Detroit Hotspots: Everything You Need to Drink, Eat, and Do

USA

This post was contributed by Molly Broekman


I just got back after 3 months of traveling in Europe, and while it was amazing to traipse (one of my old SAT words) around new cities and survive on cappuccinos and ice cream alone, it wasn’t the worst thing to come home either. After meeting many new people over the past few months and introducing myself, I noticed that the majority of people outside of the US, and most likely outside of the metro Detroit area in general, don’t think of Detroit as a city they would like to go spend a day out on the town in. But that’s why I’m here to let you know what’s good in Detroit, and maybe you’ll change your mind (or book a flight).

 

DRINK COFFEE

Let’s start out with the most important category, shall we? I could seriously write a book on all of the places to get a good cappuccino, ‘spro (espresso in coffee lingo), or just a cup of jo (franco?). And the shops are quite a bunch of lookers, too. Detroit’s coffee scene is absolutely intense. Seattle, who? What is a Portland?

 

Here are some Detroit faves that will knock those cities right into the Pacific ocean:

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    Astro – Astro is the local sweetheart and OG of Detroit coffee. They really know what they are doing at this place. Situated in Corktown on Michigan Avenue right across from the Train Station, it’s the perfect place to relax for a while with some coffee and banana bread and just enjoy the cozy and artistic atmosphere. The outside looks like somewhere the Grinch would plot on how to destroy Xmas – it’s great!

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    Urban Bean – One word. Orange. Every time I enter this place, I feel like I should be wearing wide-legged pants or something. It feels like the seventies threw up on it; don’t we all strive to be disco queens? You come here for the atmosphere and the unique latte offerings, friends. 

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    Dessert Oasis – Right around the corner from Woodward Avenue is this mellow oasis. This large space is the perfect spot for a chill, stress-free stop. Drop by in the morning for a chill wake-up call, or unwind in the evening after grabbing food with friends.

    P.S. – Go here to get those “digital nomad” IG shots. Everyone will think you’re legit.

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    Anthology – Don’t be confused walking in here. Though it looks a bit off the beaten path, this industrial center is home to one of the most unique coffee shops in Detroit. The quality is excellent, and the minimalistic space is usually quite quiet (+2 points for this alliteration).

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    Populace – This coffee shop is in the lobby of the Siren Hotel, and boasts a very unique interior. If you are a fan of Wes Anderson, and a fan of caffeinated beverages (ummm… who isn’t?), you will most certainly love Populace. 

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    The Commons – What’s the first word that comes to mind when I say Coffee? I’m going to guess your answer *isn’t* laundromat. However, at The Commons, coffee shop and laundromat collide to create an amazing community space. Stop in for a drink while your sweaty clothes soak, or just enjoy your drink and maybe make a new friend.

HISTORY IS SEXY

When I was in Europe, someone told me that they thought Detroit was a bit of a wasteland. Firstly, how rude? Secondly, you already know I had to prove her wrong. When I showed her some of the beautiful buildings we have here, she was shocked.

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    Detroit Institute of Arts – Detroit’s art museum and home to large murals by Diego Rivera. The museum is well worth a stop for anyone, but especially for art-nerds or people who like to take pictures of art for IG. Do you, boo!

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    Michigan Theatre Car Park– This former theatre was converted into a parking garage. The shell of the theatre is still in tact, and the urban ruins make for a hauntingly beautiful parking garage, and overall interesting place to visit. Want to look like a vintage movie star? Well, come thru!

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    Redford Theatre – This 1920s volunteer-run movie theatre is one of the most interesting places for a movie night. The theatre shows mostly older, classic movies, and there is a mini-organ concert before every show. A bit dramatic, but I’m sure we all live for the drama!

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    Michigan Central Train Depot – This formerly abandoned train station (sounds a bit Walking Dead-ish, no?) was recently bought by the Ford Motor Company, who will begin renovations soon! Though you can’t go inside just now, it is worth a look from the outside.

WANDER… OR BIKE… OR SCOOTER… AROUND

While I would still recommend using a car to get to different areas of Detroit because it is so spread out, there are still many opportunities for exploration with your good ol’ feet, or by bike or scooter. Detroit is home to bike-sharing service MoGo, whose red bikes can easily be found at a multitude of MoGo bike racks all throughout the city. If you want to return to the days of the Razor scooter (but better. and electric.), Detroit has two different scooter-share services, Lime and Bird. Both can be found scattered on sidewalks around the city. Here are some great places to take these babies on a ride.

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    Belle Isle – Detroit’s own island, Belle Isle offers a great view of the skyline, as well as a variety of nature activities. Bike around the island and make sure to stop in the conservatory and aquarium.

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    Eastern Market– Wander around on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday for market days. The Eastern Market district is one of the best places in Detroit for street art, as well as for a unique shopping experience.

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    Dequindre Cut -This pathway is the perfect place to bike, as well as to see interesting street art. There are also many different events held on the Cut throughout the year, like the Freight Yard, which offers a variety of food and drinks, entertainment, and vendors.

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    Riverfront – The Riverfront is one of the best places to bike, walk, or scooter in Detroit. There is also a carousel, which you should totally ride because we are all mature adults and that is what mature adults do.

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    Heidelberg Project – Hands down one of the most interesting places to wander around in Detroit. Basically, it is a super cool and outrageous outdoor art gallery. A house full of polka dots. A fence full of shoes. Stuffed animals. Clocks All an homage to the neighborhood, all hard to understand until you actually get there. WHATEVER YOU DO, GO HERE!

EAT THAT GOOD FOOD

In recent years, Detroit has turned into a go-to place for self-proclaimed “foodies” as well as for anyone who just generally enjoys eating yummy things (so for everyone I guess). If I listed all the good places to eat in Detroit, it would take you three trillion years. I’m bad at math, so that’s not an incredibly accurate number, but you get the picture. Here are some suggestions for the types of food you must eat while you are here, though.

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    Coney Islands (The Great Showdown) – Coney Islands are a huge part of Detroit, and there is great debate as to which is better: Lafayette or American? Grab a coney dog at one of the two, or both, and decide for yourself.

     

    VEGAN BONUS: Chili Mustard Onions is Detroit’s first vegan Coney Island! (I haven’t tried it yet myself, but I have heard rave reviews!)

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    Middle Eastern Food – the metro Detroit area is home to the best Middle Eastern in the United States. You may think this is a bold claim, but it IS a true claim. If you get a chance, definitely go over to Dearborn, a city just outside of Detroit, and take a seat at one of the many Middle Eastern restaurants there. Your tastebuds will thank you, and you will thank me. (Al Ameer is one of the OG places to go).

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    Mexican Food – Detroit’s Mexicantown neighborhood has some hard-hitting tacos. I am a taco aficionado. The tacos here are legit. There is almost always bottomless free chips. Delicious. My favorite place is Taqueria Mi Pueblo, but there are many great places in Southwest Detroit to get amazing Mexican food.

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    Thai Food – There are quite a few places to get really good Thai food in Detroit. I have two favorites for different reasons.

    • Go Sy Thai– Casual, cheap Thai food in Midtown. Great place for an easy meal.
    • Sala Thai – Located in an old firehouse, Sala is a great option if you’d like a more traditional Thai meal.
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    Pizza – Pizza is ALWAYS a good decision. Supino’s Pizzeria is generally accepted as one of the best places in Detroit to get a slice. Be prepared for a crowd. You might get hit by a few elbows, but I promise it’s well worth it.

Alright, there you have it. INFORMATION OVERLOAD, but I was going to let you leave without realizing that Detroit is poppin’. See you there – JK, hopefully, I’ll be traveling when you finally make your way to Detroit.


Molly Broekman is a Design and German language student whose life-blood is coffee. She is horrified of airplanes, but will do pretty much anything to get on one (ok not anything, but you get the picture). When she isn’t traveling, she likes to surf Pinterest to pretend like she is. Stay updated with Molly on Instagram.

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