Tuesday, January 5, 2021

'Esquire' names three metro Detroit spots on list of '100 restaurants America can't afford to lose'

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2021 at 3:57 PM

click to enlarge American Coney Island. - JAMES R. MARTIN / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • James R. Martin / Shutterstock.com
  • American Coney Island.

Many restaurants nationwide are going hungry, while others have been starved off altogether. Perhaps even your favorite breakfast joint or sushi spot has been among the past year's casualties.

In an effort to dish out some praise and draw attention to many of the country's esteemed and beloved eateries that are, against all odds, still hanging on, Esquire magazine launched its list of “100 restaurants America can't afford to lose” — and yes, unsurprisingly, a few Detroit area spots made the cut.

While we could argue that there are 100 — if not more — restaurants in Michigan alone that are worthy of the list, Esquire settled a score long waged by two iconic Detroit establishments and warring coney joints: American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island.

“They’re right next to each other on the same block in downtown Detroit, and the story is that theirs is a bitter and endless grudge match. Whatever,” Esquire's Jeff Gordinier writes. “The point is that both of them raise a torch for a true regional delight: coneys, which are hot dogs flooded with funky chili, yellow mustard, and raw onions.”

Also on the list is Shatila Bakery. The 40-year-old east Dearborn bakery specializing in Mediterranean pastries was selected not only for its fresh baked goods but also for serving as what Gordinier describes as being a “bedrock community center.”

“For any lover of sweets, a step into Shatila’s 10,000-square-foot palace of pastry feels like a glimpse into paradise,” he writes. “But for Dearborn’s sizable population of families with roots in the Arab world, the colorful displays of cookies and cakes at Shatila represent something more: a bedrock community center, a village square for customers old and young, as well as a living link to the flavors and textures of the Middle East.”

Shatila is no stranger to topping national magazine listicles. Last year, it was among Food and Wine's list of best bakeries in America, along with fellow Michigan favorites Zingerman's Bakehouse, Avalon International Breads, Tecumseh Bread & Pastry, and the Jampot in Eagle Harbor.

Though American and Lafayette Coney Islands, as well as Shatila Bakery, are open in the capacities in which they are allowed to be open under the current restrictions, the reality remains grim for restaurants.

As of December, more than 110,000 restaurants in the U.S. have closed long term or shuttered completely since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March. In Michigan, where a statewide indoor dining ban remains in place, nearly a third of all Michigan restaurants could face permanent closure within the next six months should they not receive any financial intervention or government relief.

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