Adjacent to Canada, world-class universities, and automakers known across the globe, Detroit’s culinary landscape is a testament to its international influencers.
In my eight years in Detroit, I have tried dozens (hundreds?) of restaurants in the city. Here are my favorites and recommendations for the 5 Major Food Groups—pizza, ‘burgers, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Chinese.
– Pizza –
Any person in America can tell you that New York-style pizza is thin and greasy while Chicago-style is a soupy, hot mess. Almost overnight though, the concept of Detroit-style pizza has become a major MotorCity export with grocery stores and restaurants across the county, proudly promoting it by name.
My favorite made-in Detroit pizza hails from a small restaurant in the city’s Woodbridge neighborhood called Pie Sci Pizza. This single-location pie-slinger has completely deconstructed what goes on a pizza, throwing all social conventions aside. Like their name implies, Pie Sci has turned making pizza into a science where red (tomato) sauce is the exception and caramelized apples are a thing.
But I can only convey so much with words. Try it for yourself and of course, order it Detroit-style.
– ‘Burgers –
No food on this list is more ‘American’ than the hamburger (despite its European origins). In the last few decades, restaurants have started taking the hamburger more seriously and are increasingly finding ways to keep it a part of people’s diet’s as vegetarianism and climate change have us rethinking beef. As a result, veggie paddies and ‘impossible’ substitutes are giving people a reason to find multiple diet cheat-days in a given week.
Brome Modern Eatery, in my opinion, is the best ‘burger in Detroit. With fresh ingredients carefully applied every time, you never have sub-awesome experience. And with a variety of ground beef substitutes, it is a lunch option for any group of friends.
Brome is located on Shelby Street, in Detroit’s Central Business District and it’s calling your name. So, do it, get Brome— if you want to.
– Mexican –
Did you know Detroit has community called ‘Mexicantown?’ It does and the city’s culinary landscape is so much better because of it.
Located southwest of downtown (or Southwest Detroit if you wanna’ get all technical), Mexicantown has dozens of Mexican restaurants that are in it to win it and in my opinion the best execution goes to Mi Pueblo Express on Dix (Dixie Highway).
Mi Pueblo has an extensive menu and a ridiculous number of meats to choose from. Their homemade tortillas and unwillingness to nickel-and-dime you on the guacamole make a winner for take-out or delivery.
– Middle Eastern –
Middle Eastern cuisine has been a part of the American dining experience for decades. Fun fact: Metro-Detroit has the largest Arab population outside the Middle East, and we have the restaurants to prove it. Halal meats (meat that is ‘permissible’ to consume under Islamic law) can even be found at places like Brome Modern Eatery.
For me, the best spot for Middle Eastern food is Bucharest Grill. As the name implies, Bucharest serves a number of dishes that hail from Romania, but they are best known for their Shawarma wraps.
Packed with spiced chicken, toum (garlic sauce), pickles, and cabbage, Bucharest’s Shawarmas are delicious and a tremendous value.
– Chinese –
American’s love Chinese food… or at least what we believe Chinese food to be. The fact is the Chinese food we know is not what was typically served in China when it made its way to our shores but rather a variation prepared in a way so Americans could appreciate it.
For me, the best Chinese food in Detroit is located at the edge of Wayne State University. Named after the fictional Chinese paradise, Shangri-La serves a variety of Asian dishes, including sushi and authentic Cantonese favorites. Perfect for dine-in or take-out, Shangri-La is paradise for the palate.
Jeff Brown is the Business Program Manager for Opportunity Detroit. Ann Arbor raised and East Lansing educated, Jeff has lived in Detroit since 2013. Follow @motownjeffbrown for his Motor City exposés and digital shorts.