472. Guiseppe’s Restaurant – March 12, 2020 – Chesterfield, MI

March2020Guiseppe's1 (2)March2020Guiseppe's3 (2)Guiseppe’s Restaurant was the last establishment I dined at before the coronavirus blew up here in Metro-Detroit. I’m so grateful to have had the experience of eating dinner there with a friend before this necessary period of social isolation set in.

For those of you who have lost loved ones to this virus, who are battling the virus yourselves, or whose lives have been affected by it in other terrible ways, I am sorry, and I am sending love to you. I know this little post on an Italian restaurant in Chesterfield, MI isn’t the kind of thing that can ease your pain in any real way, but I hope it provides a momentary diversion for those of you who are seeking it.

Guiseppe’s is located in a strip mall. Its interior is unpretentious and homey – and it serves up a mean Eggplant Parmesan.

The restaurant was offering a 2-for-$20 special during my visit, meaning you could purchase two featured meals – with soup or salad included – for only $10 bucks apiece. The Eggplant Parmesan I opted for was part of that special. It was delicious with its melt-in-your-mouth breaded and fried eggplant slathered in rich tomato sauce and cheese and served with a side of al dente penne pasta.

That 2-for-$20 menu is available Sundays through Thursdays and includes a variety of pasta dishes (including Manicotti, Homemade Lasagna, and Spaghetti Carbonara), plus chicken- and fish-centric meals such as Chicken Marsala and Beer Battered Fish and Chips.

Guiseppe’s regular dinner menu features a more in-depth list of pasta dishes, plus appetizers, salads, pizzas, and meat-focused entrées such as Steak Siciliano, Veal Scaloppini, and Shrimp Casalinga. The restaurant has a full bar; I enjoyed a tasty glass of pinot noir while there.

As of the writing of this post, Guiseppe’s was still open, accepting carryout orders only. So you can still experience its delectable Italian cuisine at this time if you’re local and looking to take a break from cooking.

49120 Gratiot Ave.

Chesterfield, MI 48051

www.giuseppesrestaurant.net

471. E&L Supermercado – March 8, 2020 – Detroit, MI

March2020E&LSupermercado1 (2)March2020E&LSupermercado2 (2)As of the writing of this post, I haven’t been to a grocery store in almost two weeks – or anywhere, really. But it cheers me to know that wonderful grocery stores such as E&L Supermercado are still in operation during this challenging time, doing the noble work of feeding the masses.

I visited the Southwest Detroit-based grocery store in early March, marveling over its well-stocked meat counter, mounds of fresh produce, array of fresh-baked breads and sweets, and ample selections of locally-made corn and flour tortillas, house-made salsas, and Mexican dry grocery goods.

I enjoyed shopping in the store bustling with families and friends running into each other. After perusing all of the goodies, I came out with a variety of fruits and vegetables, a sack of house-made tortilla chips, bags of fresh flour tortillas, canned salsa, a package of El Milagro non-GMO tostadas (LOVE those – they’re so deliciously crunchy!), and what turned out to be my favorite purchase, a container of E&L Supermercado’s house-made Salsa a la Diabla.

I ADORE spicy food. But I’ll admit: buying a salsa labeled “Salsa of the Devil” from a Mexican grocery store gave me pause; I wondered if it would be more heat than I could handle. Happily, it was not; that Salsa a la Diabla was nowhere near as spicy as I’d expected it to be – but it was wonderful.

It brought the heat, but in a pleasant way – at least, in a pleasant way for someone who has a high heat tolerance (I acknowledge that those who prefer mild heat might indeed find it as hot as a work of Satan’s); it had such beautifully nuanced flavor. It struck me as more of an oily, spice-infused paste than a traditional salsa; it didn’t have chunks of tomatoes or veggies in it but appeared to contain an ample amount of ground red chiles. I became OBSESSED with it, consuming it daily mixed into meals or slathered on E&L Supermercado’s perfectly crispy, salty tortilla chips – until it ran out and I found myself scrambling for an excuse to drive down to buy more.

Even if E&L Supermercado wasn’t doing the work of heroes at this intense time in history, feeding people fresh and nutritious and tasty food when they need it most, I’d still view the store as a superpower for manufacturing that Salsa a la Diabla and for offering such stellar produce and groceries. E&L Supermercado has definitely been added to my rotation of top-notch locally-owned markets!

6000 W. Vernor Hwy.

Detroit, MI 48209

www.el-supermercado.com

470. Mexicantown Bakery – March 8, 2020 – Detroit, MI

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Mexicantown Bakery’s churro, chocolate croissant, and coffee tres leches cake

Baked goods most definitely make my heart – and my stomach – smile, so recounting this visit to Mexicantown Bakery is a real treat.

The Southwest Detroit-based bakery offers a plethora of fresh-made goodies: loaves of bread, buns, cake, cookies, cupcakes, churros, conchas (Mexican sweet bread), flan, and the like. A long row of display cases line a section of its interior near its front door. Patrons are able to select items displayed in those cases themselves using tongs or parchment paper and to place them on plastic trays, which they can then proceed with to the cashier counter.

Additional displays of fresh-baked treats abound, including in cases built into the cashier counter and in a refrigerated case toward the back of the store that holds what I consider to be Mexicantown Bakery’s pièce de résistance: its tres leches cake.

Tres leches in its classic form is, to me, one of the finest baked goods ever – and Mexicantown Bakery has upped the ante by offering it in additional flavor varieties, including chocolate, caramel, and coffee. I HAD to try that coffee one, so I grabbed one of the plastic containers offering up a large piece of it (what I’d consider as two slices in one).

I also picked these items out of the choose-it-yourself display cases: a chocolate croissant; a caramel-stuffed churro; a slice of chocolate cake swirled with strawberry filling; and a cupcake rendered to look like a giant version of the classic cream-filled Hostess cupcake, complete with the white icing squiggle on top.

Yep, I went a little crazy, procuring five desserts all for myself: but it’s hard not to go crazy at a place showcasing such delectable delights as Mexicantown Bakery!

All of those desserts were DELICIOUS. I got a real kick out of eating the mega Hostess-cupcake clone and savoring its rich cream center, as I savored the strawberry filling in the slice of chocolate cake. The croissant was especially tasty heated up in the microwave, its center oozing melted chocolate, while the churro was a cinnamon-infused indulgence.

But that tres leches cake – oh, that tres leches cake! It’s taking the cake (pun intended, naturally) as the best thing I’ve eaten thus far this year. WOW, was it phenomenal: so rich and spongy and sumptuous, soaked in sweet, milky goodness, with a wonderful coffee flavor and creamy decadence that was immensely satisfying. I ate it over several sittings, relishing every bite and daydreaming about buying more of it. With any luck, a revisit to Mexicantown Bakery will be sooner rather than later.

As of the writing of this post, it appears that Mexicantown Bakery is open despite the coronavirus crisis; its Facebook page mentions modified hours, but I don’t see a post about it closing (perhaps it’s considered a carryout place and allowed to stay active). Regardless of whether it’s in operation now or not, I’m sure its business has been affected during this challenging time. Whenever this awful situation has resolved and we can be out and about again as we were before, please consider patronizing this wonderful establishment. Independently-owned Detroit businesses such as Mexicantown Bakery will need our patronage more than ever.

4300 W. Vernor Hwy.

Detroit, MI 48209

www.mexicantownbakery.com

Detroit Charities to Help During the Coronavirus Crisis

October2018DetroitRiverWalk2 (3)Watching Detroit become one of the cities hit hardest by the coronavirus is a terrible thing. As if many of its citizens weren’t struggling enough in day-to-day life, now they have to contend with a deadly virus ripping through their neighborhoods. To call what they’re going through right now unfair is a vicious understatement.

It feels silly in the face of such suffering to feel like I can help – which is exactly why I’m writing this post: as a reminder to myself and to anyone who reads it that we can help, that our small actions can add up to make a difference. One kind act, one relatively small donation can snowball into a massive positive effect!

In the spirit of that can-do optimism, here are some Detroit-based (and Detroit adjacent) charities that could really use our help during this time. If you’re able to give any amount financially or to volunteer your services to any of them that are still accepting volunteers, I’m sure they would very much appreciate it!

COTS: This has long been one of my favorite local organizations to support. COTS offers temporary shelter and a plethora of other resources to those in need – from assistance obtaining housing and employment to financial education and access to job training. www.cotsdetroit.org

Detroit Area Agency on Aging: The elderly are an especially vulnerable population at this time. Detroit Area Agency on Aging is helping them by delivering meals to senior citizens who are unable to leave their homes or prepare meals on their own via its Meals on Wheels program. www.detroitseniorsolution.org

Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries: Another longtime favorite of mine, this charity provides food, shelter, and a variety of supportive programs, such as treatment for substance abuse and assistance upon exiting correctional facilities. www.drmm.org

Forgotten Harvest: Procuring food that would otherwise go to waste and distributing it to those in need is Forgotten Harvest’s mission. Now more than ever, they need financial help to deliver that food. www.forgottenharvest.org

Turning Point: The Macomb County-based advocate for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence is facing the virus head-on, continuing to offer beds at its shelter and services such as it 24/7 crisis line and Forensic Nurse Examiner Program. While it’s not based in Detroit or Wayne County, I felt compelled to feature it here because I have personal experience working with the women who run it and wanted to give a shout-out to their bravery, resilience, and do-gooder-ness. www.turningpointmacomb.org

United Way for Southeastern Michigan: The mainstay Metro-Detroit charity has established its COVID-19 Community Response Fund to help local aid organizations who are assisting the community in the midst of the pandemic. www.unitedwaysem.org

469. TARDIS Detroit – March 8, 2020 – Detroit, MI

March2020TARDISDetroit1 (2)March2020TARDISDetroit2 (2)March2020TARDISDetroit3 (3)Here’s one establishment that’s able to stay open during the coronavirus crisis: TARDIS Detroit.

The stock in the lending library based in the Woodbridge neighborhood of Detroit is patron-maintained; it runs on the take-a-book, leave-a-book philosophy. The wooden structure has been crafted to look like the TARDIS time machine from the British sci-fi TV show Doctor Who – though rather than its acronym standing for “Time and Relative Dimension in Space,” it means “Totally Awesome Reading Dispensary in Society.” Love it!

TARDIS Detroit is located in a grassy lot in a residential neighborhood at the corner of West Warren Avenue and Vermont Street. Approaching it on a sunny Sunday morning in early March, I felt as giddy as a child. Visiting the TARDIS combined three things I love: art, books, and exploring, and it was so fun to open first the outer doors, then the intricately painted sliding inner doors to reveal the bookshelves within.

Those shelves contained a variety of books, including a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a cookbook touting fruit-based dishes, and a novel by Hilary Duff. But it was a hardcover copy of Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau that prompted me to take it with me (and which, in hindsight, feels like an especially apt selection given the state of seclusion I’ve been forced to take up by current world events). In return, I left three books from my personal library that I’d brought with me.

It’s a dark time for Detroit; the coronavirus is ravaging it. I’ve struggled with whether releasing such a post at this time is even appropriate; I’ve went through with it because I’m hoping it serves as a reminder of all that is great about Detroit and that joyful experiences are still available.

It’s a small comfort to know that there are structures out there such as TARDIS Detroit that one can visit to pick up a book (perhaps on one of our sanctioned outdoor recreational jaunts?), without having to encounter another soul. It may not be an actual time machine, but through the tomes it houses, it’s serving as a portal to other dimensions – and escapism through the worlds constructed by books is a much-desired commodity for those of us who are privileged enough to be able to engage in it during this nightmare of a time.

1944 W. Warren Ave.

Detroit, MI 48208

468. Lazybones Smokehouse – March 4, 2020 – Roseville, MI

March2020LazybonesSmokehouse1 (2)March2020LazybonesSmokehouse2 (2)March2020LazybonesSmokehouse3 (3)Serendipity led me to Lazybones Smokehouse – and am I glad it did!

I’d been wanting to visit the barbecue joint in Roseville for years; I pass it regularly on Groesbeck en route to 696, and I’d long intended to incorporate a visit there with a jaunt along that route.

Cancelled plans on a Wednesday night in early March led me to execute that plan on the fly. I was two-thirds of the way to a meet-up in Ferndale when I learned it’d been postponed. Not wanting to waste the drive, I decided a stop at Lazybones upon doubling back would make lemonade out of the lemons I’d been handed (or, pulled pork out of a pig of a situation? Cheesy-Dad-joke-level pun intended!).

I entered the carryout restaurant and studied the menu above the counter. The employee helping me explained that there wasn’t an individual-portion combo plate. There was the Texas Sampler, which includes tastes of all of Lazybones’ smoked meats, plus two pint-sized portions of sides and four slices of cornbread, and the Family Feast option, which showcased way more food than I was looking to reckon with; otherwise, menu items were available à la carte, in various sizes. (The restaurant also offers a catering menu that includes packages and a wider selection of dishes than its restaurant carryout menu.)

I studied the array of smoked meats (including brisket, pork belly, chicken, turkey, and sausage), sandwiches, salads, and sides and chose the two meats that were the obvious choices for me: the Carolina Pulled Pork and the St. Louis Spareribs – plus sides of the Baked Mac and Cheese and the Vinegared Garlic Slaw and a slice of the Honey Buttered Cornbread. It was more food than I needed, for sure, but I wanted to sample several items (and who says leftovers are a bad thing)?

I was so excited to get home and dig into my feast! And dig in I did. I tried a little of everything, slathering the pulled pork and ribs with Lazybones’ vibrant sauces (I’d opted to try the Carolina Vinegar and Screamin’ Inferno varieties. A third barbecue sauce was thrown in for good measure; I’m unclear on its identify but suspect it was the Hillbilly due to the “HB” written on the outside of its container) and taking turns dipping into the sides.

The clear star of the show in that meal? The Carolina Pulled Pork. It was phenomenal, so tender and flavorful that it didn’t need sauce to be utterly delectable – though I still doused it with sauce because I am a sauce gal, and Lazybones’ are very tasty. But man, was it good!

I enjoyed the meaty St. Louis Spareribs, as well; they had a great smoky flavor. I appreciated that the Vinegared Garlic Slaw wasn’t drowning in mayonnaise; it was zesty, peppery, and garlicky and actually tasted like a healthy vegetable that could aid in counteracting all of the saturated fat I was eating. The Baked Mac and Cheese was covered in creamy dairy goodness, and the Honey Buttered Cornbread delivered a craved carb infusion.

I got my money’s worth of that meal, eating off of it two additional times in subsequent days. Thanks to Lazybones Smokehouse, what could’ve been a bummer of an evening was instead a spur-of-the-moment rendezvous with deliciousness!

27475 Groesbeck Hwy.

Roseville, MI 48066

www.lazybonessmokehouse.net

467. Knapp’s Donuts – February 21, 2020 – Troy, MI

February2020Knapp'sDonuts1 (2)February2020Knapp'sDonuts2 (2)As of the writing of this post, Knapp’s Donuts is one of the many Metro-Detroit-area businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic; its doors are currently closed. With any luck, both its Rochester and Troy-based locations – the latter of which I recently visited – will reopen soon, and we can all enjoy its delightful donuts again.

After years of hearing my mom rave about Knapp’s Donuts and wanting to try them myself, I finally made that happen when I stopped there on a Friday morning in February. I was on my way to my last day at a job that I’d worked at for 4.5 years, and I thought it would be nice to bring my team (and myself) some donuts.

I picked out eight donuts in a variety of flavors, including Boston crème, chocolate glazed, cinnamon-sugar, and sour cream.

I knew I had to try the sour cream, as that varietal has become a personal favorite in recent years. It was SO delicious: perfectly moist on the inside and crispy-fried on the outside, with a honey-sweet glaze. I could see from eating that sour cream donut what all the hype around Knapp’s was about!

I also got to try one of its chocolate glazed donuts, which was quite tasty, too; my coworkers who opted in on the baked goodies enjoyed them, as well.

Once Knapp’s is open again, I have a feeling its patrons are going to be rejoicing by grabbing its delectable donuts by the dozens! May that time come quickly.

6057 Rochester Rd.

Troy, MI 48085

(with an additional location in Rochester)

466. Mutiny Tiki Bar – February 16, 2020 – Detroit, MI

February2020MutinyBar1 (2)February2020MutinyBar2 (3)It feels massively bittersweet to be writing this post about my mid-February visit to Mutiny Tiki Bar. I had an amazing time at this wonderful, high-vibing bar in Southwest Detroit – but knowing that I couldn’t go there today if I wanted to brings tears to my eyes.

The coronavirus has impacted so many of us globally. For many, it has meant devastatingly life-altering or fatal consequences for themselves and/or their loved ones. My heart goes out to those who have been directly impacted by the virus in terrible ways, and I know my plight – to be stuck inside while we attempt to curb and end this thing in Michigan – is utterly miniscule compared with the suffering and grief those people have experienced. I am living a life of luxury and comfort in comparison, and I acknowledge that and am grateful for the fact that thus far, my family, friends, and I have been able to stay safe.

I acknowledge that, and . . . I miss exploring already. Monday was a bad day for me, when the directive came through from our governor for dine-in restaurants, coffee shops, and bars to close – plus gyms, recreation areas, spas, and the like (a.k.a., the fun stuff). I totally get and respect this decision, I know it’s necessary, and yet, it still SUCKS. Exploring Metro-Detroit has become much, much harder right now; even stepping out at all has become, at the very least, an ethical dilemma – not to mention, what could be a matter of life and death for vulnerable populations . . .  and we don’t know when that’s going to change.

And all of our beloved locally-owned restaurants and bars and shops . . . what is going to happen to them? How many of them will not be able to survive the shutdown, and how many of their employees are financially struggling by being unable to work?

The silver lining around this horrible time for local small businesses and their employees is that there are multiple ways that we as patrons can still support them. We can buy gift cards online to use toward future visits, grab carryout from those that are offering it (should we feel comfortable venturing out), purchase goods from their online shops, and even tip local bartenders for drinks we’ve made at home via a site called Go Tip Em (www.gotipem.com), which I became aware of via cocktaildetroit‘s Instagram account. We can do our part!

Hopefully such seemingly small actions can accumulate and make a big difference in keeping all of the wonderful independently-owned establishments in Detroit and the surrounding tri-county area operating. I, for one, am going to start doing my part by procuring online some of Lake Orion coffee house A Bean to Go‘s delectable beans (LOVE their brews and the vibe of their shop!) and browsing Detroit-based Pages Bookshop‘s internet store for that book club pick I can no longer get from the library.

Enough of the spotlight on this awful virus: it’s time to move on to cheerier topics and the hope of brighter times – times when we can again patronize stellar establishments such as this one, Mutiny Tiki Bar!

I enjoyed the heck out of my visit to this bar. Located in an unmarked brick building, it can be challenging to spot, but using the reference points of other landmarks (it’s at the corner of Vernor Highway and Lansing Street; it’s next to Chicago’s Pizza) helps to locate it.

The no-frills ambiance ends outside; Mutiny’s interior is a fun mix of hipster chill and tropical vibes. The interior is paneled in wood and accented with bamboo. Colored twinkle lights, gauzy netting, pretty parasol umbrellas, and voluminous amounts of grassy-looking fibers that appear to be dried palm fronds (or faux stuff constructed to look like them) hang from the ceiling, while flowered leis are draped over the turquoise bar chairs and all manner of other surfaces. Carved masks, colorful buoys, and tropically-themed photos and other goodies decorate the walls. It all melds together to form a visually arresting atmosphere.

It also melds together to form very relaxed, very friendly, ultra-good vibes. Maybe it was the boosted spirits of me and my friend who had come to Mutiny for a Sunday Funday celebration; maybe it was our awesome bartender, who was attentive and welcoming in a very chill way; maybe it was the cool gal sitting near us at the bar who we struck up a conversation with and who my friend brought in on our shot-taking hijinks, but man, the vibes were EXCELLENT at the place!

I had such a good time sampling Mutiny’s wares: its tasty Old Salt cocktail with its Patron tequila, tomatillo syrup, chili salt rim, and flaming lime (shown on the right in the photo of the drinks above) and its Banana Bread Shot – which O.M.G., is phenomenal. Like, WOW-THIS-IS-DEFINITELY-ONE-OF-THE-BEST-DRINKS-I’VE-EVER-CONSUMED phenomenal.

Not gonna lie, my friend and I each had two of those Banana Bread shots; they were so good that we felt compelled to do a take-two on them (and we had an excuse to use: celebrating my procuring of a much-desired new job). The menu description of this delectable little baby says it all: “molasses infused Bacardi Banana, coco nib, cinnamon, cream.” It truly tastes like the most luxurious banana bread you’ve ever eaten and is so, so YUMMMM.

Once we get the all-clear to be out and about again and Mutiny Tiki Bar is reopened, I have a feeling it’s going to be KICKING. It is so worth a visit, and in the great, grand scheme of things, it’ll be reopened again before we know it.

4654 Vernor Hwy.

Detroit, MI 48209

www.mutinybar.com

465. MI-Combat – February 15, 2020 – Rochester Hills, MI

February2020MI-Combat1 (3)Look at you, MI-Combat, bringing out the inner child in me!

MI-Combat doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of place that would bring out one’s inner kiddo, does it? I mean, the name has a word related to warfare in it. But it’s the service the place offers, laser-tag games, that brought out that child-like wonder in me.

I visited MI-Combat on a Saturday night in mid-February, to attend the birthday party of a friend’s husband. Because my friend booked a party package with MI-Combat, our group had access to a party room area that we were able to bring snacks into and keep our stuff in; we were also served pizza after our game session as part of the package.

For the game play, we suited up into vests and headbands that had sensors in them that made us targets for the laser guns, which were crafted to look like assault rifles and came with a strap you could wear across your chest. As part of the party package, we had 90 minutes to play various games of laser tag on MI-Combat’s two-level course that’s been designed to look like a Detroit cityscape (its website calls it “Battlefield Red Dawn,” describing it as a “Live Hollywood Movie Set”). It’s a really cool course, with plenty of elements to hide behind, such as pallets and a police car, and within (including a police station and a structure painted to look like American Coney Island. Heck yes, American Coney Island!).

We played along with others who weren’t a part of our group, breaking up into two teams to play numerous games, each with a short time range (around five minutes) and  different objectives and each led by a staff member, who was there if we had questions or needed help with our guns or reactivating into the game after we’d been “killed,” for games where that was applicable.

For one game, the other team had the objective to take out all of our team members within a certain time range; if any of our team survived until the end of that game, we won. Another game had us searching for a backpack hidden within the course (while we shot at each other); the team that found the backpack before the other won.

The games were fast-paced, and once I got the hang of using the gun and how to reset myself to get back into a challenge after I’d been shot, I had a lot of fun and got pretty competitive around the whole thing. Screens in our team base tracked the players on each team’s stats, and I was excited to see that while I certainly wasn’t one of the top players, I also wasn’t the very worst (we’d been prompted to create accounts on a stat-tracking site before the game session so that we’d have profiles where these stats could be tracked).

The games went by in a blur, and I was sad to see them be over – though very happy to dig into some pizza after the activity, which was more strenuous than I and some of my team members had expected (with lots of running and crouching involved, the challenges were a great workout!). The overall experience was a lot of fun, and I’d definitely recommend you check out MI-Combat should the inner child – and adult in you! – perk up at the idea of playing energetic laser tag games in this engaging setting.

2636 S. Adams Rd.

Rochester Hills, MI 48309

www.mi-combat.com

100 Places in the D’s Top 10 Places Visited in Blog Year Six!

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The exterior of Post (Visit #416)

It’s time to relive the magic of Blog Year Six of 100 Places in the D, via a [DRUM ROLL]: Top 10 List!

After every blogging year on 100 Places in the D, I review all of the places I visited during that timeframe and tally up my ten absolute faves. So here they are, in no particular order: the ten places that most enchanted me in Blog Year Six. I hope, if you decide to visit them, that they enthrall you as much as they did me!

Mint 29 (#443, Dearborn): Inarguably the fanciest meal I had all year was the exquisite 16-Ounce Bone-In Ribeye I dined on at this West Downtown Dearborn-based restaurant. Its swanky-yet-down-to-earth ambiance beckoned me to make it my Cheers bar.

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The 16-Ounce Bone-In Ribeye at Mint 29 (Visit #443)

POST (#416, Detroit): Ah, POST, I had such a blast taking a woodworking workshop at you in June! You are an excellent facilitator of creative classes – and a supplier and champion of beautiful and interesting artisan-crafted goods, to boot!

Chili Mustard Onions (#392, Detroit): Of course Detroit has a vegan Coney Island restaurant – and it’s really frickin’ good. Those Chili Cheeze Fries! That Beetball Sub! That Snickers cake! [Cue Homer Simpson-esque drooling.]

Vast Kitchen and Bar (#457, Shelby Township): My heart still swoons at the memory of that meatloaf I ate during my January visit to Vast – so exquisite! Stellar drinks, service, and ambiance rounded out my experience at this cozy East Side establishment that is so worth visiting.

El Taco Veloz (#429, Detroit): I declared at the time of writing my post on the Southwest Detroit-based purveyor of Mexican cuisine (which works out of food-truck-based kitchens) that its Al Pastor tacos were the best food I’d eaten the whole blogging year. In hindsight, that statement stands true; those tacos were SO, SO, SO, SO GOOD!!!!

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Lost River (Visit #459)

Lost River (#459, Detroit): Stepping into this tiki bar is like stepping into another dimension, one where beachfront vibes and utter whimsicality rule the day – and that feels really, really hard to leave.

Unburger Grill (#435, Dearborn): I STILL fantasize on the regular about the Mac Style burger with its Spicy Chickpea and Zucchini patty I enjoyed at this vegan fast-casual restaurant. It feels blasphemous to say this as a lover of red meat, but it’s true: I found Unburger’s plant-based burger to be better than the real thing!

La Noria Bistro (#417, Detroit): Two of my favorite cuisines (Italian and Mexican) under the same roof (and it’s a pretty roof, at that!) + fantastic taste and service = the gateway to my heart and stomach.

The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms (#437, Ferndale): My friends and I had a blast working to solve the brainteasers at this indie escape-room establishment where the staff is super cool, the room themes have local components, and the puzzles are elaborate enough to make the game feel like a real challenge.

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The patio at El Club (Visit #432)

El Club (#432, Detroit): I had so much fun seeing a show at this intimate Southwest Detroit-based music venue that I vowed I would become A Person Who Goes to Shows All.The.Time. That did not happen, but I still hope to pretend to be that person by attending more shows at El Club and enjoying its beautiful patio space, delicious pizza, and rocking good vibes.