Old Detroit Charm: Where to Sample the City’s Historic Flavor

Modified: March 07, 2019 | Story by Heidi Tiano | Photos by Jacoby's German Biergarten, Roma Cafe

Detroit was settled in 1701 so, naturally, it’s got some history under its belt. It’s easy to forget that heritage when you see the city’s modern stadiums and chic casinos, but there’s still plenty of old-world charm in this town.

Some of the city’s most beautiful and historic homes are nestled in Indian Village on Burns, Iroquois and Seminole Streets, between Jefferson and Mack avenues. Many were built in the early 20th century and designed by prominent architects; some are more than 12,000 square feet large many with a carriage house that’s larger than the average suburban home. Take a drive through this neighborhood to get a taste of history.

Detroit’s food scene is hot, but some of the oldest restaurants in the city still give the up-and-coming restaurateurs a run for their money. Many of them point to Detroit’s immigrant roots: Jacoby’s German Biergarten “Detroit’s oldest saloon” has been open since 1904, while Detroit’s oldest Italian restaurant, Roma Cafe, has roots stretching back to 1890. Just outside Hamtramck, Ivanhoe Cafe (home of the Polish Yacht Club) has been serving Polish fare since 1909.

After dinner, pop in to Baker’s Keyboard Lounge to hear some music in the city’s oldest continuing jazz club, founded in 1933. Cliff Bell’s is another popular jazz spot, originally opened in 1935. Ye Olde Tap Room on Charlevoix Street, opened in 1916, once anchored the end of a streetcar line.

The most foolproof way to check out Detroit history, of course, is to let the experts lead the way. A variety of historical tours put a fun spin on the city’s background from the traces of the Underground Railroad, to stories about the Prohibition Era and even stunning architecture. Check out our tour companies.


Here’s more places to see in Detroit.

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues

  1. 1
    Cliff Bell's
    2030 Park Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  2. 2
    Jacoby's German Biergarten
    624 Brush St., Detroit, MI 48226
  3. 3
    5249 Joseph Campau Ave, Detroit, MI, United States
  4. 4
    Baker's Keyboard Lounge
    20510 Livernois Ave Detroit, MI 48221
  5. 5
    20510 Livernois Ave, Detroit, MI 48221, United States