Michigan Restaurant Association - Industry News (2024)

May 02, 2001

Best of Detroit 2001

Source: Detroit Free Press
You’d think that naming the Best of Detroit would be a piece of cake, wouldn’t you?

After all, the Free Press has been writing about metro Detroit’s people, places and peculiarities longer than anybody else. So we’ve been around the block – around every block, actually, more than a few times. We’re the city’s oldest business, with 170 years under our belt. And we’re the people who wrote the book on metro Detroit (“The Detroit Almanac”).

Yet, in selecting hundreds of the area’s best people, places and peculiarities, we discovered a lot of great things about this place we know and love. We also rediscovered many gems that we’d been taking for granted.

We hope you will too.

We had a lot of expert help, from local insiders we recruited and, most important, thousands of Free Press readers who told us about the so-Detroit things they love most. (Thank you all!).

Below is an excerpt from “Best of Detroit 2001” under the category of “Food.”

Best ribs with award winning sauce:
It’s not just our own tasters who rate Dap’s Smoke & Grill tops when it comes to barbecued ribs and chicken. The guy who does the sauce, Tony McGee, has earned first place for his sassy sauce for three years running at the Ribs and Soul Cook-off held each summer in downtown Detroit. And, if barbecue isn’t your thing, they cook up some delicious catfish too.
25832 W. Nine Mile, Southfield

Best place to eat Mideastern sweets:
People walk out of Shatila with hundreds of dollars of pastries before major Christian and Muslim feast days. There’s a counter of French-style goodies, too, which are tres delicious. And don’t miss the pistachio ice cream.
6912 Schaefer Road near West Warren, Dearborn

Best place to make a cow of yourself:
The scoops are huge – about 8 ounces – creamy and rich at Ray’s Ice Cream, which opened in 1958 and has not changed much over the years – checkerboard floor tiles, ice cream counter with red vinyl stools. Ray’s offers 42 flavors daily, everything from raspberry sorbet to spicy cinnamon ice cream, black cherry to Mackinac Island fudge. Custom-made flavors are available to the public, but there is a 9-gallon minimum order. It’s open year round but lines stretch down the block in the summer.
4233 Coolidge Highway, Royal Oak

Best place for excellent food, fine service, great atmoshpere and a smile at the door:
Thanks to premium ingredients, classic dishes and a welcoming clubby feel, the Hill Seafood & Chop House has turned into a hit in the hard-to-please Grosse Pointes. It’s the Free Press 2001 Restaurant of the Year.
123 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Farms

Best please to get meats you can’t fine at Kroger:
Looking for kangaroo meat? No problem. Butcher Boy Food Products stocks kangaroo. And wild boar. And pheasant, quail, partridge, elk, venison, emu, rattlesnake, and buffalo, which, along with ostrich, is a big sell because it’s so low in cholesterol. The shop also sells less exotic meats such as beef and chicken but you have to buy those in bulk.
13869 Herbert, Warren

Best place to not mind spending a fortune on dinner:
With Asian-accented French cuisine and an elegant interior. Tribute is the place to make a special occasion even more special. Trust us.
31425 W. Twelve Mile Road, Farmington Hills
248-848-9393 or www.tribute-restaurant.com

Best place to smell roasting garlic before lunch:
As home to a pizzeria and an Italian restaurant, the Washington Square Plaza is garlic central. Bakers at D’Amato’s make fresh focaccia daily; the scent carries a block away. The crew at Goombah’s roasts garlic on a regular basis, too. Inhale deeply.
306 S. Washington, Royal Oak.

Best crunchy salads served with just out-of-the-oven pita bread:
The fattoush salads at La Shish restaurants, especially those from the Livonia location, are something to behold. The lettuce is crisp, as are the small pieces of pita bread mixed in. The zesty dressing is especially good and seldom drenching. And the bread - well, you’ll probably want to ask for seconds. The chain has 10 locations throughout the metro area.
37367 6 Mile Road, in the Newburgh Shopping Plaza, Livonia

Best clam chowder in a four-star restaurant:
Opus one elevates the simple to the sublime with its bowl of chowder perfection: plump clams, cubes of tender potato, a hint of smoky bacon and a velvety base that’s the perfect thickness.
565 E. Larned, Detroit

Best soul food restaurant if you don’t mind waiting:
True, the service at Franklin East is s-l-o-w. But the food is great. And don’t miss the side dishes. From the macaroni and cheese to the sweet potatoes, they’re just like Grandma’s.
1440 Franklin, Detroit

Best corned beef hash at a trendy restaurant:
The Beverly Hills Grill mixes in chunks of redskin potatoes, onions and tops it off with melted cheddar, scallions and poached eggs. Plus, it’s served with good people-watching.
31471 Southfield Road, Beverly Hills

Best place to find a BLT made with a pound of bacon or a hot fund sundae that can feed six:
Tony’s I-75 Restaurant makes those oversized portions at chain eateries seem like small potatoes. Everything here is big. The BLTs are indeed made with a pound of bacon - all the better for metro Detroiters visiting the outlet malls across the street to keep up their strength.
8781 Main St., Birch Run

Best place to pig out:
Lile’s Restaurant sells mammouth ham sandwiches and little else.
13800 Michigan, Dearborn

Best place to eat where President Bill Clinton ate:
Pardon our suggestion, but Cady’s Grill served barbecued chicken wings and a chicken pita sandwich (minus the cheese) to the ex-prez last May, when he was still in office. Check out the photos of Hillary’s husband in the foyer of this Depot Town spot.
36 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti

Best tamales north of Texas:
Evie’s is more low-key than some of the larger Mexicantown restaurants, but the tamales can’t be beat. They’re served with refried beans and rice. Or you can get them by the dozen and carry them out.
3454 Bagley, Detroit

Best German restaurant with a full-time piano player:
In addition to a heart-stopping plate of knackwurst, kraut and German potato salad, the Dakota Inn Rathskeller always has a pianist at the keys. Waitresses belt out the words while delivering dinner and customers raise mugs of wheat beer while singing along.
17324 John R, Detroit

Best greasy spoon:
At Janet’s Lunch, just 27 brown leather-covered stools sit cozily around a long, horseshoe-shaped, beige-Formica-topped counter with a griddle in the middle. The arrangement is all the better to watch cook Linda Jacoby - granddaughter of the original owner - whip up the delicious eggs, bacon, pancakes and omelets for Janet’s breakfast customers, many of whom are longtime regulars.
15033 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Park

Best place to get a bowl of czarnina (Polish duck blood soup) in an emergency:
Make sure the emergency is on a Sunday - because that’s the only day it’s served - and then motor to the Three Brothers restaurant. “It’s really, really good,” swears Angela Winiarski. “They come from all over to eat it every Sunday. But I’ve never been able to eat it.”
17620 W. Warren, Detroit

Best place to get a bowl of beet soup in a pinch:
Better than a blood transfusion is this Eastern European delicacy that is the Saturday and Sunday specialty of the Starlight Restaurant in the largely Ukrainian-Polish segment of Warren. What makes it great? “You mean beside the fact that nobody else serves it?” askes supervisor Cynthia Pfahlert.
26837 Ryan, Warren

Best place to eat with your fingers:
At the Blue Nile Ethiopian Cafe in Greektown, diners tear off pieces of thin, spongy injera bread and use it to pick up bites of spicy meat or vegetable stews from communal bowls. Friendly waiters show you how and help you order.
508 Monroe, Detroit

Best coney island tug-of-war:
Walk down Lafayette where it meets Michigan and Griswold and you’ll likely be approached by representatives - usually men with accents and white aprons - from the legendary side-by-side coney islands. Each will tell you to eat at their restaurant, not the other guy’s.
Lafayette Coney Island, 118 W. Lafayette
American Coney Island, 115 Michigan

Best top-flight dining experience that people consistently overlook:
Though it’s been around since 1990, area diners still haven’t discovered Courthouse Brasserie. The 10-table restaurant has the simple elegance of the French country chalet owned by a family whose wealth isn’t what it once was; slightly faded, but tasteful beyond compare. The menu is a delightful and unexpected agglomeration of continental and Mediterranean with an occasional hint of India.
1436 Brush, Detroit

Best buffet:
With American, Asian, Italian and American fare offered daily, the Motor City Casino has it all. Al least 50 dishes are on display - including slabs of prime rib, sweet Chinese sticky buns and king crab legs. The dessert area regularly features 20 offerings: cookies, sundae bar, bread pudding, cheesecakes, cream puffs, eclairs, tortes, pecan pie. It’s all fresh, tasty and prepared on site.
2901 Grand River, Detroit
313-237-7711, ext. 6482

Best charming old-school Italian waiters:
The wait staff turnover at Roma Cafe in Eastern Market is virtually nil. These guys are professionals, not kids working their way through school. Fast, dignified and just a touch distant. They’re not going to chatter on about the weather. Thank goodness.
3401 Riopelle, Detroit
Source: Detroit Free Press

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