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Best Detroit Restaurants

AOL PICK from our Editors
Let's get real for a minute. Most of Metro Detroit’s high-end restaurants would be lost in the shuffle in other American cities of its size. This is, at heart, a blue-collar region, with very casual tastes. Consequently, when Detroit tries to get fancy, it can sometimes feel inauthentic. So skip the foie gras and the truffles; go for the pierogies. And especially for the pizza. When GQ Magazine chose the top-25 pies in the United States back in 2009, four of them were in Metro Detroit, an honor richly deserved. From Old World Polish in Hamtramck to soul food on Detroit’s West Side to Thai and Vietnamese food in workaday Madison Heights to the taco trucks of Vernor Highway in Mexicantown to some of the best-tasting Middle Eastern food this side of the Mediterranean in the heavily Arab city of Dearborn, nobody goes hungry here. Leave the suit and Diner's Club card behind; grab your jeans and a wad of cash to dine in Detroit. Nicole Rupersburg at Discover Detroit Dining runs personalized and fun tours of the city dining scene.   

Roast

Neighborhood: Downtown/Eastern Market  Price: Expensive
Iron Chef Michael Symon’s restaurant on the ground floor of the Westin Book Cadillac is the best type of Detroit restaurant—terrifically smart but at the same time informal and fun. As you might expect from the name, the menu is a carnivore’s delight. Our favorites are the New York strip with roasted marrow, pickles and horseradish for $36, or the lamb ragu, served over pappardelle pasta with chili, peas and fennel for $24. A great wine list and fun bar scene make this an all-night type of place. We couldn’t be more pleased.

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Roast  

Hamido

Neighborhood: Dearborn Price: Moderate
Dearborn, being more than 30 percent Arab, has a lot of really great hummus and pita joints. For a long time, casual visitors could be lazy—it may not have been the best, but a mini-chain called La Shish served up better hummus, fresher pita, tastier grilled meats and lovelier salads than many of us could find in our hometowns. Then, suddenly one day, the Federal Government came knocking on the door of the owner’s home: Was La Shish funneling cash to terrorist groups overseas? Alas, we may never know the whole truth—by the time the fuzz showed up, Talal Chahine was long gone. He remains at large. The plot thickens from there, but long story short, no more La Shish. Where to now? Hamido, a simple storefront on Dearborn’s colorful West Warren Avenue strip. Roasted chicken, kabobs, shawarma, baba ganoush, hummus—whatever your pleasure, it’s here. And it’s cheap—a gargantuan combo platter for two costs just $21.95. Afterward, you’re close to some of the better Lebanese bakeries this side of Beirut—stop in for homemade ice cream and delectable sweets.

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Hamido  

Slows Bar B Q

Neighborhood: Downtown/Eastern Market  Price: Moderate
It may not be the most popular restaurant in all of Southeastern Michigan, but it sure feels like it on a Friday night when you’re standing 10 deep at the bar, waiting for a table to materialize. There’s a joke that many suburbanites think that it’s the last restaurant left in Detroit. It isn’t, but this labor of love from local boy Phillip Cooley is most definitely one of the best. There's a casual-chic room designed by cutting-edge local design firm Los Pistoleros and a great menu that reads like a Who’s Who of American Barbecue, from Texas-style brisket to Carolina pulled pork (both made with quality Niman Ranch meats). We especially love the incredible blackened catfish, served with excellent remoulade. And the macaroni and cheese. And service that’s much nicer than it has to be, considering how busy and popular this place is. The list of beers on tap could make any suds lover weep with joy, incorporating many local and regional breweries with some national micro-faves. In summary: Eat here. Now.  

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Slows Bar B Q  

Mae's

Neighborhood: Oakland County Price: Moderate
There’s enough good breakfast along Woodward Avenue in Oakland County, you’d have to dine out for more than a week to try all the worthy candidates. The latest entry in the morning-is-delicious sweepstakes would be this rethink of a vintage coffee shop on a quiet corner in a mostly residential suburb, whose name—Pleasant Ridge—couldn’t be more apt. It is pleasant. Really, really pleasant. (It also appears to be on a ridge.) Sean and Jessica McCarthy, who live around the corner, have renovated the space and created a menu that celebrates Detroit’s many local icons of food and drink, from highbrow (Avalon Bakery breads) to the everyday, like Better Made potato chips and Faygo sodas (in Detroit, you say “pop”). Open Tuesday-Sunday for breakfast and lunch. Our personal favorite is the Portland Special—chicken tenders fried in a Cap’n Crunch batter, topped with jack cheese, hot sauce, served on rustic white bread with a side of blue cheese dressing.   

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Mae's  

Cafe con Leche

Neighborhood: Mexicantown Price: Budget
This hip cafe run by Jordi Carbonell—a Barcelona expat who moved to Michigan for love—is a new look for the neighborhood, and a most welcome addition, with cappuccinos and free wireless Internet. The cafe is friendly but casual—if there’s nothing to eat when you arrive in the morning, stop by the Mexicantown Bakery just a few doors down (#4300) and BYO. Cafe con Leche is a reflection of the Mexican-American community which maintains a strong presence in the region. Its spiritual home is the neighborhood known simply as Mexicantown, hubbed along bustling Vernor Highway in Southwest Detroit, just a couple of minutes out of the Downtown area.

Motor City Brewing Works

Neighborhood: Midtown/New Center Price: Budget
In case you didn’t know, Michigan loves beer. A lot of it. And Michigan doesn’t just make beer, Michigan consumes it. A lot of it. From Bell’s in Kalamazoo to the Atwater Block Brewery down on the Detroit River, there’s a lot to try, but no beer says Detroit more than the Ghettoblaster Ale (yeah, that's really the name), a raw, bouncy and drinkable brew with a hint of darkness that flows from this small brewery located on one of the hipper mini-strips in Midtown. Come for drinks, stay for lunch or dinner. The simple menu includes booze-friendly faves such as queso dip and pizzas; the kitchen stays open at least until midnight, sometimes past. Ask about tours, which are available with some restrictions.  

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Motor City Brewing Works  

Russell Street Deli

Neighborhood: Downtown/ Eastern Market  Price: Budget
This joint has long been one of the happiest places in Detroit on a Saturday morning, when the Eastern Market is in full swing. These days, though, new ownership has taken this simple coffee shop/diner that features communal seating and lines out the door to the next level, tweaking the menu to incorporate higher quality and more local ingredients. During the week, it’s a real, live deli, with great house-smoked turkey and locally done corned beef sandwiches. Our favorite time to come is Saturdays, though, for raisin bread French toast with Michigan maple syrup, healthy portions of Kopytko sausage (smoked in Hamtramck!) and masterfully-done omelets.

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Russell Street Deli  

Woodbridge Pub

Neighborhood: Woodbridge Price: Budget
This isn’t really a neighborhood bistro sort of town, mostly because this is a town where so many neighborhoods are missing the key ingredient to support that sort of thing: residents. Or, at least, residents with the type of disposable income to sustain such an operation. But leafy Woodbridge, just west of the Wayne State University campus, isn’t just another Detroit neighborhood. Where others are losing people, Woodbridge has, in recent years, been growing again. After years of painstaking renovations and the addition of a big, sturdy bar created from salvaged materials found at a church in nearby Saginaw, the Pub has become a center of neighborhood life, open for lunch and dinner and into the late hours. Stop in for a pint—on Tuesdays, a pint from Michigan’s best-loved brewery, Bell’s, is just $2.50. The full lunch and dinner menu is nicely done, reeling in products from popular local purveyors such as Avalon Bakery and the Corridor Sausage Co. There are some good vegetarian options, as well.      

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Woodbridge Pub  

Lafayette Coney Island

Neighborhood: Downtown/ Eastern Market  Price: Budget
There’s a lot to eat in Detroit, but for some reason, the most iconic food in the region remains the Coney Dog. What is it? A hot dog—ideally, locally made, well-seasoned and snappy. With basic, meat-only chili, onions and mustard. Got it? Great. You can find them all over town, but this vintage counter joint downtown is our favorite, simply because the fluorescent-lit room itself is as classic as the idea of a hot dog and a ginger ale (Vernors, a local favorite) comprising an actual meal. Come for lunch on a weekday, when cops and politicians and downtown office drones sit cheek by jowl and talk shop: It's an eavesdropper’s paradise. A fierce competitor, born out of a family dispute nearly 100 years ago, is located directly next door. Locals enjoy arguing the merits of each; wise visitors will stay out of such discussions.  

Supino Pizza

Neighborhood: Downtown/ Eastern Market  Price: Budget
While it is nothing like Chicago pizza or New York pizza, Detroit pizza is awesome in its own right. This is the home of the square pie, where the cheese goes on first and then the tomato. The style was made popular at a pizzeria called Buddy’s, up on Conant and Six Mile on Detroit’s East Side, and has been a staple of the local diet for decades. Got it? Great. Because Supino is nothing like Buddy’s. Located in the Eastern Market, Dave Mancini’s rustic-chic storefront (or is it just rustic) consists of tables recycled from a factory in Flint, a counter and a pizza oven, churning out pies more reminiscent of Italy than Southeastern Michigan. This is a very basic operation, but Mancini’s ingredient consciousness—heirloom tomatoes on pizza, what the what?—and the pies themselves make this a huge hit with locals.    

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Supino Pizza  
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