An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (2024)

The NFL draft and affiliated festivities have football fanatics from across the country flooding downtown Detroit.

For the action-seekers looking to take in the bustling energy that has downtown Detroit abuzz, the Free Press team has already offered a guide for breakfast, lunch and dinner near the NFL Draft activations.

There’s much to metro Detroit’s food landscape beyond the downtown area, though.

There are rich cultural communities that have served some of the most noteworthy dishes for generations, and neighborhoods garnering more recent acclaim for a new wave of bars and restaurants, bakeries and cafes.

An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (1)

If you’re a foodie looking to explore the breadth of the area’s up-and-coming restaurant scene, here’s a guide to the region’s culinary communities — plus, some not-to-miss eateries to check out while you’re there.

And if you’re a local food enthusiast unwilling to brave a busy downtown, consider this your playbook for eating around the Draft.

An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (2)

Corktown, Detroit

As the oldest Detroit neighborhood, Corktown is as charming as can be. Old cobblestone streets are lined with rowhouses, architecturally stunning Victorian homes and quaint eateries with small-town appeal. Residuals of an early influence of Irish settlers escaping the potato famine in the 1800s remain today with some restaurants, like Cork and Gabel paying homage to the neighborhood’s Irish roots. Otherwise, there’s a cohesive blend of sleek, modern restaurants, trendy hotspots — like Lucky Detroit, a steampunk-style coffee shop and barber shop that overlooks Michigan Avenue — and longtime establishments with old-world allure.

Not-to-miss eateries in Corktown:

Nearby neighborhood: Core City

Adjacent to Corktown is Core City, home to True North, a village of live/work dwellings composed of shipping containers. The area’s culinary community is new, but growing with quality eateries that draw a young, hip crowd. Stop by the award-winning Argentinian restaurant Barda known for wood-fired dishes, grab bagels and handmade sourdough breads from one of the best bakers in town at Detroit Institute of Bagels or snag a healthy snack and coffee at Café Prince with a spoon of their housemade oat milk.

An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (3)

Dearborn

The only American city with an Arab majority, Dearborn’s dining scene is rich with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurants of various cultures. Here is where you’ll find some of the best Iraqi, Lebanese, Yemeni and Syrian staples in the country, like crisp falafel, creamy hummus, tender shawarma, syrupy knafeh and Turkish coffee. With one of the country’s largest Muslim populations, there's also an increasing number of restaurants serving halal meats, including chain eateries and fast food spots.

Not-to-miss eateries in Dearborn:

An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (4)

Eastern Market, Detroit

Eastern Market is best known for its year-round weekend farmers market and local makers markets, as well as its meat markets and butcher shops. As one of the country’s longest-standing farmers markets, vendors from across Michigan line the sheds to sell fresh produce, meats and specialty goods every Saturday — and during the warmer months, Sundays and Tuesdays as well. The bars, restaurants and coffee shops that surround the market are available to feed visitors year-round. Visiting this warehouse district where buildings are painted with murals by local and global artists and live music often echoes throughout the streets is a must.

Not-to-miss eateries in Eastern Market:

An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (5)

Greektown, Detroit

As its name implies, Greektown’s culinary identity is largely shaped by early Greek settlers. Longstanding Greek restaurants and pastry shops remain. Here, you’ll find saganaki, or flaming cheese, on just about any menu as well as Greek salads, gyros and baklava. Over the years, Greektown has introduced a range of cuisines, from barbecue joints to Detroit-favorite pizza shops, and has developed a bustling nightlife scene. If you’re looking for a lively dinner or a walkable bar crawl just outside of downtown Detroit, Greektown is likely your best bet.

Not-to-miss eateries in Greektown:

An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (6)

Hamtramck

A multicultural city surrounded entirely by Detroit, Hamtramck’s food scene is shaped by the immigrant populations that have settled there. Early Polish settlers remain, lending the region’s most popular restaurants for pierogi, potato pancakes and seared kielbasa, while a large Arab presence brings a host of Middle Eastern, namely Yemeni, restaurants to town. A large Bangladeshi influence draws diners craving biryani and warm curries.

Not-to-miss eateries in Hamtramck:

  • Aladdin Sweets and Café, 11945 Conant, Hamtramck. 313-891-8050

  • Balkan House, 3028 Caniff St., Hamtramck. 313-262-6234; 314 W. Nine Mile, Ferndale. 248-268-4920; facebook.com/thebalkanhouse

  • Boostan Restaurant, 3470 Holbrook Ave., Hamtramck; 313-456-8100; boostanrestaurants.com

  • California Burgerz, 12045 Conant, Hamtramck. 313-703-8000; californiaburgerz.com

  • Dos Los Tacos, 10337 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck. 313-872-6838; doslocostacos.com

  • Fat Salmon Sushi, 11411 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck. 313-305-4347

  • Polish Village Café, 2990 Yemans St., Hamtramck. 313-874-5726; polishvillagecafe.us

  • Polonia Restaurant, 2934 Yemans St., Hamtramck. 313-873-8432; polonia-restaurant.net

  • Remas Restaurant, 11444 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck. 313-707-0920; remaseats.com

  • Yemen Café, 8740 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck. 313-871-4349; yemencaferestaurant.com

An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (7)

LivernoisAve., Detroit

On the city’s west side, Livernois Avenue boasts a rich presence of food businesses that reflect the African diaspora. Black-owned diners, restaurants, takeout joints and bakeries line the strip. Whether you have a taste for soul food, African dishes or takes on Mexican cuisine fused with Caribbean flavors, Livernois has an abundance of options for you.

Not-to-miss eateries on Livernois:

Nearby neighborhood: Fitzgerald/Marygrove

Whether you’re on the west side with a taste for chicken and waffles, or simply want to support a Black-owned business, it’s worth taking a drive to Whatcha Wanna Eat Food Hall, a Black-owned and -operated collection of food stalls nearby. Whatcha Wanna Eat houses nine food businesses ranging from a pizza spot to an ice cream shop to a burger joint and more.

An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (8)

Midtown and Brush Park

Midtown and its bordering Brush Park neighborhood includes the home of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University. Its bar and dining scene is a melting pot of cuisines with longtime favorites and a host of newer ones. There are fine dining spots, longtime upscale Italian places and award-winning casual fare. Many places are helmed by James Beard Award-winning or -nominated chefs, including Outstanding Pastry Chef award-winner Warda Bouguettaya, owner of Midtown’s Warda Pâtisserie and award-nominee Selden Standard Executive Chef Andy Hollyday. The area is between downtown Detroit and New Center. It’s home to iconic Detroit classics such as The Whitney, an old mansion built by a lumber baron, newcomer Vecino with Mexico City fare and the forthcoming Leña offering Spanish-influenced fare.

Not-to-miss eateries in Midtown and Brush Park:

An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (9)

Milwaukee Junction/New Center/North End

This area of Detroit neighbors the north end of Midtown and is known for the Fisher Theater and the main Henry Ford Hospital campus. Milwaukee Junction is nestled off of East Grand Boulevard and Woodward Avenue while New Center is off West Grand Boulevard and Woodward. Its culinary offerings are a blend of old and those new-ish to the area. The fare runs from high-end upscale French fare to classic bar food from longtime hip spot Northern Lights Lounge on Baltimore Street to newcomer and award-winning Baobab Fare with East African cuisine. Or stop in for a coffee and croissants in North End at the recently opened French-inspired Café Noir.

Not-to-miss eateries in Milwaukee Junction/New Center/North End

An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (10)

Mexicantown-Southwest Detroit

Southwest Detroit’s vibrant Latino community has shaped the neighborhood into a destination for some of Michigan’s best Latin cuisine. Though Mexican food is king here — you’ll find Mexican bakeries, taco trucks and restaurants in Mexicantown and throughout southwest Detroit — there are also a number of Latin American markets and eateries. Think, Salvadoran and Honduran pupusas, Venezuelan arepas, Puerto Rican maduros or sweet plantains and Dominican-style rice and beans.

Not-to-miss eateries in Southwest Detroit:

  • Asty Time, 7340 McGraw Ave., Detroit. 313-285-9390; astytime.com

  • El Barzon, 3710 Junction Ave., Detroit. 313-894-2070; elbarzonrestaurant.com

  • Duly's Place Coney Island, 5458 Vernor Hwy., Detroit. 313-554-3076

  • La Cuscatleca Inc., 6343 Michigan Ave., Detroit. 313-894-4373

  • La Gloria Bakery, 3345 Bagley St., Detroit. 313-842-5722

  • La Jalisciense Supermercado Y Taqueria, 3923 Vernor Hwy., Detroit. 313-551-0522; lajalisciensedetroit.com

  • Los Corrales, 2244 Junction Ave., Detroit. 313-849-3196; restaurantloscorrales.com

  • Mexicantown Bakery, 4300 Vernor Hwy., Detroit. 313-554-0001; mexicantownbakery.com

  • Rincon Tropical, 6538 Michigan Ave., Detroit. 313-334-8526; orderrincontropical.com

  • Taqueria El Rey, 3344 Vernor Hwy., Detroit. 313-357-3094

Nearby neighborhood: Chadsey Condon

Neighboring Southwest Detroit is Chadsey Condon, home to two culinary destinations that are worth a visit. 2023 Detroit Free Press/Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Restaurant of the Year Ladder 4 Wine Bar is a newer addition to the area, serving fine, creative New American dishes with a French sensibility and natural wine to boot. Hygrade Deli is a no-frills, longtime corned beef diner known for its meat-stacked sandwiches.

An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (11)

West Village/Jefferson Chalmers/Rivertown

These three areas are east of downtown Detroit with Jefferson as their common border street. Rivertown has several restaurants on or near the water including longstanding Sinbad’s. Historic West Village is between Jefferson Avenue and Kercheval and home to award-winning Marrow, a neighborhood butcher shop and restaurant and Sister Pie. Primarily a residential neighborhood, you can admire the many architectural styles of the area homes from Colonial, Georgian and Mediterranean Revival to many Tudor styles. Jefferson Chalmers is on the river side of Jefferson and is also noted as the canal district. You can enjoy a meal with a water view, admire stately homes or head to a restaurant by bike or kayak and sip co*cktails or have brunch.

Not-to-miss eateries in West Village/Jefferson Chalmers/Rivertown:

  • Atwater Brewery, 237 Jos Campau, Detroit, 313-877-9205; atwaterbeer.com

  • Breadless, 2760 Larned St., Detroit, 313-488-4091; breadless.com

  • Clique Diner, 1326 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, 313-259-0922.

  • Coriander Kitchen and Farm, 14601 Riverside Blvd., Detroit, 313-338-9466; corianderkitchenandfarm.com

  • Ivy Kitchen & co*cktails, 9215 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, 313-332-0607; ivykc.com

  • Marrow, 8044 Kercheval Ave., Detroit, 313-513-0361; marrowdetroit.com

  • Metropolitan Pizza Kitchen and Bar, 8047 Agnes St., Detroit, 313-469-0976

  • Rattlesnake 300 River Place Dr., Detroit, 313-567-4400; rattlesnakedetroit.com

  • Sinbad’s, 100 St.Clair, Detroit, 313-822-8000; sindbads.com

  • Sister Pie, 8066 Kercheval, Detroit, 313-447-5550; sisterpie.com

Now that you’re familiar with each neighborhood, check out the Detroit Free Press/Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Best Restaurants Guide. Our food team has compiled 10 years of our Top 10 New Restaurants and Restaurant of the Year lists into one comprehensive directory of the best restaurants throughout Detroit and its surrounding cities.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit restaurants outside of downtown: An insider's guide

An insider’s guide to dining outside of downtown Detroit (2024)

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