Tacos at Taqueria Lupitas in Mexicantown by Marvin Shaouni
7 Lesser Known Restaurants in Southwest Detroit
Story by Sarah Bence | Photos by Marvin Shaouni
Southwest Detroit is a colorful and constantly evolving neighborhood known for its street art, rich Latin American heritage, quirky shops and galleries, and of course its incredible food scene.
It’s also the perfect Detroit neighborhood for those who love to explore off the beaten path. Southwest Detroit is full of hidden gems in the foodie scene, including both brand new restaurants and old favorites with loyal local followings.
If you’re looking to get a taste of Southwest Detroit, here are seven of the neighborhood’s best lesser known restaurants that deserve a visit.
Southwest Detroit Restaurants
1. Taqueria y Cenaduria Triángulo Dorado
Taqueria y Cenduria Triángulo Dorado is a newcomer on the Detroit foodie scene – and while it’s still relatively under the radar, you can expect a lot from it in the coming years. It was ranked by both Eater and Detroit Free Press as one of the best new restaurants in Detroit in 2019, so it deserves a visit for that alone.
The name Taqueria y Cenduria Triángulo Dorado is a reference to the Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua states in Mexico, which is both where the owner, Santiago Torres, is originally from, and the regional cuisine that the restaurant specializes in.
What to order: The Sushinola Roll (a Sinaloa style sushi)
Pupuseria Y Restaurante Salvadoreño is the place to go if you’re craving authentic Salvadoran food in Detroit – or if you’ve never had Salvadoran food, this is where you’ll get a truly traditional flavor. The red and white striped restaurant is small, and casual on the inside, but the food has rave reviews. True to its name, the specialty dish here is pupusas, which is a thick cornmeal flatbread that is the national dish of El Savador.
You can’t go wrong with a classic burger and fries combo. That’s what Motz’s Burgers has been serving Southwest Detroit for over 90 years. In particular, Motz’s has used the same 100% beef sliders recipe since its inception back in 1929.
Despite their long time in the business, this place has remained relatively low key thanks to their focus on community and family friendly service. If you choose to eat at Motz’s, you’ll likely run into an assortment of local regulars.
What to order: The Famous Hamburger Slider, with chili cheese fries and a strawberry shake on the side.
El Asador Steakhouse is in the heart of Mexicantown, within Southwest Detroit. Like many Mexicantown restaurants now do, El Asador Steakhouse focuses its cuisine on particular regions, namely Puebla, Nuevo Leon, Veracruz, Tamaulipas, and Hidalgo. Thanks to the regional specialties, the menu specializes in both steak and seafood.
You’ll also notice that the food here is incredibly fresh… so fresh that there is not even a freezer on the premises! There are also halal and vegan options here, so it’s the perfect Southwest Detroit restaurant to visit for groups of varying dietary needs.
What to order: Filet mignon with three chile butter sauce, plus the guacamole en la mesa
5. Duly’s Place
Want a classic Detroit coney dog… at any hour of the day? Then head to Duly’s Place, a cozy (read: teeny tiny) diner that’s open 24 hours a day. Duly’s Place has been stationed in Southwest Detroit for 99 years and counting, and it has the old school Americana vibe to go with that. It’s unpretentious, and adored by the local Southwest Detroit community that it adores right back.
Duly’s Place had its moment of fame back in 2014 when Anthony Bourdain visited (and ordered seconds), but despite the rise in business thanks to that, it’s maintained its decades-long hole-in-the-wall atmosphere that makes all visitors feel like they just discovered one of Detroit’s best kept secrets.
What to order: A coney dog, obviously!
6. El Caporal Restaurante
El Caporal, located on Junction Ave in Mexicantown, is a pretty unassuming brick building from the outside, which is maybe why it’s a lesser-known restaurant in the area. But head inside and you’re met with a blast of colors – from the tabletops to the wall murals to the intricately painted chairs.
The restaurant is set apart by its family values – founded by siblings Antonia and Araceli Canchola, who grew up working at their father’s food cart in Mexico City. They founded El Caporal in 2018 to share their authentic from-scratch family recipes with Detroit.
What to order: A pambazo and a pastel de tres leches for dessert
PizzaPlex is more than just a casual pizza joint in Southwest Detroit. It’s also an event and community center, focused on fostering sustainable ideas that help both people and the planet. It was founded by husband and wife duo Alessandra Carreon and Drew McUsic, and their good friend Nathan Hannon, with the goal to eventually become worker-owned.
And if you’re just looking for good pizza, PizzaPlex is also notable for their wood fired Neopolitan pizzas in addition to their sustainable values. In fact, they are the first Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) certified pizzeria in all of Detroit.
What to order: No 7 Diana pizza (with fresh mozzarella, eggplants, onions, and basil)