Spot Lite Detroit’s Roula David Ventures to Trizest for Authentic Chinese

The self-proclaimed foodie and former restaurateur shares her favorite metro Detroit eateries
roula david - spot lite detroit
Roula David

Roula David has been a fixture in Detroit’s prolific art scene for more than a decade. The Cincinnati native relocated to Detroit in 2011 to help establish Red Bull Arts Detroit, the beloved Eastern Market hub for visual-arts programming, and has been cultivating community through the arts on Detroit’s east side ever since. 

In 2014, David left her gig at Red Bull to help operate Inner State Gallery, the former Gratiot Avenue art gallery co-founded by her husband and fellow art enthusiast, entrepreneur, and curator, Jesse Cory. In her new role, David helped develop programming with high-profile brand clients such as WeWork and MTV for 1xRun, a publisher and retailer of contemporary art co-founded by Cory in 2010. The duo also went on to launch the annual public art festival Murals in the Market. 

In May, David opened the doors to Spot Lite, a multidisciplinary space for guests to experience a full range of artistic programming in Detroit’s Islandview neighborhood. “We played around with this idea of creating a multimedium space for art, where it wasn’t just visual art, it was music, performance, dance — all of it,” David says. Today, the former lumber warehouse is an expansive coffee house, record shop, bar and lounge, art gallery, event space, and all-around neighborhood hangout. “It was largely about building community — first and foremost, the Detroit community. This is their home, and everyone else is their guest.”

Like the quintessential Detroit home, Spot Lite evokes a relaxed, unpretentious air with a bit of an edge. The bar is constructed of leftover lumber from the old lumberyard, while the furniture and tapestry were salvaged from across Michigan and throughout the Midwest. By day, guests can take meetings over pour-overs at the tufted leather couches or order food for delivery from a nearby eatery. After hours, they’re welcome to Detroit Hustle to house music spun by acclaimed Detroit DJs. “I just really feel like community is built when the doors are open all day long,” David says. 

A self-proclaimed foodie and former restaurateur — at just 25, she opened Vinyl, a four-star restaurant in Cincinnati — David is thrilled to partner with local chefs for pop-up dinners and events. Every other Saturday, for example, guests can enjoy fried rice dishes by Lil’ Bruh, a pop-up developed by former Russell Street Deli owner Ben Hall. “We do a lot of pop-ups with restaurants because food is their art. That’s how they express themselves,” David says. “Culinary art is very much a part of this.”

As a purveyor of culinary art, David looks to metro Detroit’s cultural communities for the region’s edible masterpieces. “I find myself loving the originality of the ethnic food here,” she says. Desserts from Dearborn feel like home for David, who is Arab American, and takeout orders from Taqueria Mi Pueblo in Southwest Detroit make for seamless catering at Spot Lite events. For authentic Asian dishes, David says the trip to Macomb County is worth the drive.

Trizest Restaurant, the unassuming Chinese restaurant in a Sterling Heights strip mall, is an object of her affection. Below, David waxes poetic about her secret spot. 

Trizest Restaurant, 33170 Dequindre Road, Sterling Heights; 586-268-1450; trizest.com

More of Roula David’s Favorite Eateries in Metro Detroit

Al Ameer Restaurant

“I’m from the Middle East and the grilled meats at Al Ameer are the closest to home.” Al Ameer Restaurant, 1270 10 W. Warren Ave, Dearborn; 313-582-8185; and 27346 Ford Road, Dearborn Heights; 313-565-9600; alameerrestaurant.com

Flowers of Vietnam

“I love stories like Flowers of Vietnam, where the chef explored different foods and then converted his dad’s Coney Island into a Vietnamese restaurant. This Arabic man making Vietnamese food is a really cool story to me.” Flowers of Vietnam, 4440 Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-554-2085; flowersofvietnam.com 

Noble Fish

“Everything that they do at Noble Fish is delicious, but I love just getting fresh salmon roe. Their tempura is also so delicious. And the thing about sushi ­— I worked in a sushi restaurant for five years — is the rice. They know how to prepare their rice properly It’s not gummy, it’s fluffy. I could just eat it by itself.” Noble Fish, 45 E. 14 Mile Road, Clawson; 248-585-2314; noblefish.com

Selden Standard

“When I think about fine dining, I’ve always loved what Selden Standard has done when it comes to their wine list and their food and the flavor palette and the way that they bring in fresh ingredients and what they do with their desserts. They’ve become a Detroit staple. Every time I go it’s always a consistent experience, and I don’t find that very often in a lot of different places.” Selden Standard, 3921 Second Ave., Detroit; 313-438-5055; seldenstandard.com

Shatila

“Getting the knafeh, which is this special Arabic treat, is just something that you have to do at Shatila.” Shatila; shatila.com for locations

Taqueria El Rey

“I love exploring the hidden nooks in Southwest Detroit. The roasted chicken at Taqueria El Rey? It’s next level. It’s so good.” Taqueria El Rey, 4730 Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-357-3094

Taqueria Mi Pueblo

“We cater from Mi Pueblo for all of our events for Murals in the Market and they always do such a good job. They package things so wonderfully, everything comes with so many different sides, and it’s always so fresh and delicious.” Taqueria Mi Pueblo, 7278 Dix St., Detroit; 313-841-3315; mipueblorestaurant.com 

Warda Patisserie

“Another baker that I love is Warda. Her stuff is so beautiful. I go to Shatila for the knafeh and Warda for the more nuanced Arabic desserts.” Warda Patisserie, 70 W. Alexandrine St., Detroit; 248-795-3026; warda-patisserie-midtown.square.site


This story is featured in the November 2021 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more stories in our digital edition.

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