Whatever you thought you knew about the Motor City, think again. America’s comeback city has plenty more to offer folks than just good ol’ American cars. The burgeoning city is also home to great restaurants, historic sites and beautiful neighborhoods worth perusing. Take a look at our pick of best shops, eats and scenes in Detroit.
Hot Hoods To Visit
A mini-guide to Detroit's most popular areas.
North of the Detroit River, central Detroit is easily considered one of the most walkable areas in the country and in many ways the spiritual center of Metro Detroit. Here you can see the Tigers, Lions and Red Wings play, and glimpse of General Motors’ headquarters; a focal point of the Renaissance Center located directly on the river. The Eastern Market is the perfect location to kick-off a weekend. Just a short distance from most downtown hotel, it’s an ideal gathering spot for locals and visitors alike. Tens and thousands of people flood the area to buy and sell everything from locally grown vegetables to freshly made bread. And if you’re not in the mood to shop, hit up one of the many local cafés for breakfast and a healthy dose of people-watching.
Just past Southwest Detroit, which has been home to a large Mexican-American population for more than 100 years, is Dearborn. The Ford Motor Company calls this neighborhood home, along with a large Arab population – nearly 30 percent of the 100,000 residents. Dearborn is known for one the state’s most important attractions, The Henry Ford, as well as the largest drive-in movie theater in the United States, the Ford-Wyoming, coming in at a whopping nine screens.
The diverse and packed area of Hamtramck is a world of its own, outside the larger city of Detroit. Nearly 50 percent of residents are foreign-born with a majority once calling Bangladesh and Yemen home. Polish roots run heavy here with restaurants and bakeries attracting folks from all over Souteastern Michigan. Despite the residential feel, a handful of entertaining bars and clubs make this an area worth visiting at night.
Nestled neatly in a 24-block area, surrounded by Woodward, Mack, Beaubien and the Fisher Freeway, is a neighborhood reserved for the Detroit’s elite residents. If you have ever dreamed of living in a storybook neighborhood, Brush Park is where you will want to be, as streets are lined with homes dating back to the Second Empire and French Renaissance era. Close proximity to I-75 places you minutes from a game at Comerica Park or the slots machine at the casino. The Eastern Market is also nearby for your local produce needs.
If you want to be in the heart and center of Detroit city-life, then Rivertown is the place to be. Located directly on the river, the area boasts great access to downtown and excellent views. Residents pay a bit extra for apartments and condos that overlook the water, but many say it’s worth the price. Without walking too far, you can stumble across some of the best restaurants, bars and clubs the city has to offer making it an ideal community for young professionals.. In warmer months, the area is home to a number of exciting festivals.
Crepe cuisine continues to infiltrate the Detroit metro area with the Birmingham outpost of What Crepe. Go for the breakfast-themed Bon Appetit or any of the 50+ varieties of sweet and savory options. Considering the bespoke creations available, you'll need a mathematician to calculate how long it'll take to get though the entire menu, which caters to carnivores and vegans alike. 172 N. Old Woodward; 248.792.5634; whatcrepe.com.
Keeping in step with the Renaissance Center’s automotive theme, Volt is always buzzing with energy. Typically populated by convention goers and GM employees, it capitalizes on location while offering its clientele a place to unwind after a day of seminars and spread sheets. Come hungry (try favorites like the fish tacos or roast turkey BLT) or come thirsty (the Pomegranate Ginger Martini is a winner) and you'll be sure to leave satisfied. 400 Renaissance Dr.; 313.568.8700; marriott.com.
It’s safe to say most of Detroit’s well-dressed gentlemen, including Braylon Edwards and Derek Coleman, get their stylish threads from Cicchini. The shop, named after tailor extraordinaire Paul Cicchini, specializes in ready-made luxury suits, crafted strictly by hand. Staff members -- which many hail directly from Italy -- are impeccably dressed connoisseurs of clothing and capable of creating custom pieces to suit any man’s taste. While the shop is dedicated to making suits, the menswear boutique's true talent lies in tailoring. Paul, an Italian native well into is eighties, can be found flexing his alteration expertise on any given day. 180 S. Old Woodward Ave.; 248.646.0535; cicchinicustomclothier.com.
Headed to the Motor City on business? Or in need of some manly “me time”? La Casa De La Cabana it the place to be. The custom-designed walk-in humidor stocked with hundreds of different imported and premium cigars alone makes La Casa de la Habana a cigar lover’s heaven. Add in the 50-inch flat screens, a shoe shine station, wireless Internet, and an extensive whiskey selection and you’ve got just about any man’s version of paradise. 1502 Randolph St.; 313.285.8332; lacasadelahabana.com.
In search of an authentic Greek (and cheap) experience in Detroit? KouZina is it. Long-time friends Bobby Laskaris and George Xenos have teamed up for a stellar execution of Greek street food. Inside the 24 seat eatery, pork, chicken and beef-lamb rotisseries are sliced fresh to make mouth-watering gyros. The limited seating and disposable plates and utensils support a no-frills aesthetic, but do nothing to take away from the amazing food. Pork and chicken are the true winners, while baklava sweetens the deal. Daily specials like stuffed grape leaves, lamb shank and chicken lemonato are a must-try and sell out fast. The quaint space makes it more ideal for carry out, but on a nice warm day patio seats are perfect for people watching. 121 N. Main St.; 248.629.6500; gokouzina.com.
Downtown Detroit just got a little sweeter! Just Baked has opened its 12th location in the historic Dime Building at 719 Griswold. The specialty cupcake shop and bakery offers up more than 65 different flavors of gourmet "jumbo" cupcakes, including Samoa, Red Velvet, S’mores, White Chocolate Raspberry and the famous “Fat Elvis” cupcake. The shop hopes to sell thousands of cupcakes a month out of the new downtown location, so stop by and help them reach their goal! 719 Griswold St.; 248.255.1441; justbakedshop.com.
Want to see Olympic gold girl Gabby Douglas up close and personal? On Saturday, November 3, at 7:30 p.m., the history-making gymnast and her teammates, including Michigan’s own Jordyn Wieber, will stop through Metro Detroit and perform at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Don’t miss your chance to congratulate these high-flying Olympians! Tickets are available for $75, $45, and $25; palacenet.com
Centaur is the logical next stop after work for locals and just as great for visitors. Just after 5, it’s populated with suits from across the area looking for a stiff drink and a cozy vibe. Great drinks, a light tapas menu (mahi mahi tacos and gourmet mac 'n' cheese is worth trying), pool, and flat screens complete the experience. 2233 Park Ave.; 313-963-4040; centaurbar.com.
Located in the hipster haven of Midtown, Atlas Global Bistro has garnered much buzz around town because of its menu, which features your favorite eats from around the world. One menu must is the Shredded Duck and Goat Cheese omelet. Pair that with a freshly squeezed Grapefruit Mimosa, and your experience turns other worldly. 3111 Woodward Ave.; 313.831.2241; atlasglobalbistro.com.
Often, African art is interpreted through a Western lens as an expression of timeless myth and ritual. The African Art and the Shape of Time exhibit at the University of Michigan Museum of Arts has something to say about that. The exhibition includes 30 works from the National Museum of African Art, Fowler Museum at UCLA, as well as several Detroit area private collections. The exhibit is free and open until February 3, 2013. The UMMA galleries are open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m.–5 p.m. 734.764.0395.
For more places to venture to in the nation's capital, head over to Uptown’s Detroit Guides page for listings.