread! Plus, they’ve got boozy brunch. Order a Bloody Mary and Lemon Berry Cinni Roll to start your day!

        

        

sample a variety of street food at

DETROIT SHIPPING COMPANY

A newcomer to Detroit’s Cass Corridor, this food hall is constructed out of 21 shipping containers, housing an array of independently-managed eateries from tacos to Thai food to nitrogen ice cream. At Detroit Shipping Co., there’s truly something for everyone. Grab a beer and their famous Pad Thai Roll and hang on their patio while playing giant Jenga.

        

        

then head to happy hour for wine and cheese at

THE ROYCE

With oriental rugs and dim lighting, this intimate wine bar is worth a stop. The space is impeccably designed with homey touches, a great selection of cheese, charcuterie, and tin fish (hello, make-your-own cheeseboard!), and a huge variety of wines that you can either drink there or take to go!

        

        

meander over to the best dinner ever at

SELDEN STANDARD

Selden Standard is a seasonally-driven small plates restaurant that opened up back in 2014, and has continued to push the envelope for innovative dishes and cocktails ever since. Though their menu has a variety of dishes, my favorites are always the veggie-forward ones: probably because most of them are charred in a brick oven and have that delicious smoked flavor you can only get from open flames. Definitely order the Vegetable Carpaccio and Herbed Flatbread (it’s like a pillowy cloud you guys). 

        

        

        

        

taste a phenomenal selection of cocktails at

KEISLING

Say hello to your new (old?) favorite hang out! I mean, let’s back up. Built in 1890, Keisling has a long legacy as a neighborhood bar. It served as a police and factory worker after-work spot until the early 1990s. They re-opened last year, coming back stronger than ever while honoring the space’s legacy as a no-frills spot that makes you feel right at home. The current owners continue the tradition with a well-designed space and approachable cocktail list that will blow your mind. Order a Kies Knees and stay a while!

       

        

       

and finish strong with cocktails at

STANDBY

Oh man, where do I start with Standby? It’s one part club, one part music venue, and one part intimate speakeasy, with great music and possibly the most innovative cocktails in the city. It’s the perfect spot to start (or end) a lively night out with friends. Enter through The Belt alley, slip through a velvet curtain, and sip on a Snake in the Grass. 

        

A huge thank you to all of the restaurants who generously hosted us and helped to make our 48 Hours in Detroit possible: Rose’s Fine FoodsIMASister PieEastern Market Brewing Co.Grey GhostSecond BestDetroit Institute of BagelsFOLKParks & RecDetroit Shipping CompanyThe RoyceSelden StandardKeisling, and Standby. We love you.

14 comments

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WOW, Detroit has so much to offer!! Thank you for these great suggestions.

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I had NO idea! But now that I do, I’ll have one of those and one of those, and Oh, that octopus, and one of the bagels….Wait for me, Detroit!

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Wonderful pictures and comments. I only wish you would have put the locations and neighborhoods. I come from Detroit and have always had a place in my heart for it even though it’s been many many years since I was there I wonder what it’s like now.
As far as remembering the food, it was Italian that stands out as drool worthy.

Thanks for the fine article.

Jackie

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I grew up in Indianapolis and always wanted to travel outside the Midwest, but I’m now officially convinced I need to see Detroit! Gorgeous photos, as always. 🙂
-Claire
tallgirlbigworld.com

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I’ve lived in Detroit my whole life and this list is off. This list sounds good for people wanting an insta shot and try good food, but not at all what real Detroit is like. You missed out Lafayette for a Coney! Polish Village Cafe too! These shops recommended are too modern and upscale for going to Detroit, if you want the “real feel”. Find some greasy mom and pop shops!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Hi Alec! As someone who’s lived in Detroit, I’m sure you’re fully experiencing the renaissance that Detroit is currently going through. You’re totally right that Detroit has some greasy mom and pop shops, and they’re AWESOME. Lafayette over American every day. Kuzzo’s. Colombo’s. I hear you and I also love those places. But this guide is for people coming from out of town, and typically people are looking for more upscale restaurants in the city. Coupled with the fact that the restaurants chosen in this guide are owned and managed by seriously hardworking, dedicated people who have created jobs, community, and excitement for the city of Detroit, I don’t see that as something to goff at. That being said, next guide I make I’ll be sure to include some greasy spoon options, as well 🙂

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As a travelling foodie, I am drooling all over my keyboard right now thanks to your gorgeous photos! Im wondering, how did these spots host you? Did you pitch them this article so in exchange for hosting (I’m assuming food and drinks) in exchange for being featured on this blog? Or was professional photos also part of the deal? I’d love to show more of the spots where I live but wondering how to do the proper way on a limited budget…any info would be so helpful + appreciated!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Hi Teri! This is a great question. We actually answer exactly this type of thing in our Restaurant Foodtography Course!

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Nice list detroit is still expanding come back soon ???? and revamp your list cause 2019 has even more in store

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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You KNOW it. Can’t wait to see all the fun new places in store for next year!

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Gorgeous photos! It is so exciting to see Detroit is getting back on the Map! It really is a wonderful city!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Thank you! I so agree. Detroit is my absolute favorite 🙂

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