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    • Great expectations

      Miguel's Cantina fires up food worth celebrating - in a Rochester Hills strip mall
    • Fire and spice

      Tender meats, flavorful sauces and solid side dishes are Greektown's new barbecue trifecta
    • Tiny but tasty

      An unassuming Royal Oak spot overflows with Thai treasures
    • Why rye?

      In defense of an American whiskey's comeback
    • Mix Master

      A love affair with the classic cocktail culminates in a stylish new joint for tipplers
    • Cold gin

      A 'tini piece of advice from a cocktail purist
    • Eastern elegance

      Novi's Ajishin serves delightfully authentic sushi and noodle dishes
        You can choose among about 20 different nigiri, priced between $1.50 and $3 apiece, and about 20 rolls at $2.50 to $6. Missing are the fantastic and pricey specialty rolls you find at so many of the hip sushi lounges catering more to a Western palate. The nigiri are well-constructed, with mildly sweet rice, excellent seafood and wasabi paste already incorporated into the bite. But soup lovers have reason to rejoice! Ajishin’s udon soup is extraordinary. There are also a few cold noodle dishes where the flavor of soba is better illustrated. Arashi, for instance, combines soba, grated yam, seaweed and green onion in a tangy dressing for a deep, almost smoky noodle salad. Open 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Monday; closed Tuesdays.
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    • Retro area

      Classic style gets a delicious update in Pleasant Ridge
        With knee-to-ceiling windows on the north and west walls, a wealth of natural light washes across the white counter and the vibrant aqua vinyl stools and chairs. Mae’s is quite clean and decent and suggestive of a fairy-tale era where young love is measured in baseball euphemisms and cigarettes aren’t yet bad for your health. Open until four p.m. every day except Mondays, Mae’s menu is naturally focused toward breakfast and sandwiches. The butter burger is a good bet for lunch: two well-seasoned, hand-formed patties come various ways on a generously buttered bun. While the buildup towards Mae’s opening might have initially brought a few people in, it’s the quality food, mood and reasonable prices that are going to bring them back.
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    • Sweet dreams

      Ferndale's Pinwheel Bakery serves gourmet baked goods with a side of whimsy
        In contrast to the bakeries with long display cases of cakes, tarts and pastries that are sometimes just shallow concoctions of sugar more pleasing to the eye than the palate, Pinwheel focuses on mostly simple, made-from-scratch delights. There are a variety of bite-sized cookies sold by the pound and boxed with a ribbon. These are fun, sweet and savory combinations much bigger in taste than size. Choose from cardamom-walnut rounds, cappuccino coins and vanilla-bean buttons edged with sparkly pink sugar. Shortbread comes in orange-cranberry, lavender and rosemary, or try the powdered sugar coated Chai-almond and Mexican tea cakes among the many options. If you’re in the mood for something more substantial, panini sandwiches on ciabatta bread are made fresh daily and grilled to order. Wash everything down with an espresso or their unique, crowd-favorite New Mexican piñon coffee. Milk, juices and quality fruit juice sodas, including Izze and San Pelligrino, are available from the cooler. Open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; closed Sundays and Mondays.
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    • Out of the park

      How Bucharest Grill complements Park Bar in downtown Detroit
        The minimal and inexpensive menu is a loose blend of Eastern European and Middle Eastern, with an emphasis on ground pork dishes. In fact, more than half of the menu items contain ground pork in some form or another. But for a little more than $4, order chicken, beef or vegetarian shawarma wrapped in a pita. A few cents more buy you the enormous Bucharest shawarma, swollen with chicken, cabbage, pickles, tomato and fries, dripping with a delicious garlic sauce. It’s a triple-napkin wrap. Bring a pocketful of breath mints if you’re club-hopping afterward. An extra $2 gets you that mound of fries. One section of the menu is dedicated to “gourmet dogs.” Then there is the ground pork patty sandwich served open-faced over a fried egg and Muenster cheese! Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday. Carry-out, limited delivery.
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    • The real deal

      Aladdin brings authentic and affordable Bangladeshi fare to Hamtramck
        On the corner of Commor and Conant streets, in the extraordinarily diverse city of Hamtramck, there is not one dish on Aladdin’s menu that surpasses $8.99. In fact, a large mixed fruit shake costs more than any of the appetizers and even a few of the vegetarian entrées that include rice or naan. On the whole, prices hardly surpass what you’ll pay for a meal at a national drive-through chain. Vegetarians have all sorts of choices, from curries to fried homemade cheese with spinach or green peas. There are some dishes where lentils are the base and others with chick peas. Try some mushroom vegetable fritters with onions and hot spices, or sautéed okra. The variety is amazing and the most expensive dish is $5.99. There are three times as many meat and seafood dishes. The goat korma, braised in a yogurt base is creamy, subtle, deep and rich, with a touch of spice heat. The gravy was so delicious we wiped the last little bit out of the bowl with crispy and chewy naan. Open 10:30 a.m.-midnight Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Credit cards accepted; free delivery.
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    • Hidden thrills

      Off the beaten path, Mexicantown's Los Corrales is worth finding
        Most everyone knows the strip of Bagley Street where the majority of Mexicantown establishments are concentrated. But real neighborhoods are not defined by a sole commercial district with freeway signs guiding the way. There are dozens of Mexican shops and restaurants scattered about southwest Detroit. Finding a satisfying meal at these places off the beaten path is a thrill. Los Corrales is one of them. The atmosphere is warm and laid-back. Los Corrales offers fare from all over Mexico. You’ll find chiles rellenos as well as chimichangas, but an emphasis on seafood dishes such as ceviche. Finish it all off with a horchata.
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    • Modern Chinese secret

      St. Clair Shores' Gim Ling takes classic Chinese-American to the next level
        Gim Ling has served dine-in and carryout at the same St. Clair Shores strip mall location for decades. Only relatively recently has it been transformed into a “Modern Asian restaurant.” In this case, the term “modern” mostly serves as a stand-in for “better.” New diners, as well as those with memories of a Gim Ling past, are in for quite a revelation when they dig into a dish. The locals have been spreading the word. On a typical Saturday night, you’ll find a substantial line of folks waiting on carryout. Gim Ling has as robust a takeout business as we’ve witnessed at a Chinese restaurant. The dining room is usually at least half-capacity, and we can’t help wonder how big a crowd might be drawn if they served adult libations along with the quality fare. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sundays and holidays.
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    • Cajun hideaway

      Howe's Bayou is a taste of New Orleans right in Ferndale
        With New Orleans-flavored prints on the wall and a plea to “let the good times roll” in Cajun French above the bar, the atmosphere is laid-back, with dark wood panels, tables and a long, graceful bar, the slender space is cozy under low-hung ceiling fans. All but the most fainthearted of eaters should try the crawfish boil. If you’re not so bold, order the crunchy and mild deep-fried popcorn crawdad tails or the more refined crawfish cakes. Out of the 10 “po’ boy” sandwiches served on a French loaf with fresh Southern slaw, the one packed with sweet and tender pan-fried Andouille sausage-encrusted oysters is always a pleaser. The dark roux-based crawfish étouffée is a good choice off the entrée menu, though there have been times it hasn’t had the deep, roasted-nut essence you expect from that preparation. Though small, the drink lists are carefully considered. There are no bottles of wine costing more than $30 and the selection is surprisingly diverse.
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    • Carving a niche

      The brewers at Jolly Pumpkin expand into a cafe in Ann Arbor
        While pub-like in atmosphere, the food is a bit more up-to-date. Expect tofu cracklings, French fries flavored with rosemary and truffle salt, and a butcher’s snack board of cured meats and more. There is no real entrée menu as such. A small list of daily specials are offered, such as broiled walleye and mushroom risotto. The rest of the list consists of salads, sandwiches and pizza. Children are considered with an entire section of their own. And, of course, there is the beer. Diners not yet familiar with Jolly Pumpkin beers might want to ease into the experience with something slightly tamer, like a North Peak Amber Ale. But hardcore fans will likely find the cask ale to be the liquid they want in their glass. Along with a few Michigan wines and spirits, and a list of non-alcoholic cocktails, there’s a drink for everyone. Open 11-2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, noon-midnight Sunday.
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    • Green space

      Mind Body & Spirits offers ecologically sound dining that's mighty tasty too
        Situated at the corner of Main and Third, their newly remodeled building boasts rooftop solar panels, cork flooring, a bar top constructed of reclaimed wood, rain barrels for irrigating their onsite greenhouse and a bio-digester. But all these nifty, earth-friendly measures don’t mean a hill of organic beans without tasty food. No worries there. The menu plainly defines the dishes that are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free. They also put effort into creating their dishes for simple removal of any items that might be objectionable to the food-conscious or food-sensitive diner. All the food is organic and local if possible. MBS has cultivated relationships with local farmers, such as Maple Creek in Yale, to supply their seasonal produce and even the edibles growing in the luxuriant greenhouse that faces Third Street.
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    • High Polish

      Polonia serves the classics on Yemans Street
        If you're looking for good, hearty and affordable food in a charming atmosphere, you can't do much better than Polonia. The menu is full of traditional Polish food, heavy on the meat and potatoes, but without gargantuan serving sizes. The decor is a hodgepodge of wooden curios and colorful plates beneath the warm pink glow of coated fluorescent lamps. There is no real sit-down bar, but drinks in all forms are readily served. If diet be damned, dive right in to an appetizer of smalec ze skwareczkami, a bread spread consisting of pork lard, bacon crumbs, onion and spices. There is a nice lineup of soups, and great pierogi stuffed with potato, cheese, kraut or meat. Monday through Saturday, there are several daily specials. No smoking.
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