As Detroit continually flourished in 2018, a new food scene consisting of culinary masterminds launching haute restaurants that boast innovative cuisine, one after another, has christened the Motor City as a food destination. Along with rounding up the top 10 best new metro Detroit places to eat, we investigated the most exciting local food trends to try, as they are as abundant, if not more, than the count of new eateries popping up across metro Detroit.
From Wheels to Steel
Living up to its Motor City roots, a few of Detroit’s hottest places to eat began in motor vehicles. Driving across metro Detroit, the owners behind recently established spots like Norma G’s and Nosh Pit operated out of food trucks, oftentimes preparing their dishes in the back of their vehicles. Lester Gouvia of Norma G’s used to cook Caribbean dishes like jerk chicken, oxtail sliders, and cod fish balls out of his hot pink, turquoise blue, and canary yellow-painted truck. His ability to serve authentic cuisine native to the Caribbean earned him the opportunity a wide following across Detroit, affording him to open a spacious brick-and-mortar location on East Jefferson Avenue this past November.
Karen Schultz took to the same approach for Nosh Pit, originally preparing vegetarian fare out of a bright green food truck and delivering pre-arranged lunch orders to local businesses in the Hamtramck area . Schultz’s popular Larry, a vegetarian take on the classic Reuben sandwich — as well as her lentil chili, hummus, and chocolate beet cupcakes soon became Hamtramck favorites. She opened her permanent location there, with business partners, chef Stefan Kudek and her husband Eric, last January
Market to Plate
For those who dining at places like Detroit’s Marrow and Birmingham’s Hazel, Ravines, and Downtown, the option to bring home fresh, servings from their menu is possible. Both eateries boast not just seating for in-house dining, but markets selling their offerings. Marrow’s butcher shop vends local and sustainably sourced cuts of meat like their Graham’s short ribs and their Graham’s 45-day dry aged bone-in ribeye, while HRD sells their shellfish bisque and Peruvian chicken sandwiches. Marrow, which features a menu aimed serving dishes that incorporate every bit of meat from snout to tail, right down to the marrow. Its interior layout forces visitors of the restaurant pass through the butcher shop, giving patrons the chance to see what sorts of marbled meats of beef and lamb are on the menu, before making it in front of the host.
HDR is architecturally similar, as restaurant-goers must walk past its marketplace, where they sell a number of fresh items, including a tomato soup and vegetarian Henrietta sandwich, which packs goat cheese and avocado, to those who might not have time for a sit-down meal.
As the movement towards adopting a plant-based diet continues to grow around the world, restaurateurs in Detroit are taking note. GreenSpace Café has become a mainstay for metro Detroit vegans. The Royal Oak eatery, which opened in 2015, expanded their healthy offerings in April with GreenSpace & Go, a vegan grab-and-go market that supplies gluten-, soy-, and nut-free salads, smoothies, bowls and wraps, in April. With two locations, one in Ferndale and Royal Oak, the markets are the perfect way to side-step the hefty waiting lines at GreenSpace Café.
Detroit Vegan Soul, too, has served as a landmark for vegan cuisine in the Motor City since 2014. Self-proclaiming to be “Detroit’s first 100% vegan soul food” spot, the mostly organic eatery has two locations, one on Agnes Street, as the “East” location and another on Grand River Avenue, as the “West” spot.
Described as a type of informal Japanese pub, ideal for after-work drinks, izakayas have been on the rise in metro Detroit. In December, Ferndale’s Antihero, headed by Los Angeles chef Nick Erven and established by Working Class outlaws — owners of Imperial and Public House—opened with much anticipation. Preparing quintessential Japanese dishes like ramen, dumplings, along with raw meat and fish, Antihero also focuses on providing the main feat of an izakaya; cocktails. From soju, a Korean spirit made from potatoes and served with a mixer, to highballs, imported draught beers from Japan, and cocktails utilizing sake, there are a number of drinks that evoke the spirit of a traditional izakaya.
Located off of Trumbull Avenue, Katsu Detroit in Woodbridge ensures authentic Japanese cooking with its yakitori charcoal grill; yakitori being a plate that involves small, skewered pieces of chicken, which fits perfectly on the Katsu’s snack menu. Katsu follows the protocol of a traditional izakaya, serving only dinner and staying open until 2 a.m. daily for bar customers.
Grocery Shopping and Fine Dining
Grocery stores are becoming more than just a place to restock your fridge, as Detroit’s Eatóri and Ann Arbor’s Whole Foods Market feature sit-down eateries with gourmet menus. Patrons visiting Eatóri, which overlooks Capitol Park, will pass by the site’s restaurant, which offers menu items like an eggplant panini and mussels with melted leeks for lunch, and wagyu strip steak and duck bolognese for dinner. In the back, Eatóri’s market is stocked with fresh produce, frozen items, pastries, wine and liquor.
The Whole Foods on W. Eisenhower Parkway is also home to Taqueria, an in-store joint that serves dishes coming from Mexico City. Using fresh, trending ingredients, the chef-inspired menu includes tacos, burritos, bowls, and tortas along with innovative fillings like jackfruit and sweet potatoes. A number of the items are vegan, grain free, and vegetarian.
What local food trends are you trying? Let us know in the comments below!