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Food + Drink

Stuffing your face 

BEST BAKERY:
Wayne:
Avalon International Breads 422 W. Willis, Detroit, 313-832-0008
Oakland: Hagelstein’s 800 S. Washington, Royal Oak, 248-541-0566
Macomb: Sweetheart Bakery 15381 Hall, Macomb Twp., 810-247-9950
Washtenaw: Zingerman’s 422 Detroit, Ann Arbor, 734-663-5282

 

BEST DELI:
Wayne: McNally’s
1300 Porter, Detroit, 313-963-8833
It’s probably not just the 49 sandwiches named after Detroit institutions (Father Clement Kern, Old City Hall, Penobscot, Grand Circus, Monroe Block) that won McNally’s its votes. The sandwiches are huge, mouth-watering and inexpensive, but the Corktown deli also uses a droll retro-TV theme, with a collection of lunchboxes, board games and other artifacts starring the Bionic Woman, the Incredible Hulk, Batman, Patty Duke, Frank Sinatra and, especially, Charlie’s Angels.

There’s corned beef, Irish-spiced roast beef brisket and Limerick ham, to combine with a choice of six breads, three mustards, and five cheeses, including Blarney, which is, of course, Irish. The loaded sandwiches require supersize toothpicks.

Most ordered sandwich: the tasty Mable Clark, which has corned beef, Swiss, slaw and Russian dressing on an onion roll. The vinaigrette coleslaw is crisp and vinegary, with long shreds of cabbage and little hot pepper rings. The potato salad uses Irish mustard as the main flavoring, creating a horseradish mood.

The staff brags about their roasted-onion-and-garlic salad dressing, or try raspberry-mint Maurice. McNally’s also serves the best bread pudding anywhere, with whiskey sauce. And for another retro touch, you can get Towne Club soda. Open 11-4 until summer, when suppertime hours begin. — Jane Slaughter

Oakland: Bread Basket Deli Oak Park, 248-968-0022; Farmington, 248-442-4800
Macomb: New York Deli Sterling Heights, 810-826-9330; Warren, 810-558-9933
Washtenaw: Zingerman’s 422 Detroit, Ann Arbor, 734-663-5282

 

BEST BAGEL:
Wayne: Einstein Bros. Various locations
Oakland: New York Bagel 25246 Greenfield, Oak Park, 248-967-3919
Macomb:Elaine’s 42141 Garfield, Clinton Twp., 810-412-4905
Washtenaw:Zingerman’s 422 Detroit, Ann Arbor, 734-663-5282

 

BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT:
Wayne: Chung’s 3177 Cass, Detroit, 313-831-1100
Located in the heart of Detroit’s historical (but currently nonexistent) Chinatown, Chung’s offers convenience, exotic atmosphere and affordable food.

While we never saw any other Chinese diners during our visits, Chung’s does a great job of catering to its core non-Asian audience. A few blocks from Wayne State and minutes from downtown, the popular eatery packs a full house during mealtimes.

Food is served quickly and steaming hot, with an easy-to-read, all-English menu simplifying the ordering process.

Outside of convenience, Chung’s may want to thank Hollywood for its popularity. The exotic decor, with its dark yellow light, Chinese ornamentation and waitstaff chattering away in Cantonese, brings to mind visions of Charlie Chan movies. Fitting the old yellow-face stereotypes to a T, the only thing missing is the opium!

But how’s the food? Serving authentic chop suey and fortune cookies, all the staples for a well-rounded Chinese-American experience are available. An informal survey of Chung’s regulars argue that the egg rolls are scrumptious, even if the hot and sour soup received mixed reviews. As a quick, convenient outlet to satisfy one’s Asian fetishes, Chung’s definitely hits the spot. — Daniel D. Zarazua and Yu-Ru Lee

Oakland:Mon Jin Lau 1515 E. Maple, Troy, 248-689-2332
Macomb: Golden Chopsticks 24301 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores, 810-776-7711
Washtenaw: Champion House 120 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor, 734-741-8100

 

BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT:
Wayne: Benihana (was Kyoto) 18601 Hubbard, Dearborn, 313-593-3200
Oakland: Little Tree 107 S. Main, Royal Oak,248-586-0994
Little Tree has it all. At one end of the dining room, there is a full bar featuring Japanese beer and sake. At the other end is a sushi bar where chef Edwin Bautista produces delicious little seaweed-wrapped gems that will make you feel at once indulged and healthy.

In between is a dining room with three distinct Asian cuisines: Japanese, Thai and Philippine. You can have a four-course meal in any one of them, or mix and match.

The food is "Nu Asian." Each dish is presented with style and sizzle.

If you want to go light, order a bowl of Japanese soup. The oversized bowls overflow with thick, soft noodles, studded with chicken, fishcakes, egg and, crossed on top, two huge tempura shrimp.

If your appetite is hearty, try the Ginataang, a Philippine assortment of seafood stewed in coconut milk and garlic.

Little Tree is worth a visit just for the desserts. Try the "Leche Plan and Ube." Served with a little mound of purple yam, and surrounded by a ring of tropical fruit, it is a variation of flan with a haunting flavor.

Be warned: This is already a hot spot in Royal Oak’s restaurant mecca. Be prepared for a wait, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. And now with a Metro Times "Best Of" award on top of a five-star review, be prepared for a long wait. — Elissa Karg

Macomb: Shogun 37750 Van Dyke, Sterling Heights, 810-268-4882
Washtenaw: Miki 106 S. First, Ann Arbor, 734-665-8226

 

BEST SOUL FOOD RESTAURANT:
Wayne: Steve’s Soul Food 8443 Grand River, Detroit, 313-894-3464
Oakland: Beans ’n’ Cornbread 29508 Northwestern, Southfield, 248-208-1680
Macomb: Linda’s Place 23107 Harper, St. Clair Shores, 810-778-2700
Washtenaw: Nobody knows!

 

BEST GREEK RESTAURANT:
Wayne: Pegasus 558 Monroe, Detroit, 313-964-6800
Oakland:Big Daddy’s Parthenon 6199 Orchard Lake, W. Bloomfield, 248-737-8600
Macomb: Dmitri’s 37531 Harper, Mt. Clemens, 810-463-3335
Washtenaw: Parthenon 226 S. Main, Ann Arbor, 734-994-1012

 

BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT:
Wayne: Peacock 4045 Maple, Dearborn, 313-582-2344
Oakland: Priya 72 W. Maple, Troy, 248-269-0100
Macomb: Raj Mahal 34726 Dequindre, Sterling Heights, 810-978-8090
Washtenaw: Raja Rani 400 S. Division, Ann Arbor, 734-995-1545
Visually, Raja Rani is an unusual restaurant. The ornate, utterly white old house at the corner of Division and William streets greets visitors and passers-by with painted wooden figures of Indian women near the door.

Inside, you feel like you’re eating in someone’s sun parlor; most of the seating is in an L-shaped room with windows that look out to the streets and mirrors that give you a chance to glance at the fascinatingly international mix of diners.

At lunchtime, the room fills up with meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, all looking for an affordable feast. Much of the $6.95 lunch buffet is made up of vegetable-based dishes cooked in an impressive variety of sauces.

A few dishes are longtime standards, such as the kari – vegetables in a mild yellow sauce – and the nan, a moist, semi-charred bread.

I especially like the mattar alu, made of peas and potatoes in a sweet curry. And I always grab a few pieces of tandoori chicken, juicy and thoroughly marinated.

The dinner menu is even better, full of subtle flavors. If fear of spice keeps you from trying Indian cuisine, you’re sure to find enough mild dishes at Raja Rani to put you at ease.

And there are plenty of choices for spicy-food fans, too; you can order your dishes mild, medium, hot, "Indian hot" and "more than Indian hot."

My uncle, a longtime Raja Rani fan, once ordered a "more than Indian hot" dish, and sure enough, it was even more fiery than the hottest food he’d eaten on his spiritual pilgrimages to India. — Erick Trickey

 

BEST LOCAL ITALIAN RESTAURANT:
Wayne: Mario’s 4222 Second, Detroit, 313-832-1616
Oakland: Maria’s Front Room 215 W. Nine Mile, Ferndale, 248-542-7379
Macomb: Andiamo Italia 7096 14 Mile, Warren, 810-268-3200
Washtenaw: Gratzi 326 S. Main, Ann Arbor, 734-663-5555

 

BEST THAI RESTAURANT:
Wayne: Sala Thai 1541-1543 E. Lafayette, Detroit, 313-567-8424
Oakland: Siam Spicy Royal Oak, 248-545-4305, Farm. Hills 248-626-2092
Macomb: Thai House 25223 Gratiot, Roseville, 810-776-3660
Washtenaw: Siam Kitchen 2509 Jackson, Ann Arbor, 734-665-2571

 

BEST POLISH RESTAURANT:
Wayne: Under the Eagle 9000 Jos. Campau, Hamtramck, 313-875-5905
Oakland: Nobody knows!
Macomb: Nobody knows!
Washtenaw: Amadeus 122 E. Washington, Ann Arbor, 734-665-8767

 

BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT:
Wayne: La Shish Various locations
Oakland: Pita Cafe 25282 Greenfield, Oak Park, 248-968-2225
Macomb: La Shish 32401 Van Dyke, Sterling Heights, 810-977-2177
Washtenaw: Jerusalem Garden 307 S. Fifth, Ann Arbor, 734-995-5060

 

BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT:
Wayne: Xochimilco 3409 Bagley, Detroit, 313-843-0179
Oakland: Monterrey 312 S. Main, Royal Oak, 248-545-1940
Macomb: El Charro Various locations
Washtenaw: La Fiesta 529 W. Cross, Ypsilanti, 734-483-1666

 

BEST PIZZA:
Wayne: Pizza Papalis 553 Monroe, Detroit, 313-961-8020
Oakland: Buddy’s Various locations
Macomb: Buddy’s Various locations
Washtenaw: Cottage Inn 546 Packard, Ann Arbor, 734-769-5555

BEST KID-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT:
Wayne: Chuck E. Cheese Various locations
Sensory overload. Total. Complete. Mind-blowing.

A night at a rock concert or a laser light show or a visit to the local IMAX theater to be surrounded by the filmed fury of rampaging tornadoes.

Hell no. We’re talking something way more intense than that.

We’re talking Chuck E. Cheese – the closest thing to a kiddie casino this side of Vegas. Only instead of dropping quarters into slot machines in hopes of that big payoff, it’s tokens bearing the likeness of Chuck E. himself, whose overstuffed rodent being gets poked and pulled as he occasionally wades through throngs of adoring tykes.

And the payoff? As every kid over the age of 3 (and their parents) all know – because all of us have gone to a child’s birthday party at Chuck E.’s, because, hey, it’s the thing to do – the payoff is the tickets.

Tickets that come spewing out of the Skee-ball games, tickets that spew from that game where you bop plastic alligators on their snouts; tickets that spew from any number of games that beep and tweet and flash. Tickets which can be redeemed for plastic doodads that could be purchased for a fraction of the cost of all those tokens dropped down the slot.

Throw in the whirring of electronic race car rides and video shooting galleries, the blaring of songs from the stage show put on by Chuck E. and his animatronic friends, and the squealing of countless kids hopped up on Coca-Cola and birthday cake as they crawl through those oversized hamster tubes and you have the Chuck E. Cheese experience.

Oh, I almost forgot. They also serve pizza. Available at Chuck E. Cheeses throughout the metro area. — Curt Guyette

Oakland: Rainforest Cafe Great Lakes Crossing Mall, Auburn Hills, 248-333-0280
Macomb: Bob Evans Various Locations
Washtenaw: McDonald’s Various locations

 

BEST CARIBBEAN RESTAURANT:
Wayne: African-Caribbean Restaurant 18456 Grand River, Detroit, 313-270-3060
Detroit’s bid as the next cultural mecca isn’t solely dependent upon downtown, as the African-Caribbean Restaurant proves.

Located near the corner of Grand River and the Southfield Freeway, the restaurant’s deceptively plain facade belies a delectable world of flavor and excitement.

For those who may not be familiar with goat roti or the egusi/fufu dinner, the friendly staff is more than willing to take the time to explain.

More common dishes, such as jerk chicken and plantains, are also available, with beef patties and Ting on their way. Owner Johnny Azubogu greets his customers – West Indians, Africans and Americans – with a smile and chats about everything from their kids to the day’s news.

Celebrities such as NBA superstar Hakeem Olajuwan and congressman John Conyers have been known to stop by for a bite, as has Michael Julien of WDET fame.

Local resident and frequent diner Kellee Miller agrees with MT readers, stating, "I’ve been to a lot of different Caribbean restaurants around Detroit, but this is definitely the best."

Not content to rest on his laurels, Azubogu is adding the finishing touches to his recently expanded dining room, which will also feature live music and DJs. Staying open until 4 a.m. on the weekends, a late night buffet will also be available. Look for these additions toward the end of this month. — Daniel D. Zarazua

Oakland: Rainforest Cafe Great Lakes Crossing Mall, Auburn Hills, 248-333-0280
Macomb: Waves 24223 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores, 810-773-3840
Washtenaw: Bev’s Caribbean Kitchen 1232 Packard, Ann Arbor, 734-741-5252

 

BEST CARRYOUT:
Wayne: Dish 18441 Mack, Detroit, 313-886-2444
The chefs at Dish are willing to use surprising combinations; that’s undoubtedly why Metro Times readers voted this tiny east-side spot, opened in March ’98, "best carryout." I’d long complained that Dish’s food was way too sophisticated (and good) to have to cart home in a box. So it’s excellent news that, as of January, Dish has expanded to a second location downtown – with 35 eat-in seats, and even a liquor license in the offing.

Co-owner Peg Sulek (her partner is Lisa Debs) says people with very different backgrounds influence the menu. Her vegan/vegetarian brother is one; the sous-chef from Van Dyke Place is another: two totally different genres.

Customers’ favorite dishes include the Motor Martini salad, with pearl onions, olives and capers in a vodka vinaigrette; yellowfin tuna; Asian noodle salad; a rock shrimp-goat cheese-pesto pizza; and muffaletta or artichoke-and-spinach calzones.

Sulek herself likes smoked chicken salad and a hearty linguine provençal with tomatoes, kalamata olives and crimini mushrooms.

Personally, I doted on the shrimp Rockefeller quiche, with spinach, bacon and Pernod. All the flavors blend into one marvelous whole, with the Pernod adding just a slight kick. Also good are the dark brown five-onion soup (a staple) and the three-bean soup (black, red and white, an occasional special). Breads are from the Avalon Bakery.

It’s those interesting combos that make Dish a standout. Just look at the sandwiches: The tuna salad comes with capers, onions and lemon mayo. The tenderloin adds onion marmalade. The smoked salmon uses dill-caper cream. Or try salami and Brie.

Desserts, made on the premises, are gargantuan. The brownies are rich; the solid bread pudding comes with a terrific crème anglaise. The madeleines are light and lemony, somewhere between a cookie and a cake. And the triple nut chocolate flan gives new meaning to the word "excess." Downtown Dish is in the lobby of the Park Avenue Hotel, behind Second City. They’ll be starting brunch before too long. — Jane Slaughter

Oakland: (tie) Chicken Shack; Bread Basket Deli, Various locations
Macomb: El Charro Various locations
Washtenaw: Subway Various locations

 

BEST CONEY ISLAND:
Wayne: Lafayette Coney Island 118 W. Lafayette, Detroit, 313-964-8198
Oakland: National Coney Island Various locations
Macomb: National Coney Island Various locations
Washtenaw: National Coney Island Various locations

 

BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT:
Wayne: Blue Nile 508 Monroe, Detroit, 313-964-6699
Executive Chef Allen Gibson says about a quarter of his customers order the Blue Nile’s vegetarian feast: Green lentils, red collard greens, cabbage, mixed vegetables, yellow peas and spicy (pureed). They’re surprised, he says, by how much flavor greens can deliver without ham bone in pot.>

Gibson says diners like the Blue Nile’s authenticity. After all, owner Seifu Lessanework was butler to Emperor Haile Selassie back in old country. sit at traditional round wicker tables and sip Ethiopian honey wine. I’d add that they probably also appreciate chance eat with their fingers, legally, then tablecloth (a huge of flat, spongy> injera bread). Steaming washcloths are proffered before and after. For jaded diners, it really is a novel experience. — Jane Slaughter

Oakland: Inn Season 500 E. Fourth, Royal Oak, 248-547-7916

Time was when vegetarians got just a little more respect than invaders from Mars. And vegetarian restaurants … are you kidding? Any red-blooded American carnivore could tell you they were temples of anemia and blandness.

But that was before waves of non-European cuisine began hitting our shores, bringing spices my Polish grandmother never heard of and an attitude toward the vegetable that was truly unfamiliar: You mean you didn’t just boil it to death?

Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Lebanese and Mexican cooking vied for our gastronomic attention, seducing unsuspecting gringos with garbanzos, lentils, okra, mushrooms, cilantro and ginger. Rice, cracked wheat and soy challenged spuds for prime sidekick status. Then French nouvelle cuisine joined in and our dinner table runneth over.

For 17 years now, Inn Season in Royal Oak has been redefining the joys of eating in just these ways. Present owner George Vutetakis has been on board for most of that haul, making the restaurant itself a gorgeous, intimate spot in which to partake of a succulent diversity: From specialty smoothies, juices and teas, international appetizers such as "Black Bean Avocado Quesadilla" or "Shiitake Mushroom Sauté," soups and salads, pizza and Mexican delights, to stirfries in the best Asian traditions, fresh fish, veggie burgers and desserts.

Everything is fresh, natural, cooked without microwaves and guaranteed to make Archie Bunker and Ronald McDonald eat their words. Check out the amazing sweet potato pancakes (served with apple chutney) or the asparagus strudel (with toasted sweet red pepper sauce and saffron basmati rice on the side).

Each Thursday, Inn Season offers an East Indian evening – testifying to how much vegetarian cuisine has learned about food preparation from the subcontinent. We’ve come a long way, baby! — George Tysh

Macomb: Cedar Garden 23417 Greater Mack, St. Clair Shores, 810-778-5999
Washtenaw: Seva 314 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor, 734-662-1111

BEST SEAFOOD:
Wayne: Red Lobster Various locations
Oakland: Charley’s Crab 5498 Crooks, Troy, 248-879-2060
Macomb: (tie) Waves St. Clair Shores, 810-773-3840; Mac & Ray’s Harrison Twp., 810-463-9660
Washtenaw: Real Seafood Co. 341 S. Main, Ann Arbor, 734-769-5960

BEST BARBECUE:
Wayne: Bone Yard 30843 Plymouth, Livonia, 734-427-6500
Oakland: Memphis Smoke 100 S. Main, Royal Oak, 248-543-4300
Macomb: Red Hot & Blue 33800 Van Dyke SterlingHeights, 810-979-6400
Washtenaw: Arbor Brewing Co 114 E. Washington, Ann Arbor, 734-213-1393

BEST PACZKI:
Wayne: New Palace Bakery 9833 Jos. Campau, Hamtramck, 313-875-1334
First of all, let’s get something straight: The Polish word "paczki" is plural – one is called a "paczek" – and it’s not pronounced "poonchkey" or any number of other deformations.

Instead, a good approximation would be "pone-chkey."

But it’s not as important to say the name right as it is to find good paczki. The stuff that’s passed off around town – outside of Hamtramck – as a Polish delight is mostly pretty awful. And even Polish-American versions don’t come close to the sublime, airy delicacies that I devoured years ago in Warsaw.

But if you’re looking for the best in Wayne County, and a damn tasty stateside substitute, then New Palace Bakery on Jos. Campau in Hamtown is a good bet.

But, a word to the uninitiated: It’s not a smart idea, by way of avoiding the lines of paczki fanatics on Paczki Day, to buy these pastries a day – or, heaven forbid, two – early.

The best paczki are, by definition, fresh. The longer you wait to eat them, the less you’ll see the point of all the fuss. And the Roman Catholic point of all this tempting excess – one last blast of self-indulgence before Lent – will be lost on you.

New Palace is one of the authentic leftovers from the Slavic heyday of Hamtramck – along with Under the Eagle Restaurant, Kopytko’s Meat Market, the Kowalski plant and a few other local treasures. So, as we say in Polish, "smacznego" (enjoy). — George Tysh

Oakland: Hagelstein’s Various locations
Macomb: Old Village Bakery 31821 Mound, Warren, 810-268-0320
Washtenaw: Your grandmother’s house!

BEST WINE LIST:
Wayne: The Whitney 4421 Woodward, Detroit, 313-832-5700
Close your eyes and imagine yourself inside the Whitney: The quiet entrance, the sumptuous staircase, the light pouring in through the Tiffany stained-glass windows, the sweet rustle of the second-floor dessert room, the always-kept promises of the elegant bar on the third floor.

Now leave behind the sheen and luster of this lumber baron’s mansion, and step inside the comfort of the Lark. Ask for the wine list (in both places). Forget about your dinner companions (they can take care of themselves) and let your eyes rest on the small print.

Ah! The impressive vintage of the always magisterial Latours; the coquetry of a coy but complex Comtesse de Lalande; the velvety aroma of those palate-pleasing merlots; the deep-yet-subtle antiquity of the vintage ports ....

Rest assured: Lush adjectives were invented to describe these precious living creatures, swirling inside your glass, breathing in quiet tones of self-fulfillment in the vicinity of your well-chosen main dish.

Feel their touch. Savor their bouquets. Court their fragrant, ephemeral bodies. Listen to their stories. Chateau Gruaud-Larosc, 1989; Chateau Lafite-Rotschild, 1970; Remy Martin, Louis XIII, Grande Champagne; Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, Gigondas ’95; Perrier-Jouet Fleur de Champagne ’89; Emilio Lustau Rare Amontillado, "Escuadrillo"; Calvados du Pays d’Auge, Boulard, X.O. ... — Dayana Stetco

Oakland: The Lark 6430 Farmington, W. Bloomfield, 248-661-4466
Macomb: Mac & Ray’s Harrison Twp., 810-463-9660
Washtenaw: Gratzi 326 S. Main, Ann Arbor, 734-663-5555

BEST RESTAURANT FOR DESSERT:
Wayne: The Whitney 4421 Woodward, Detroit, 313-832-5700
Oakland: Sweet Lorraine’s 2901 Greenfield, Southfield, 248-559-5985
Macomb: Big Boy Various locations
Washtenaw: The Earle 121 Washington, Ann Arbor, 734-994-0211

BEST RESTAURANT FOR A BIG SPLURGE:
Wayne: The Whitney 4421 Woodward, Detroit, 313-832-5700
Oakland: The Lark 6430 Farmington, W. Bloomfield, 248-661-4466
Macomb: Mac & Ray’s Harrison Twp., 810-463-9660
Washtenaw: The Earle 121 Washington, Ann Arbor, 734-994-0211

BEST DINER:
Wayne: Mack Avenue Diner 19841 Mack, Grosse Pointe Woods, 313-886-0680
Oakland: Don’s of Traverse City 48730 Grand River, Novi, 248-380-0333
Macomb: Nobody knows!
Washtenaw: Fleetwood Diner 300 S. Ashley, Ann Arbor, 734-995-5502

BEST BREAKFAST:
Wayne: Original Pancake House 20273 Mack, Grosse Pointe Woods 313-884-4144
Oakland: Denny’s Various Locations
Macomb: Denny’s Various Locations
Washtenaw: Fleetwood Diner 300 S. Ashley, Ann Arbor, 734-995-5502

BEST ATMOSPHERE:
Wayne: Twingo’s 4710 Cass, Detroit, 313-832-3832
It’s usually a bad idea for a restaurant to try to be all things to all people. But Jeff Kalich, Twingo’s owner, says that when he planned his dream restaurant back in 1995, after a trip to France, he "always wanted to be different things to different people. We can be an upscale restaurant to the theater crowd and an inviting, nonpretentious coffeehouse to the younger crowd."

It must be working. I tend to concentrate more on food quality than on atmosphere, but the feel of the place is one of the reasons I’m drawn back to Twingo’s again and again. There are references to France – a Twingo is a Renault – without pretending that the Cass Corridor is the Left Bank, and besides, says Kalich, "I’ve never seen a place in France that looks like this; they’re always dark and dingy."

From the art-tiled restroom to the cut-out design, like a starry-eyed exclamation point, on the backs of the chairs, Twingo’s feels original, not like it was conceived by a restaurant design firm.

As to Best Coffeehouse: Kalich has 70 beverages on the menu, and most of them are joe, mixed with anything you can think of. Again, the reach is wide: it’s a coffee-lovers’ spot for those who like coffee and for those who’d rather disguise the flavor of java with up to five additives.

The biggest seller is the Twingo Turtle: Caramel, chocolate, hazelnut, espresso, milk and whipped cream. Take that, you spoilsports who argue that coffee is for grown-ups!

Banana Nut Bread Latte uses banana, almond and coconut; Love Potion #69 Latte uses strawberry, cherry and cinnamon. A Dog, A Fire Hydrant and Snow contains no coffee, just ice and cream blended and drizzled with lemon.

If there were justice in this world, Twingo’s would have won a swath of the food categories, too. Try any dish that includes chèvre, just for instance.

By late spring, Twingo’s will have completed its expansion into the space next door, and should also have a liquor license and live jazz. With the addition of a glass of wine, it will become the perfect restaurant. — Jane Slaughter

Oakland: Tribute 31425 W. 12 Mile, Farmington Hills, 248-848-9393
Macomb: Mac & Ray’s Harrison Twp., 810-463-9660
Washtenaw: The Earle 121 Washington, Ann Arbor, 734-994-0211

BEST PLACE TO BUY GROCERIES:
Wayne: (tie) Farmer Jack Various locations; Eastern Market Mack and Russell, Detroit
Oakland: Holiday Market 1203 S. Main, Royal Oak, 248-541-1414
Food shopping can be a big pain in the derriere or a total treat, full of neon anonymity or cool ambience.

Everybody’s got a favorite market, with lots of folks splitting up their outings between a great place for bread, another for wine or cheese, and so on. But many of us postmodern headless chickens need a one-stop supply center, where we can save time and collect gourmet treasures in the process.

Which explains why Holiday Market in Royal Oak is such a popular spot.

What began decades ago as a small corner market has grown through successive remodelings into a primo food funhouse. Holiday features fresh bread delivered daily by Zingerman’s, Cantoro and Italia bakeries, New York Bagel et al.

There’s a monster cheese selection, both domestic and European: With Vermont cheddar, Italian black pepper cheese, a whole range of French bries and chèvres (drool!). And the pastry shop is to go into insulin shock for.

What once was a locally famous meat department has only become better, now offering fresh sushi from Nami in Ferndale, a most amazing range of Italian sausages (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.), fresh and salt water fish, you name it!

If you need an alcoholic beverage to go with that special meal, the selection of beer, wine and liquor is truly staggering. And best of all, Holiday Market manages to employ the hippest, most helpful and diverse group of people you’ve ever met in a food store.

Oh, and I forgot the custom florist, the recycling bins, the produce, the sundries, the pastas, the fabulous olive oils, the organic milk in the dairy, the whole grains and spices. Hey, I shouldn’t write this on an empty stomach. — George Tysh

Macomb: Meijer Various locations
Washtenaw: Whole Foods Market 2398 E. Stadium, Ann Arbor, 734-971-3366

BEST COFFEEHOUSE:
Wayne: Twingo’s 4710 Cass, Detroit, 313-832-3832
Oakland: Brazil 305 S. Main, Royal Oak, 248-399-7200
Macomb: DeeBe’s 29200 Hoover, Warren, 810-558-3290
Washtenaw: Gypsy Cafe 214 N. Fourth, Ann Arbor, 734-994-3940

Previous Winners

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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