Bright lights big city

For the Auto Show crowd: Worthy restaurants in and around downtown Detroit

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$=$5-10; $$=$10-25; $$$=$25-50; $$$$=$50+


24 Grille inside the Book-Cadillac Hotel, 204 Michigan Ave.; 313-964-3821;; $$: Dark and sexy, with cushioned stools, Swarovski crystal and more create a sumptuous interior. Various nods to industrial design, right down to an exposed 1920s I-beam. Outdoor patio.

Anchor Bar 450 W. Fort St.; 313-964-9127;; $: Enjoy waxed-paper-wrapped burgers, sandwiches and bar food with chunky crisp steak fries and creamy coleslaw sides in a room that will collapse if one more piece of Detroit history goes on the walls.

Andiamo Detroit Riverfront 400 Renaissance Center; 313-567-6700;; $$$: Right on the river off the redesigned Renaissance Center's sunny Winter Garden, with seating areas that are spacious or intimate. Upscale Italian cuisine in luxurious atmosphere, often with live music.

Angelina Italian Bistro 1565 Broadway, at Grand Circus Park; 313-962-1355;; $$$: Italian food (and some extras) at "prices that reflect the new reality" — at least when it comes to the entrées and the wines. Pristine view of Grand Circus Park with floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around dining area. Closed Mondays.

Astro Coffee 2124 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-638-2989;; $:  Breakfast and lunch dishes are handmade from mostly local ingredients. Some choice items include: buttermilk scones, ham and white cheddar croissants, and a variety of baguette sandwiches. On top of the superb coffee, sweets include a flavorful chocolate mousse cake baked with ground Honduran coffee and served with hand-whipped cream.

Atlas Global Bistro 3111 Woodward Ave.; 313-831-2241;; $$$$: At Atlas, you'll find Carolina catfish, pork taquitos, short ribs, ravioli and polenta, Hawaiian shrimp and Moroccan beef. Ingredients — which don't necessarily remain with their cuisine-of-origin — include lemongrass, cactus, Gorgonzola, wasabi, coconut, pancetta, caviar and black-eyed peas. Brunch until 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Avalon International Breads 422 W. Willis St.; 313-832-0008;; $: A Cultural Center fixture, Avalon has branched out from the baguettes and crusty peasant loafs that brought bread-starved customers flocking years ago, today offering brioches, scones and cinnamon rolls.

Bangkok Crossing 620 Woodward Ave.; 313-961-3861;; $$: Tasty and enjoyable pla dook pad ped (crisp red snapper stir-fried with mushrooms, peppers and eggplant), pad ma kher (fried eggplant), as well as a few concessions to the American palate. Crowded at lunchtime weekdays.

Bookies Bar & Grille 2208 Cass Ave.; 313-962-0319;; $$: A downtown fixture for more than years, Bookies' new home is on Cass Avenue, out among the parking lots where tailgaters often take over. But don't let the remove fool you: On game days, it's right in the heart of things, sporting enough plasma screens to warm the heart of any sports fan.

Bourbon Steak 1777 Third St., (inside MGM Grand Detroit); 313-465-1648;; $$$: Open only for dinner 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Features self-dubbed "modern American classics," including all-beef burgers and Colorado lamb. Usually, all tables are taken on the weekends. Reservations suggested.

Bucharest Grill 2040 Park Ave.;; 313-965-3111; $: "Come get your shawarma on." The unique offerings at Bucharest match its tagline. Everything on the menu is handmade and makes for a stellar affordable meal.

Cafe D'Mongo's Speakeasy 1439 Griswold St.;; $$: Open Friday nights only, this is the quirkiest little hipster hangout in downtown Detroit. The limited soul food menu features some very fine sides at $3 a la carte.

Cass Cafe 4620 Cass Ave.; 313-831-1400;; $$: The lofty open space on two floors can accommodate intimate or large groups, and can cater to veggies and non-veggies. Kitchen creates inventive daily specials, never more than $16, and the varied beer and wine list, rotating art installations and chatty neighbors always add something.

Centaur Bar 2233 Park Ave.; 313-963-4040;; $$: This sophisticated setting for an after-work nip garners a diverse clientele. If you're headed to Joe Louis for hockey action: Centaur offers a free shuttle to every Red Wing's home game.

City Wings 2896 W. Grand Blvd.; 313-871-CITY;; $$: Inviting prices on 14 versions of owner Grant Lancaster's special wings coupled with a vast array of sides. Prefer buffalo wings with a kick? The KO (knockout) flavor is 'way hot' according to Lancaster.

Coach Insignia 200 Renaissance Center, 72nd Floor; 313-567-2622;; $$$: Coach Insignia, perched spectacularly on the 71st and 72nd floors of the Marriott Hotel in the Renaissance Center, is the second highest restaurant in the United States. Only open for dinner. The unsurpassed view, mostly of the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario, is of considerable value. Closed Sundays.

Cuisine 670 Lothrop Rd.; 313-872-5110;; $$$: In the shadow of the Fisher Building, Cuisine attracts a bustling theater crowd. Inside a 1920s house is a simple but elegant space. Ambitious French-American cuisine is creative, sophisticated and memorable.

Da Edoardo Foxtown Grille 2203 Woodward Ave.; 313-471-3500;; $$$: With this premier location, across from Comerica Park in the same gloriously restored building as the Fox Theatre, it's a natural destination for theatergoers. Most menu offerings are simple and grilled, including three steaks, lamb chops, veal chops or char-grilled tuna. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Detroit Beer Co. 1529 E. Broadway; 313-962-1529;; $$: Across from the opera house, this full-service restaurant and microbrewery offers a half-dozen unique quaffs. Along with traditional pub grub, some dishes transcend the genre.

Detroit Seafood Market 1435 Randolph St.; 313-962-4180;; $$: Formerly Frank Taylor's Detroit Fish Market, the Seafood Market attracts a clientele that changes depending on what shows are on downtown. There's live music on the weekends and a menu that runs the gamut from fish-and-chips and catfish with coleslaw to scallops and lobster.

Elwood Bar & Grill 300 Adams St.; 313-962-2337;; $$: This charming little art deco diner was slated for demolition to make way for Comerica Park, so its owner picked up the building and moved it right behind the ballpark's scoreboard. Closed Sundays.

Fishbone's Rhythm Kitchen Cafe 400 Monroe St.; 313-965-4600;; $$$: Fishbone's has earned its reputation for doing things in a big way. Belly up to one of the two bars for drinks, or sit in the spacious main dining area. Its Cajun and Creole dishes go beyond jambalaya and fried catfish. But the main event is their huge weekly brunch.

Flood's Bar & Grille 731 St. Antoine St.; 313-963-1090;; $$: You can tell by the bottlenecked line of glimmering Jags, Beemers, Mercedes and SUVs lined up for valet parking that this is a nightspot where the Motor City's elite come to meet. The food's OK, but that ain't the point; it's the tailored clientele and top-shelf booze that really sets Flood's apart.

Fountain Bistro (located at Campus Martius); 313-237-7778;; $$: Arguably the cream of the crop in terms of Downtown locations for an eatery. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer a pleasant view of the fountain anywhere in the restaurant. Food options include four entrées and a half-dozen sandwiches such as the BLTA ('A' for avocado aioli). 

Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes 15 E. Kirby St.; 877-727-4727;; $: The traditional French pancake gets an American treatment at this miniature eatery. Don't call ahead. Your crepe does need to be made to order, and it'll be much better if you eat it right then.

Grand Trunk Pub 612 Woodward Ave.; 313-961-3043;; $$: There's been a buzz building about the renamed (formerly Foran's) pub on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit — and with good reason: The food is good, the ambience is one-of-a-kind and the beer selection kills. And don't forget the appealing weekend breakfasts.

Hard Rock Cafe 45 Monroe St.; 313-964-7625;; $$: The food and drinks are American classics done well. Portions are generous. Call for live music info.

Harmonie Garden 4704 Third St., Detroit; 313-638-2345: For the love of falafel! Outstanding and affordable Mediterranean cuisine offered with a friendly, attentive waitstaff. A vegetarian-friendly menu with standout cuts like the falafel omelet. Sundays bring a remarkable bargain: An all-you-can-eat-plus-coffee buffet with a massive variety of options spread out across the bar for $10. 

Harry's Detroit Bar & Grill 2482 Clifford St.; 313-964-1575;; $$: Quirky space, 10 TV monitors tuned to sports, a 30-yard-long bar, serving burgers, chili, sandwiches and drafts. But the oversized appetizers, hefty a la carte salads, and generous entrées merit a closer look.

Hockeytown Cafe 2301 Woodward Ave.; 313-965-9500;; $$: Offering snazzy dinners, upscale atmosphere and a Zamboni in the lobby, the Red Wing-mementoed watering hole draws the theater crowd.

Honest John's Bar and No Grill 488 Selden St.; 313-832-5646;; $$: Cheap eats and drinks, including local microbrews, a great jukebox and loyal regulars.

Hot Taco 2233 Park Ave.; 313-963-4545;; $: Detroit's newest taqueria is seated right behind the Fox Theatre and celebrated the coming of 2012 with its grand opening.

Hudson Café 1241 Woodward Ave.; 313-237-1000; hudson-café.com; $$: The standard breakfast options are a little pricey (as in $11 for an omelet), but when chef Tom Teknos ventures out with special dishes, he gets it right with various skillets and a challah French toast. Open for early-risers at 7 a.m. during the week and 8 a.m. weekends.

Iridescence 2901 Grand River Ave.; 313-237-7711;; $$$$: Iridescence is the Motor City Casino's elegantly decorated attempt to "break the mold" of casino restaurants by focusing on game and fish rather than more traditional steakhouse fare. The entrées are unique, tasty, and show special attention to detail, but the desserts are the real showstoppers. Closed Mondays.

Jacoby's German Biergarten 624 Brush St.; 313-962-7067;; $: This narrow bar on Brush Street is one of the oldest establishments in Detroit, but its kitchen draws a good lunch crowd too. Sunday brunch until 4 p.m.

Le Petit Zinc Creperie & Cafe 1055 Trumbull St.; 313-963-2805;; $$: Charles Sorel, raised in France but with the Caribbean personality of his native Martinique, is providing a splash of sunlight at his breakfast-and-lunch spot in Corktown. Excellent crepes range from simple to sweet to savory.

Loco Bar & Grill 454 E. Lafayette Blvd.; 313-965-3737;; $$: Tex-Mex restaurant in Greektown featuring homestyle cooking, salsa music and tequila mixes.

Lunchtime Global 660 Woodward Ave., Suite 110; 313-963-4871;; $: Co-owners Trish Ziembowicz and Ken Karustis have built a loyal clientele of downtown workers partial to the six soups a day and to the house rules: everything from scratch and made in-house. Open 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Majestic Cafe 4140 Woodward Ave.; 313-833-9700; $$: Comfort foods drawn from around the globe served in an open, airy setting. Note: a great place to watch them set up for the Thanksgiving parade the night before. Closed Mondays.

Mario's Restaurant 4222 Second Ave.; 313-832-1616;; $$$: Inviting Italian spot where generations of theatergoers have enjoyed multicourse meals before walking to the Hilberry Theatre.

MGM Grand Palette Dining Studio 1777 Third St., (inside MGM Grand Detroit); 313-393-7777; $$: Think of the food court at your local mall. Now ratchet up several notches, because everything is done to excess in casino-land.

Mosaic 501 Monroe St.; 313-962-9366;; $$$: With a menu culled from major world cuisines (Asian, Mediterranean, French, South American, Caribbean and more), it's fusion food, with Mediterranean given the most influence. Fascinating interior.

Motor City Casino Assembly Line Buffet inside Motor City Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave.; 313-237-7711; $$: All-you-can-eat fare, meat being the main attraction. The desserts, however, are all above average or better.

Mudgie's 1300 Porter St.; 313-961-2000;; $$: A pleasant 12-table sandwich spot with exceptionally friendly waitstaff, free WiFi, delicious house-made quality, and solidly local products. Delivery available daily 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.

Niki's Pizza 735 Beaubien St.; 313-961-4303;; $: Just outside of Greektown, Niki's Pizza offers a full menu of Greek foods and square pizzas; patio seating in good weather.

Northern Lights 660 W. Baltimore St.; 313-873-1739; $$: A snazzy joint with a variety of environments to dine in from informal chairs by the free shuffleboard table to wraparound booths. The appetizer menu has several strong choices including fried calamari. Most sandwiches are on average $7 and come with a bag of Better Made chips or French fries seasoned with a dry ranch mix. Kitchen closed on weekends.

Opus One 565 E. Larned St.; 313-961-7766;; $$$$: Etched glass and marble are lavished on downtown's handsomest restaurant. The kitchen makes virtually everything from scratch, and the menu changes seasonally, typified by such dishes as medallions of veal with Madeira sauce, rack of lamb and seafood en croute. The pastry cart is hard to resist.

Orchid Thai 115 Monroe St., Detroit; 313-962-0225; $$: How to choose among the chef's 59 entrées? Actually, there are 337, since most are available with chicken, beef, pork, tofu, shrimp, scallops or squid as the anchor ingredient. Many offer "vegetables" as well. Soups are great, including the citrusy gai tom ka ($2.50).

Pizza Papalis Taverna 553 Monroe St.; 313-961-8020;; $$: When Pizza Papalis first opened in Greektown in the 1980s, Chicago-style pizza was a gamble. Having now outlasted several neighbors, Papalis' several locations are a sure thing.

PJ's Lager House 1254 Michigan Ave.; 313-961-4668; $$: Everything but the fries and sweet potato fries are made in house at Corktown's popular music venue. The Corktown Classic is a Reuben grilled on rye, topped with Swiss and very fresh coleslaw made by the staff which corns its own beef. On Sunday's owner PJ Ryder personally cooks up Cajun specialties including barbequed shrimp, cooked with potatoes and tomatoes in a load of butter.

Plaka 535 Monroe St.; 313-962-4687; $: Who knew that a tiny 24-hour diner in Greektown would have not only the best French toast in the city, but in the entire universe? Lively at 2:30 a.m.

Rattlesnake Club 300 River Place Dr.; 313-567-4400;; $$$: The name was chosen to denote energy and this place hums with it. Fresh, seasonal, simple menu: grilled fish, steaks and chops as well as imaginative dishes. Airy and sophisticated riverfront setting. Closed Sundays.

Roast 1128 Washington Blvd.; 313-961-2500;; $$$$: No ordinary steakhouse or barbecue joint, with all meat naturally raised and dry-aged for a minimum of 21 days. The same amount of gastronomic attention is paid to the poultry and seafood dishes.

Roostertail 100 Marquette Dr.; 313-822-1234;; $$$: For almost a half-century, the Roostertail has been synonymous with the sort of snazzy, riverfront fine dining and entertainment.

Russell Street Deli 2465 Russell St.; 313-567-2900;; $: This chattery Eastern Market deli serves lunch on weekdays and lunch and breakfast on Saturdays to a loyal crowd. Closed Sundays.

Sala Thai 3400 Russell St.; 313-831-1302;; $: Curries, fried rice, Thai salads and noodles all done in authentic Thai style. Extensive appetizer selections, sushi service and tasty soups. Vegetarian entrées too. Lively setting.

Seva-Detroit 66 E. Forest Ave.; 313-974-6661;; $$: Ann Arbor's long-standing stop for crafty vegetarian cuisine recently opened a second location in Midtown. The outstanding options such as Eggs Rancheros (corn tortilla stacked with black beans, Mexican rice, two over-easy eggs, broiled cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses and ranchero sauce) are paired with  surprisingly cheap drinks. Friendly waitstaff and a relaxing open environment.

Shangri-La 4710-12 Cass Ave.; 313-974-7669;; $$: Quirky interior, extremely attentive servers, and excellent dim sum, those small plates that are something like Chinese tapas. Most dim-sum are $2.95 to $3.50, and most offer a bite or so for at least three diners.

Sindbad's 100 Saint Clair St.; 313-822-8000;; $$: Roadhouse fare with an emphasis on steaks, chops and fish. The all-you-can-eat brunch buffet makes a great Sunday morning.

Slows Bar-BQ 2138 Michigan Ave.; 313-962-9828;; $$: In a meticulously revamped 1880s building, Slows caters to a mix of hipsters, folks from area businesses, and suburban brew lovers. Excellent barbecue and amazing beer selection. Often a wait.

Small Plates 1521 Broadway; 313-963-0497;; $: The diminutive dishes here run the gamut from hand-cut fries to pan-seared scallops. And they make almost everything in-house, including their own mayo and ketchup!

Supino Pizzeria 2457 Russell St.; 313-567-7879;; $$: Brilliant thin-crust pizza with imaginative fresh ingredients and a delectable thin crust that's not too chewy. Also excellent is the house-made manicotti.

Tom's Oyster Bar 519 E. Jefferson Ave.; 313-964-4010;; $$: Right across from the RenCen, noisy and cheerful at lunchtime and after work, Tom's gives a very convincing impression of a well-preserved 19th century pub.

Traffic Jam & Snug 511 W. Canfield St.; 313-831-9470;; $$: Serves interesting food, much of it is made in-house, brewing their own beers, baking their own bread, even making their own ice cream.

Union Street 4145 Woodward Ave.; 313-831-3965;; $$: Art Deco decor, eclectic crowd. Menu ranges from chicken wings to homemade pastas to filet mignon. More than 100 beers; excellent wine list. Sunday brunch is noon-7 p.m.

Vicente's Cuban Cuisine 1250 Library St.; 313-962-8800;; $$: Familiar elements from the Caribbean are here — plantains, yuca, papas rellenas, thin beefsteak and lots of black beans and rice. Come for dinner, stay for dancing lessons.

Vivio's 2460 Market St.; 313-393-1711;; $$: Decked out in historic ads and posters, Vivio's is the place to get a 20-ounce porterhouse, a full pound of crab legs, "pub style" mussels or a great Bloody Mary.

Wasabi Korean & Japanese Cuisine 15 E. Kirby St., Suite E; 313-638-1272;; $$: Wasabi's bibimbab is best served in a heated stone bowl; it's huge and infinitely satisfying on a cold night. Sushi in all the usual varieties is offered, artfully done and of excellent quality.

The Whitney 4421 Woodward Ave.; 313-832-5700;; $$$$: With its 52 rooms, 10 bathrooms and 20 fireplaces, the three-story pink-granite edifice built for a lumber baron in 1894 has been one of Detroit's most celebrated restaurants since 1986.

Woodbridge Pub 5169 Trumbull St.; 313-833-2701;; $$: Open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, inventive burgers include a half-pound certified Angus and a vegan black-bean patty. Hip setting, friendly service.

Wolfgang Puck Grille 1777 Third St., (inside MGM Grand Detroit); 313-465-1648, $$$: Open, spacious, with a gazillion accent lights playing upon its clever interior design, Puck's restaurant serves the innovative, seasonal, organic cuisine he helped popularize.


Special thanks to editorial intern Ryan Felton for his assistance compiling this column.

See any mistakes or inaccuracies? Let us know! Call 313-202-8043 or e-mail [email protected]

See any inaccuracies or omissions? Let us know! Call 313-202-8043 or e-mail [email protected]

About The Author

Michael Jackman

Born in 1969 at Mount Carmel hospital in Detroit, Jackman grew up just 100 yards from the Detroit city line in east Dearborn. Jackman has attended New York University, the School of Visual Arts, Northwestern University and Wayne State University, though he never got a degree. He has worked as a bar back, busboy,...
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