El Barzon and Starving Artist Restaurant

Restaurant veteran Molly Abraham noshes around town, tracking down some top spots
El Barzon and Starving Artist Restaurant
Starving Artist’s grilled ahi tuna with basil pesto, served with jasmine rice and asparagus Photograph by Joe Vaughn

EL BARZON: Before opening this offbeat spot late last year, Norberto Garita, a native of Puebla, Mexico, cooked at Il Posto in Southfield, where he learned the intricacies of Italian cuisine. He prepares both cuisines with the help of his wife, Silvia Rosario Garita, and each side of the menu is appealing. Mexican entrees include chunky guacamole, mini-tacos filled with beef, chicken, tripe, tongue, steak, barbecued goat, or Mexican sausage, and mole poblano. The Italian influence takes the form of spaghetti carbonara; strozzapreti (twists of house-made pasta) with a ragu of Italian sausage; and zuppa di pesce (seafood soup). L & D daily. 3710 Junction at Michigan, Detroit; 313-894-2070.  $10 z H

STARVING ARTIST RESTAURANT: The smallest of the restaurants in what has become a row of eateries along West Nine Mile in Ferndale is the domain of Brad Johnson and Randy Shallow. The menu is in keeping with the 36-seat space (add a few seats at the sidewalk cafe when weather permits). At lunch, dishes include sandwiches such as tarragon chicken salad and quiche of the day. Dinner includes pork tenderloin in a different treatment each week; grilled ahi tuna with basil pesto; and grilled salmon with honey-lime glaze. Shallow makes fruit pies for dessert, and his grilled pound cake with balsamic vinegar, peaches, and ice cream is a classic. A small, reasonably priced wine list accompanies the fare. Art on the walls is all for sale, which explains the restaurant’s name. L & D Tue.-Sat. 212 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-545-5650. $16 z H

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