Month: July 2021

502. Yellow Light Coffee and Donuts – March 20, 2021 – Detroit, MI

The donut-shop theme continues on 100 Places in the D, with a visit to Yellow Light Coffee and Donuts!

This Detroit-based shop offers fresh-made donuts in a variety of fun flavors, including out-of-the-box varieties such as Mint Chocolate Chip, Cherry Almond, and Brown Butter Plantain. Check out the photo above to see these brightly-hued beauties!

The base of each of Yellow Light’s donut is a plain cake donut; the flavor enhancements are in the glaze and toppings. Of course, I couldn’t get just one or two of these guys; I had to try a bunch of them. I got: Cookies and Cream, Chocolate, Brown Butter Plantain, Mint Chocolate Chip, Vanilla Bean, Cherry Almond, Lemon Poppy, and Plain Old Fashioned.

All of the donut varieties were tasty, but my favorite was Brown Butter Plantain. I loved its rich, banana-flavored glaze! The Mint Chocolate Chip was fun to eat, too, with its mini chocolate chips and subtly mint-flavored glaze. Cherry Almond, with its deliciously fruity flavor, was another favorite.

Besides offering delectable donuts, Yellow Light has house-roasted coffee and biscuit sandwiches ranging from Hot Chicken w/ Pickles to the vegan Soysage with w/ Egg & Sauce. At the time of my visit, only its drive-through window was open to guests.

Two things I loved about this visit to Yellow Light: 1) The staff was wonderfully friendly and 2) they had daily-special donuts! These were donut varieties offered in addition to the regular menu – Cookies and Cream being an example. Check out Yellow Light’s Instagram account (yellowlightdetroit) to see more special flavors such as Coconut Macaroon, Cinnamon Cheesecake, and Mango Strawberry. The flavor creativity is inspiring – inspiring me to return to this place!

14447 E. Jefferson Ave.

Detroit, MI 48215

501. Donut Castle – March 6, 2021 – Warren, MI

Blog Year Eight of 100 Places in the D kicked off right, with a visit to Donut Castle!

This one lives on in my memory. Donut Castle is this unassuming little bakery in Warren producing the most PHENOMENAL donuts. Their crullers . . . OMG, are they good. During my visit back in March, I got some super fresh ones that were the PERFECT blend of deep-fried, glazed-kissed outsides and airy, melt-in-your-mouth insides. The buttermilk sticks I purchased were great, too: crispy-crusted cake donuts coated in a honey-sweet glaze. I’m swooning recalling these donuts!

The donuts weren’t all that was swoon-worthy about my visit to Donut Castle. Besides offering its namesake confection, the bakery has fresh-baked bagels and bagel sandwiches. I got a club sandwich on a cheese bagel, and it was A-MAZING. Everything was so fresh. I remember marveling at the time, “This sandwich is so good, it has me liking iceberg lettuce!” I usually think iceberg lettuce is a total waste of space on a sandwich. But the iceberg on this Donut Castle club was fresh and crispy, enhancing the deliciousness of the turkey and the ham, the provolone and bacon and tomato.

This Donut Castle club sandwich wasn’t skimping on the portions, either; it was amply layered with meat. And the bagel was so soft and fresh, with a thick layer of melted cheese on top – I believe it was parmesan. The name of the bagel escapes me, but the epic deliciousness of it and that sandwich and those donuts are burned into my memory!

11831 E. 13 Mile Rd.

Warren, MI 48093

100 Places in the D’s Top Five Places Visited in Blog Year Seven!

Drinks at Mutiny Tiki Bar (Visit #466)

It’s time for a 100 Places in the D highlight post!

Today I’ll be showcasing my top five visits of Blog Year Seven (which ran from February 8, 2020 to February 7, 2021). I usually do a top-ten post at the end of every blogging year. Because the total number of places I visited in Blog Year Seven (36) was half of what it typically is, I’m going with an abbreviated list. Part of me wants to showcase more of the gems I visited – but I’ll hold back and let these five really shine!

Mexicantown Bakery (#470)

Mutiny Tiki Bar (#466, Detroit): I fortuitously visited Mutiny a month before the pandemic hit – and wow, was it a good time! Good vibes, good people, and probably the best drink I’ve ever had in the form of its Banana Bread Shot. As I wrote of it in this post, “It truly tastes like the most luxurious banana bread you’ve ever eaten and is so, so YUMMMM.”

Mexicantown Bakery (#470, Detroit): That coffee-flavored tres leches cake . . . my heart still thrills at the thought of it!

E&L Supermercado (#471, Detroit): Not only does this grocery store sells a plethora of fresh produce and Mexican grocery goods, it also makes a KILLER Salsa a la Diabla that I still can’t stop thinking about.

Zo’s Good Burger (Visit #480)

Chickpea Kitchen (#475, Sterling Heights): This was one my early pandemic carryout jaunts, and I’m still impressed with it. Chickpea Kitchen was holding it down on so many levels, from their sparkling-clean interior and on-point COVID protocol to their phenomenal food (that fattoush salad! That build-your-own rice bowl packed with steak, veggies, and flavor!).

Zo’s Good Burger (#480, Detroit): The mac-‘n’-cheese bites sealed the deal. As I wrote after my visit to this halal burger joint, “How did hamburgers even exist before the mac-‘n’-cheese-bites add-on? The crispy-battered, creamy, and cheesy nuggets deliciously enhanced the juicy burger. They melded with the mustard, the Good Burger sauce, the pickles, and all the other ingredients I’d chosen to make one SPECTACULAR burger.” Just like that, Zo’s is one spectacular pick!

100 Places in the D’s Year Seven Review!

Brooklyn Street Local (#489), a Blog Year Seven visit.

It’s time for 100 Places in the D’s Year Seven Review!

Every year, I commemorate the inception of 100 Places in the D (which occurred on February 8, 2014), by recapping the last blogging year and its highlights – including whether or not I accomplished the goals I set at the beginning of the year. I then set goals for the next blogging year. Given that it’s July, this post is quite tardy! But I’m embracing that old adage of “better late than never” and going for it anyway. 🙂

I set ambitious goals for Blog Year Seven:

-Blog consistently throughout the year.

-Hit the milestone of Visit #500.

-Visit 36 new places in the city of Detroit alone.

-Visit at least 20 of the places that have been lingering on my to-do list for years.

I only achieved one of these goals: the milestone 500th visit (to the very delicious Pho LineUp)! Needless to say, COVID threw everything for a loop in terms of the volume-based goals. I only visited 36 new places total in Blog Year Seven – and they weren’t all in Detroit (10 were).

About that pandemic . . .. COVID didn’t disrupt my life in the terrible ways that it disrupted so many others. I didn’t lose any loved ones to the virus, and I maintained my job, which allows me to work from home. My gratitude for how good I’ve had it is IMMENSE. When viewed from this lens, the fact that I wasn’t able to visit a lot of restaurants or bars or shops during Blog Year Seven is not a big deal. Still, it was hard – even if bearably so – to not do something I love so much. I didn’t eat inside restaurants for a year – and there was definitely some grief around the loss of that. Life opening up has been a blessing for me in so many ways. One of those ways has been the ability to feel normal-ish again, to get out and try new places more readily – and eat inside restaurants! Blog Year Eight is feeling much more optimistic than this previous one did.

My goals for Blog Year Eight are simple, feasible ones:

-Blog consistently (no more six-month hiatuses!).

-Visit at least 50 new places total.

-Visit at least 20 new places in the city of Detroit alone.

-Represent at least three new cities (cities I haven’t previously recorded a new-place visit in).

We’ll see how I do. For now, it’s on to the next visit!

Before I go, I’ll share these Blog Year Seven stats – because an overview post wouldn’t be complete without me nerding out on them:

Number of places visited in Blog Year Seven: 36

Number of cities visited: 16

Breakdown by county: Macomb: 15; Oakland: 11; Wayne: 10

Breakdown by city:

Detroit: 10

Clinton Township: 5

Sterling Heights: 3

Chesterfield: 2

Madison Heights: 2

Oxford: 2

Rochester Hills: 2

Troy: 2

Eastpointe: 1

Ferndale: 1

Fraser: 1

New Baltimore: 1

Pontiac: 1

Rochester: 1

Roseville: 1

Shelby Township: 1

500! Pho LineUp – February 7, 2021 – Clinton Township, MI

This is a big day for 100 Places in the D, because it’s time to highlight Visit Number 500: Pho LineUp!

What a restaurant worthy of this milestone! Pho LineUp’s Garlic Noodle with Shaken Beef was FANTASTIC when I experienced it via a February carryout visit. How could I not gobble up its tender beef, fresh vegetables, and irresistibly saucy, peppery noodles? The Cha Gio eggrolls were just as delicious, their crispy-fried rice paper rolls nestling pockets of flavorful pork and veggies.

As you may have deduced, Pho LineUp is a Vietnamese restaurant, but it serves other Asian fare, including Chinese dishes. It offers several iterations of pho; Vietnamese sandwiches; a variety of stir-fries and other dishes served with rice, rice vermicelli noodles, or egg noodles; and even American favorites such as wings, popcorn chicken, and fries. Its menu’s assortment of coffee, tea, and smoothies looks pretty on point, featuring pretty-hued drinks dotted with boba and topped with whipped cream. That drink section alone is a prime excuse for a revisit!

36831 Garfield Rd.

Clinton Township, MI 48035

499. Street Sweets – February 6, 2021 – Sterling Heights, MI

Check out these beautiful treats from Street Sweets!

The Sterling Heights-based bakery and café sells all manner of sweets: from cakes to cupcakes, donuts to waffle pops, liquid nitrogen-crafted ice cream to build-your-own dessert pizza. Multiple varieties of baklava are offered, as are several other traditional Mediterranean treats. Gluten-free and vegan options are available, too. And the deliciousness doesn’t stop there: Street Sweets crafts coffee and espresso drinks from The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company‘s beans.

What a delight it was to browse Street Sweets’ array of pretty confections! With the help of a friendly employee, I narrowed my choices down to six items: a chocolate glazed donut, a pink-frosted chocolate cupcake, two Lady Fingers baklava, and two baklava stuffed with sweet cheese.

It was even more of a delight to get home and sample the treats! I enjoyed them all. The baklava were a tasty combination of flaky dough and not-overpowering sweetness, while the cupcake’s frosting was luscious and plentiful. The chocolate donut was sugar-kissed, cakey goodness.

Words don’t do these desserts justice; check out Street Sweets’ Instagram account, @streetsweetsdet, for photo upon drool-worthy photo of these flaky, frosted, rainbow-hued, honey-drizzled goodies. My favorites are the ones of the iced coffee/treat tower hybrids: coffee drinks whose super-long straws have been speared by a couple of donuts and a cupcake. Now THAT is a snack-on-the-go I can get behind!

2237 18 Mile Rd.

Sterling Heights, MI 48314

498. Fresheats Kabob Grill and Juice Bar – February 6, 2021 – Rochester Hills, MI

What a fantastic fattoush Fresheats Kabob Grill and Juice Bar makes!

In my quest to become a connoisseur of the fattoush salad (can that please be a thing???), I’ve eaten many a delicious one. But the fattoush I ordered from this Rochester Hills-based, fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant lives on in my memory because of the beef kafta I opted to add. It was perfectly cooked: chargrilled on the outside and pink, juicy, and tender on the inside. It was well-seasoned, flavorful, and oh-so-GOOD!

The salad itself was a tasty menagerie of romaine, red cabbage, parsley, tomato, cucumber, and fried pita chips. Everything in it was indeed as the restaurant’s moniker suggests: fresh!

In addition to the fattoush and other salads, Fresheats’ menu includes pita wraps; extensive raw juice and smoothie options; and a build-your-own-bowl meal, where you can choose from a variety of bases, proteins, toppings, and sauces. There’s also a Build Your Own Platter dish you can craft from a selection of Fresheats’ proteins and sides.

2591 S. Rochester Rd.

Rochester Hills, MI 48307

497. Saigon Market – January 30, 2021 – Madison Heights, MI

Saigon Market introduced me to the delights of rice vermicelli noodles and pickled ginger!

A January visit to the family-owned, Madison Heights-based grocery store brought both of these delicious (and now staple) items into my life. What a treat it was to stroll Saigon Market’s aisles and browse for such goodies! The shop’s interior is relatively small, but it’s mightily packed with Vietnamese grocery goods, meat, seafood, and produce. There’s even a carryout counter from which you can order freshly prepared báhn mì and other savory and sweet Vietnamese treats.

I was supposed to visit Vietnam last year; COVID squashed that plan, as it squashed so many others. But the beauty of living here in Metro-Detroit is the plethora of establishments that bring Vietnam to us. Thank you, Saigon Market, for being one of those wonderful establishments!

30573 John. R. Rd.

Madison Heights, MI 48071

496. Coffee First Cafe and Bake Shoppe – January 30, 2021 – Sterling Heights, MI

Coffee First Cafe and Bake Shoppe knows that hot beverages and tasty treats can make an experience!

The Sterling Heights-based coffee shop enhanced one of my winter highlights: a friend date at Dodge Park (a.k.a. social outing: COVID edition). It was a beautifully sunny day – but still, it was January. Hot beverages and sugary sustenance were in order. So I prepared for the wintry walk by gathering provisions – coffee drinks and cheery-hued macarons – from Coffee First.

It was a delight to soak in this cute coffee shop’s vibes while ordering from the friendly barista. The cappuccino she prepared was fantastic, richly flavored and such a treat to take along on the park trails. And the macarons were tasty complements to me and my friend’s conversation.

Ah, these simple joys of life, cookies and coffee and conversation with a good friend! I’m grateful that places such as Coffee First exist to facilitate such experiences.

38373 Dodge Park Rd.

Sterling Heights, MI 48312

495. SpagBurger – January 18, 2021 – Eastpointe, MI

What a treat it was to visit SpagBurger! The Eastpointe-based purveyor of burgers, fries, shakes, sandwiches, and other diner fare is a master of its craft. I ordered its Vintage burger and sweet potato tots during a visit back in January, and WOW, were they good.

With its juicy patty, melted Swiss, lettuce, pickles, sautéed onions, bacon add-on, and house-made hot sauce and burger sauce, the Vintage was an explosion of flavor. I GOBBLED it down. And those sweet potato tots! They were delicious in their own right, addictively crispy-crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Ambiance can certainly make a meal, but the best meals taste fantastic regardless of where you eat them. The pandemic offered proof of that to me when it kept me from dining inside restaurants for a year. Do I wish I could’ve enjoyed my SpagBurger lunch inside its cute retro-diner dining room, instead of in my car? Absolutely! But I’m grateful for the experience regardless, because SpagBurger makes a DAMN good burger, and it doesn’t need ambiance to enhance it!

17275 E. 9 Mile Rd.

Eastpointe, MI 48021