Hamtramck, the epicenter of DIY food culture

Don’t call it a comeback

Every few years, there's a buzz around Hamtramck's inevitable comeback. After all, it's a city of young families and aspiring artists and musicians, of people who are taking it upon themselves to make the neighborhood better — all ingredients for a strong sense of community.

Nowhere is that optimism more apparent lately than in the local food scene. Hamtramck enjoys a rich food culture, with mainstays like Polish Village Cafe, Polonia, Yemen Cafe, Mocha Cafe, and Aladdin's.

Most recently, Hamtramck eateries are popping up as a result of an emerging DIY culture. Though perhaps lacking in outside investors, Hamtramck residents are piecing together food and drink places bit by bit. The result: new family-owned spots and a number of pop-up or occasional eateries emerging in existing bars.

Oloman Cafe is a years-in-the-making effort in the space that formerly housed the Belmont Bar. The owner, Zlatan Sadikovic, a photographer by trade who emigrated to Detroit in the 1990s from Sarajevo, Bosnia, was inspired by a cafe of the same name in his hometown. He used his own money and the help of his family to renovate the place, slowly but surely, when he bought it in 2014. It's now a gorgeous space that's part coffee shop, part photo gallery and studio. The walls are muted grays and reds, punctuated by a black, red, and white mural by Canadian artist Matea Radic. A back patio will be available when weather permits. In addition to a variety of pour overs and espresso drinks, baked goods from Golden Wheat Bakery and paninis are available.

Farther north where Rock City Eatery was first located, we've been told by a number of locals, including Mayor Karen Majewski, that a sushi restaurant will open, though we haven't heard specifics on who's behind it or the timing of it. Before RCE occupied it, the property was home to Maria's Comida, a Mexican-Asian fusion concept.

On more of the pop-up front, the so-called Bank Suey building on Joseph Campau and Caniff has welcomed New Weird America, a Saturday only cafe featuring Anthology Coffee pour overs, ginger shots, and fresh juices. Bank Suey is also a passion project embarked by Hamtramck resident Alissa Shelton. Formerly housing the Golden Hill Chop Suey takeout restaurant, the historic building's current iteration is a community space, where Shelton holds special events and workshops.

In the city's many bars, such as at Kelly's, Baker Streetcar, and Bumbo's, food is increasingly emphasized. Kelly's offers food at least four days a week, with its weekend Boboville brunches by chef Blair Wills, Wednesday (and most recently Tuesday trivia nights) musician Tim Lampinen of Timmy's Organism continues to offer up his famous tacos, which are followed by 75-cent hard shell tacos on Thursdays. At the somewhat newer Metro Pub (formerly Celina's), Sunday brunch is also available, in addition to bar food like an intriguing "Balkan burger" that we're told is quite delicious. Baker Streetcar Bar's Summer Radtke has been hosting Sunday night food under her Ginger Snap pop-up, featuring vegetarian-friendly comfort foods and homemade pie. Meanwhile at Bumbo's, on Wednesday nights, Brian Krawczyk continues to churn out his modern take on Polish food, while on Sunday game days, he and co-owner and wife Tia open early and offer small snacks.

Of that DIY spirit emerging in town, Majewski tells us she's proud to see residents taking it upon themselves to make things happen.

We have to say, we agree.

Oloman Cafe is at 10215 Joseph Campau Ave.; Bank Suey, at 10345 Joseph Campau Ave.; the rumored sushi spot is at 11411 Joseph Campau Ave.; Kelly's is located at 2403 Holbrook St.; Metro Pub's at 11667 Joseph Campau Ave.; Baker Streetcar Bar, 9817 Joseph Campau Ave.; and Bumbo's is at 3001 Holbrook Ave.

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