Macomb County

240. Taqueria Alma – April 6, 2017 – Center Line, MI

20170406_121736 (2)20170406_122059 (2)20170406_122131 (2)20170406_130033 (2)Hi, guys! Happy Friday! Today’s post features a most DELICIOUS Mexican carryout joint in a new-to-the-blog city. Center Line is being repped for the first time on 100 Places in the D!

Center Line is one of those local cities that developed a mystique for me over the years, because while I grew up quite close to it, it was never part of my narrative, and I had no idea what was located there. All I knew it from was the 696 exit signs that advertised it.

Thanks to my recent visit to Taqueria Alma, I’ve now been to and gained a bit of enlightenment around this Macomb County suburb. I now know that in Center Line you can get some of the BEST tacos and tamales – for an affordable price, to boot.

I hold such a fondness in my heart for Mexican food. What’s NOT to like about it? It goes H.A.M. on the flavor and spices and CHEESE. I am all about that life. So when I decided to pop into Taqueria Alma one rainy afternoon after a work volunteer event in Detroit and saw the whiteboards listing out all of the choices, I was like “YESSSS!”

What to get, what to get? I decided to go the à la carte route and ordered two steak tacos as well as two tamales (one containing chicken steeped in a green sauce and the other, pork in a red sauce), which in total only cost about seven dollars.

After a short wait, I was given a paper sack containing my order: four warm, incredible-smelling foil-wrapped bundles. I could’ve sat and eaten at a table inside Taqueria Alma’s tiny interior, but I decided to take my goodies home.

It ended up requiring much discipline to do the approximately half-hour drive back to my house without either attempting to a) drive and juggle a most-probably-hot-mess-to-eat-one-handed taco (though this option was contemplated several times at red lights) or b) pull over and devour my meal in a strip mall parking lot.

Finally I made it home without delving into those warm little packages of flavorful deliciousness and even had enough willpower in reserve to snap the above photo of my meal before gobbling it.

Was it as amazing as I had hoped? ABSOLUTELY. Those tacos! They were perfect in their simplicity: juicy, flavorful steak, diced onion, fresh cilantro, and soft corn tortillas – how does it get better than that? The tamales were excellent, too. I especially enjoyed the pork one with its meat marinated in a flavorful red sauce.

So thank you, Taqueria Alma, for lighting up a gloomy, rainy day for me with an incredibly tasty and affordable lunch! I most definitely plan to be back – which means another opportunity to learn what else is going down in Center Line.

25343 Van Dyke Ave.
Center Line, MI 48015

233. Eagles Bar and Grill – February 20, 2017 – Chesterfield, MI

20170220_193247-220170220_180638-2Chesterfield represented on the blog! It’s another new-to-the-blog city, via a recent visit to Eagles Bar and Grill.

I love a solid sports bar, and The Eagles checks off all of my requirements on that front. Extensive menu of affordable drinks and grub? Comfortable ambiance? Ample TVs? Check, check, and check. They’ve even got select draft beer 22-ounce pours for only $2 every day. Score!

I wasn’t familiar with the area around the bar and was surprised to see that it was located within a retail area called the Waterside Marketplace. If you’re not familiar with this neck of the woods either, hang with your GPS, and you’ll be through the winding labyrinth of big-box stores and strip malls and on to burgers and brews before you know it!

50640 Waterside Dr.

Chesterfield, MI 48051

www.eaglesbargrill.com

230. Thee Office Pub & Cookery – February 11, 2017 – Romeo, MI

20170211_133111-220170211_120617-2OK, Thee Office Pub & Cookery = favorite name ever! Is that not an intriguing moniker? When my friend who lives in Almont and I were trying to think of a halfway spot between our homes to meet for lunch the Saturday before last, she proposed downtown Romeo and some restaurant options there; this one got my vote on name alone.

I’m gathering that this unique name comes from the fact that Thee Office Pub & Cookery is comprised of two rooms with distinct personalities: the restaurant side (the Cookery), which looks like a traditional dining area, and the pub side, which is everything I love in a bar: dimly lit and rustic, with wood paneling and eye-catching memorabilia (a fish made out of beer bottle caps, for instance) scattered all over the walls; reasonable prices; and friendly, attentive service.

I ordered the Cuban sandwich, which was excellent! The last Cuban sandwich I had (at a restaurant not in the Metro-Detroit area – we know better!) was crappy, so I was relieved to have its memory erased from my mind by this delicious one.

So Thee Office Pub & Cookery = amazing-ness! And downtown Romeo – I’m loving it, too! I’d actually never been down there prior to this, which is kind of shocking to me, considering I only live about a half hour from it. It’s a really cute small town with an old-fashioned vibe. On the Saturday we visited, there was an ice sculpture event going on, with many of the local businesses featuring outside their doors a Valentine’s Day-themed ice sculpture also incorporating some aspect of their trade (the dentist had one of a smile with hearts etched around it, while the toy store had an ice castle with hearts carved into it). And there was a horse-drawn carriage giving rides. Definitely planning to come back and soak in more of the town.

128 S. Main St.

Romeo, MI 48065

www.theeofficepub.com

228. Caffé Far Bella – February 4, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20170204_134238-220170204_134843-2Hello again – and by the way, Happy February! I have a fondness in my heart for February, which is kind of hilarious to me considering that I used to hate it.

I hated February because it always was that part of the winter for me that felt like an unendurable slog, like “REALLY? MORE snow, MORE ice, MORE gloom?” Then I got sick of hating it and decided to find reasons to love it – which I actually got pretty good at.

February for me now is all about unending coziness (so.many.blankets), notable gains in daylight (it’s actually light out until 6 p.m. now – YES!!!), and making excuses for self-indulgences like fresh raspberries and good books (Valentine’s Day IS next week = good excuse to spoil ourselves). And it’s a time of hot beverages – lots and lots of warming tea and coffee.

Speaking of hot beverages, I stumbled across Caffè Far Bella this weekend while driving around on the East Side and craving a cappuccino. My GPS pulled it up as an option in Saint Clair Shores, and once I realized exactly where it’s located, I was like, “Oh, yeah! This is the coffee shop next to Cedar Garden I’ve always wondered about!”

Now I know: Caffè Far Bella is a delight. Stepping inside, I discovered a cozy, inviting space decorated in hearts and snowflakes. The man who greeted me behind the counter, who I believe owns the shop with his wife, emanated cheerfulness in that contagious way that makes you smile, too. After some harried driving about town, I was more than ready to sink down at a table in this friendly space with a steaming beverage, an Italian fig cookie, and the newspaper.

It was so nice to take time out to read the comics (when in the heck was the last time I did that?) and enjoy my cookie and decaf cappuccino, which were excellent. It was the first time I’d had the decaf variety of my favorite coffee drink, and I have to say, I did not taste the difference. In fact, it was one of the best cappuccinos I’ve had, so yay to rich flavor + no jitters!

In addition to selling a variety of coffee drinks and teas, Caffè Far Bella offers an extensive selection of baked goods, breakfast items, sandwiches, soups, and salads, making it a viable breakfast or lunch option. Also worth noting: it closes early most days – at 4 on Saturdays and at 5 every other day of the week except Thursdays, when it’s open until 7.

23415 Greater Mack Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.cafefarbella.com

226. Bath City Bistro – January 20, 2017 – Mount Clemens, MI

20170120_185259-220170120_193450-2Happy Saturday, guys! If you are local and looking for somewhere to hang tonight, try Bath City Bistro in Mount Clemens.

Downtown Mount Clemens in general, I feel, is underrated. Every time I hang out down there, I end up exclaiming, “Why don’t we come down here more often?” I’m reminded of the fun shops and restaurants that call The Clem home. And truly – how had I never been to Bath City Bistro prior to two weeks ago?

I’d been hearing about the restaurant/bar/feather bowling court for years. In case you’re not familiar with the latter, feather bowling, to my understanding, is a game where the objective is to hurl wooden wheel-shaped balls down a court to get them as close as possible to the feather at the end of it. I didn’t engage in any rounds of feather bowling during my time at Bath City Bistro – but I’m intrigued! The courts were busy during my visit, and I could hear the intermittent rumblings of the play as a friend and I enjoyed dinner.

The restaurant’s expansive dining area has a cozy, classy vibe and is equipped with plenty of TVs if you are looking to keep tabs on a big game while you eat. A variety of domestic and craft beers, wines, and specialty cocktails are offered via the drink menu.  The dinner menu is also wide-ranging, boasting an array of appetizers, pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, and signature entrees varying from a fajita bowl to a filet, ribs to fish tacos, Belgian sausages to chimichurri-glazed steak and shrimp. I ordered one of the nightly specials, a flavorful grass-fed Delmonico steak with roasted vegetables, plus a bowl of cheese-crusted French onion soup (broth + cheese = pretty much the antidote to winters in Michigan).

Our server was awesome, friendly and attentive. She brought us these fresh rolls with this crack-like cinnamon butter that transported me back to my college waitressing days at a steakhouse when I used to smuggle bread and its equally addictive cinnamon and honey butters to a server station, where I would crouch in hiding and gorge. Those were the days! Thanks, Bath City Bistro, for transporting me back to my college days and for being so awesome in general!

75 Macomb Place

Mt. Clemens, MI 48043

www.bathcitybistro.com

207. Filippa’s – November 3, 2016 – Shelby Township, MI

20161103_173754I’ve been curious about Filippa’s for a long time. Several of my coworkers from my longtime serving job that I held in my late 20s had previously worked for years at that restaurant, and stories they told about the place – legends, really – piqued my curiosity. A few of my other server friends now work there, and I knew that they were happy with the place and that it was supposed to be quite a classy establishment.

(Tangent: if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you’re familiar with how intertwined the server network can be – everyone works with someone who knows someone they worked with at that other place . . . the interconnections never ceases to amaze me!).

Random fact: Teen Mom aficianados may also remember Filippa’s as the restaurant where Tyler proposed to Catelynn back in like Season 1 (yes, I used to be a devotee of that show). A friend who was working there that day said they filmed their entrance through the restaurant door alone like three times. Teen Mom gossip, holla!

Last Thursday, I was definitely not at Filippa’s for a Catelynn/Tyler spotting. I was there to celebrate my friend’s upcoming nuptials. A group of us ladies had appetizers and drinks there before moving on to a wine-and-painting bachelorette soiree.

I unfortunately didn’t take any photos of the restaurant’s interior, but the bar area where we sat was quite swanky. I was told the restaurant had recently underwent renovations, and they apparently went well; the place gives off a very solid, polished vibe. The bar area was busy, most likely due to the happy hour specials; every day from 3 to 6 p.m. there are half-off appetizers, $5 glasses of wine and martinis (of the latter, I had a delightful chocolate one), and $3 draft beers and well drinks. I’m not sure whether the Cajun steak bites I ordered qualified as a half-off appetizer, to be honest; I was having so much fun, I didn’t pay attention. But damn, was that steak juicy and flavorful! Two-thumbs-up to the notion of stopping by Filippas’s for some post-work drinks and grub when you have the chance.

45125 Mound Rd.

Shelby Twp., MI 48317

www.filippas.com

206. Gnocchi – November 2, 2016 – Clinton Township, MI

It is definitely the time of year when the heavy comfort food especially appeals to me. And last Wednesday night, it was appealing to both me and a friend I’d just went bridal dress shopping with as her maid of honor (a title that is a first for me!). After several hours of traversing Oakland and Macomb counties, scrolling through racks of heavy wedding dresses and doing try-ons with ultimately no luck, we needed some heavy sustenance. Gnocchi won out, because it was close by, Italian food appealed to the bride-to-be – and I’ve been wanting to scope it out since it opened this year. Another one checked off the list!

Located in a strip mall situated on what I think of as the main drag of town, Garfield Road, Gnocchi is relatively small and unpretentious in terms of decor. But it’s homey. Service was strong when we were there – although admittedly, it wasn’t too busy (there was one large party there and us). And the food was great.

As you may gather from its name, Gnocchi is a place that is focused on: gnocchi, those delightful Italian dumplings traditionally made from potato, flour, and egg or, as my family makes them – and in my biased opinion, the far more delicious method – ricotta cheese, flour, and egg. Apparently Gnocchi’s chef agrees with me, as the ones it makes and serves are also ricotta cheese-based, according to its website.

Unsurprisingly, much of the restaurant’s menu is devoted to dishes that incorporate the featured pasta, but not all of it; there are a few meat-centered items that do not include them. But if you are going there, you are likely going there for the gnocchi – or “lead,” as my father termed them growing up. Yes, gnocchis are rich and can be heavy in your stomach, but I can attest that they are the most delicious-tasting lead pellets in the world. And Gnocchi’s spinach-and-ricotta ones served with a Bolognese meat sauce were pretty excellent. I actually finished my leftovers of that dish while I was typing the first part of this post and was reminded of how rich and flavorful it was.

Another perk: Gnocchi’s prices are incredibly reasonable. My meal was $13.99, constituting a generously portioned entree, salad and bread service. I asked to upgrade my salad to a bowl of cheddar and broccoli soup and wasn’t charged extra for the substitution, as I would be at most places.

One bummer is the fact that Gnocchi doesn’t currently have a liquor licencse. Our server told us that they are working on obtaining it. As my friend commented, a dinner out at an Italian restaurant isn’t quite the same without a glass of wine to accompany it. But the food is solid enough to warrent giving this restaurant a try sans alcohol.

41620 Garfield Rd.

Clinton Twp., MI 48038

www.gnocchiclintontwp.com

191. Dragonmead Microbrewery – September 24, 2016 – Warren, MI

20160924_19062020160924_192537Dragonmead! I’ve been wanting to visit the joint since the beginnings of this blog. It only took me two and a half years to get there!

The Warren brewery that makes its own beer, wine, and mead lived up to the hype that had been created in my head. The pint of its Redwing Raspberry Wheat I 0rdered was INCREDIBLE – definitely the best raspberry wheat I’ve ever had. You could tell by the scent and taste of it that real raspberries were used. I also enjoyed my glass of Gewürztraminer wine; it was crisp and tart. And the pizza! The Fat Drunk pizza, topped with Cajun sausage and caramelized onions and slathered with an addictive cheddar bacon cheese sauce, was out-of-control good. It was the perfect drinking accompaniment.

Shout-out to the beer flight at Dragonmead, as well! The flight shown in the photo above is the one that my friend ordered. The five samples were generous pours and only cost around $10.

My conclusion? Dragonmead is an excellent brewery and a perfect fall destination for all of you fellow Metro-Detroiters or visitors of our fine area. Happy drinking!

14600 E. 11 Mile Rd.

Warren, MI 48089

www.dragonmead.com

190. The Current – September 20, 2016 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20160920_190315Hello, all! Happy Monday! OK, I know Mondays are not the happiest days for all of us. But there’s a way you can make your Monday special: by doing some area exploring. Hit up The Current in Saint Clair Shores for dinner!

I was there for a good friend’s husband’s surprise birthday party last week, and let me tell you, being there amongst a bunch of cool people made my Tuesday evening so much more interesting.

The Current is in a plumb waterfront location of the Nautical Mile, in a building that has housed multiple incarnations of restaurants in the past decade or so, including a Rojo’s that I’d once visited. The view of the water from the restaurant is excellent. We ate inside, but I’d love to dine on that lakefront patio! The patio has an abbreviated menu (mostly appetizers, salads and sandwiches), which is why we didn’t eat outside.

I had no complaints about the food and drink I ordered off of The Current’s menus. My eight-ounce sirloin topped with Gorgonzola bacon butter was delicious, and I loved that amongst the proffered local beers was B. Nektar’s Zombie Killer – YES! It’d been awhile since I’d had that honey and cherry-infused hard cider, and I was all about it.

One thing I was not all about at The Current that I feel is worth mentioning is how incredibly staggered our food was coming out. Our group was large – probably about 25-30 people sat at two long tables. One server had each table. I heard a fellow diner say that the way the order input goes down there is that the server enters the order on a tablet, and the kitchen starts on each individual dish as it is entered in. Not the greatest method for a large party such as this – it resulted in what I estimate was about twenty minutes between the first and the last dish being brought out. Not cool, Current! There should not be more than five minutes between the serving of the first and last dish in a group of that size.

That is enough of me on my former-server soapbox. I prefer to highlight only the positive aspects of the places I visit for this blog, but occasionally, I feel the need to point out a less-than-stellar facet if I believe it will be helpful for you guys to know before visiting. I would definitely say The Current is worth a visit, but if you go with a large group, it would be wise to talk with your server(s) to make sure that your entrees will come out relatively all at once.

24026 Jefferson Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

(Open for dinner Monday through Friday and lunch and dinner Saturday and Sunday)

www.thecurrentrestaurant.com

179. Eos Café – July 10, 2016 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20160710_162540 (1)My friend had become somewhat of a VIP at this new coffee shop in her neighborhood, Eos Café. She’d been coming in frequently and joked that the table by the window that she always sat at should be designated for her, so they put a sticker with her name on it on the side of it. I think it was on there for about a week, but Sunday when I visited the place and told the owner I met that I was her friend, we discovered that the sticker had been ripped off. VIP status denied!

No, not really. My friend is too charming to have anyone deny her the privilege of being denoted a favored regular. And this owner of Eos is too friendly for me to see him ever treating any customer as more than top-tier. On my visit, he took some time to chat with me and gave me a free iced tea. He was very welcoming, as was the overall vibe of the coffee house. It’s a beautiful space, very soothing to be in, and I found myself wishing it was on my side of town so I could regularly visit and get some writing done. Maybe I’ll need to find an excuse to come to Saint Clair Shores more often.

Eos is not just a beautifully ambient shop peddling the usual coffee and tea drinks; it also offers smoothies, breakfast items, salads, and a variety of sandwiches and paninis. (Ok, it’s not even 9:30 in the morning as I’m writing this, and I’m starving. I need a chicken pesto panini!)

30625 Jefferson Ave.
St. Clair Shores, MI 48082

www.eoscoffeehouse.com