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Some Good Old Places in Detroit

Some Good Old Places in Detroit
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  • Some Good Old Places in Detroit

    Post #1 - September 28th, 2007, 7:01 pm
    Post #1 - September 28th, 2007, 7:01 pm Post #1 - September 28th, 2007, 7:01 pm
    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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
    Detroit MI
    313-964-8198

    Jacoby's
    624 Brush St
    Detroit MI
    313-962-7067

    Guardian Building
    500 Griswold Av
    Detroit MI

    Pewabic Pottery
    10125 E Jefferson Av
    Detroit MI
    313-822-0954

    Vivio's
    2460 Market St
    Detroit MI
    313-393-1711
  • Post #2 - September 29th, 2007, 11:44 am
    Post #2 - September 29th, 2007, 11:44 am Post #2 - September 29th, 2007, 11:44 am
    Beautiful photos! Thank you so much for the report. It's been more than 30 years since I last lived in Detroit, but I still miss R. Hirt, Jr and the Eastern Market.
  • Post #3 - September 29th, 2007, 1:25 pm
    Post #3 - September 29th, 2007, 1:25 pm Post #3 - September 29th, 2007, 1:25 pm
    Nice to see a few good words about my hometown, especially with the politicians there even more disfunctional than our own, and my great home State about to be literally shutdown tomorrow night!

    I am familiar with all of the spots you mentioned except one, that being Vivio's. As a former red meat eater, the Corned Beef Reuben stood atop my list of guilty pleasures. Without a doubt, the best one in the Detroit Area previously came from the Bread Basket Deli in Oak Park.

    A few years ago, long-time owner Ron Forman sold the place and moved to Florida. Missing the business, he was back in short order, and has opened up a place further northwest, following his Jewish clientele.

    For Detroit's #1 Reuben...


    Ron's Bagel Deli
    40270 West 14 Mile Road
    Commerce Township, MI 48390

    248-960-3850

    http://www.ronsbageldeli.com/
  • Post #4 - September 29th, 2007, 6:47 pm
    Post #4 - September 29th, 2007, 6:47 pm Post #4 - September 29th, 2007, 6:47 pm
    Glad to see that you made it. I was supposed to be in Detroit this weekend (by plane) but my buddy waited too long to get tickets out of St. Louis.

    I will have to try to get to the corned beef place. I do not remember the corned beef place being their 20 years ago when I was working in the Detroit Medical Center. It has been in business for at least ten years.
  • Post #5 - September 29th, 2007, 8:28 pm
    Post #5 - September 29th, 2007, 8:28 pm Post #5 - September 29th, 2007, 8:28 pm
    Your pictures are wonderful! I'm from Detroit and haven't had a coney dog in so long!!! The Lafayette pictures sure brought back memories!!!

    When I was in college at Wayne State University we would also go to a restaurant in Greek Town called the Golden Fleece. Great gyros and atmosphere!
  • Post #6 - September 29th, 2007, 8:33 pm
    Post #6 - September 29th, 2007, 8:33 pm Post #6 - September 29th, 2007, 8:33 pm
    Ah Greektown, or Greek Block as I called it when I lived in Detroit. My preference was New Hellas, right on the corner. The owner of the Parthenon in Greektown opened a place in West Bloomfield, a couple of miles from my house, called the New Parthenon, and it became my number one stop or authentic Greek food in Motown.
  • Post #7 - September 29th, 2007, 8:57 pm
    Post #7 - September 29th, 2007, 8:57 pm Post #7 - September 29th, 2007, 8:57 pm
    I too have fond memories of Detroit. Lafayette and American Coney Island were always nice to stop for a snack. I've also had a few good meals at Jacoby's. For good Italian try Roma Cafe in Eastern Market.

    Traffic Jam & Snug near Wayne State is an excellent place to eat. I lived on WSU's campus for 5 years while going to college and had many great meals in Detroit.
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #8 - September 30th, 2007, 6:25 pm
    Post #8 - September 30th, 2007, 6:25 pm Post #8 - September 30th, 2007, 6:25 pm
    Ann Fisher wrote:Beautiful photos! Thank you so much for the report. It's been more than 30 years since I last lived in Detroit, but I still miss R. Hirt, Jr and the Eastern Market.

    Thanks, I'm happy you enjoyed it. Even though it's been 30 years, I doubt the places I mention have changed much. Well, the Guardian Building has been renovated (spectacularly, I should add). I can only imagine how many great old places have been lost in that time.

    mss60614 wrote:Nice to see a few good words about my hometown, especially with the politicians there even more disfunctional than our own, and my great home State about to be literally shutdown tomorrow night!

    I am familiar with all of the spots you mentioned except one, that being Vivio's. As a former red meat eater, the Corned Beef Reuben stood atop my list of guilty pleasures. Without a doubt, the best one in the Detroit Area previously came from the Bread Basket Deli in Oak Park.

    A few years ago, long-time owner Ron Forman sold the place and moved to Florida. Missing the business, he was back in short order, and has opened up a place further northwest, following his Jewish clientele.

    For Detroit's #1 Reuben...

    Ron's Bagel Deli
    40270 West 14 Mile Road
    Commerce Township, MI 48390
    248-960-3850

    Honestly, I'm surprised how many good words I have to say about Detroit (sure, there are some obvious problems too). I can't tell you how many people looked at me like I was crazy when I mentioned I was going to visit. I'm already planning another trip.

    Thanks for mentioning Ron's. I'm getting the idea a dedicated corned beef/deli trip to Detroit would be worthwhile. Have you tried House of Reuben (I think there are two)?

    jlawrence01 wrote:Glad to see that you made it. I was supposed to be in Detroit this weekend (by plane) but my buddy waited too long to get tickets out of St. Louis.

    I will have to try to get to the corned beef place. I do not remember the corned beef place being their 20 years ago when I was working in the Detroit Medical Center. It has been in business for at least ten years.

    I'm unsure how long Vivio's has been around (their website says "Since 1891" but I don't know what that means). In any case the place has a nice beat-in comfortable feel to it. Another Eastern Market corned beef specialist is Farmer's Restaurant. Anyone know it?

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    Farmer's Restaurant
    2542 Market St
    Detroit MI
    313-259-8230

    chicagogrrl wrote:Your pictures are wonderful! I'm from Detroit and haven't had a coney dog in so long!!! The Lafayette pictures sure brought back memories!!!

    When I was in college at Wayne State University we would also go to a restaurant in Greek Town called the Golden Fleece. Great gyros and atmosphere!

    Thanks. How about a picture of a Lafayette loose hamburger too? As I said above, I wasn't quite as impressed with the loosey but it deserves to be documented.

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    I believe Golden Fleece is still around. I remember seeing it even though I didn't spend time in Greek Town.

    Bruce wrote:I too have fond memories of Detroit. Lafayette and American Coney Island were always nice to stop for a snack. I've also had a few good meals at Jacoby's. For good Italian try Roma Cafe in Eastern Market.

    Traffic Jam & Snug near Wayne State is an excellent place to eat. I lived on WSU's campus for 5 years while going to college and had many great meals in Detroit.

    I was going to take a look at Roma Café when I settled on Vivio's (it had started to rain hard). How fancy a place is it?

    Traffic Jam & Snug was on my list but I wasn't able to spend any time in the neighborhood. Next trip I plan to visit since there seem to be plenty of worthwhile places in the vicinity.
  • Post #9 - September 30th, 2007, 11:52 pm
    Post #9 - September 30th, 2007, 11:52 pm Post #9 - September 30th, 2007, 11:52 pm
    Rene G wrote: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.

    Image


    Thank you for including the photographs of the Guardian Building. I have never seen anything similar. Beautiful!
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #10 - October 1st, 2007, 6:56 am
    Post #10 - October 1st, 2007, 6:56 am Post #10 - October 1st, 2007, 6:56 am
    Rene G wrote:I was going to take a look at Roma Café when I settled on Vivio's (it had started to rain hard). How fancy a place is it?

    Traffic Jam & Snug was on my list but I wasn't able to spend any time in the neighborhood. Next trip I plan to visit since there seem to be plenty of worthwhile places in the vicinity.


    There is a dress code of long pants and probably a collared shirt. I went with a friend (physician) and regular customer. They told him, apologetically, they couldn't let him in wearing shorts. He scrounged a pair of long pants out of his golf clothes in his car.
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #11 - October 1st, 2007, 8:55 am
    Post #11 - October 1st, 2007, 8:55 am Post #11 - October 1st, 2007, 8:55 am
    I lived in Detroit - at Forest & Trumbull, of all places - in 1971/72 and fell in love with American Coney Island's loose meat on a hot dog bun sandwich. There are times I have the urge to drive to Detroit, just to get one of the sandwiches. If I had a car, that's probably what I'd do. I have fond memories of the 'Greek Block', also.
  • Post #12 - October 1st, 2007, 9:27 am
    Post #12 - October 1st, 2007, 9:27 am Post #12 - October 1st, 2007, 9:27 am
    chicagogrrl wrote:I'm from Detroit

    I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.

    Beautiful post, Peter!

    Kristen.
  • Post #13 - October 1st, 2007, 11:38 pm
    Post #13 - October 1st, 2007, 11:38 pm Post #13 - October 1st, 2007, 11:38 pm
    kl5 wrote:
    chicagogrrl wrote:I'm from Detroit

    I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.

    Beautiful post, Peter!

    Kristen.


    That made me laugh...thanks Kristen!
  • Post #14 - July 12th, 2008, 5:06 pm
    Post #14 - July 12th, 2008, 5:06 pm Post #14 - July 12th, 2008, 5:06 pm
    I recently had a chance to spend another day in Detroit. Here are a few additions to my earlier report.

    My first stop was Lafayette Coney Island, the venerable restaurant next door to its sibling, American Coney Island.

    Even though I'm a fan of Lafayette, this trip I made sure to eat at American. Pretty good Coneys but I believe Lafayette has a slight edge.

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    Lafayette has a huge edge in atmosphere; I find American's décor jarring. The highlight of my visit came when the cook set down several tubs of congealed Coney sauce on the counter next to me.

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    I'm unsure how long Vivio's has been around (their website says "Since 1891" but I don't know what that means).

    Meyfarth's Hall, the Eastern Market building that now houses Vivio's, was completed in 1892.

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    Originally there was a tavern on the ground floor, a German meeting hall on top and the Meyfarth family's home in between. Vivio's opened sometime around 1980.

    Another Eastern Market corned beef specialist is Farmer's Restaurant.

    Farmer's, in business since 1975, is known for their breakfast sausage as well as corned beef. I had a sausage omelet with hash browns and was very happy with my choice.

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    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.

    Don't underestimate Detroit's fondness for corned beef.

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    I hardly expected to see the world's largest daily display of corned beef but there it was, all laid out at Wigley's shop in the Eastern Market. Quite a thrill seeing all that cured brisket.

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    Many of the tiles were made by Mary Chase Perry Stratton who founded Detroit's Pewabic Pottery in 1903.

    Great tile work seems common in Detroit. Two stations of the Detroit People Mover are done in Pewabic tiles, including the Cadillac Center stop.

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    Mary Chase Stratton made the green tiles for the Stroh Brewery but they were never used. Most of the other tiles are more recent creations of Pewabic Pottery. The art in the People Mover stations is worth more than a casual glance.

    Downtown Detroit has seen some tough times the past few decades but things are slowly turning around. One of the most obvious signs of progress is the renovation of the Book Cadillac Hotel, unoccupied since the 1980s. This gigantic hotel (seen here behind the Tubby's Sub Shop mascot) is set to open in October.

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    The most exciting part might be the hotel's restaurant, Roast, a new project of Michael Symon (Lola in Cleveland). The restaurant, in the three-story annex at the corner of State & Michigan, will feature heritage breed meats roasted over wood fires.

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    I expect I'll be returning to Detroit this autumn.

    American Coney Island
    115 Michigan Av
    Detroit MI
    313-961-7758

    Vivio's
    2460 Market St
    Detroit MI
    313-393-1711

    Farmer's Restaurant
    2542 Market St
    Detroit MI
    313-259-8230

    Wigley's Meats
    3405 Russell St
    Detroit MI
    313-832-4299

    Detroit People Mover
    Art in Stations

    Westin Book Cadillac
    1114 Washington Blvd
    Detroit MI
    313-442-1600
    Residences
    Hotel
  • Post #15 - April 13th, 2009, 7:13 pm
    Post #15 - April 13th, 2009, 7:13 pm Post #15 - April 13th, 2009, 7:13 pm
    nice photos !! Detroit has some wonderful buildings: http://www.slate.com/id/2213696/

    I understand that La Shish has been closed down, too bad I really liked that place.

    For a simple burger bar that produces really really good burgers, try Miller's Bar in Dearborn, www.millersbar.com

    A friend highly recommends a small Japanese restaurant in Novi called Ajishin, place gets packed so get there early, I haven't been yet so can't comment firsthand. http://www.yelp.com/biz/ajishin-novi#hr ... esB8rRPF2g

    Have had very good pastrami sandwiches at Steve's Deli in Bloomfield Hills www.stevesdeli.com

    Buddy's pizza is Sicilian style, very light airy crust with a dab of sauce and even less cheese. I ask for a bit of extra sauce, very good pizza. www.buddyspizza.com

    For a great very thin crust pizza try Tomatoes Apizza (yes that is spelled correctly)
    http://www.tomatoesapizza.com/
    there are two locations in the Farmington Hills area, apparently the owner came from one of the New Haven CT pizza places.

    --
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #16 - May 29th, 2009, 7:39 pm
    Post #16 - May 29th, 2009, 7:39 pm Post #16 - May 29th, 2009, 7:39 pm
    This visit to Detroit we spent quite a bit of time on Michigan Avenue, from the city of Dearborn to the heart of downtown Detroit. Here are a few of the highlights, heading from west to east.

    Sweet Willie wrote:For a simple burger bar that produces really really good burgers, try Miller's Bar in Dearborn, http://www.millersbar.com

    Miller's almost always comes up in discussions of Detroit's best burgers and it's found in a few national lists too (#8 according to Alan Richman in GQ). Pigmon and I were in Detroit with no intention of eating burgers but when our server at Buddy's Pizza mentioned that Miller's was just down the street we really had no choice. Miller's is a no-nonsense (though friendly) bar with a no-nonsense menu: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries and onion rings. This is the epitome of a no-nonsense burger, served in no-nonsense fashion.

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    Good meat and lots of it, undistinguished bun and barely any garnishes, not even grilled onions. If you need onion, a couple raw slices will be served on another sheet of waxed paper. Luckily the burger stands on its own. You usually don't see burgers this thick cooked on a griddle but that's the way they've been doing it for 60-some years. Ordered medium rare, it came that way (that's cheese-n-blood oozing out). Probably not everyone's idea of a perfect burger but I liked it just fine.

    Sweet Willie wrote:Buddy's pizza is Sicilian style, very light airy crust with a dab of sauce and even less cheese. I ask for a bit of extra sauce, very good pizza. http://www.buddyspizza.com

    From what I understand Buddy's pretty much defines Detroit-style square pizza. Out of convenience we visited the branch on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn instead of the preferable-by-most-accounts original on Conant. We kept it simple and ordered half a pepperoni pie.

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    To put it in Chicago terms, Buddy's is sort of a cross between deep dish and bakery sheet pizza. The crust must be loaded with oil yet it has a surprisingly light, almost fluffy, texture. As the menu states, "Pepperoni is placed under the cheese to enhance flavor and prevent charring." Cheese seems to be a standard domestic mozzarella, added uniformly from edge to edge and browned nicely. Sauce, applied as a central blob, tends toward the sweet end of the spectrum.

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    One aspect I liked a lot was the "burned edge" a la Burt.

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    Next time it's gonna be a Coney dog pizza for sure!

    Sweet Willie wrote:For a great very thin crust pizza try Tomatoes Apizza (yes that is spelled correctly)
    http://www.tomatoesapizza.com/
    there are two locations in the Farmington Hills area, apparently the owner came from one of the New Haven CT pizza places.

    Tomatoes Apizza isn't anywhere close to Michigan Avenue but I figured I might as well include it here. Alan Richman, in his GQ pizza article, ranks Tomatoes the 21st best pizza in America (Buddy's is number 15). There are two Tomatoes (same owner) and unfortunately we went to the one on Halsted with a conventional oven (the one on 14 Mile uses coal). I thought it a pleasant enough pizza but couldn't understand its ranking as one of the country's best. The crust, in particular, lacked any real character.

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    Detroit takes its ham seriously. I had wanted to visit Ham Heaven downtown but it was torn down shortly before my first visit to Detroit. Mike's Famous Ham Place seemed like a good alternative, and was actually recommended by the bartender at Miller's. Unfortunately it was closed for the holiday weekend.

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    Continuing down Michigan it's impossible to miss the imposing ruins of Michigan Central Station. See it soon; the city hopes to demolish the building in the very near future.

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    Slows Bar-B-Q is only a block or two east but we didn't stop. There's more information here and here.

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    A few more blocks toward downtown is Tiger Stadium, or rather what's left of it.

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    Arriving downtown we got to admire Michael Symon's Roast in the renovated Book-Cadillac Hotel. The restaurant wasn't yet open but the rotisserie used for the "beast of the day" looks very cool.

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    Miller's Bar
    23700 Michigan Av
    Dearborn MI
    313-565-2577
    http://www.millersbar.com

    Buddy's Pizza
    22148 Michigan Av
    Dearborn MI
    313-562-5900

    Buddy's Pizza (original location)
    17125 Conant
    Detroit MI
    313-892-9001

    Tomatoes Apizza
    24369 Halsted Rd
    Farmington Hills MI
    248-888-4888

    Tomatoes Apizza (coal oven)
    29275 14 Mile Rd
    Farmington Hills MI
    248-855-3555

    Mike's Famous Ham Place
    3700 Michigan Av
    Detroit MI
    313-894-6922

    Michigan Central Station (closed)
    Vernor Hwy just south of Michigan Av
    Detroit MI

    Slows Bar-B-Q
    2138 Michigan Av
    Detroit MI
    313-962-9828
    http://www.slowsbarbq.com/

    Tiger Stadium (closed)
    Michigan Av & Trumbull St
    Detroit MI

    Michael Symon's Roast
    in Westin Book-Cadillac
    Michigan Av & Washington Blvd
    Detroit MI
    http://roastdetroit.com/
  • Post #17 - June 7th, 2009, 10:35 am
    Post #17 - June 7th, 2009, 10:35 am Post #17 - June 7th, 2009, 10:35 am
    Rene G wrote:Continuing down Michigan it's impossible to miss the imposing ruins of Michigan Central Station. See it soon; the city hopes to demolish the building in the very near future.

    Image

    It looks as though the Michigan Central Station has received a temporary stay of demolition. If things go as well as they have for the Buffalo's New York Central Terminal, there could be a restoration on the horizon.

    There is an article on NPR's homepage today*:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... =104873009

    Rene, I imagine the place was closed up, or you would have posted some pictures of the interior. For those Chicagoans who are curious, there is an exhibition currently at Columbia College, Chicago, of Eric Smith's photographs of the interior of the staion.

    Here is a link to his website:
    http://www.ericsmith.us/#a=0&at=0&mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=14&p=0

    Rene G wrote:Slows Bar-B-Q is only a block or two east but we didn't stop.

    But I guess you'll have to go back to Detroit if you want to snack on Slows Bar-B-Q while you investigate.

    *Talk about LTH Total Media Domination - Now NPR is cribbing from Rene G's Beyond Chicagoland posts! Where will it end?
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #18 - June 7th, 2009, 10:47 am
    Post #18 - June 7th, 2009, 10:47 am Post #18 - June 7th, 2009, 10:47 am
    Considering that Michael Bay uses it in a movie every couple of years, the Michigan Central Station counts as one of the more active parts of Detroit's downtown...
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  • Post #19 - July 11th, 2009, 11:31 am
    Post #19 - July 11th, 2009, 11:31 am Post #19 - July 11th, 2009, 11:31 am
    HI,

    Cleaning my desk today. Just before tossing the Wayne State University Press catalog, I paged through to find one potential interesting book:

    Brewed in Detroit: Breweries and Beers Since 1830
    Peter H. Blum

    Describes the history of the brewing industry in the Detroit metropolitan area from its beginnings in 1830s to the present revival by microbrewers and brew pubs.

    1999/7x10/304 pp/177 illus
    ISBN 978-0-8143-2661-9
    $39.95 cloth
    Great Lakes Books Series

    Probably a good book to obtain via interlibrary loan.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #20 - July 11th, 2009, 11:57 pm
    Post #20 - July 11th, 2009, 11:57 pm Post #20 - July 11th, 2009, 11:57 pm
    I was in Detroit last week for the better part of a week. I never get time off during the summer but they decided to close the plant down for a week.

    I could not pay $16 for a corned beef sandwich in Ann Arbor but Milano's served an excellent one just blocks from the mail drag in Eastern Market. It was a real nice sandwich on pumpernickle rye for $7. This place is relatively new, probably in the last three years
    There i another ham and corned beed sandwich place next door on Mack Ave., adjacent to the shuttered remains of Cattleman's, one of my favorite butchers.

    Milano Bakery
    3500 Russell St
    Detroit, MI 48207-2030
    (313) 833-3500


    I lived in Dearborn when the Arab population was a minority in what was an Italian neighborhood. Since I was pretty broke, had a lot of access to great Italian markets and Eastern Market, we never ate out. Rather than eating at a place that has declined, I decided to try a Middle Eastern restaurant. However, since Warren was closed due to the shooting of seven students, I headed back into Dearborn and tried Al Ajami which is buried in a strip center.

    It was a great pick. They serve an excellent sesame pita bread with pickled turnips and other vegetables. The stuffed lamb over a rice pilaf was simply one of the best entrees that I have had this year.The lamb was rich and tender; the rice was enhanced by several types of nuts and bits of several fruits.

    Al Ajami Restaurant
    ajamirestaurant.com
    14633 W Warren Ave
    Dearborn, MI 48126-1345
    (313) 846-9330


    R Hirt has always been one of my favorite places in the country to shop. It is a four story building in Eastern Market that sells a variety of fresh and specialty foods at remarkably low prices. These folks were the ones that introduced me to things like smoked salmon, stilton cheese, and pancetta. Fortunately, I was there the day they marked down their shortbread cookies anh the imported choclates.

    This place is really nostalgic, The clerks gather your order, hard write the tickets, and you go pay the cashier.

    R Hirt Jr Co
    (313) 567-1173
    2468 Market St
    Detroit, MI 48207


    I had planned to head over to the Windsor Public Market which is Windsor's unheralded market but I was warned by several Windsorites that the waits at the border were extreme.

    Instead, I toured the historical Boston-Edison neighborhood, an area off Woodward which contains some large mansions that remain in remarkably good shape despite the general deterioration in the area.
  • Post #21 - July 12th, 2009, 2:01 pm
    Post #21 - July 12th, 2009, 2:01 pm Post #21 - July 12th, 2009, 2:01 pm
    Before my dad got Alzheimer's disease, he and my mom had a gourmet food brokerage in Michigan, and R Hirt was one of their customers. When I'd visit, we'd almost always go to the Eastern Market, both to visit R Hirt and other clients in the area, but also to simply enjoy the market, which was always amazing. I haven't been to the Eastern Market since my dad passed away, but the photos above reminded me how much fun we had in that area. I called mom, and she said that, if her spinal surgery works and she can walk again, we'll definitely go back to the market next time I visit -- and try out the corned beef reported above. (When I told mom, she responded, "Oh, yeah, we ate there all the time." And they didn't tell me about the corned beef!)

    So thanks for the trip down memory lane -- and the impetus for a return visit to the market.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #22 - July 12th, 2009, 2:14 pm
    Post #22 - July 12th, 2009, 2:14 pm Post #22 - July 12th, 2009, 2:14 pm
    Cynthia wrote:Before my dad got Alzheimer's disease, he and my mom had a gourmet food brokerage in Michigan, and R Hirt was one of their customers. When I'd visit, we'd almost always go to the Eastern Market, both to visit R Hirt and other clients in the area, but also to simply enjoy the market, which was always amazing. I haven't been to the Eastern Market since my dad passed away, but the photos above reminded me how much fun we had in that area. I called mom, and she said that, if her spinal surgery works and she can walk again, we'll definitely go back to the market next time I visit -- and try out the corned beef reported above. (When I told mom, she responded, "Oh, yeah, we ate there all the time." And they didn't tell me about the corned beef!)


    If you head to R. Hirt, try to get there during the week when the crowds are a lot smaller. I had a blast being able to actually talk to the people and ask questions. On Saturdays, the lines are generally three to four deep.

    Rocky's Peanuts across the street is worth a stop and Cost Plus Wines also carries a wide variety of wines and has a very knowledgable staff.
  • Post #23 - July 12th, 2009, 4:13 pm
    Post #23 - July 12th, 2009, 4:13 pm Post #23 - July 12th, 2009, 4:13 pm
    Thanks for the tip about avoiding weekends. I'll definitely keep that in mind. No place is really fun if it's too packed.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #24 - December 9th, 2009, 5:38 pm
    Post #24 - December 9th, 2009, 5:38 pm Post #24 - December 9th, 2009, 5:38 pm
    Wonderful write up, with gorgeous photos, of R. Hirt in the great Detroit blog, Sweet Juniper.

    R. Hirt Jrl, Est 1887
    My mom was recently with me during a trip to Hirt, and she was amazed by my interactions with the staff (who knew her grandchildren so well) and our ability to buy so much of what we needed in such a strange, old-fashioned space. It was a few days before Halloween, and David Devries, the great-grandson of Rudolph Hirt---a busy man who's often buzzing around taking care of business at the front of the store---stopped to hand all kinds of Halloween decorations over to my daughter who was so excited about them. "That's a dollar," he said (about a $9.00 witch). "For you, that's a dollar."


    This made me miss the store more than ever. At this time of year I always hit them up for Droste chocolate oranges for everyone's Christmas stockings.
  • Post #25 - December 9th, 2009, 10:43 pm
    Post #25 - December 9th, 2009, 10:43 pm Post #25 - December 9th, 2009, 10:43 pm
    Cynthia wrote:Thanks for the tip about avoiding weekends. I'll definitely keep that in mind. No place is really fun if it's too packed.


    Part of the problem is that they use an inventory control from the '80s - the 1880s. All orders are handwritten and taken to the cashier for payment.

    Having said that, they were on of my MOST reliable vendors. I could ask for ANY cheese or specialty meat and they could get it together for me.
  • Post #26 - May 31st, 2010, 11:43 am
    Post #26 - May 31st, 2010, 11:43 am Post #26 - May 31st, 2010, 11:43 am
    Anyone with any interest in Detroit (and frankly, anyone with any interest in urban decay, photography, life with children, how to make a homemade dog wagon out of an old jogging stroller, or even just good writing) should be reading Jim Griffioen's blog Sweet Jupiter

    Jim is not a fan of the kind of journalists who parachute into Detroit, take some photos of abandoned schools, and then write reports full of tragedy and despair. He recently took on one who'd written about food deserts in Detroit, with this wonderful article about La Colmena market in the old Corktown neighborhood
    Whenever someone asks us "But where do you shop?" we can proudly say a local, independent supermarket where the spirit of small-scale entrepreneurship that once thrived everywhere lives on and they sell better guacamole than any chain from here to San Diego. The money that my family spends at Honey Bee Market every week doesn't pay salaries of executives in Bentonville, Arkansas or Cincinnati, Ohio. It pays to support a family that still lives in this community, who sends their four children to schools in this community, and pays to support the livelihoods of their dozens of employees. Further, it pays to sustain a unique shopping opportunity that is quite unlike any other. Chances are, wherever you live, there are still businesses that are just as unique, and when you choose to spend your money there you are keeping your money in your community and sending a message to the corporations that want us all to consume the same way that you prefer to support something different.
  • Post #27 - May 31st, 2010, 7:40 pm
    Post #27 - May 31st, 2010, 7:40 pm Post #27 - May 31st, 2010, 7:40 pm
    I'm glad you posted that Ann. It's a real annoyance whenever someone uses the " Detroit has no grocery stores in its city limits" line. True , there are no major chain groceries ( Meijer, Kroger. etc.). There are quite a few supermercados in southwest( AKA Mexicantown) that have fresh produces and excellent meat and deli sections. Every time I go to one ( I'm partial to E+L), I find Detroiters of all backgrounds and ethinicities shopping. Them making their own chips and carnitas is just an added bonus :)
  • Post #28 - May 31st, 2010, 9:22 pm
    Post #28 - May 31st, 2010, 9:22 pm Post #28 - May 31st, 2010, 9:22 pm
    moose734 wrote:I'm glad you posted that Ann. It's a real annoyance whenever someone uses the " Detroit has no grocery stores in its city limits" line. True , there are no major chain groceries ( Meijer, Kroger. etc.). There are quite a few supermercados in southwest( AKA Mexicantown) that have fresh produces and excellent meat and deli sections. Every time I go to one ( I'm partial to E+L), I find Detroiters of all backgrounds and ethinicities shopping. Them making their own chips and carnitas is just an added bonus :)


    For years, the Detroit market was controlled largely by A&P (Farmer Jack's). Kroger had a very limited presence as they could not negotiate favorable labor contracts with the UFCW. Meijer never placed stores in the city or inner suburbs. Spartan stores had a minor presence.

    Honestly, to call the Farmer Jack's stores groceries IN THE CITY OF DETROIT were a stretch. They were generally grossly understaffed with mediocre selection and generally filthy. I was never able to get in and out of the store near the DMC on Mack Ave. in less than an hour (no kidding).

    The supermercados are a recent addition. Personally, I prefer the Gratiot City Market in Eastern Market.
  • Post #29 - June 1st, 2010, 5:18 pm
    Post #29 - June 1st, 2010, 5:18 pm Post #29 - June 1st, 2010, 5:18 pm
    Oh, I'm a big fan of the Gratiot City Market. I often refer that to people when they ask where to find different cuts of meat that aren't normally available at your local Korger or Meijer. Speaking of which, supposedly a Meijer is going to be built in the State Fair area. I'll file that under " I'll believe it when I see it."
  • Post #30 - June 2nd, 2010, 10:34 pm
    Post #30 - June 2nd, 2010, 10:34 pm Post #30 - June 2nd, 2010, 10:34 pm
    moose734 wrote:Oh, I'm a big fan of the Gratiot City Market. I often refer that to people when they ask where to find different cuts of meat that aren't normally available at your local Korger or Meijer. Speaking of which, supposedly a Meijer is going to be built in the State Fair area. I'll file that under " I'll believe it when I see it."


    If you have a business license, most of the various butcher houses will sell you what you want cut to order. When I was active in the area, several houses were still cutting from carcass versus boxed primal cuts.

    I honestly do not remember shopping much at any of the chains in the Detroit area in the two years I was there. On the other hand, when you have access to all of the "back rooms" of hundreds of produce and butcher houses ...

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