Cravings: El Barzon's Norberto Garita & Imperial's Brennan Calnin

Their stylish menus are enticing enough to attract a loyal clientele of discriminating diners, but no matter how expert they are, restaurant people like to take a break from their own kitchens for a taste of someone else’s cooking


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> NORBERTO GARITA, chef/proprietor of EL BARZON in Southwest Detroit, doesn’t have a lot of time to go out, “but when I do, these are the places I usually go to: Iridescence, Mon Jin Lau, Tony Sacco Pizzeria, and in Mexicantown, I usually go to Camino Real Taqueria or Nuestra Familia Taqueria.” At Mon Jin Lau, he says he orders the Mandarin filet mignon or Mongolian rack of lamb. At Iridescence, it’s the lamb rib-eye with crayfish étouffée. “As you can see, lamb is one of my favorite dishes,” he says. “I would prefer goat, but lamb is the closest that comes to goat.” As for his Mexicantown choices, “They are some of the few authentic Mexican restaurants left in Detroit. One of my favorite features about each of these Mexican restaurants is that they have fresh, handmade tortillas, which make you feel like you’re actually in Mexico. I like these places so much, that I usually take my family there almost every Sunday.”

 

> BRENNAN CALNIN has been in town only six months and has spent much of that time helping open IMPERIAL in Ferndale, where he’s the executive chef. And he doesn’t have a car. “I enjoy walking, and I tend to patronize the places in my neighborhood.” He has already discovered several Ferndale spots: The Emory (“love the Western burger and their Scotch selection”); John D, where he likes the cheese plate and live music; Howe’s Bayou (“I like to sip on a beer and eat the peppered mackerel plate”); and it’s beer and a Scotch egg at One-Eyed Betty’s. He says he loves to “graze down the small-plates menu and drink some bubbly” at Cork Wine Pub in Pleasant Ridge. “Lastly, I’ve only been there once, but I had a fantastic birthday dinner at Forest Grill. The charcuterie plate was fabulous, as was the service.”

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