I don't believe I ever set foot in Detroit proper but thanks to the faithful Megabus I spent a day there recently.
My first stop was Lafayette Coney Island, the venerable restaurant next door to its sibling, American Coney Island. Customers range from businessmen to cops to the guys they should be chasing.
The Coneys didn't disappoint. The mildly seasoned, natural casing, griddled-to-crispness pork dogs were topnotch and all the accompaniments meshed well. I can see why Detroit natives get so excited about these but I can't say I was equally enthusiastic about the loose hamburger (substitute a huge pile of bland ground beef for the dog). Lafayette is a classic in every way.
That evening I stopped at Jacoby's, a small century-old tavern with a nice beer list and simple German menu. I was happy to see Bell's and Stone beers on tap so passed up the German brews. For dinner I had a schnitzel, potato pancakes and red cabbage.
Jocoby's is a pleasant, lively, friendly place with pretty good food. I really enjoyed my visit and would return without hesitation.
Detroit is full of fine old buildings but the Guardian Building really stands out. Built in the late 1920s, it is best known for its breathtaking Art Deco lobby filled with colorful tile work.
Behind the monel screen and Tiffany clock is the bank lobby and café. I stopped a couple times for espresso, feeling privileged to sit in such surroundings. Many of the tiles were made by Mary Chase Perry Stratton who founded Detroit's Pewabic Pottery in 1903.
I was so impressed with the building and its tiles I decided to visit Pewabic Pottery, still very much in operation after over a century.
Guided tours of the studios are available or you can wander through on your own. The store is a treat with a vast selection of Pewabic tiles and vessels as well as works by guest ceramic artists (the picture shows only a small fraction of what's displayed).
Detroit is a good corned beef town. I was familiar with Sy Ginsberg's but never tried Grobbel's, a corned beef maker since 1883. So I set off for the Eastern Market where several places specialize in corned beef.
I settled on Vivio's, a bar that's supposedly been around since 1891 and has a few sandwiches featuring Grobbel's. Next door is R Hirt, cheese and sausage vendors since 1885. At Vivio's I opted for a reuben and a pint of Bell's.
Definitely a good reuben, one of the sloppiest I can remember with all that juicy sauerkraut, melted cheese and sauce dripping everywhere. Vivio's is known for their pickles. The one I had was very good but I need to find out if they do full sours too. One of the biggest miscalculations of my visit was not allowing enough time to properly tour the Eastern Market, a real working market smelling of dung and diesel. Like Detroit itself, it's a gritty, fascinating place to spend some time. I will return.
Lafayette Coney Island
118 W Lafayette Blvd
624 Brush St
500 Griswold Av
10125 E Jefferson Av
2460 Market St