The Locals Guide to Where to Eat in Detroit

When I first moved to Detroit, there weren’t too many food options – but that didn’t last for too long as the foodie scene exploded soon after my arrival, for which I am eternally grateful. No longer was I  relegated to choosing which coney dog to pledge my allegiance to, Lafayette or American. Discovering where to eat in Detroit during this foodie explosion became one of my favorite things to do in Detroit as it seemed a new restaurant was opening every weekend! I also kept in mind to pay a visit to Detroit’s original eateries that withstood the rise, fall, and now “rebirth” of this awesome city. 

So get your stretchy pants on as I share with you my favorite places to eat in Detroit for Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, and Dessert!

Where to Eat Brunch in Detroit

Who doesn’t love a good brunch spot? These spots are some of the best in Detroit for a brunch.

Hudson Cafe

The Hudson Cafe located in Downtown Detroit on Woodward Avenue is an oldie but a goodie. And by oldie I mean it opened in 2011, just as Detroit’s “rebirth” began. So it’s one of the original restaurants in Detroit’s foodie explosion. And it has held its ground as a solid option for a decadent brunch in Detroit. Try their Very Berry French Toast for a sweet start to your day or try their Portabella omelet for a savory option. 

There is usually a long waiting list, especially on the weekends, so be prepared for a bit of a wait. But I promise, it’ll be well worth it. You could also place an order for carry out if you are nursing a hangover from a night out in Detroit.

Location: 1241 Woodward Ave Detroit, MI 48226

Website for more info: https://www.hudson-cafe.com/

Folk

This sunny breakfast spot opened after I left Detroit, but thankfully I got to pay it a visit on a recent return trip. It’s located next to one of my favorite places in Detroit, The Farmer’s Hand, and is an extension of their (local) farm to table ethos. As such, their current menu does not look the same as the menu I ordered from, but I recall a delicious breakfast bowl with a healthy dose of grains, kimchi, an egg and other goodies. But what I remember most fondly about Folk is their alternative drink menu – they had a matcha latte, golden milk, and other non-coffee alternatives for those of us who prefer tea! This place should definitely be on your list, but be prepared for a bit of a wait on the weekends!

Location: 1701 Trumbull Ave

Website for more info: https://www.folkdetroit.com/

Parks & Rec

Parks & Rec Diner is located in one of my favorite buildings in Detroit. Its shape reminds me of the Flatiron Building in NYC, but it’s a castle. When I moved to Detroit, it was vacant. Now Parks & Rec Diner occupies a small space serving up a seasonal brunch menu with boozy cocktails to accompany the delicious food. You can even build your own avocado toast at this cozy breakfast spot! 

Location: The Grand Army of the Republic Building, 1942 Grand River Avenue

Website for more info: https://www.parksandrecdiner.com/

Honest John’s

Honest John’s is holding strong at its location on Selden St in the Midtown neighborhood since long before Detroit’s “rebirth”. This diner is a favorite amongst college students, nurses, and everyone in between. In the mornings you’ll find nurses enjoying a mimosa and breakfast as they transition from their night shift to their day. And at night you’ll find college kids partying until the wee hours of the morning. But no matter what time of day you visit, you’ll find this place buzzing and serving up traditional breakfast staples. My favorite was the Corned Beef Hash!

Location: 488 Selden St

Website for more info: http://www.honestjohnsdetroit.com/#home

Rose’s Fine Foods

Rose’s Fine Foods quickly became one of my favorite spots for breakfast when it opened its doors on Jefferson Ave. Not only is the food locally sourced and therefore they have a rotating menu featuring seasonal fare, they also pay their employees a living wage. Their employees don’t rely on tips to survive. You can still tip them, of course, and they’ll split it equally amongst the staff. The pancakes are legit by the way and if they have a lavender soda on the menu, order it – so good!

Location: 10551 E Jefferson Ave

Website for more info: https://www.rosesfinefood.com/

Where to Eat Lunch in Detroit

Any of the above options also serve lunch, but these restaurants are what I would crave around noontime, when you’re appetite is just ready for a nice meal!

Mudgie’s Deli

At home in California, I had a handful of solid sandwich shops that I could rely on when I was having a deli sandwich crave. When I moved to Detroit, I was having a difficult time finding a sandwich shop to fill that void. Then I discovered Mudgie’s Deli on its corner in Corktown and my search ended! They’ve since expanded their shop, adding a weekend brunch and awesome patio for a Detroit summer boozy brunch. But their sandwiches are still the reason I go to Mudgie’s. A few of my sandwich favorites: The Jerk, Sho’ Nuff, Madill, and Hippie Dippie Sh*t Man. You really can’t go wrong with their menu though, and they have sandwich fillings to suit any taste buds!

Location: 1413 Brooklyn St

Website for more info: http://www.mudgiesdeli.com/wp/

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Brunch and full menu: ☕️🥐🥓🍾🥚🍳 : The Brooklyn with egg: Smoked Brisket, bacon, maple caramelized onion, house made pub cheese on a kaiser. . House made Bloody Mary. . Bottle of cava and juice caraffe $20, that’s 5 mimosa, $4 each. .: . Brunch featured beer ; Brew Detroit’s-Cold brew coffee stout : : $2 New Holland Amber : . Michigan farm fresh eggs, delivered every Friday : . All dairy from Calder’s dairy : . Several egg Benny to choose from :. :. #brunch #detroitbrunch #brunchlife #brunchdetroit #brunchgoals #brunched #mudgiesdeliandwineshop #detroit #ferndale #corktowndetroit #brunchin #farmfresheggs #eater #thrillist #foodnetwork #bestofdetroit #detroit #detroiteats #detroitdeli #finedeliing

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Jolly Pumpkin Brewery

Want to dine where Obama dined when he visited Detroit – then head to Jolly Pumpkin! He had their burger, but I’m recommending their pizza – specifically the Pork Pie and the Truffle. Jolly Pumpkin also has an excellent selection of beers, as it’s a brewery as well! You line up to place your order, then snag a table, or order at the bar! In the summer, a patio seat is an excellent spot to enjoy your pizza, beer, and people watch!

Location: 441 W. Canfield

Website for more info: https://www.jollypumpkin.com/jp/detroit-jolly-pumpkin-brewery

Beyond Juice

Beyond Juice is one of my favorite spots in the city for a healthy lunch – and not just because my former coworker’s wife created their pressed juice menu! Their Eastern Market location has an open and airy vibe and great window seating to enjoy your smoothie, salad, or juice. My recommendations are: The Boss Smoothie, The Green Machine, and the Hummus & Beet Bowl. You can also take a pressed juice, fresh almond butter, and other healthy snacks to go!

Location: 2501 Russell St

Website for more info: https://beyondjuiceryeatery.com/

Seva

Where are all my vegetarians and vegans at? Seva is for you and anyone who wants delicious food, really. My first Midtown apartment window looked directly into the window of Seva so this restaurant became my go-to on those nights I wanted something healthy, delicious, and without any effort on my part. I highly suggest the General Tso’s Cauliflower, Black Bean & Sweet Potato Quesadilla, or Mushroom French Dip with yam fries. In addition to their awesome food menu, they also offer a full bar, smoothies, and fresh juices.

Location: 66 E. Forest Ave

Website for more info: https://www.sevarestaurant.com/detroit/

La Feria

This cozy tapas spot has made a name for itself in the Midtown neighborhood. La Feria is the perfect place for a first date or when you just need some fresh Sangria on a sunny summer day, or warm bacon-wrapped dates in the middle of winter. And that’s exactly what you should order…as well as the fried eggplant. Oh, and more Sangria – get the pitcher – it’s cheaper that way!

Location: 4130 Cass Ave

Website for more info: https://laferiadetroit.com/

Cass Cafe

Cass Cafe is a Midtown staple that has been around since the ’90s. Inside, you won’t find any TVs, just a rotating art gallery featuring local artists, a great bar, and menu. Cass Cafe is also very vegan and gluten-free friendly with plenty of options on their varied menu. A few of my favorites include the Smoked Salmon BLT, Black & Bleus Salad, and the Lentil Burger.

Location: 4620 Cass Ave

Website for more info: https://www.casscafe.com/

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Today’s Butternut Squash & Hot Cider Combo are a hit!

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Johnny Noodle King

Johnny Noodle King is located a bit out of the way from the rest of the places on this list, but I promise it’s worth the drive, and safe. This Ramen restaurant is exactly what you need in the middle of winter when all you want is a hot bowl of soup. Please order the Shoyu, Bacon Fried Rice, and Torched Mackerel (they torch it tableside and it’s so damn good!). This food all pairs nicely with their sake, beer, and cocktail menu. I recommend giving Johnny Smoking Gun Whiskey a try.

Location: 2601 Fort St.

Website for more info: http://www.johnnynoodleking.com/menu

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Tasteful Noods 🍜 📷 by @sanjinel_sks

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Where to Eat Dinner in Detroit

Dinner in Detroit has become quite the experience. Many restaurants are now farm-to-table inspired and have a full bar with craft cocktails. The restaurants below are some of my new favorite dinner spots, and old goodies!

Selden Standard

I remember when the Selden Standard building was a burnt-out shell of a building on a corner that I was thankful didn’t have a stop sign. Now, Selden Standard is a gorgeous restaurant, with a stunning patio, delicious seasonal food, unique cocktail menu, and an incredibly long wait list. This restaurant has repeatedly been voted one of the best in Metro Detroit and if you’re willing to wait, you won’t be disappointed. Even better try to get a seat at the bar where you can watch the chef’s work. Anything on the menu is a solid choice, but I love their Ragu, Beef Tartare, and Roasted Beet Salad. 

Location: 3921 Second Ave

Website for more info: http://www.seldenstandard.com/

Grey Ghost

Grey Ghost is a relatively recent addition to the Detroit food scene and their burger is one of the best I’ve ever had. Seriously my mouth is watering just thinking about it. So much so, that I haven’t had anything else on their menu. Pair it with anything on their cocktail menu and you’re set for a great meal!

Location: 47 Watson St

Website for more info: https://www.greyghostdetroit.com/

Lady of the House

Lady of the House joined the Detroit food scene after I left in 2017. Luckily, I recently went back in 2019 and my former coworker told me Lady is a must-try. What I love about this restaurant, besides, the food is its story. The restaurant is in honor of the women in our lives who provided safety, warmth, and nourishment. So I took myself there, grabbed a spot at the bar, and took my time trying anything that sounded good on the menu. Which, of course, changes seasonally, but if the carrot steak is on the menu, OMG please order it! And finish it off with their potato donuts. Before you leave, please be sure to stop by the bathroom. You’ll be so happy you did 🙂

Location: 1426 Bagley St

Website: https://www.ladyofthehousedetroit.com/

Vicente’s

When you think Detroit cuisine, you probably don’t think Cuban – but Detroit is home to a fantastic Cuban restaurant located Downtown. Get yourself set up with a pitcher of Sangria and an order of Paella. Be sure to drink enough Sangria to get you out on the dance floor for salsa on Friday and Saturday nights!

Location: 1250 Library St

Website for more info: http://www.vicentesdetroit.com/home.html

Green Dot Stables

Looking for delicious food and drink on a budget in a place with an excellent vibe – then Green Dot Stables is for you. Located on the outskirts of Corktown this former bar now serves up unique $3 sliders, drinks, and salads. Yep – just about everything on the menu is $3.00. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll be served flavorless food or crappy cocktails. Just the opposite. The sliders are filled with unique meat and veggie combinations as well as a daily mystery slider and their Mint Julep is on point. For sliders, try the General Tso’s Chicken, Korean, or Hot Brown – and always try the mystery meat!

Location: 220 W. Lafayette 

Website for more info: https://www.greendotstables.com/detroit-1

Sweetwater Tavern

I am not a wing person, in fact, I don’t understand why people like wings so much. They seem like so much work for very little reward. That was of course until I ate Sweetwater Tavern’s wings and OMG what I wouldn’t give for a basket of wings and fries with a Bell’s Amber Beer. Sweetwater Tavern made its home in the heart of Detroit 30 years ago and has become a Detroit dining staple ever since. 

Location: 400 E. Congress St

Website for more info: https://www.sweetwatertavern.net/

Republic Tavern

Republic Tavern holds a special place in my heart. It’s where I took myself to a celebratory dinner after I worked what I knew would be my last game as an Athletic Trainer. I sat at the bar, ordered their amazing charcuterie board and a glass of red wine and just reflected on my decision to leave my career. 

It’s located in the same building as Parks & Rec Diner, also mentioned in this post. And while I love their charcuterie board, another excellent option, if it’s on their seasonal menu, is the Duck Breast that just melts in your mouth.

Location: 1942 Grand River

Website for more info: https://www.republictaverndetroit.com/

Mario’s

Stepping into Mario’s is like stepping into an old school steak house. I can definitely see a mafia-style movie taking place in this restaurant. Mario’s has been serving up some of the best steaks in Detroit since the 1940s and it has seen Detroit’s rise and fall and been there through it all.

What you’ll get at Mario’s is not just delicious food, but also a welcome like you’re a part of the family. 

It’s important to note that each meal comes with an antipasto plate, house salad, pasta, and soup. So maybe hold off on the appetizers, because it’s a lot of food!

Location: 4222 2nd Ave

Website for more info: http://www.mariosdetroit.com/ftphome/mariosmenu.pdf

Supino Pizza

Hands down one of my all-time favorite pizza places. Supinos is located in Eastern Market and when I lived there it only had a few tables in its cozy space. Now it has expanded into the restaurant space next door, so it has a more sit down restaurant type feel with more menu options than just pizza. But you can still expect a line down the street on Eastern Market Saturdays and a wait on most nights of the week. The best pizza here is the Bismark – but if you can’t remember that just ask for the one with the egg and you’ll be covered!

Location: 2457 Russell Street

Website for more info: https://www.supinopizzeria.com/

Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails

Come to check out Chartreuse’s living wall and stay for their delicious menu that changes daily and crafty cocktails. There is ample seating in this lovely decorated restaurant, but my favorite spot is at the bar where you can watch them prepare your food! My absolute favorite menu item is the Twice Cooked Egg, followed closely by their Steak Tartare. That being said, I never had a bad meal here and definitely recommend asking your server for their favorites of the day – they won’t lead you astray!

Location: 15 E Kirby St (Park Shelton)

Website for more info: http://www.chartreusekc.com/

Where to Eat Dessert in Detroit

Astoria

Astoria is a pastry shop located in Greektown that has so many delicious treats from Baklava, to cookies, to ice cream sundaes. You will for sure find something for your post dinner sweet tooth at Astoria.

Location: 541 Monroe St

Treat Dreams

Treat Dreams in Midtown is a local ice cream shop serving up unique ice cream flavors. They even have vegan ice cream which meant my sister in law who has a dairy issue could have her very first hot fudge sundae. When I eat ice cream, I want chocolate so I usually got the Dark Sea Chocolate or Mint Chocolate Chip, but I’ve heard the Cookie Monster is also a solid choice.

Location: 4160 Cass Ave

Sister Pie

I mentioned Sister Pie in my post about my favorite Detroit coffee shops but I think it bears mentioning them again here because they’re all about pie. The only caveat is their shop closes at 4:00 pm most days and 2:00 pm on others so you’ll have to get your pie early in the day and save it for after dinner. Or just eat it for lunch – no judgment!

Location: 8066 Kercheval

Website for more info: https://www.sisterpie.com/hours

Avalon Bakery

Ok, same story here for Avalon but in the coffee shop post I recommend their Midtown location. Here I’m recommending their Downtown location because it’s open later. So you can stop in after your delicious dinner out for a date bar or slice of cake!

Location: 1049 Woodward Ave

Website for more info: http://www.avalonbreads.net/welcome/

Wow, excuse me while I clean up this puddle of drool from thinking about all of the delicious food to eat in Detroit. These Detroit restaurants will serve you up some of the best food you’ve ever had in some of the most unique settings in the city that honor Detroit’s history while looking forward to the future. I’m so happy that Detroit’s foodie explosion coincided with my time living in the city because it made for a great time exploring the city’s culinary prowess.

So tell me, which restaurant do you have your eye on for your next visit to Detroit?

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