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Some Good Old Places in Detroit

Some Good Old Places in Detroit
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  • - July 28th, 2011, 11:24 am
    - July 28th, 2011, 11:24 am Post #31 - July 28th, 2011, 11:24 am
    I spent about a night in Detroit and loved my first summertime visit. I tried to do it up like a 'local tourist' so the others with wouldnt get too freaked about visiting the good old places. The night we spent in town was a fun one with the Tigers playing a home game and it being a hot night people were out and about in Greektown.

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    Strolling Greektown

    We didn't get in until about 7p, so the first order of business was dinner and then some drinks which is how we ended up in Greektown and thus stopped into a Greek restaurant for some eats. The cop we talked too about where to stop in and eat some good Greek food told us The Golden Fleece was one of the two or three good Greek spots left in the area.

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    an old Greektown favorite

    Good place, I liked what we ate. Nice location too right across from the casino and affordable and filling. We tried the marinated (cold) octopus, saganaki, fried calamari and I went with the combo plate of gyros and souvlaki. No gyro cones from Chicago companies used here as you can see in the pic below, they use their own homemade blend which is cut into larger chunks. Very similar to Parthenon here in Chicago the meat was excellent, the pork souvlaki was also very tasty and well charred but a little on the dry side (sorry didn't get a good pic of the plate). Went with the rice with red sauce atop it instead of the fries and that was the right call, just regular frozen fries and no lip smacking sauce on top of them like that at Athenian Room either. With Comerica Park and Ford Field not far away, this is a nice place for dinner with the group before or after a game.

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    Getting Greek with it for dinner

    After a big dinner we went out on the (Greek) town. The first stop was an Irish pub rec'd by the server at the Greek joint who said there would be people there with the Tigers playing down the block. We stopped in but they didn't have any seats and drinks were served in plastic cups (game night thing). We hopped around after that stopping in at Cheli's Chilli or whatever you call it. Typical Wrigleyville atmosphere with the Tigers doing well this summer. Nothing great but they were the only place around to serve Vernor's and not just generic ginger ale, so I got my Pure Michigan summertime fix of Vernor's and Vodka while in there. Another cool little spot in the area is La Casa De La Habana, a cigar shop/martini lounge. I don't know if it qualifies as an "old" place but we stopped in and it felt like old times the Wednesday night we visited. Good live music, well made cocktails and lots of people of all variety's with everyone enjoying their night out that evening.

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    Cigar Lounge near Comerica Park

    After deciding to call it a night/early morning there was only one option...a Coney throwdown at Detroit's famous dueling Coney Island Hot Dog stands. Similar to our Maxwell Street Polish Sausage stands on Union ave, Detroit has two Coney shops right next to each other. The shops are about a 10 minute, 5 block walk from the Greektown casino and it was as safe as could be. The only people that talked to us were the ones who led us in the right direction and told us to enjoy our coneys and visit to Detroit. The people as always were nice as could be, they want visitors there and are happy to have them.

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    Detroit's famous Coney Island Hot Dog Stands

    This was my most sober experience at the famous Detroit Coney shops, meaning I remembered it. What separates Detroit Coney dogs from the rest of these spots around the Midwest is the wiener. While most other places use cheap Oscar Meyer like hot dogs, these guys use Koegel's which is a hometown hot dog company that makes a mean natural casing wiener. These dogs with my (original Chi) style of just mustard, onions, sport peppers and relish would be great and they still are with chili sauce, mustard and raw onions which are the traditional toppings for a hot dog in Detroit. As always with any classic Coney shop, the hot dogs and sauce are on display in the front windows.

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    View from outside the window at Lafayette

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    Coney with everything from Lafayette

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    View from inside the window at American

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    Coney with everything from American

    It's hard to pick a winner. I appreciated the feel and look at Lafayette more but liked the fact American used the perfect amount of sauce, how I like it anyway. Who had the better sauce? That's still TBD. I gotta get one of those cold brick's of sauce from each place and do a scientific test with the corny guy in glasses from 'America's Test Kitchen' to determine who's sauce is better. The next day we only had the morning and what turned into the early afternoon when the RV carrying the Party Trailer wouldn't start up with the heat and all and was stuck in the hotel parking lot. We ended up getting a taxi and checking out three spots I had on my "must get to, no matter what" list for this trip. Some real deal Mo-Town gems. Too many commercial, touristy "where all the visitors visit" places visited last night.

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    The old Cass Tech High School currently being torn down

    All new food spots to me, it worked out very well as they were also within reach of each other. The taxi cab system in the D is odd and well "Shady" but we had great luck. We called for a taxi that morning and they sent us one cool dude. An owner of eight cars he does taxi and chauffeur services and is a born and raised Detroit boy. When he pulled up I thought he was either the police or FBI in his unmarked black sedan. When we told him, he said whenever he visits his cousin in the Chi people here think the same. But he aint popo so we arranged to give him $20 (and I bought him some burgers and tipped) to take us around and take in some of "real" Detroit. If anyone ever wants a reliable honest guy for a driver, PM me, I got his card. He was impressed with where we were headed. First stop is a "good ole place" that I absolutely loved.

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    In Detroit's Hamtramck neighborhood along Six Mile

    Discussed upthread , Marcus Hamburgers is everything I love about these type of places and Detroit City. Located all by itself in a part of town that was once thriving with industrial and manufacturing plants, its one of the few places to survive from another time, when Detroit was booming. There's nothing else around this longtime Detroit "brakefast" spot that once served all the workers in this area from all the long gone plants and warehouses. As soon as we walked in, I felt like I was in the real Detroit city. I say that because as we all know, it has fallen on hard times but the people and many of the business refuse to give up on the city. The folks working at Marcus and the one lonely customer along with our cab driver sat and told stories of the D's past. It was really hot inside so they had fans and the doors open, the A/C was stolen when some people broke in five years ago. The man eating breakfast was a member of a famous Mo-Town band who the taxi driver immediately knew and was shocked that one of its members was still in Detroit let alone next to us eating breakfast.

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    As we enter

    Marcus Hamburgers was started in 1929 by an immigrant from Macedonia. Charles G. Marcus started selling his snacks from a horse-drawn pushcart at the Highland Park Ford factory which eventually lead to 12 restaurants in and around Detroit. The Six Mile location is the original. What makes the burgers unique is the fact they're served on hot dog buns. There's a great article you gotta read HERE about the place and why it's so great. When I read it, I had to get there. Here's video below of how they make the burgers, same way as when Charles Marcus was outside the Ford factory selling them.


    Marcus Burgers being made

    Marcus is still all in the family and now owned by two brothers who worked at the same spot in their youth. When they heard that their aunt and uncle were moving Marcus Burgers to a suburb they bought the original location where we are at today and didn't change a thing. Still fresh ground in house beef, burgers cooked in their own juices and served on hot dog buns and open for lunch and breakfast only. I've been to so many burger places and they are all different but I think Marcus is right there with Pete's in Wisconsin for best old school tasting hamburger. It's all about cooking them in their juice. They arent rare, fully cooked thru but so juicy and full of flavor you truly cant eat just one.

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    a Marcus Burger

    Burgers can come with cheese, toppings are in bowls along the U shaped counter and you top them yourself. I got a couple cheeseburgers and used some raw finely chopped onions and mustard and they were excellent, green relish is also available. I had three while there and got three to go ($2) these are everything White Castle wants to be or maybe once was tastewise. I liked the use of the hot dog bun, worked real well, the cheap bun was all that was needed just like a great minimalist style Chicago dog. Three bites of each and I was done, so you need to order a few. What a great breakfast stop. Read that article. I think the longtime waitress mentioned in it is the lady in the video walking by, she was sweet as could be. We might not be in paradise, but that's a cheeseburger!

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    My cheeseburgers as they arrive, topped proper and ready to chow down

    Wow so as good as Marcus Hamburgers was there was still more to go and it got better as we headed over to Mike's Famous Ham Place. When Rene G posts that this place was the highlight of his trip and that the sandwiches are "works of art" I already know it's the shiznit. I used to think Marshall Mathers was the King of Detroit but Mike is making me have second thoughts about that. As seen in the pics below Mike's switched it up outside from blue to red with a new paint job and all. They're very proud of being named Metro Detroit's "best sandwich".

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    The Rene G rec'd Ham "Heaven" as I call it

    We stopped in and they were about halfway thru with the ham that day. As is mentioned up above Mike and his wife are one hell of a duo. He does the ham, she does the soups and that's about all they offer which is all you need. We ordered a few to go, with the works which included cheese, mustard and fresh deli pickles which work great, much better than sweet ones would. We watched as Mike carved the ham for our sandwiches off the bone giving us taster samples after each slice.


    Ham off the bone from Mike's

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    Take a tasta!

    Amazing little place. Despite the fact it was 100 outside I had to get some soup which I ate later that night, my dad makes a mean split pea but don't tell him Mike's wife's is better, than everyone else out theres too. Just great friendly folks both behind the counter and sitting at it enjoying their ham from heaven. I'll be back in Detroit for some Monday Night Football in October and Mike will be getting a call from me for a couple tubs of soup for tailgating and some ham sandwiches for breakfast. Easy to understand why this was named the best sandwich in a city with so many. Yes it's as good as it looks.

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    Mike's Hamtastic sandwich

    Off to the Eastern Market where we needed to take a quick look around and pick up a few things to throw on the Party Trailer grill for later that night. I love this place. It is truly a pitmasters paradise. Everything you could ever need and then some as far as the good stuff like sausage and every cut of beef or pork you need. Then there's the corned beef selection seen in photos upthread. It was too much for me. We only needed a couple things to grill for dinner so I had to pass on so much this time but I cant wait to get back here and shop for Da Bears vs. Lions Monday Night Football Showdown in October. It's going to be an epic tailgate with whats available at the Eastern Market. We got some beff tenderloin kebabs that were the best ever. Better than any restaurant or grocery stores pre-made kebabs. Stop in the lot at Ford Field and look for the Party Trailer.

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    Andouille from the Market grilled up later that day

    Discussed up above is the talk of Detroit and how it takes it's corned beef seriously. Well I did Greek food in Greektown, ate Coneys in the wee hours of the morning, went to an old school hamburger joint, had a ham sandwich at Mike's and shopped at the Eastern Market so there was only one thing I was missing as far as eating like a local. I needed a corned beef sandwich. I heard good things about Hygrade Deli which was right by Mike's but I passed on that but couldn't pass on Nathans Deli. It was a block down from the gas station we stopped in to fill the bus up before we went to Buffet in da burbs, so I ran down there and got myself a sandwich.

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    Nathan's Deli in downtown Detroit

    I took it as a good sign that there were quite a few cars in the lot and it looked alright from the outside so I went on in and knew what I was getting as soon as the lady ahead of me ordered one. Another popular local eat in Detroit is the Dinty Moore sandwich. Nope it's not canned beef stew on a bun but rather just a triple decker corned beef sandwich with Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, lettuce and tomatoes on toasted rye. I liked the sandwich but wouldn't go back here specifically for another. I would see whats up with one of the many other corned beef spots around town before swearing Dinty's off. Next time I'm going to try Hygrade Deli, our driver said it was his favorite and it looked like classic Detroit from the outside.

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    Nathan's Deli Dinty Moore Sandwich

    We arrived somewhat late at what was my first ever Jimmy Buffet concert experience, I tagged along to eat up Detroit. It was fun but I guess nothing like they normally are. I thought it would be all older white folk but was surprised that it was about 50/50 with people older and younger than 35. Makes sense since I saw so many kids with their parents there, must of always been that way. The kids caught on, lucky Buffy. So they say the party is always in the lot at these Margaritaville concerts and that's where we were staying. I wasn't headed in, sat back, enjoyed some Moscow Mules and grilled while watching weird, drunk people both old enough to be my grandparents and girls too young pass by while watching some Major League Baseball on the Party Trailer. Unfortunately I didn't make it to any of my slider spots I need to get to too complete the round up. As always, I'll be back.

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    Hot Summer Days in Detroit

    Golden Fleece Restaurant
    525 Monroe Street
    Detroit, MI 48226-2932
    (313) 962-7093

    Lafayette Coney Island*
    118 West Lafayette
    Detroit, MI
    (313) 964-8198

    *American Coney Island Next Door

    Marcus Hamburgers
    6349 E McNichols Rd
    Detroit, MI 48212-2023
    (313) 891-6170

    Mike's Famous Ham Place
    3700 Michigan Ave
    Detroit, Michigan 48216
    (313) 894-6922

    Nathan's Deli
    581 East Jefferson Avenue
    Detroit, MI 48226-4324
    (313) 962-3354

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