Best of Detroit 2004

When we asked you to cast your votes for the tops in all kinds of categories, you responded — in droves. We were hit with a barrage of ballots, the results of which follow in these pages. But remember: If you neglected your civic duty and didn’t vote, don’t complain
Best Independent Coffehouse: Java Hutt
Best Independent Coffehouse: Java Hutt, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Feeding Our Faces and Washing It Down

When we’re ready to chow down, it’s all a matter of good taste

Best restaurant for general excellence

Tribute, Farmington Hills

Best restaurant ambience

The Whitney, Detroit

Best place to have dinner before a show

Small Plates, Detroit

Best place for nightcaps after the show

The Whitney, Detroit

Best dessert presentation

The Whitney, Detroit

Best place for live entertainment while you dine


Best Sunday brunch

Pronto!, Royal Oak

Best place for fast service

National Coney Island

Best place for a business lunch

Capital Grille

There’s a not-so-subtle scent that hangs in the air at the fine Troy meat house The Capital Grille, mixing with the Pavlovian aromas of flame-licked dry-aged beef, crisp-coated crab and lobster cakes, single-malt scotch, rare wines, and the fragrances favored by metrosexuals and fashionistas. It’s the smell of power, and no other metro Detroit steakhouse has more of it. Here’s where the movers shake, build bridges, bond, break bread, behold and are beheld. And “capital” in the name doesn’t just refer to one of its early locations in D.C. It’s what drives the core clientele.

Best wine list

Tribute, Farmington Hills

Best beer selection

The Berkley Front, Berkley

Best authentic international cuisine


Best local food product

Sanders Hot Fudge

Best sweet shop

Astoria Pastry Shop

Best place to eat after hours

National Coney Island/Lafayette Coney Island

The Rattlesnake Club
The Rattlesnake Club, Photograph by Joe Vaughn

Best view from a restaurant

The Rattlesnake Club

Technically speaking, the view from The Rattlesnake Club in Stroh River Place is neither sweeping nor lofty. But views are more than what you see. Say what you will about high-rises or tony suburban bistros, nothing in metro Detroit quite compares to the river­­front. Some appetizer, this idle, postcard scene: Young trees and a lawn-like riverbank where Canada geese loiter. The honk of tugboats. The looming vision of great freighters. Across the water lies Windsor’s low-slung skyline, to the right are Detroit’s old cement silos and its newer glass silos, the Renaissance Center. This is the view. Raise a toast.

Best microbrewery

Royal Oak Brewery, Royal Oak

Best fish market

Superior Fish Company, Royal Oak

Best gourmet market

Papa Joe’s

Best service, impeccable

The Lark, West Bloomfield

Best coffee


Best independent coffeehouse

Java Hutt

Best French

Cuisine, Detroit/The Lark, West Bloomfield

Best ice cream

Ray’s, Royal Oak

Best Sommelier

Madeline Triffon

Of course we’re pleased that Hour Detroit’s own wine columnist, Madeline Triffon, was selected for this honor, but it’s no surprise. Triffon, whose trademark warmth and openness entirely contradict the image of the sniffy wine steward, has a worldwide reputation as one of the leading oeno authorities. Her résumé includes the unique accomplishment of becoming the first woman in the country to earn the designation Certified Master Sommelier, she’s now wine and beverage director for Unique Restaurants, she learned her chops at the old London Chop House, and she has the skill and rep to work anywhere in the world. But she’s stayed with Detroit — and we’re delighted to claim her.

Best margarita

Agave, Detroit

Blue Martini, Birmingham
Blue Martini, Birmingham, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Best martini

Blue Martini, Birmingham

Best romantic restaurant

Café Cortina, Farmington Hills

Best Chinese

P.F. Chang’s

Best Greek

New Parthenon, Detroit

Best Indian

Priya, Troy

Best Italian


Best Japanese


Best Korean

New Seoul Garden

Best Mexican

Xochilmilco, Detroit

Best Middle Eastern


Best Thai

Rexy’s Bangkok Cuisine, Royal Oak

Best Vietnamese

Annam, Dearborn

Best vegetarian menu

Inn Season, Royal Oak

Best steakhouse

Ruth’s Chris, Troy

Best diverse, eclectic menu

Sweet Lorraine’s

Best seafood

McCormick & Schmick’s, Troy

Best soup


Best stadium food

Comerica Park

Best soul food

Beans & Cornbread, Southfield

Best pizza


Best burger

Red Coat Tavern, Royal Oak

Best barbecue ribs


Best Coney Island

National Coney Island

Best carry-out

Pronto!, Royal Oak

Best deli

Zingerman’s, Ann Arbor

Best wine store

Merchant’s Fine Wine

Best fine spirits shop

Merchant’s Fine Wine

Tender, Birmingham
Best place for cutting-edge fashions: Tender, Birmingham, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

When we’re looking to buy

For the material girls (and guys)

Best women’s clothing store

Nordstrom, Troy

Best plus-size clothing store

Lane Bryant

Best vintage clothing store

Mother Fletcher’s, Ferndale

Best men’s clothing store

Nordstrom, Troy

Best place to be fitted for a suit

Men’s Wearhouse

Best place to buy a hat

Henry the Hatter

Best place to find one-of-a-kind dresses

Shapes, Birmingham

Best place for cutting-edge fashions

Tender, Birmingham

Best lingerie store

Victoria’s Secret

What could be more luscious than a nubile model with long, slender legs, perky breasts, full lips and a come-hither look? That model in lacy panties and bra, of course. Best lingerie award goes to Victoria’s Secret, the store for women and the men who love them — and whose catalogue is considered required “reading” by those same men. Store and catalogue carry outwear and scents, as well as the silky-smooth, pretty undies slipped into by women of all sizes. It’s not uncommon that we wear sensibly priced outerwear and splurge a bit on the under-lovelies. It makes us feel our true beauty and — the good part — power.

Best place to buy jeans


Best shoe selection

Nordstrom, Troy

Best antique shopping

Royal Oak

Best gift-wrapping service

Marshall Field’s

Pewabic Pottery
Pewabic Pottery, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Best gift registry

Marshall Field’s

Best place to shop for local crafts

Michael’s/Pewabic Pottery

Best place to buy a wedding ring

Tapper’s, West Bloomfield

Best jeweler

Tapper’s, West Bloomfield

Best custom jeweler

Wachler & Sons, Birmingham

Best window display

Noir Leather

Readers may have been sucked into a time warp that’s taken them to the Noir Leather of pre-1998, before owner Keith Howarth moved the business to its current location at the corner of Fourth and Center in Royal Oak. Those were the days when the windows were dressed with live models acting out skits of bondage and S&M, while crowds gathered out into Main Street, disrupting the flow of traffic and causing the police to get involved. These days, things are much milder at Noir — a rack stacked high with stripper shoes, a couple of mannequins sporting skimpy leather accessories, etc.

Best resale/consignment store

Salvation Army

Best personalized service

Nordstrom, Troy

Best place to buy kids’ clothes

Old Navy

Best home decor store

Home Expo

Best place for an unusual furniture selection

Bright Ideas

Best used record store

Record Time

Best rental movie selection


Best new book selection, independent

Bookbeat, Oak Park

Best new book selection, chain


Best used bookstore

John K. King

Best magazine selection


Best place to spend $1

Dollar Tree

Best place to buy a greeting card


Best independent hardware store

Frenz & Sons, Royal Oak

Best independent pharmacy

Birmingham Drugs

Best place to buy electronics

Best Buy

Best optical shop


Best place to buy toys

Toys R Us

Best yoga studio: Namaste Yoga, Royal Oak
Best yoga studio: Namaste Yoga, Royal Oak, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Daily life and its upkeep

Taking care of business

Best art fair

Ann Arbor Street Art Fair

Best place for shoe repair

Franks, Birmingham

Best place for car repair

Autometric Collision

Best limo service

Metro Cars

Best florist

Viviano Flower Shop

Best caterer

Forte Catering, Troy

Best tailor

Antonio Rimanelli, Grosse Pointe Woods/ Eddie’s Alterations, Royal Oak

Best divorce lawyer

Henry Baskin, Birmingham

Best-kept secret in town

Spa Julianna

The secret’s out. Spa Julianna, tucked away in downtown Plymouth, offers a day spa experience that rivals some of the finer destination spas in the country. From the elegantly appointed marble lobby to the cozy robe and slippers provided to guests when they arrive, no detail is overlooked here. The facility offers numerous water treatments, including immersion hydro­therapy baths and underwater light therapy, as well as Vichy shower treatments. Of course, there’s the usual array of massages, body treatments, facials, manicures and pedicures, but there’s something different about the atmosphere in Spa Julianna. It really feels like a haven from the harried world outside.

Best plastic surgeon

Dr. Gregory C. Roche, Bloomfield Hills

Best funeral home

A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors

Best pet-grooming service


Best barbershop


Best hair salon


Best day spa

Spa Nordstrom, Troy

Best yoga studio

Namaste Yoga, Royal Oak

Best carwash: Jax, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Best place to exercise

Life Time Fitness

Best car wash


Best dry cleaner

Quality Cleaners, Royal Oak/Wesch, Birmingham

Best highly anticipated annual event

North American International Auto Show

Best veterinarian service

Deporre Veterinary Hospital, Bloomfield Hills

Best charity event

North American International Auto Show Charity Preview

Best new trend

Kindness/metrosexuals/leg warmers

Local Characters, Local Color

Folks who keep life interesting

Best choice for a celebrity dinner companion

Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings

Best choice for a political dinner companion

Gov. Jennifer Granholm

Best-looking TV personality

Carmen Harlan, WDIV

Best author

Elmore Leonard

Best hero

Steve Yzerman

Best style icon

Jon Jordan

Best publicity hound

Geoffrey Fieger, Fieger, Fieger,
Kenney & Johnson, Southfield

Best “star” of a local TV commercial

Bill Bonds, Gardner White Furniture Co.

Best church choir

Kirk in the Hills, Bloomfield Hills/Shrine of the Little Flower, Royal Oak

Best maitre’d

Jim Lark, The Lark, West Bloomfield

Best chef

Takashi Yagihashi, Tribute, Farmington Hills

Best quote

“It’s long gone!” — Ernie Harwell

Best pick-up bar: 220, Birmingham, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

When we come out to play

Kicking back and chilling out

Best next local band to make it big

The Von Bondies

Best place to throw a party

Roostertail, Detroit

Best place to learn to dance

Arthur Murray Dance Studio

Best jukebox

Gusoline Alley, Royal Oak

Best club

Envy, Detroit

Best bar

Royal Inn, Royal Oak

Best neighborhood for bar-hopping

Royal Oak

Best male gay bar

Pronto!, Royal Oak

Best lesbian bar

Stiletto’s, Inkster

Best “gentleman’s club”

Flight Club, Detroit

Best pick-up bar

220, Birmingham

Best hotel bar

The Corner Bar at the Townsend Hotel, Birmingham

Best bowling alley

Garden Bowl, Detroit

Best concert venue

DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston

Best public art

‘Memorial to Joe Louis,’ aka ‘the Fist’

Most folks just call it “The Fist,” but the sculpture at Woodward and Jefferson representing Joe Louis’ fist (and arm) is technically titled Memorial to Joe Louis, in honor of the heavyweight boxer who grew up in Detroit. Since the bronze-and-steel work by Robert Graham was unveiled in 1986, it has sparked controversy. Some believe it represents Louis’ — and the city’s —fighting spirit. Others see it as a grim symbol of the violence that has plagued the city for decades. In February, two nitwits doused the sculpture with white paint, which was quickly removed. Like it or not, “The Fist” appears here to stay, as resolute as the man’s spirit it signifies.

Best Community Theater: Stagecrafters, Royal Oak, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Best pool hall

5th Avenue

Best place to see a first-run movie

Uptown Palladium 12

Best place to see an art film

Landmark Main Art Theatre, Royal Oak

Best stage for local music acts

Magic Bag, Ferndale

Best community theater

Stagecrafters, Royal Oak

Best casino

Greektown Casino, Detroit

Best museum

Detroit Institute of Arts

Best indoor tennis court

Franklin Athletic Club, Southfield

Best place for pick-up basketball

Life Time Fitness

Best public golf course

Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club, Clarkston

Best indoor driving range

Mulligan’s Golf Center, Auburn Hills

Best outdoor driving range

Carl’s Golfland

“The Fist” in Downtown Detroit, Photograph by Joe Vaughn

Where we earn our daily bread

Dream jobs, fat paychecks and office space

Best company to work for

Compuware Corp.

Best city to work in


Fisher Building

Best architectural edifice

Albert Kahn’s towering Fisher Building in the New Center is possibly Detroit’s grandest edifice. Commissioned by the Fisher brothers (of “Body by Fisher” automotive fame), the building — complete with an ornate theater — opened in 1928. But many don’t know that the Art Deco monument wasn’t even finished. The design called for two additional towers, but the Crash put the kibosh on that. Regardless, the building capped by a golden tower that looms over Grand Boulevard is a majestic sight. Just taking in the intricate ceiling decorations in the arcade is awe-inspiring.

Best elevator

Renaissance Center, Detroit

Best place for a midday break

Somerset Collection, Troy

Best or most coveted job

Mayor of Detroit/Chairman of Ford

Call us simple. Personally, we would rather be a goalie for the Wings or Bob Seger’s piano player — but Detroiters must like a challenge. Readers chose as the ultimate occupations in the metro area the leadership of a troubled city (where were you all during the last election, by the way?) or a rebounding automotive giant. Given our choice of the two positions, though, we know which one we’d take: While Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick earned a healthy $176,176 for his efforts in 2003, Ford Motor Co. Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. — though declining a salary and contributing his $1.5 million bonus toward the college education of Ford employees’ children — holds tens of millions of dollars in company stock.

Best local corporate logo

Ford Motor Co.

Best local ad campaign

Ford Motor Co.

Where we rest our weary bones

Decent digs and harmonious ’hoods

Best place to live downtown

Riverfront Apartments, Detroit

Best suburb


Best place for a condo or loft


Most Coveted Job: Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, Photograph by Joe Vaughn

Best example of urban sprawl


Best example of racial harmony


Best street corner

Woodward and Maple, Birmingham

Best city to get arrested in


Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings won’t comment on why readers chose Detroit as one of the two best places to be thrown in the clink, but Police Chief Mike Kitchen in Ferndale — which shares the honor with Detroit — has a few thoughts on the subject. “This isn’t weird,” he says. “It’s happened to us before. We’ve been voted best city to be arrested in by other publications. We’re kind, compassionate, caring and quick. Or maybe it’s just because everyone’s partying in Ferndale before they’re arrested and are in a good mood. We don’t mistreat anybody. And we serve good prisoner food. We cater it. Well, it’s not exactly that, but I’ll tell you this: We don’t make our own bologna sandwiches. And we have a sense of humor.”

Best place to see or be seen


Best Up North destination

Traverse City

Talking heads, disembodied voices & ink-stained wretches

Media mavens

Best local newspaper

Detroit Free Press

Best local radio station

WDET, 101.9 FM

Best local TV news

WDIV, Channel 4

Best local radio news

WWJ, 950 AM

Best local source for international news

WDET, 101.9 FM

Best local TV anchor

Carmen Harlan, WDIV

Best local talk-radio host

Mitch Albom, WJR

Best local sportswriter

Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press

Best local sportscaster

Bernie Smilovitz, WDIV

Best traffic reporter

Dennis Neubacher, WJR and WXYZ

Best local weather forecast

WDIV, Channel 4

Best local traffic report

WWJ, 101.9 FM

Best local radio DJ

Dick Purtan, WOMC

Best radio voice

Dick Purtan, WOMC

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