Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mexican high

Los Altos is one of Mexicantown's hidden wonders

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Catering mostly to owner Adan Lopez’s fellow immigrants from Jalisco, which gave birth to tacos al pastor, Los Altos’ tacos al pastor are out of this world: filled to the brim with succulent, mellow chunks of pork leg marinated in an adobo mixture. A taco costs $1; $1.50 if you’re silly enough to ask for a flour tortilla. The English menu is careful to advise that chopped onion and cilantro are the traditional toppings on a taco. If you insist on adding cheese, you may, but it’ll cost you 50 cents. The restaurant's traditional dishes show off the cooks’ ability to use every last portion of an animal: Besides rib-eye (bistec tampiqueño), chorizo or pork loin (lomo), you can try cabeza (head), buche (pork maw), lengua (tongue) or tripas (beef tripe). A plato grande of four meats with salad, beans and rice is said to feed six, for $18. The small $4 birria soup, made with marinated goat, is a rich, tender meal in itself. Los Altos’ menu is long, including seafood dishes such as shrimp, tilapia, oysters and ceviche; tortas made with 13 kinds of meat or avocado; the usual chiles rellenos, burritos, enchiladas, flautas, quesadillas and even chimichangas. For dessert there’s flan, sopapillas or tres leches cake. Cash only, no bar.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Get your Irish up

Birmingham's Dick O'Dow's brings a taste of Ireland to town

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM

For more than a decade, Dick O’Dow’s has been Birmingham’s most popular unpretentious watering hole. The dimly lit pub, graced with simple wooden tables and chairs, faded wall murals from the Book of Kells, agricultural paraphernalia and a wide variety of Irish kitsch, is a surprisingly accurate recreation of a rural local in the Ould Sod. With music, several TVs, and often a large crowd of more than a hundred tipplers, the front room dominated by the bar can get a bit boisterous. Guinness at $5.50 for an imperial (20-ounce) pint is de rigueur, of course, but there are 14 other beers on tap as well. Although Ireland does not produce wine, a handful of varietals from several other countries are available, most of which are less than $30. The menu is expansive with such bar food as pizza, burgers, sliders, wings, ribs, mac ’n’ cheese, ahi tuna and the like appealing to those not interested in sampling the Irish fare. Among the mains, the “Irish Classics” ($11.99-$15.99) are the best place to linger. Here one finds boxty, a unique dish whose foundation consists of two thick, slightly charred potato pancakes, garnished with baby asparagus and topped with beef chunks, onions and leeks, all of which is awash in a brown gravy. Guinness-battered cod and chips with an admirable creamy coleslaw, corned beef with carrots and parsnips (when’s the last time you saw parsnips on a menu?), wild Irish salmon with a Jameson’s glaze, and stuffed chicken round out the Irish entrées. O’Dow’s boasts live music seven nights a week, including traditional Irish on Tuesdays.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hidden thrills

Off the beaten path, Mexicantown's Los Corrales is worth finding

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 12:00 AM

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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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Modern Chinese secret

St. Clair Shores' Gim Ling takes classic Chinese-American to the next level

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2010 at 12:00 AM

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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