Detroit is known for being a city with poverty, high crime rates, a poor school system, a declining population, and more recently, major financial problems. What you may not know is that Detroit is also known for its food. Considering there are over 130 restaurants in just the downtown area alone, the cuisine scene in Detroit is thriving. The cuisine in Detroit can range from the cheapest possible, to the most elegant, expensive, high-end meals in the city.
The type of food Detroit is known for is Coney Dogs. Lafayette and American Coney Island, both famous for their hot dogs, are located directly next to each other on Michigan Avenue on the corner of Griswold Street and Lafayette Street. American is known as the first restaurant in the city to serve Coney's, before Lafayette. The two restaurants have been feuding since Lafayette opened a few years after American in the early 1920s. In Detroit, if you have had either one of these dogs, you are with one, or the other. It's a giant food war and if you haven't yet tried it, you are missing out on one of the most authentic Coney Dogs ever, whether it is from American or Lafayette.
Greektown is probably the second most obvious cuisine in Detroit, even though the city was founded with French origins. The area was first settled in the 1830s by German immigrants, but as the 20th century neared, they began moving out and Greek immigrants moved in, establishing their culture and customs into the area. Today, we still see that culture with the many restaurants and churches. The Greektown Historic District is located along Monroe Avenue between Brush and St. Antoine Streets, in the heart of Downtown.
Some of the famous restaurants in the district include the Parthenon, Pegasus, Pizza Papalis, Laikon Café, Cyprus Taverna, and the famous bakery, Astoria. All of the food and culture are made to be authentic, creating the feeling that you are indeed in Greece. The authentic cuisine in Greektown includes saganaki, scordalia, baklava, and lamb. If you haven't been to Greektown yet, the food and the atmosphere will definitely surprise you.
The most expensive restaurant in the city has to be Coach Insignia. It's a high-end restaurant at the top of the Renaissance Center. If you're looking for a night out for a special occasion like a special anniversary or just have the money to spend, this is the place to go. Along with some excellent food, that is ordered by course, appetizers to dessert, you also can see a great view of the city, the river, Southeast Michigan, or Windsor, Ontario.
Texas de Brazil is another high-end restaurant, and a bit less expensive than Coach Insignia. It's located in the Compuware Building, opposite of the famous Hard Rock Café in the heart of Campus Martius Park, downtown. The Brazilian steakhouse is not as fancy as Coach Insignia, although you still can dress up for a wonderful evening out. It has some exotic food, but some of the most delicious. Filet mignon, lamb, BBQ short ribs, bacon wrapped chicken, and bacon wrapped steak are just some of the meats available to eat at this authentic restaurant.
Speaking of the Hard Rock Café, it is in the Compuware Building, on the Monroe Street side. If you are a Hard Rock fan, it's an obvious destination. With Detroit also being known for Motown music, many of the cities iconic musicians and music are displayed there. It is known as being a tad bit expensive but the food, atmosphere, and collectibles on the walls make up for it.
If the expensive restaurants aren't your thing and you're looking for something cheaper, spending less doesn't necessarily mean less taste. The Hudson Café, once known as the Detroit Breakfast House, is located right across the street from the old J.L. Hudson's Building site. This new restaurant features breakfast, lunch, and even brunch. It is on the lower end of the payment spectrum, but it doesn't halt there on taste. Some of the dishes are pancakes, club sandwiches, salads, and eggs. It's not as cheap as say a typical Coney Island breakfast in the suburbs, but it hits the spot. If you're downtown from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. during the week, check out the Hudson Café for a surprising breakfast, lunch, or brunch meal.
Detroit is a big sports town and what's a big sports town without sports bars? Well, downtown has plenty. One bar that has been around for a while and is Cobo Joe's. It's not super well-known, but if you are looking for a beer, a burger and a great crowd to watch a game, this is the place. It's located on Congress Street, across from none other than Cobo Hall. It's a bit hidden considering that area doesn't get too much traffic. Cobo Joe's is one of the better dives of the Downtown area, and if you are a Red Wings fan, check it out at some point during the season, you won't be disappointed.
Cheli's Chili Bar, located across the street from Comerica Park, is another great sports bar. Like its twin in Dearborn, it has a great atmosphere, big screen televisions everywhere, and of course, Cheli's famous chili. The food prices are about in the middle, but even with a cover charge on some nights, the atmosphere and even some celebrity sightings will be worth it.
These examples above are just a small portion of what Detroit has in the restaurant scene. With over 130 restaurants in just Downtown, you are guaranteed to find one you like. Detroit has a lot to offer from potential retail opportunities and housing options in the Downtown area, to a great restaurant scene that many have not heard of. As Campus Martius opens up its ice rink for the winter, take a trip and see what kind of food Detroit has to offer.