How to Navigate Detroit’s Restaurant Scene Like a Foodie
Story by Biba Adams | Photos by Lady of the House, Marvin Shaouni
The word “foodie” has only been a part of the lexicon since the early 1980s, but the idea is as old as the ages.
Food enthusiasts, or foodies, enjoy the art of eating. Foodies can be motivated home cooks or die-hard restaurant hounds.
Either way, they revel in finding the best new flavors that they can stuff in their pie-holes. Home cook foodies can usually be found scouring farmer’s markets for artisanal jams or browsing retailers for sharp knives and other kitchen appliances. Restaurant foodies, on the other hand, are experts at choosing great new restaurants, ordering tasty bites, and always know where the best happy hours are.
Foodies can often be found talking with their mouths full raving about the quality of the food, how it was sourced, and the credentials of the chef. Most importantly, foodies seek experiences through flavor. “Detroit is a meat and potatoes town,” says Chef Maxcel Hardy, “Now that there are lots of diverse restaurants opening in the city, there are tons of new opportunities to teach folks how to enjoy new flavors.”
Detroit offers a lot of great opportunities to be a restaurant foodie, either a new one or an experienced one. There are dozens of great new restaurants open here in the city (check out our definitive guide to Detroit’s new restaurants) and even the great Detroit staples have gems still to discover. Visit Detroit stopped by our favorite new restaurants to bring you a few ways to navigate Detroit’s restaurant scene like a foodie.
Step Off the Beaten Path: One of the best foodie traits is the ability to find restaurants that are hidden gems. Consider stepping outside of downtown. There are amazing restaurants in New Center, Jefferson-Chalmers, and on the west side of the city where Jamaican food is authentically made. Honey’s Restaurant on the far northwest side of the city is a great choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Offering up traditional American food like hot dogs and an admirable burger selection, Honey’s is also known for great potato offerings as well as home style lemonade.
Consider Your Price Points: Being a foodie doesn’t always mean shelling out big bucks. Upscale dining experiences are amazing but come with hefty price tags. Instead, try some mid-priced restaurants. Lady of the House is an amazing option where the food is just a part of the great experience. The restaurant has a comfortable homey feel that even features childhood portraits of the Chef-Owner, Kate Williams and her family. One of the best parts of the foodie experience at Lady of the House is the service. When dishes are brought out, the server introduces and describes them to you; complete with a description of how the food was made and sourced. With entrees starting at about $14, an elevated food experience doesn’t have to break the bank.
Check the Credentials: Many of Detroit’s restaurants have classically-trained chefs. The chance to eat food that was prepared by a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu or a James Beard nominee is always a treat. Try Albena — a new restaurant headed by Garrett Lipar, or Cuisine — a Detroit staple serving up French flavors by Paul Grosz for over 15 years. At Detroit Shipping Company, Bangkok 96 Street Food is the sister restaurant to Chef Genevieve Vang’s legendary restaurant in Dearborn. Offering an abridged menu of Bao Buns, Pho Noodle Soup, and amazing grilled meat dishes that are smaller versions of the classics found at her original location, Bangkok 96 which has been open for over 20 years. Chef Genevieve has won numerous awards for her cooking and her fun personality makes her a joy to be around. Detroit Shipping Company also features restaurants run by Chef Petro at Brujo and Chef Maxcel who owns Coop — featuring amazing chicken dishes.
Do it for the ‘Gram: Any self-respecting foodie knows that presentation is everything. Great food presentation somehow seems to make food taste better. At Lady of the House, the carrot steak is a popular menu item that is also pleasing to the eye. With carrots sliced thin on a mandolin and then stacked into a thick steak, and basted in butter, the dish is served with a lovely hollandaise and sprinkled with pistachios. The finished product is a dish that looks as great as it tastes. Another fun photo feature of Lady of the House is the delightful women’s room with the popular bench featuring a picture of Ryan Gosling’s face. The bench is almost as much of a draw as the food.
Pick a Perfect Partner: At Lady of the House, we found out that the pineapple was the universal symbol for hospitality. Over a great meal and specially curated wine pairings prepared by certified sommelier, Catherine Kurth, couples, best friends, and business partners were all found taking part in a delicious meal and enjoying great conversation set to a cool soundtrack of soulful sounds. One of the best parts of experiencing a meal for a foodie is to share it with someone special. At Detroit Shipping Company, the open seating makes it easy to meet a new friend or enjoy the ones that you have in tow.
Navigating Detroit like a foodie is easy with hundreds of restaurant options to choose from. So, grab one of your best buds and your taste buds and head out on the town to try some of Detroit best bites. Post them to your Instagram and tell the world that you’re a #DetroitFoodie.
Need some inspiration? Check out Eats in The D, our Detroit foodie guide.