It’s that time of year when summer winds to an end, accompanied by jazz music echoing through downtown. For the 38th year, the annual Detroit Jazz Festival is finally here. Whether you’re looking for brunch before or to dine and drink after the show, there’s plenty of great places within walking distance, or a short drive, from Hart Plaza.
Central Kitchen + Bar: This weekend, Chef Christina Stanco will showcase some jazz-inspired dishes like a Bourbon Street gumbo, a Creole seafood pasta, and the Mr. Ellington’s Catfish Po’Boy. Stop in for brunch for a crawfish omelette, stuffed with muenster cheese, sweet peppers, and topped with a creole sauce. The location will also feature select $3 drafts and a specialty cocktail, Passion Punch. 660 Woodward Ave #4A, Detroit; 313-963-9000; centraldetroit.com
La Dulce: Looking for a lighter lunch? Stop in for tapas, tostas, salads, and more during the lunch hour. The afternoon menu features small plates options like gilsas, a skewer stacked with manzanilla olives, piparra peppers, cornichon, and white anchovies. Or, come in during happy hour for $20 pitchers of house sangria – the perfect way to salute the end of summer. Reservations strongly recommended. 2 Washington Blvd, Detroit; 248-268-1719; ladulce.com
Townhouse: While the Jazz Fest and Labor Day mark the end of summer for some, that’s not the case this weekend at Townhouse. The restaurant will be hosting a ticketed Forever Summer brunch on Sunday accompanied by music from DJ Captn20. Stop in during regular hours to enjoy dinner and drinks on the massive patio within earshot of Hart Plaza. 500 Woodward Ave, Detroit; 313-723-1000; eatattownhouse.com
Grand Trunk Pub: With more than 20 beers on tap, a hearty menu, and a casual atmosphere, this downtown pub is a more-than-reliable spot to unwind after the festival. Enjoy classic dishes like the fish and chips, made with Ghetto Blaster beer battered cod, or the ridiculously filling Shepherd’s Pie. Because of the holiday weekend, the location will also be serving its usual brunch menu on Monday morning and afternoon. 612 Woodward Ave, Detroit; 313-961-3043; grandtrunk.pub
Sweetwater Tavern: Good news for hungry festival goers. Some of Detroit’s best chicken wings are less than a half mile from Hart Plaza. Stop in all weekend for top notch bar grub like the Big Pig – Sweetwater’s signature pulled pork sandwich. Don’t worry about coming in late, the kitchen is open until 2 a.m. 400 E Congress St, Detroit; 313-962-2210; sweetwatertavern.net
Checker Bar: If a dive bar is more your scene, never fear. Checker Bar is one of only a few dives left downtown. Whether you’re craving something basic like the Checker burger, topped with lettuce, onions, and tomatoes, or a something more ornate like the Mount Olympus, made with a lamb patty, fresh feta, cucumber, onion, and house made Tzatziki, one of Checker’s legendary bar burgers is sure to satisfy. Have a sweet tooth? Opt for a thick and creamy milkshake made with Reilly Creamery ice cream. Make it “adult” for just a few bucks more. 124 Cadillac Square, Detroit; 313-961-9249; checkerbar.com
Apparatus Room: Dine in style this weekend at the newly opened Apparatus Room, inside the ornate Foundation Hotel. The firehouse-turned-restaurant features swanky selections like beef tartare, Peking duck breast, and golden saffron risotto. Save room for dessert. Housemade sweets like the Cherries & Rye, made with a brown butter cake, puffed rye berries, and a cherry sorbet, are simply too good to pass up. Detroit Foundation Hotel, 250 W. Larned Street, Detroit; 313-800-5600; detroitfoundationhotel.com
Andrew’s on the Corner: Located just down Jefferson Avenue in the Rivertown district, this family-owned-and-operated eatery serves up house specials like Cajun-style fish and chips and their famous perch sandwich. Not a seafood fan? Not a problem. The location features more than a dozen different sandwiches and burgers, as well as soups, salads, and mouthwatering appetizers. 201 Jos Campau, Detroit, 313-259-8325; andrewsonthecorner.com
Joe Muer Seafood: This Detroit original is almost as iconic as the yearly festival itself. The classic seafood spot features sprawling lunch and dinner menus, weekend brunches, a sushi and raw fare bar, a lengthy wine list, and more. Even their cocktail menu includes over two dozen selections! Needless to say, if you like seafood, you’re surely find something you love at Joe Muer. 400 Renaissance Center #1404, Detroit; 313-567-6837; joemuer.com
They Say: Many folks pass right by on their way to Atwater Brewery, Andrews on the Corner, or the Rattlesnake Club,. But Chene Park regulars know the value of They Say. It does triple duty as a great place to park, a spot to grab dinner before a show, or a cozy upstairs afterparty for more live music. The food is grouped into “opening acts, intermission, and encores.” Best bets are the chicken wings, beef brisket sandwich, catfish, or the smothered pork chops. 267 Jos Campau, Detroit; 313-446-4682.