December 30, 2022

The best things we ate in metro Detroit and beyond in 2022 [PHOTOS]

Once again, the fearless Metro Times restaurant reviewers spent another year eating our way across Michigan. These are the best things we tried — and we’ll be back for seconds!
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Lamb chops at Bar Pigalle in Detroit’s Brush Park
2915 John R Rd., Detroit; 313-497-9200; barpigalle.com
On this “playful French” menu — meaning Day-twah French, with license to invent — a star on the star-studded meat-centric menu is two umami-laden lamb chops with a crisp exterior plus a tenderloin wrapped in Savoy cabbage. They come with ratatouille and a creamy sauce made with sweet piquillo peppers. As a bonus, the French wines are affordable and there is no snooty-French-waiter vibe at all. (Read more in our review.) —Jane Slaughter
Tom Perkins

Lamb chops at Bar Pigalle in Detroit’s Brush Park

2915 John R Rd., Detroit; 313-497-9200; barpigalle.com

On this “playful French” menu — meaning Day-twah French, with license to invent — a star on the star-studded meat-centric menu is two umami-laden lamb chops with a crisp exterior plus a tenderloin wrapped in Savoy cabbage. They come with ratatouille and a creamy sauce made with sweet piquillo peppers. As a bonus, the French wines are affordable and there is no snooty-French-waiter vibe at all. (Read more in our review.) —Jane Slaughter
Polglish pizza at HenriettaHaus in Hamtramck
8609 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck
facebook.com/HenriettaHaus
Among the best pizzas in Detroit, the Polglish’s sauce is basically pickle soup thickened with a roux — vegetarian stock, lots of butter, flour, and milk that’s whipped in until everything thickens, at which point HenHaus adds pickle brine, carrots, parmesan cheese, and pepper, then cooks it all down. The pie is topped with mozzarella cheese, chopped potato pancakes from Srodek’s, sliced pickles, and a sour cream-dill drizzle. The pizza’s success here owes in no small part to the crust, which is blended with King Arthur AP bread and Caputo 00 flours, and the dough’s slow, two-day rise gives the wild yeast time to do its thing and develop a slightly more complex and sour flavor. Once cooked, it holds a focaccia-like crust that’s similar to Detroit-style pizza. But it’s not — it’s Hamtramck-style. (Read more in our review.) —Tom Perkins
Tom Perkins

Polglish pizza at HenriettaHaus in Hamtramck

8609 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck facebook.com/HenriettaHaus

Among the best pizzas in Detroit, the Polglish’s sauce is basically pickle soup thickened with a roux — vegetarian stock, lots of butter, flour, and milk that’s whipped in until everything thickens, at which point HenHaus adds pickle brine, carrots, parmesan cheese, and pepper, then cooks it all down. The pie is topped with mozzarella cheese, chopped potato pancakes from Srodek’s, sliced pickles, and a sour cream-dill drizzle. The pizza’s success here owes in no small part to the crust, which is blended with King Arthur AP bread and Caputo 00 flours, and the dough’s slow, two-day rise gives the wild yeast time to do its thing and develop a slightly more complex and sour flavor. Once cooked, it holds a focaccia-like crust that’s similar to Detroit-style pizza. But it’s not — it’s Hamtramck-style. (Read more in our review.) —Tom Perkins
Breakfast sandwich at Promenade Artisan Foods in Detroit’s New Center
3011 W. Grand Blvd., Suite 115, Detroit; 313-462-8166; promenadeartisanfoods.square.sitem
I particularly liked a big breakfast sandwich, two crisp halves, grilled and buttery, cheesy and spicy. It’s a better buy than the bacon-tomato-feta quiche, which is also delicious but smaller, with lots of flaky crust, soft innards, and prominent tomato. (Read more in our review.) —Jane Slaughter
Tom Perkins

Breakfast sandwich at Promenade Artisan Foods in Detroit’s New Center

3011 W. Grand Blvd., Suite 115, Detroit; 313-462-8166; promenadeartisanfoods.square.sitem

I particularly liked a big breakfast sandwich, two crisp halves, grilled and buttery, cheesy and spicy. It’s a better buy than the bacon-tomato-feta quiche, which is also delicious but smaller, with lots of flaky crust, soft innards, and prominent tomato. (Read more in our review.) —Jane Slaughter
Gyro platter at NYC Halal Eats in Troy
1939 E. Wattles Rd., Troy
248-729-7200; nychalaleat.com
The gyro platter reigns as the world’s best street food. Since first being served from a New York City food cart more than 30 years ago, the dish — basically a deconstructed gyro served over rice and doused in a tangy “white sauce” — has become a staple in big cities around the country. In Michigan, where food carts are rare because we don’t do a lot of walking on the streets, one of the best options is in Troy’s many strip malls at NYC Halal Eats. (Read more in our review.) —Tom Perkins
Tom Perkins

Gyro platter at NYC Halal Eats in Troy

1939 E. Wattles Rd., Troy 248-729-7200; nychalaleat.com

The gyro platter reigns as the world’s best street food. Since first being served from a New York City food cart more than 30 years ago, the dish — basically a deconstructed gyro served over rice and doused in a tangy “white sauce” — has become a staple in big cities around the country. In Michigan, where food carts are rare because we don’t do a lot of walking on the streets, one of the best options is in Troy’s many strip malls at NYC Halal Eats. (Read more in our review.) —Tom Perkins
Tortas at Galindo’s in Southgate
13754 Fort St., Southgate; 734-324-1141; galindosmexican.com
These 22 huge sandwiches on rectangular, flattish bolillos are in the style of Mexico City, where chef-owner Erik Galindo grew up and where street vendors prepare them at their carts on the spot. All include the mild Oaxaca cheese, quesillo, and one to four kinds of meat. The Acapulco is simple and simply wonderful with marinated pork, mushrooms and quesillo, but my nod goes to the Cubana, which besides breaded chicken, breaded steak, salchicha, and quesillo also includes a fried egg. This is all on top of mayo, tomato, thick slices of avocado, and occasional flashes of jalapeño. Take a friend and share. (Read more in our review.) —Jane Slaughter
Viola Klocko

Tortas at Galindo’s in Southgate

13754 Fort St., Southgate; 734-324-1141; galindosmexican.com

These 22 huge sandwiches on rectangular, flattish bolillos are in the style of Mexico City, where chef-owner Erik Galindo grew up and where street vendors prepare them at their carts on the spot. All include the mild Oaxaca cheese, quesillo, and one to four kinds of meat. The Acapulco is simple and simply wonderful with marinated pork, mushrooms and quesillo, but my nod goes to the Cubana, which besides breaded chicken, breaded steak, salchicha, and quesillo also includes a fried egg. This is all on top of mayo, tomato, thick slices of avocado, and occasional flashes of jalapeño. Take a friend and share. (Read more in our review.) —Jane Slaughter
Hamachi kama at TigerLily in Ferndale 
231 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-733-4905; tigerlilyferndale.com
It doesn’t feel totally right to be highlighting a grilled dish from a sushi restaurant, but there were so many phenomenal plates at TigerLily, raw or cooked. (In our opinion, the other front runner wasn’t even fish: folks, don’t miss the shikotsu A5 Wagyu roll.) But ultimately, the hamachi kama, or grilled yellowtail tuna collar, won. The collar is a fatty, flavorful, slightly rich cut that’s pulled from behind the gills, and the slightly smoky fish is partially blanketed with a pink and white checker-triangle of watermelon radish pickled in a fish stock that provides a dashi-umami component, and a sweet pickled daikon. Together, the pickles beautifully contrast the fish in color, texture, and flavor, and the sweet acidity cuts right through the glorious tuna fat, though you might not always get to share in the glory — TigerLily goes through 10-15 hamachi weekly, and that’s how many collars it has to make the dish. (Read more in our review.) —Tom Perkins
Tom Perkins

Hamachi kama at TigerLily in Ferndale

231 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-733-4905; tigerlilyferndale.com

It doesn’t feel totally right to be highlighting a grilled dish from a sushi restaurant, but there were so many phenomenal plates at TigerLily, raw or cooked. (In our opinion, the other front runner wasn’t even fish: folks, don’t miss the shikotsu A5 Wagyu roll.) But ultimately, the hamachi kama, or grilled yellowtail tuna collar, won. The collar is a fatty, flavorful, slightly rich cut that’s pulled from behind the gills, and the slightly smoky fish is partially blanketed with a pink and white checker-triangle of watermelon radish pickled in a fish stock that provides a dashi-umami component, and a sweet pickled daikon. Together, the pickles beautifully contrast the fish in color, texture, and flavor, and the sweet acidity cuts right through the glorious tuna fat, though you might not always get to share in the glory — TigerLily goes through 10-15 hamachi weekly, and that’s how many collars it has to make the dish. (Read more in our review.) —Tom Perkins
Elixir smoothie at El ArteSano in Southwest Detroit
4748 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-551-4743; facebook.com/artesanojuicebar
I read once about a take-out food company that researched what its customers wanted in their smoothies or milkshakes. Which flavors, what consistency? Turned out, what folks wanted, as they drove away from the window, was a companion. Something that would stay with them on their journey. So the company made its “drinks” super-thick, slow to draw through the straw. ArteSano’s smoothies fit that bill. (Read more in our review.) —Jane Slaughter
Tom Perkins

Elixir smoothie at El ArteSano in Southwest Detroit

4748 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-551-4743; facebook.com/artesanojuicebar

I read once about a take-out food company that researched what its customers wanted in their smoothies or milkshakes. Which flavors, what consistency? Turned out, what folks wanted, as they drove away from the window, was a companion. Something that would stay with them on their journey. So the company made its “drinks” super-thick, slow to draw through the straw. ArteSano’s smoothies fit that bill. (Read more in our review.) —Jane Slaughter
Chicken shawarma at Kal’s Lunch Bowl in Royal Oak 
316 E. 11 Mile Rd., Royal Oak (inside the Royal Oak Farmers Market); 248-832-0044; kalslunchbowl.com
For years, to find one of the best kabobs in town, one needed to hit an unlikely spot – the Mobil gas station at the corner of Coolidge and 12 Mile roads. It wasn’t much of a secret that Mr. Kabob chef and manager Kal Al-Amara was rolling up gold as local and national media raved about the Lebanese fare, and a carryout crowd packed the small station on weekend nights. These days, Mr. Kabob is still rolling, now in a small carryout kitchen window in the northeast corner of the Royal Oak Farmers’ Market. (Read more in our review.) —Tom Perkins
Tom Perkins

Chicken shawarma at Kal’s Lunch Bowl in Royal Oak

316 E. 11 Mile Rd., Royal Oak (inside the Royal Oak Farmers Market); 248-832-0044; kalslunchbowl.com

For years, to find one of the best kabobs in town, one needed to hit an unlikely spot – the Mobil gas station at the corner of Coolidge and 12 Mile roads. It wasn’t much of a secret that Mr. Kabob chef and manager Kal Al-Amara was rolling up gold as local and national media raved about the Lebanese fare, and a carryout crowd packed the small station on weekend nights. These days, Mr. Kabob is still rolling, now in a small carryout kitchen window in the northeast corner of the Royal Oak Farmers’ Market. (Read more in our review.) —Tom Perkins
Whole grilled bronzini at Aliz Seafood House in Dearborn
14507 W. Warren Ave., Dearborn; 313-977-7787
More commonly called branzino, or Mediterranean sea bass, this delicate, sweet fish is rich enough to stand on its own but is enhanced by a simple green sauce, a side of tahini, and one of several unfamiliar versions of rice — ask for the sayyadiyah, dark with fish oil, topped with caramelized onions and crunchy cashews. The firm consistency makes it easy to avoid the tiny bones. Anyone I’ve taken here has gone back on their own, and besides the bronzini are red snapper, whiting, golden pomfret, sea bream and sardine, all prepared similarly. (Read more in our review.) —Jane Slaughter
Tom Perkins

Whole grilled bronzini at Aliz Seafood House in Dearborn

14507 W. Warren Ave., Dearborn; 313-977-7787

More commonly called branzino, or Mediterranean sea bass, this delicate, sweet fish is rich enough to stand on its own but is enhanced by a simple green sauce, a side of tahini, and one of several unfamiliar versions of rice — ask for the sayyadiyah, dark with fish oil, topped with caramelized onions and crunchy cashews. The firm consistency makes it easy to avoid the tiny bones. Anyone I’ve taken here has gone back on their own, and besides the bronzini are red snapper, whiting, golden pomfret, sea bream and sardine, all prepared similarly. (Read more in our review.) —Jane Slaughter
Longanisa dumplings at the Gajiza Dumplins pop-up in Detroit
gajizadumplins.com
The first thing one will note at this dumpling pop-up is the commitment to quality noodles. Of course, the noodle shells mean nothing if the fillings inside don’t work. The best we tried was the longanisa, a traditional Filipino sausage chef Jasmine Haskins packs in-house with ground pork that’s cured for several weeks, paprika, ginger, palm sugar, chili pepper, garlic, and fried shallot — a bit sweet but more savory, and the package is paired with a sriracha sauce. There’s not a lot of longanisa floating around Detroit these days, and the fusion dish is a bit of a rarity altogether. Haskins said she has several Filipino-American chefs who said they never would have dreamt up a longanisa dumpling, but, folks, it’s a perfect marriage. (Read more in our review.) —Tom Perkins
Tom Perkins

Longanisa dumplings at the Gajiza Dumplins pop-up in Detroit

gajizadumplins.com

The first thing one will note at this dumpling pop-up is the commitment to quality noodles. Of course, the noodle shells mean nothing if the fillings inside don’t work. The best we tried was the longanisa, a traditional Filipino sausage chef Jasmine Haskins packs in-house with ground pork that’s cured for several weeks, paprika, ginger, palm sugar, chili pepper, garlic, and fried shallot — a bit sweet but more savory, and the package is paired with a sriracha sauce. There’s not a lot of longanisa floating around Detroit these days, and the fusion dish is a bit of a rarity altogether. Haskins said she has several Filipino-American chefs who said they never would have dreamt up a longanisa dumpling, but, folks, it’s a perfect marriage. (Read more in our review.) —Tom Perkins