Discover Detroit’s Midtown and More

March 20, 2017  |   Story by Amber Hunt  

If you really want to get to know Detroit, explore its nooks and crannies outside downtown. The city proper is dotted with a bunch of culturally rich areas that are full of art galleries, barbecue havens and the best dive bars you’ll ever dive into. Discover Midtown Detroit restaurants and eateries throughout our neighborhoods, and plan out things to do in Detroit for any day of the week.

 

Midtown Detroit Restaurants, Museums & Theaters

Midtown is just north of downtown.

We’re leading with it and giving it a little extra attention, because, like downtown, it’s been smoking hot when it comes to new stuff popping up in the see, do, buy and eat categories. Midtown boasts unique art galleries, quirky independent retail shops and some of the best don’t-want-to-miss cuisine you’ll find in The D.

Let’s start with Avalon Bakery, a Detroit institution that’s been serving up Michigan-made and organic goodies since 1997 (aka before it was cool). Try the Bite of Bliss for breakfast. This sandwich features eggs baked with love and a slab of white cheddar on a 313 whole-wheat bun. In between bites, chat up the employees and ask about Avalon’s “Eat Well. Do Good.” motto. You’ll love the story behind the statement. After you’ve had your fill (and likely walked out with a freshly baked baguette to snack on later), head over to the newly renovated …

Detroit Historical Museum. Stroll along the Streets of Old Detroit exhibit, and be transported to 19th century Detroit, complete with cobblestone paths and storefronts that offer high-button shoes or a safety bicycle to gaze at. After you’ve experienced the past, kick it up a notch and check out the new Kid Rock Music Lab, which explores the lasting influence of Detroit music — from gospel and Motown to rock ‘n’ roll and everything in between. You’ll leave feeling educated, inspired and craving more.

Walk across Woodward Avenue and you’ll find the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). Yes, Midtown hosts two incredible museums just a few steps away from one another. The DIA boasts 100 galleries, 650,000 square feet of exhibition space and the Rivera Court — a 27-panel tribute to Detroit industry completed by Diego Rivera in the 1930s. Look for staffers — they love answering questions about the DIA’s collections — and be sure to shop the DIA Museum Shop for the perfect takeaway. Psst … there are lots of Detroit Industry mural items to choose from.

Looking for something a little more edgy? The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) can be found about five blocks south on Woodward and always has something surprising in store. Experimental films, pop-up kitchens, fascinating lectures, crafts for kids — the list goes on and you’ll want to come back as often as possible to take in its ever-changing exhibits.

And when that snack time baguette from Avalon can no longer hold back the belly growls, end the day dining in a 115-year-old mansion. At The Whitney, you can sample the eggplant bruschetta, and don’t miss the chocolate mousse, while admiring the delicate, ornate woodcarvings and Tiffany stained-glass windows of this 52-room manor. We suggest you stay put for the after-dark hours, too. The Whitney has a newly remodeled lounge called the Top Floor, which features live entertainment nightly. But if you decide to venture out and look for a change of scenery, you won’t be disappointed. Magic Stick or Majestic Theatre are top Midtown choices, but if you want raw Detroit after hours, hit the area’s classics like The Old Miami or Bronx Bar.

 

Don’t Miss These Midtown Favorites!

EAT: Cass Cafe • Rodin • Seva • Traffic Jam & Snug • Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes • Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails

SHOP: City Bird • Nest

ART: The Butcher’s Daughter • Detroit Artists Market • Detroit Film Theatre

 

Midtown 101

  • 24: The number of restaurants, stores and services that opened in Midtown through fall 2013.
  • Midtown is home to the city’s first Whole Foods Market.
  • Web surf or just hang out in Kresge Court, known as Midtown’s cultural living room.
  • Drought is a raw juice bar inside Shinola’s flagship retail store in Midtown.
  • Nora isn’t the name of a chick. It’s a Midtown house of Scandinavian housewares, Japanese pottery and Detroit jewelry.
  • Run Detroit — housed in a former Detroit Public Schools warehouse — is the city’s first running store.

 

Keeping It Local

Whole Foods is going local with its Detroit store, featuring metro Detroit touches like Motown-themed checkout displays and shelves stocked with goods from 50 Michigan vendors.

Beau Bien Fine Foods • McClure’s • Simply Suzanne • Maria’s Salsa • Sweet Potato Sensations • Avalon Breads • Good People Popcorn

You can print out a great list of all the shopping and dining that Midtown has to offer.

 

More Great Detroit Neighborhoods

Mexicantown

Mexicantown is about five miles west of downtown, so you’ll need a ride.

Word of advice if you head this way: Go hungry. In Mexicantown, the service is always fast, and the food is always beyond affordable, big on portions and equally as phenomenal. So you can overeat on the cheap. The no-frills restaurant Taqueria Lupitas, for instance, offers an incredibly authentic experience for about the same price you’d pay at Taco Bell. Try el pastor tacos wrapped in corn tortillas and topped with onion and cilantro. Get the pozole, a pork shoulder stew loaded with spices and hominy. Pro tip: Ask for extra onions, cabbage and spices, and season it to your liking. And, yes, there’s more to Mexicantown than just awesome eats. Appreciate the divine architecture at Sainte Anne’s. Built in 1886, it’s one of the most stunning churches in the Midwest.

 

Greektown

Greektown is within walking distance of downtown, or take a People Mover ride to the Greektown Station.

This is the perfect spot if you like a little culture and shouting with your cuisine. Stop by Pegasus Taverna Restaurant. Try the grape leaves, flaming cheese (feel free to yell out “OPA!” in unison with your server) and eggplant-layered moussaka. If you’ve got room left or want a sweet treat for later, walk into Astoria Pastry Shop, which is overflowing with baklava, sweet egg bread and tortes of all sorts. Then walk it off on the crowded streets and take in the people, the atmosphere and the authentic feel of Old World Greece.

 

Hamtramck

Hamtramck requires a drive from downtown; north about six miles.

This Polish enclave is full of good ethnic eats — think pierogi, paczki, kielbasa, kraut and dill pickle soup. It’s always hard to choose between Polonia and Polish Village Cafe, but trust us, you won’t be disappointed with either. Heck, try both. After a hearty meal(s), visit the Planet Ant Theatre. This intimate 60-seater located in a former residence will give you a taste of the burgeoning theater and improv scene happening in Detroit. Rather take in some tunes? Hamtramck is the quintessential underground hangout for live music. Try Small’s, the Painted Lady or New Dodge, just to name a few. Prefer the playback? Head over to the main drag on Jos. Campau, and check out Lo and Behold! Records and Books. It’s easy to lose yourself flipping through the vinyl, antique books and other vintage items.

If you’re in town on Fat Tuesday, make a pilgrimage to Hamtramck and indulge in a paczki — a super-dense doughnut filled with jellies of many flavors and fried to perfection. People stand in really long lines at every bakery in town to get their hands on these authentic Polish confections. That’s how evil they are in the delicious department. The day — as well as the doughnut — is so celebratory in these parts, we actually call it Paczki Day.

 

Corktown

Corktown is just west — about a mile and a half — of downtown.

This Irish-turned-hipster haven features lots to do, with tons of friendly pubs and dive bar hangouts. We’d be remiss to mention Corktown without talking about Slows Bar BQ, the notorious restaurant serving up barbecue paradise with offerings such as the Yardbird sandwich (mustard sauce-soaked pulled chicken breast tossed with mushrooms and cheddar and topped with bacon), a mouthwatering treat that was a finalist in the Travel Channel’s hunt for the best sandwiches in America. Tip: There’s extremely affordable parking behind Mercury Burger & Bar, located right across the street from Slows. Speaking of, Mercury is surely a contender in the tasty cuisine department. Try the fried bologna sandwich with grilled onions. Don’t be afraid — it’s a far cry from anything your grandpa would slap together when you were young. For post-meal fun, check out PJ’s Lager House, a Corktown fixture since 1914, where you can catch some of the best local music Detroit has to offer.

 

Read more about places to visit in Detroit.

Mentioned Attractions And Venues
  1. Avalon International Breads
    422 W. Willis St., Detroit, MI 48201313-308-0150 Highlight on map | More Details
  2. Detroit Historical Museum
    5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-833-1805 Highlight on map | More Details
  3. Detroit Institute of Arts
    5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-833-7900 Highlight on map | More Details
  4. Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)
    4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-832-6622 Highlight on map | More Details
  5. The Whitney
    4421 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-832-5700 Highlight on map | More Details
  6. Magic Stick
    4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-833-9700 Highlight on map | More Details
  7. The Majestic Theatre
    4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-833-9700 Highlight on map | More Details
  8. The Old Miami
    3930 Cass Ave., Detroit, MI 48201313-831-3830 Highlight on map | More Details
  9. Bronx Bar
    4476 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-832-8464 Highlight on map | More Details
  10. Cass Café
    4620 Cass Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-831-1400 Highlight on map | More Details
  11. Seva
    66 E. Forest Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-974-6661 Highlight on map | More Details
  12. Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails
    15 E. Kirby St., Suite D, Detroit, MI 48202313-818-3915 Highlight on map | More Details
  13. City Bird
    460 W. Canfield St., Detroit, MI 48202313-831-9146 Highlight on map | More Details
  14. Nest Housewares
    460 W. Canfield St., Detroit, MI 48202313-831-9776 Highlight on map | More Details
  15. Detroit Artist Market
    4719 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-832-8540 Highlight on map | More Details
  16. Detroit Film Theatre
    Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-833-3237 Highlight on map | More Details
  17. Whole Foods Market
    115 Mack Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-576-5300 Highlight on map | More Details
  18. Nora
    4240 Cass Ave., Ste. 109, Detroit, MI 48202313-831-4845 Highlight on map | More Details
  19. Run Detroit
    441 W. Canfield St., #5, Detroit, MI 48202313-638-2831 Highlight on map | More Details
  20. Germack Pistachio & Coffee Roasting Co.
    2509 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207313-784-9484 Highlight on map | More Details
  21. Pegasus Taverna Restaurant
    558 Monroe St., Detroit, MI 48226313-964-6800 Highlight on map | More Details
  22. Astoria Pastry Shop
    541 Monroe St., Detroit, MI 48226313-963-9603 Highlight on map | More Details
  23. Polonia Polish Restaurant
    2934 Yemans St., Hamtramck, MI 48212313-873-8432 Highlight on map | More Details
  24. Slows Bar BQ
    2138 Michigan Ave., Detroit, MI 48216313-962-9828 Highlight on map | More Details
  25. Mercury Burger & Bar
    2163 Michigan Ave., Detroit, MI 48216313-964-5000 Highlight on map | More Details
  26. PJ's Lager House
    1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit, MI 48226313-961-4668 Highlight on map | More Details
  27. Beau Bien Fine Foods
    2478 Riopelle St, Detroit, MI 48207 Highlight on map
  28. McClure’s
    8201 St Aubin St, Detroit, MI 48211, United States248-837-9323 Highlight on map | More Details
  29. Simply Suzanne
  30. Sweet Potato Sensations
    17337 Lahser Rd, Detroit, MI 48219313-532-7996 Highlight on map
  31. Saint Anne's
    313-496-1701
  32. Planet Ant Theatre
    313-365-4948
  33. Small's
    10339 Conant St, Hamtramck, MI 48212, United States313-873-1117 Highlight on map | More Details
  34. The Painted Lady
    2930 Jacob St, Hamtramck, MI 48212, United States313-874-2991 Highlight on map
  35. Lo and Behold! Records and Books
    10020 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck, MI 48212, United States313-759-0075 Highlight on map | More Details
  36. Traffic Jam & Snug
    Traffic Jam & Snug, West Canfield Street, Detroit, MI, United States Highlight on map