6 Foodie Finds in Detroit

by Culinary Spelunker /
Culinary Spelunker's picture
Aug 28, 2017 / 0 comments

Detroit doesn’t tend to make headlines as a foodie destination.
It should.
Before moving to Detroit, Michigan, I had a grocery list of misconceptions about the Motor City, including an expectation it would be a food desert in the Midwest.
Instead, what I found was that Detroit holds a diverse mix of different cultures and people. And food.
From your traditional American fare to Middle Eastern shawarma and more, Detroit holds a world of flavors. I’m only including a few recommendations in this post, but I’d encourage you to Yelp away to find more great restaurants in and around Detroit. Don't live here, and coming in for a visit? Click here to find the best hotel rates and availability.

6 Foodie Finds in Detroit
Here are a few foodies finds to get you started.

The Burger Spot 

To celebrate sports games – and loses – we’d head to the Burger Spot in Plymouth, about 30 minutes west of downtown Detroit. This is the kind of mom-and-pop place where they’re committed to quality, local ingredients. And they take their time making the fries from scratch. I’d highly recommend trying one of the Dearborn brand hot dogs while you’re there – the DTP, wrapped in bacon and coated in chili and coleslaw with a sprinkling of jalapenos, is a must.

6 Foodie Finds in Detroit: The Burger Spot
6 Foodie Finds in Detroit: The Burger Spot

Cantoro Italian Market 

High-end restaurant tucked within an Italian grocery store? That’s Cantoro’s, which occupies part of the first floor, with an overflow into the second, overlooking the store. The authentic Trattoria includes an extensive menu, with classic Italian favorites like Caprese and Carpaccio for appetizers and homemade pastas and sauces for the main dish. Standouts for our crew included the Affettati Misti, a mixed cured meat tasting as a starter, and then Gnocchi con Pomodoro (handmade fresh ricotta dumplings covered in a rich, house-made ground sausage, all sprinkled with fresh basil and smoked Caciocavallo cheese) or the Linguine al Nero di Seppia alla Pescatore (pretty much an explosion of fresh seafood atop house-made squid-ink linguine) as a main course. Save room for dessert. Warning here: the portions are huge. My kids brought home half of their main course meals and we ate them as leftovers for 2 days. Yes, 2!

6 Foodie Finds in Detroit: Cantoro Italian Market
6 Foodie Finds in Detroit: Cantoro Italian Market
6 Foodie Finds in Detroit: Cantoro Italian Market
6 Foodie Finds in Detroit: Cantoro Italian Market

Basement Burger Bar 

I know, I know, another burger place, but Detroit is known for having buzzworthy patties. There are a couple of these burger joints around town. What makes them special is you get to create your own. Top your choice of ground beef, bison, kobe beef, or other choices, with everything from pickles to dried cranberries, crispy onion strays to French fries, or mac & cheese bites.

6 Foodie Finds in Detroit: Basement Burger Bar

Best China

You won’t find a website or even an official Facebook page for Best China. It’s plenty busy without either. When we first moved to Detroit and someone told us about Best China in nearby Canton, I thought they were overselling it. Some of the best Chinese food they’d ever had (she was from China) and it was crammed into a mini-mall behind a gas station? And it was called, Best China, really? We tried it on a whim and quickly became regulars. When you order, be aware that there are two menus – one all in English and the other in Chinese for more authentic fare. I’ll admit I’m partial to the sesame chicken, which isn’t really a Chinese dish, but we try to also order one new dish each time we go. Usually, we just point to something that looks interesting on the Chinese menu or see a dish going by from the kitchen and ask what it is and then try it. That’s how we ended up with a soup topped with what appeared to be Chinese meatballs on it. Deeee-licious.

6 Foodie Finds in Detroit: Best China
6 Foodie Finds in Detroit: Best China

New Yasmeen Bakery

Outside of the Middle East, the place in the world with the highest concentration of people of Middle Eastern descent is Dearborn, just west of Detroit. In parts of Dearborn, you’ll find rows of stores with the signage solely in Arabic. You’ll have a whole new appreciation for pita bread once you’ve eaten here – it’s not the dry, cardboard-tasting pita bread you can buy at the grocers. Choose from pita bread, lawash, and others to take home with you. But while you’re there, you need to order lunch. Please. The chicken shawarma comes wrapped in a pita with pickles and a whipped garlic sauce pocketed inside. Order a few of their spinach and meat pies to go along with it. Don’t leave without getting a box filled with pastries. The baklava will leave your hands honeyed and your tummy happy. But I tend to go for the chocolate creations – once I ordered a cup made out of smooth, dark chocolate, brimming with mousse and drizzled with, you guessed it, more chocolate. The pastry counter is always stocked with equally intriguing, decadent desserts. 

6 Foodie Finds in Detroit: New Yasmeen Bakery
6 Foodie Finds in Detroit: New Yasmeen Bakery

Taqueria Lupitas

Here’s another restaurant with literally no digital presence other than fans raving about this authentic taco shop along the main drag in Detroit’s Mexicantown. My call is ordering either the carne asada or carnitas tacos here -- or if you’re really hungry, a torta (a Mexican sandwich served on a roll smeared with beans, avocado, and filled with the protein of your choice. Choose the milanesa – thin cut, breaded and fried steak). Tacos are served in the traditional style – the meat in the middle of a double set of fresh-made corn tortillas with diced white onions and cilantro on top and fresh salsas. After you’ve had your fill of tacos, make sure to head to La Gloria Bakery just down the street and pick up their Macaroons. These dense, coconut-packed cookies are just crisped on the outside and out-of-this-world chewy on the inside.  

6 Foodie Finds in Detroit: Taqueria Lupitas


Kristen J. Gough is the Global Cuisines & Kids Editor for Wandering Educators. She shares her family's adventurous food experiences--and recipes--at MyKidsEatSquid.com.

Word photo creative commons. All other photos courtesy and copyright Kristen J. Gough