A Foodie’s Exploration of Detroit

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer

Those of us who have the opportunity to spend time in Detroit know that the city is rapidly evolving into a great foodie city. Zagat’s, a popular restaurant guide, recently declared that Detroit was the third “hottest” up-and-coming food city in America, just behind Birmingham, AL and Oakland/Berkeley, CA. I wondered what had taken them so long to figure it out.

DSC04712Any foodie exploration of Detroit should start with a stop at Eastern Market, 2934 Russell Street, where folks have been loading up on fresh fruits and vegetables at this iconic open-air market since visitors began arriving in horse drawn carriages in 1841.

What I love about Eastern Market is that all of Detroit comes together here. Thousands of people converge on the market each week. On this sunny Saturday, we chose from more than 150 different vendors, including farmers, artists, musicians, and tables with prepared foods. Since it’s a bit late in the season, I was looking for blueberries and raspberries, which should be at their peak. I decided to load up on eggplants and some healthy greens, too. What a glorious array of fresh farmer direct goodies!

Eastern Market offers so much more than a huge farmers market. All around the market are some of my favorite hangouts like Supino’s pizzeria. The white and black-checkered floor reminds me of my grandmother’s house, although the restaurant is far hipper. The Margherita white pizza is as close to Italy as you can get without an airline ticket.

Another must stop is Germack Coffee Roasters, a longtime family-run business. They have much more than coffee, including roasted nuts and candy, but for my caffeine fix, I like their Bike Lane blend. It’s a kick-start to the day with just a note of cocoa.

You can spend a lovely few hours wandering through and around the market until 4 p.m. when they close. Now we face a critical decision, however: where to go for dinner? I’ve got three great places to visit from among the many new and old restaurants that fill up the local dining scene.

First on my list is Seldon Standard, at 3921 Second Avenue, where Andy Hollyday is the partner and executive chef. Seldon is a “small plates” restaurant with a focus on local farms and entrees prepared in a wood-fired oven. Their menu changes to fit the season, but last time I visited I really loved the grilled lamb chops. The grilled tomato flatbread was a tasty way to start.

The beef/lamb burger
The beef/lamb burger

Another possibility is the newly opened Republic, near Comerica Park, in the historic Grand Army of the Republic Building. With Republic, Chef Sarah Welch aimed to create an old world tavern, but I found the restaurant really chic for old world. The food is also from local farmers and is heavy on the meat. I tried a beef and lamb burger on my last visit—one the best burgers I’ve ever experienced.

My last choice is Gold Cash Gold at 2100 Michigan Avenue. It definitely wins the prize for oddest name, but this unusual appellation comes from when the building was a pawnshop. They’ve also got a social mission, partnering with different Detroit-area nonprofit groups to help with fundraising and education around various issues. When I had dinner there a few months ago, the food was great. My husband loved the fried chicken, but I chose the basil ricotta tart. Do not skip the bread here.

What an impossible choice between three trendy and tasty restaurants that typify the new Detroit food scene! And there are so many other choices of every taste and flavor in this foodie paradise.

Interested in staying the night? A new hotel has also arrived near Grand Circus Park—the Aloft in the David Whitney building. It’s part of the Starwood group, which is one of my large chain favorites. You’ll love the big windows and extra high ceilings in the guest rooms. Of course, their beds are wonderful, too. And the multi-story lobby is worth a visit, even if you don’t stay overnight.

Plan a visit to Detroit soon and be sure you come hungry.