Metro Detroit Bucket List: The Must-Visit Food Spots

In our 2022 City Guide, we roundup what every local must do in their lifetime. Here are the Polish restaurants, pizza places, dessert shops, and more you don’t want to miss.
supino pizza
We asked locals to experience our Bucket List. Here, model LaPorschia shows off a pie from Supino Pizza.

Eat pizza 

Square pizza with a light and crispy crust with charred edges topped with generous amounts of sauce and cheese is a beloved Detroit food. It all started with Gus Guerra, who created the signature pie at Buddy’s in the 1940s before striking out on his own with Cloverleaf Pizza in Eastpointe a few years later. For authentic thin crust Neapolitan pies, go to Supino Pizzeria (which has two locations in Detroit) and Tomatoes Apizza. Various locations: buddyspizza.com, tomatoesapizza.com; Eastpointe: cloverleaf-pizza.com; Detroit: supinopizzeria.com

Enjoy a taste of the Middle East in metro Detroit

Dearborn is home to some of the best Middle Eastern restaurants around. Al Ameer became Michigan’s first restaurant to receive the James Beard America’s Classics Award, which honors restaurants for their “timeless appeal” and quality food that “reflects the character of their communities.” On the other side of town, the upscale Phoenicia in Birmingham has also garnered national praise, known for its classic Lebanese fare reimagined with a more refined approach. Detroit: alameerrestaurant.com; Birmingham: phoeniciabirmingham.com

That’s a wrap: Where to get good shawarma

When it comes to the craveable combination of roasted meat, pickles, pita, and garlic sauce, Bucharest Grill, in Detroit and Royal Oak, is a perennial favorite. In Dearborn, Tuhama’s, Hamido, and Rafic’s Falafel are just a few of several places to get an authentic and delicious wrap. Detroit and Royal Oak: bucharestgrill.com; Dearborn: hamidorestaurant.com, raficsfalafel.net; find Tahama’s on Facebook

Start your day in Ferndale

Brunch and breakfast spots abound in fabulous Ferndale — from grab-and-go options to sit-down comfort food. Established in 1921, the family-owned New York Bagel has set the standard to which all other bagels aspire. Toast is another Ferndale institution and also operates a location in Birmingham. It serves creative breakfast dishes like bacon fried rice, Toast Benny, and Banana Brulee. Ferndale: newyorkbagel-detroit.com, eatattoast.com

Feast on Italian

In 1968, Giovanni’s pizza parlor was born, but Francesa Cannarsa Truant had bigger plans. She transformed the restaurant into Giovanni’s Ristorante (named after her father), turning it into a gourmet destination serving Italian cuisine with old world-charm that attracted the likes of Frank Sinatra.Opened in 2018, SheWolf Pastificio & Bar specializes in contemporary Roman-inspired cuisine, but it also embraces tradition with pasta made in-house. Detroit: giovannisristorante.com, shewolfdetroit.com

Go beyond Chinese takeout 

White-tablecloth Hong Hua in Farmington Hills offers a refined dining experience with dishes like Peking duck and walleye flamed tableside. In Sterling Heights, Trizest serves expertly prepared dishes like stir-fried cumin lamb and mouth-numbing mapo tofu. Farmington Hills: honghuafinedining.com; Sterling Heights: trizest.com

american coney island
LaPorschia and Joe, an application software engineer for Applied Intuition, choose American Coney Island.

Choose your Coney

There are few debates fiercer than Team Lafayette Coney Island vs. Team American Coney Island, which are located right next to each other in downtown Detroit. Figure out where your loyalties lie by taking the side-by-side Coney Island taste test as suggested by Coney Detroit authors Joe Grimm and Katherine Yung. Flip a coin, go to one, order one Coney in the classic formulation. Get up and repeat at the other. Detroit: find Lafayette on Facebook, americanconeyisland.com

Dine at award-winning restaurants

In recent years, a new generation of chefs has helped raise Detroit’s restaurant profile on a national scale. In Hazel Park, chef James Rigato’s Mabel Gray is a love letter to Michigan food, with a constantly evolving menu that ranges from comfort food to refined and composed dishes like crispy sea bream and dry-aged Wagyu. Sharing a similar dedication to fresh, local flavor and Michigan farmers is Selden Standard in Midtown, where chef Andy Hollyday and his team create thoughtful New American dishes inspired by the seasons. Hazel Park: mabelgraykitchen.com; Detroit: seldenstandard.com

Take a number at these delis

The local food scene lost an icon when Greg Mudge passed away last year, but his legacy lives on at Mudgie’s Deli, the Corktown storefront he founded serving high-quality sandwiches. Opened in 1962, Stage Deli in West Bloomfield is still the place for a top-notch corned beef sandwich and matzo ball soup. Zingerman’s Deli is where it all began for the Ann Arbor food empire built on the core idea of offering only the highest-quality ingredients and well-made food. Detroit: mudgiesdeli.com; West Bloomfield: stagedeli.com; Ann Arbor: zingermansdeli.com

Get surf and turf in Clawson

Founded in 1958, the venerable Clawson Steak House has been a fixture in the community, specializing in premier cuts like prime rib and the signature 30-ounce porterhouse. A newer Clawson institution is Noble Fish, regarded as one of the top spots in metro Detroit for fresh and pristine sushi. The attached grocery store is also well stocked. Clawson: clawsonsteakhouse.com, noblefish.com

Go for the seafood, the steaks, and the view

As we wrote in our Restaurant of the Year profile in 2012, Joe Muer was a Detroit touchstone, a place where marriages were proposed and business deals were made. After being reborn more than 10 years ago, it continues that tradition of being a place to celebrate life’s biggest moments with impeccable food and service. Joe Muer Seafood Detroit’s riverfront location at the Renaissance Center is the one to go to for the views. Detroit and Bloomfield Hills: joemuer.com

polish food
There’s always room for a meal at Polish Village Cafe in Hamtramck.

Find authentic Polish food in Hamtramck

Lured by the promise of auto jobs at the Dodge Main factory, Polish immigrants started settling in Hamtramck in the early 1900s. While many have moved, the Polish community’s impact on Hamtramck is still apparent today in the city’s businesses, churches, and restaurants, like Polish Village Cafe and Polonia. People tend to pledge their allegiance to one or the other, but both offer authentic and traditional Polish favorites. Hamtramck: polonia-restaurant.net, polishvillagecafe.us

Get your just desserts

This category is so broad it could be a feature. But for this purpose, we are going with just two items: ice cream and pie. Founded in 1958 as a neighborhood ice cream parlor and soda fountain, Ray’s Ice Cream in Royal Oak still has that old-fashioned charm, plus 50-something flavors. Pair it with a pie from West Village’s Sister Pie, where they handmake the pies daily using Michigan ingredients. Royal Oak: raysicecream.com; Detroit: sisterpie.com

Hail the burger kings

A burger is not hard to find in metro Detroit, from no-frills diners to upscale restaurants, but there are a few that stand out. In Royal Oak, Redcoat Tavern is famous for its burger, a half-pounder with tomato, lettuce, and special sauce. Dearborn’s Taystee’s Burgers, located in a gas station, has people lining up for its creative patties. For classic sliders, it’s Hunter House Hamburgers in Birmingham, hands down. Royal Oak: redcoat-tavern.com; Dearborn: taysteesburger.com; Birmingham: hunterhousehamburgers.com

Visit any of the Union Joints restaurants

Curt Catallo and Ann Stevenson’s restaurant empire began in 1995 with Union Joints and its legendary mac and cheese. Since then, they have opened more than a dozen unique restaurant concepts from Vinsetta Garage to Union Assembly, including Mom’s Spaghetti with Eminem. All have that “wow” factor. Various locations: unionjoints.com


Panelists’ Picks

Ryan McGlynn and Caroline Fernandez

Creators of the food blog Peanut Butter and Bacon 
Ryan McGlynn and Caroline Fernandez
Ryan McGlynn and Caroline Fernandez

City Ramen in Royal Oak is easily our favorite noodle shop in all of metro Detroit. Sushi Coup delivers fresh poke bowls and the best wings in Oakland County. Metropolitan Bar & Kitchen in Detroit’s West Village: Our first few trips there have left us impressed and yearning for more.” 

Kiki Louya

Kiki Louya
Kiki Louya
Top Chef Portland contestant and ex-executive director of Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation

Scotty Simpson’s Fish & Chips has been serving the best fish, chips, and American staples on Detroit’s westside since 1950. The fresh cod flown in daily, then battered and fried to perfection, really gives this Brightmoor eatery its staying power.”

J.R. Martinez 

Julian Giacona and J.R. Martinez
Julian Giacona and J.R. Martinez
Co-founder of @MotorCity Munchers (pictured with co-founder Julian Giacona)

Roma Bakery’s margherita pizza is one of my favorite slices in metro Detroit and rivals the best New York-style pizzas in Michigan. Mumma Maria’s House invites you to their home in Detroit’s West Village to enjoy delicious home-cooked Italian food. A new favorite is the Lobster Pitstop food truck [with] delicious lobsters flown in from Maine.”


New & Notable

Baobab Fare

The wife-and-husband team of Nadia Nijimbere and Hamissi Mamba have brought the flavors and culture of their native Burundi to New Center with Baobab Fare. Since settling in Detroit after fleeing their home country, they have firmly planted themselves in the community and look to pay it forward by being a safe space for immigrants and native Detroiters alike. Detroit: baobabfare.com

Feast

This from-scratch, chef-driven restaurant in Chesterfield Township offers elevated comfort food favorites like lobster mac and steak frites in a romantic atmosphere. Take a seat at the chef’s table for multicourse tasting menus with optional drink pairings. Chesterfield Township: feastmichigan.com

Freya

The newest restaurant on East Grand Boulevard from proprietor Sandy Levine and chef Doug Hewitt has created quite the buzz for its tasting-menu-only format that draws on the seasons and nods to Scandinavia. The exquisite fare ranges from the omnivorous “I Eat Anything” menu to pescatarian and vegan menus. Detroit: freyadetroit.com

Maré Mediterranean

This seafood-centric Mediterranean restaurant is Birmingham’s latest hot spot. With its elegant and sophisticated ambiance and well-crafted dishes like salt-baked whole fish, linguine frutti di mare, and a top-notch Greek salad made to perfection, it’s a go-to for when you want to impress. Birmingham: maremediterranean.com

Sylvan Table

Located in a revitalized 300-year-old barn in Sylvan Lake, Sylvan Table’s rustic-meets-modern atmosphere is unparalleled. It’s not just your generic farm-to-table place: Kale, beets, lettuces, and more come from the on-site farm for the restaurant’s salads, flatbreads, and other dishes. Sylvan Lake: sylvantable.com


Dorothy Hernandez is Hour Detroit’s food and drink editor. Her work on food and lifestyle has been published in CNN Travel, Midwest Living, Eater, NPR, and other national and local publications.


This story is from the April 2022 issue of Hour Detroit. Read more in our digital edition

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