College hangout, sports bar, family-friendly lunch and dinner — CK Diggs of Rochester Hills has it covered
Many places have vast menus that hope to include something for nearly everyone — but very few can pull it off. Put CK Diggs on the short list of successful multitaskers. Their solid lineup includes sandwiches, burgers, salads, stone-oven pizza, pasta, seafood, and steak.
It’s a great bar to hang out and watch a game, too.
Long before a host of multitap beer spots descended on Rochester Hills, there was CK Diggs. The goal of Chris Khami (the CK in CK Diggs) was to imitate the Ann Arbor haunts of his college days. And for 17 years, that’s just what’s been achieved at this family-run American bistro on the corner of Rochester and Auburn roads.
There’s good food, good atmosphere, and a lot of good beer choices — as in more than 40 taps and 100 bottles from around the world.
Rochester Hills may not compare to Ann Arbor on the “college town” scale, but the restaurant does draw a fair share of students from nearby Oakland University. It’s also a popular lunch spot for area businesses, and packs in a substantial dinner crowd.
Longtime area residents may remember Murdock’s. It was owned by Khami’s father, Michael, and an uncle, from the early 1970s to 1995. It had various lives — a small restaurant serving doughnuts and breakfast and a disco called Thumpers — before settling in as jazz/dinner place, featuring musicians such as Norma Jean Bell, Bugs Bedows, and Alexander Zonjic.
Michael Khami opened CK Diggs in 1998 with son Chris and daughter Nichole. And the old Murdock’s Reuben sandwich — served on rye bread cut lengthwise and served in three pieces — is still part of the CK Diggs menu.
The décor is decidedly eclectic. The former Office Max includes customized stone work, plus fun touches including a statue and picture frame decorated entirely of beer bottle tops and a Bob Dylan poster next to one of many TVs.
Chef Jeff Bell helped open the place 17 years ago, then left for a time before being convinced to return. While the menu is vast, he plans on “weaning it down” to add what he calls healthy power food.
Bell has fine-tuned his own recipes. Sandwiches include a Cuban chicken on flatbread, chipotle turkey served on a grilled pretzel bun, and an open-faced Asiago chicken with a spinach artichoke dip.
The pastas are plentiful as well, and range from a light angel hair pesto to a hearty baked sausage penne. Main courses include pan-fried perch, an Angus New York strip, and baby back ribs.
Soups include French onion and a flavorful house-made chili that has both beef and Italian sausage. Salads come accompanied with everything from Cajun steak or Michigan sundried cherries with grilled chicken to maple-glazed salmon. Appetizers range from a delicate calamari sautéed with pico de gallo and white wine to Cajun steak tips seared in a cast-iron skillet.
The hangout aspect is strong, too, with big-screen TVs, a pool table, and a patio. Pizza served hot out of the stone oven is a solid choice, whether it’s a traditional cheese and pepperoni to the more adventurous Alfredo sauce or a Thai pie with spicy peanut sauce.
2010 Auburn Rd., Rochester Hills; 248-853-6600. L & D Mon.-Sat. $13 H