Hungry in Hamtown

Hamtramck is hopping with a global smorgasbord of eateries, from Polish, Albanian, and Bosnian to Yemeni, Bangladeshi, and Mexican


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Photograph by Marvin Shaouni

7. Under the Eagle

Under the Eagle is the third point of the Polish cuisine triangle in Hamtramck. But this one isn’t on Yemans. It’s south a bit and, if you blink, you’ll miss it. Inside, where the look is a tad reminiscent of a Knights of Columbus Hall, tables line the edges of the room and, occasionally, you might find yourself the only one in the place — save for a group of grandfather-age men who may have a staring problem. But don’t fret; the food is authentic. If you’re starving and looking for a healthy portion of anything Polish, this is the place. The pierogi seem bigger, the bowls of dill pickle soup (amazing) seem deeper, and, by the end of the meal, your stomach will feel bigger. It’ll be one of those, “I think I might have to loosen my belt,” visits. 9000 Joseph Campau; 313-875-5905.

8. Gandhi/Tripti

In a kind of doubleheader arrangement, Gandhi is a white- linen tablecloth, keep-your-voice-down, take-a-date type of place, while Tripti, which is immediately next door and connected at the kitchen, is the torn jeans, wobbly table, I’ve-been-dating-you-for-a-long-time joint. Both serve northern Indian fare from the same kitchen, but with a twist. Tripti knocks a few bucks off. But if you have a few more bucks and want to impress, check out Gandhi. If you’re simply hungry and craving some northern Indian cuisine, head to the white building next door. 11917 Conant; 313-366-7795.

9. Maine Street

This may look like your typical family-style Greek restaurant. But step inside during lunch or around dinner and you’ll see that it’s also a Hamtramck favorite — one of those places where cops, the mayor, city manager, bar owners, musicians, and artists eat, shoulder to shoulder. And if you visit more than twice, the waitresses remember you. Grab a seat by the window facing Joseph Campau, order the cevapi (a specialty, thanks to the Albanian owners) and take in the Hamtown scene. It’s a hot spot for breakfast, too, on weekday mornings and weekend nights, when it’s popular with the Hamtramck bar crowd. Try the grits and you’ll have to check the license plates in the parking lot to make sure you’re still north of the Mason-Dixon Line. They’re that good. Maine Street also offers a full bar. 11650 Joseph Campau; 313-368-0500.

10. Maria’s Comida

Maria’s is Hamtramck’s only Mexican joint. It’s a cute little place with complimentary chips and “housemade” salsa, which is so tasty, you’ll want to take some home. Maria’s is owned and operated by the Pronko family, and they’re always there. It’s not uncommon to get Maria — the namesake of the place — as a server while her dad whips up your chorizo-and-chicken burrito in the back. It’s a friendly and inviting place, and, by the end of the meal, you feel as though you’re sitting in your own dining room among friends. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, tacos are 99 cents. 11411 Joseph Campau; 313-733-8406.

11. Three Star Bar-BQ

This is Hamtramck’s rib joint, and it has been that way for about 45 years. Three Star Bar-BQ has ribs: short ones, long ones, even for breakfast in the form of the ribs-and-eggs combo. Three Star has a number of options, from sandwiches and burgers to stir-fry, but fans come here for the meaty ribs. Order the BBQ Combo and you’ll get a one-third slab of ribs with half a chicken. Yeah, that’s right, half. It’s too much to eat at once, but that won’t stop you from trying. Another popular entrée is the Three Star Special: strips of steak sautéed with green peppers, onion, and mushrooms. There’s also a full bar and Wi-Fi. 11941 Joseph Campau; 313-365-9494.

12. Sheeba Restaurant

This Yemeni restaurant offers speedy carryout and sit-down dinner. Don’t look for tablecloths or air conditioning. On hot days, the door gets propped open. For the full experience, grab a table, order the seltah with the lamb and a huge piece of oven-baked flat bread, and dig in. Seltah is a traditional Yemeni dish that’s like a stew filled with vegetables and topped with hot sauce. It arrives to the table in a piping-hot cast-iron bowl with a generous piece of bread for dipping. Seltah can be ordered on its own or with a plate of lamb or chicken. 8752 Joseph Campau; 313-874-0299.

13. Thai Bangkok

Every city has a Thai restaurant, and why should Hamtramck be any different? Thai Bangkok sits at the heart of the Joseph Campau strip. The Drunken Noodles are a good choice. So is the pad Thai, which is a staple at every Thai restaurant. Everything on the menu can be ordered vegetarian. 9737 Joseph Campau; 313-875-5770.

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