My love story with Detroit was an unexpected one. Alex and I moved there from Ann Arbor in the fall
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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).
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!
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 Foods, IMA, Sister Pie, Eastern Market Brewing Co., Grey Ghost, Second Best, Detroit Institute of Bagels, FOLK, Parks & Rec, Detroit Shipping Company, The Royce, Selden Standard, Keisling, and Standby. We love you.