A Weekend in Detroit: 11 Places to Eat, Drink and Be Merry on Your Next Trip to the Motor City
Come for the Detroit-style pizza, stay for the Detroit coney dogs
If you ever want to win a bar bet, make the seemingly ridiculous statement that you’ll wager a drink that Atlanta, Georgia, is further west than Detroit, Michigan. Once your drinking companion is done guffawing, show them a map of the United States … and then order a fresh drink, on them.
Detroit’s east-leaning location is far from the only thing people probably overlook when thinking about visiting a city many don’t realize is connected to Windsor, Ontario, by both the Detroit–Canada tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge. They also probably overlook its mere status as an increasingly attractive metropolitan tourist destination, with a downtown restoration now well underway, the showpiece of which is the regal Shinola Hotel.
Overlooking the Shinola itself would be somewhat difficult: the 129-room boutique hotel occupies five buildings, including two historic properties, in the heart of downtown Detroit on Woodward Avenue.
With an attached Shinola retail outlet featuring a back entrance to the lobby, the pet-friendly hotel is a short walk away from major attractions like Comerica Park and Ford Field, and there are plenty of shopping and dining options on Woodward Avenue in addition to the ample culinary offerings at the hotel itself.
The rooms at the hotel are luxurious and stylish without being too over-the-top, filled with goodies like Bluetooth Shinola speakers, a record player and leather-tasseled key fobs. Though the scent is not quite as strong as in the rest of the hotel, the rooms exude a subtle fragrance of leather, smoke and your grandfather’s cologne.
For the location alone, the Shinola Hotel is a great place for exploring the rest of the city. And the amenities it offers — including a 24-hour gym, prompt room service and a bar in each room stocked with both national and local booze and snacks — make it a great place to come back to after a long day or night.
As for what to do during those days and nights, may we suggest …
Madcap Coffee: One of four Michigan locations for this Grand Rapids-based coffee roaster, Madcap’s downtown location is relatively new and fits in well with the surrounding scene. The shop’s potent brews include pour-overs, nitro cold-brewed coffees, nitro tea and espresso drinks. There’s patio seating, and the front of the shop opens for an open-air feel in warmer weather.
Buddy’s Pizza: The quintessential Detroit-style pizza joint, Buddy’s has multiple locations in Detroit that are all pretty damn busy. The reason why? The specialty deep-dish pies (which are Sicilian-style but not nearly as deep as the offerings in Chicago) are really, really good and all come packing Buddy’s signature crispiness.
Détroit Is the New Black: The flagship store for a locally sourced and based fashion and accessory line that bears the same name, Détroit Is the New Black offers good stuff at good prices. Started by Roslyn Karamoko, who was previously named “Motor City’s Hottest Designer” by Time , the brand’s desgins are simple, solid and look stylish without being flashy.
Iggy’s Eggies: Only open until 2 p.m., Iggy’s offers a breakfast-heavy menu that is centered on the eatery’s egg sandwiches (as the name would suggest). Though there are a number of set options, customers can also build their own breakfast sandwich by choosing a style of bread, cheese and meat to go with the eggs. For those who want lunch, Iggy’s has burgers and hand-cut fries.
John K. King Used & Rare Books: Located within steps of the Detroit River (which is a destination in its own right), John K. King Used & Rare Books might be a little off the beaten path. But with more than a million books on its shelves (that are all organized without the use of a computer system), the largest bookstore in Michigan is more than deserving of a visit.
Lafayette Coney Island: Situated directly next to its longtime rival American Coney Island (more on that here), Lafayette Coney Island offers no-frills coney dogs that are composted of a beef wiener plopped on a steamed bun and topped with chili sauce, chopped raw onions and some yellow mustard. About an hour outside of Detroit, Flint-style coneys can also be found.
Moosejaw: Specializing in outdoor apparel and gear, Moosejaw stocks plenty of both national and local brands, including their own. There’s nothing fancy about this place, but it is an excellent spot to go if you forgot to pack something warm or simply want to complete your lumberjack look.
Evening Bar: Located within the bowels of the Shinola Hotel but also accessible from an alleyway outside, Evening Bar is a cozy room filled with nice woodwork and warm lighting. Windowless with seating space for just 30 people at full capacity, the bar has a full cocktail menu and serves a variety of light bites, but takes no reservations.
Penny Red’s: Located in an awesome alley that also is home to an American beer hall called The Brakeman, this fried poultry joint was making chicken sandwiches back before they were cool. The sandwiches are solid, but the buckets of fried chicken, biscuits and special recipe sauces are really what make this pint-sized eatery stand out. The kitschy decor ain’t bad either.
San Morello: The street-front restaurant of the Shinola Hotel, San Morello has a great sidewalk patio that’s perfect for people watching while munching on a wood-fired pizza and sipping on a crushed-ice cocktail. Offering a full wine menu, chef and owner Andrew Carmellini’s Italian restaurant specializes in housemade pasta and employs a full-time employee to crimp ravioli and cut noodles.
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