Restaurants/Bars

381. Antihero – December 12, 2018 – Ferndale, MI

December2018AntiHero1 (4)Bringing the color and flavor explosions: that’s Antihero for ya! I visited the recently-opened Japanese restaurant on Nine Mile Road in downtown Ferndale back in mid-December.

Antihero’s restrooms: they’re what’s bringing the color explosion. These are quite possibly the most awesome restrooms I have ever seen, boasting vibrantly-hued, cartoon-esque, panoramic murals that make you happy you had to go pee.

Both times I was in the ladies’ room during my visit, I encountered a fellow patron as she walked in, exclaimed over the murals, and pulled out her phone to take a picture. I should have taken a picture of the ladies’ room myself to include here – but really, the art is worth experiencing yourself!

The dining room of Antihero features more subdued – yet just as beautiful – mural artwork. The space is dimly lit, chic elegance, with starburst chandelier lighting and blond wooden booths and communal tables.

A collection of craft cocktails (with fun names such as Late Night Party Store and Dandy) helms Antihero’s drink menu, which is rounded out by selections of draft and bottled beers.

The food menu consists of small plates, noodle dishes, and a hibachi section with meat, seafood, and veggie selections that you can cook yourself on a hibachi grill brought to the table.

I was intrigued by the hibachi offerings (partially because items from that selection came with the whimsically-monikered Fuck Yea sauce), but I ultimately opted for two small plates for my main course: the Smashed Fingerling Potato and the Smoked Brisket Bun.

The Smashed Fingerling Potato dish was BOMB! HERE is the flavor explosion I was talking about. These potatoes with their creamy kewpie mayo, yakisoba sauce, chopped nori, and scallions were so richly delicious. I’m super impressed whenever I find vegetarian dishes that are as rich and sumptuous – or more so – as meat-based dishes; the Smashed Fingerling Potato fits into this category.

The Smoked Brisket Bun was also tasty with its incredibly tender beef complemented by a zesty chili-hoisin sauce and a pillowy-soft bun.

And then, there was dessert! I couldn’t pass up the Mochi Donut with its orange-oil-and-apple-cider glaze. The donuts were freshly-fried heaven, with an intriguingly chewy texture lent from the mochi rice paste they were made from.

In short, this visit to Antihero was most definitely a win! It’s no wonder the place is great: it’s owned by the same local restaurateurs behind the fantastic Ferndale staples Imperial and Public House.

231 W. Nine Mile Rd.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.antiheroferndale.com

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379. Brass Rail Pizza Bar – December 9, 2018 – Detroit, MI

December2018BrassRailPizzaBar1 (2)December2018BrassRailPizzaBar2 (3)December2018BrassRailPizzaBar3 (2)Pizza for brunch? YES, please!

On a exuberantly blue-skied Sunday morning in early December, I met friends over drinks and that cheese-bedecked Italian pie at Brass Rail Pizza Bar in downtown Detroit.

The restaurant has a welcoming, decidedly sports-bar-esque vibe with its expansive interior and industrial-chic decor. On that weekend morning, it also had a Bloody Mary bar.

I’m not one for the Bloody Marys (I love tomatoes, but I just can’t get into drinking tomato juice – even when it’s laced with booze), but my friends were down and proceeded to construct some EPIC Bloody Marys, complete with onion rings and skewers laden heavy with various cured meats and cheeses. They nabbed me an onion ring battered with crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which was awesomeness!

I ordered a Spanish coffee and the small size of the Chip off the Ole Block pizza. It was delicious with its bacon, arugula, onion, and lemon zest nestled on a bed of red sauce and melted cheese and drizzled with balsamic glaze. It was also significantly larger than I’d expected, an excellent value for $11. I took over half of it home.

What an ideal spot for brunch (or lunch, or dinner) this Brass Rail Pizza Bar is! Not only is the pizza delicious and the drink selection on point (there’s a full bar, including a plethora of Michigan craft beers on draft, in addition to the weekend Bloody Mary set-up), there’s also food offerings in addition to the namesake pie: a variety of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and comfort-centric entrées such as Fish and Chips, Fettuccine Alfredo, and Chicken Parmesan.

Additionally, vegan cheese and gluten-free crust are options available when ordering pizza, as is a gluten-free bun for burgers and sandwiches. Yay to inclusive ingredient options!

Brass Rail Pizza Bar, you had me at Flamin’ Hot Cheetos-battered onion ring. I would love if you hosted me for brunch again soon!

18 W. Adams Ave.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.brassraildetroit.com

378. Honest John’s – November 24, 2018 – Detroit, MI

November2018HonestJohns1 (2)November2018HonestJohns2 (3)Happy New Year’s Eve! While as of the date of this post it’s the very last day of 2018, here at 100 Places in the D, we’ll be exploring the year almost-past for at least a few more weeks (because somebody get a wee bit behind in her blogging).

Today it’s all about Honest John’s of Detroit! I visited the Midtown/Cass Corridor-based establishment after a tour of the Motown Museum back in November. Hungry and not wanting adventure-time in Detroit to end, I decided to hit Honest John’s for lunch.

The restaurant had been on my radar for a while. I’d envisioned it as a diner, as I knew it opened early (at 7 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. on Sundays) and served hearty breakfasts and other comfort-food fare. When I walked into its crowded interior that Saturday afternoon, I realized I’d been mistaken.

Honest John’s is most definitely a bar – a gloriously down-to-earth pub whose ceiling was festooned with colored twinkle lights (presumably in honor of the holiday season) and walls adorned with neon-light signage. While it opens early, it’s also open nightly until 2 a.m.

The neon-light signs spell out sayings like “Sobriety Sucks” and “Men Lie” – adages that doubtless tie in with the honesty theme of the bar’s name.

I found myself getting cold feet about eating lunch alone in that crowded bar – until I spied an open two-top table in the corner of the restaurant and reminded myself that I am indeed badass enough to dine solo. (We all are – how did fear of eating alone become a thing in our society, anyway? I mean, it is truly the least of our worries.)

My server was great: friendly, prompt, and polite. I perused the brunch menu and gave him my order of the Eastsider sandwich (essentially a Reuben, which is also on the menu; it subs out the sauerkraut for coleslaw), side of curly fries, and a hard cider from Starcut Ciders (which I’d not heard of previously but which I learned is a hard-cider brand owned by Michigan-based Short’s Brewing Company).

The sandwich and fries came out quickly, and they were BOMB! That Eastsider sandwich was so delectable with its layers of tender corned beef, melted Swiss, crunchy coleslaw, and creamy Thousand Island dressing nestled between buttery toasted rye bread . . . Mmmmmm. Writing about it is totally bringing me back to that glorious moment of consumption!

The portion sizes of both the Eastsider sandwich and the curly fries were ample, and I was easily able to save half of the sandwich and fries to take home with me.

I left Honest John’s with a happy heart and stomach, thrilled to have discovered yet another awesome restaurant/bar in the city and eagerly anticipating my return. I would say I’m excited to further explore Honest John’s food menu; it offers a wide array of breakfast items, sandwiches, burgers, and enticingly calorie-laden appetizers (hello, chili cheese fries!). But the truth is, I can’t wait to have another brush with that Eastsider Reuben – it’s perfection!

488 Selden St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.honestjohnsdetroit.com

375. Gran Castor – November 13, 2018 – Troy, MI

November2018GranCastor1 (3)November2018GranCastor2 (2)November2018GranCastor3 (2)Gran Castor: you WOW’ed me!

It’s always thrilling to dine at a new-to-me restaurant I’ve been looking forward to trying and have it exceed my expectations. That’s what Gran Castor, the latest opening by the Union Joints restaurant group (which also owns local faves the Clarkston Union, Union Woodshop, Vinsetta Garage, Honcho, and Fenton Fire Hall) did when I visited it on a Tuesday evening several weeks ago.

Remember what restaurant was previously located at the intersection of Big Beaver and Rochester roads in Troy? That’s right: a Hooters. Now the building that housed that notorious chain-franchise purveyor of wings is Gran Castor, the restaurant/coffee bar with a gorgeous aesthetic and delectable cuisine.

Check out the above photos of Gran Castor’s dining area, complete with pleasing pops of color, mod Southwestern vibes, cozy seating areas, and eye-catching fireplace-in-the-round. Is it not STUNNING? I immediately felt a boost of happiness when I settled into that bright, beautiful, welcoming space for an after-work dinner with a friend.

Gran Castor’s food menu reminds me of that of one of its sister restaurants, Honcho of Clarkston. While the overall vibe of the cuisine is Latin, ingredients of Asian origin are prevalent in dishes such as fried chicken tacos with a “spicy soy fish sauce glaze” and a rice bowl including “kimchi house pickled jalapeño and carrots.”

It becomes even more apparent what a fusion menu Gran Castor’s is when you check out the pizza section and see how many traditionally Latin ingredients are included in the offerings there: see the Papas y Chorizo pizza with its chorizo sausage, mole rojo, and salsa criolla and The Mallmann with its chimichurri sauce and queso fresco.

For my entrée, I went with a relatively un-fusion-y offering: the Gran Castor Burrito stuffed with pulled pork. With its tender meat, smoked cheddar cheese, black beans, cactus pico, lettuce, and queso sauce, plus sides of refried beans and cilantro-lime rice, it was incredibly flavorful and satisfying.

I saved half of the large-and-in-charge Gran Castor Burrito to take home and looked toward the dessert menu. My friend and I were psyched to see that as at Honcho, that menu included fresh-fried mini donuts with chocolate and caramel dipping sauces. We opted for an order to share.

If I’m remembering correctly, eight donuts came standard with that dessert, and our server was kind enough to throw in a few more. These donuts were AMAZING: freshly fried, pillowy-soft-on-the-inside, crisp-on-the-outside decadence – especially when dipped in the rich chocolate and caramel sauces.

Our awesome server went above and beyond in offering us a top-notch dining experience, throwing in a sample of Gran Castor’s house-made soft serve for each of us, as well, and WOW – my mind and taste buds were BLOWN by how YUM that stuff was. The twisty soft serve included the cinnamony Mexican Dark Chocolate flavor and the wonderfully nuanced Vanilla-Chamomile. I loved, loved, LOVED both.

And I loved Gran Castor. From its striking interior and delicious cuisine to its stand-out service, it offered a memorable dining experience that had me super enthused about the prospect of a repeat visit (I NEED more of that soft-serve in my life!).

2950 Rochester Rd.

Troy, MI 48083

www.grancastor.com

372. Royale with Cheese – October 18, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018RoyalewithCheese1 (2)October2018RoyalewithCheese3 (2)October2018RoyalewithCheese2 (2)Last month, in between visiting Sfumato, a perfumery by day, and Castalia, its cocktail bar alter-ego, a friend and I hit up Royale with Cheese, a Midtown/Cass Corridor-based burger joint.

OMG, had I been eager to try this place! Photos of its beefy burgers exuberantly laden with sides had enticed me from its Yelp profile for months, so it was exciting to finally be immersed within the Royale with Cheese experience.

I got in line at the counter of the fast-casual restaurant and scoped out the overhead menu. I decided on the namesake burger, the Royale, with its pulled smoked brisket topped with cole slaw, avocado, caramelized onions, corn relish, a gouda fondue, and Royale sauce (how’s that for decadence?). I added a side of tater tots – because tots make my heart happy – and my friend and I paid for our food and found a seat in Royale’s dining area to await our orders’ arrival.

Admittedly, I thought the Royale was going to be a burger, with a traditional beef patty and pulled brisket loaded on top of that, so when ordering I’d asked if a cooking temperature was taken for the burger and gave my preferred doneness of medium. But while awaiting my order, I was approached by a kitchen staff member and asked whether I knew the Royale didn’t contain a beef patty – it was pure brisket – and whether I wanted to change my order upon knowing that information.

Whoops – apparently I’d been amiss in my interpretation of the menu. I was a little disappointed to realize I hadn’t ordered an actual burger but decided to stick with the namesake sandwich in the name of exploration – and also in gratitude to the staff member who’d come out to clarify things for me (why make his job harder by changing my order on the fly?).

The food came out promptly thereafter, and I wasn’t disappointed in my decision. Generously coated in rich barbecue sauce, the pulled brisket on the Royale was a tender, flavorful base for the other indulgent ingredients, specifically the creamy avocado and the gouda fondue. Mmm, mmm, mmm, MMM! The tater tots were irresistibly crispy, as well.

After relishing our meals and feeling satisfyingly full, my friend and I agreed that we needed to return to try Royale’s milkshakes. I am thinking the shakes with their house-made custard-ice-cream bases would be meals in themselves – and what sumptuous meals they would make with such flavor options as Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cookie Butter and Nutella, and Chocolate Espresso!

In addition to burgers, sandwiches, and shakes, Royale with Cheese offers salads, soup, and Bites, appetizer-esque snacks that threaten to rival the desserts and main courses in their richness: see the Fried Mac & Cheese and the Nacho Cheese Ravioli, the latter of which is described on Royale’s online menu as “handmade deep-fried Doritos Ravioli filled with Jalapeño Nacho Cheese, ‘New World’ Roasted Tomato Sauce.” Dang! Royale with Cheese is NOT messing around in the decadence department!

4163 Cass Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.royaledetroit.com

371. Sfumato/Castalia – October 18, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018SfumatoCastalia1 (4)October2018SfumatoCastalia2 (2)October was a busy month of visits for me (11 in total!). And when I called upon a gorgeously-kept Victorian manse one Thursday evening in mid-October, I got two visits for the price of one via Sfumato/Castalia, a perfume shop by day and cocktail bar by night.

I’d stumbled across this unique establishment while searching online for naturally made perfumes sold in the area. I was in need of a new scent but wanting to veer away from traditionally-made perfumes with their oft-synthetic ingredients. Sfumato’s site popped up in my search results, and I was psyched to learn that a perfumery creating signature scents from plant-based ingredients resided right in Midtown.

According to Sfumato’s website, its scents are concocted from “trees, flowers, herbs, and spices.” This is evident when you step into its basement-level shop and sniff sample sticks of the eight perfume varieties currently for sale.

Four perfumes reside in Sfumato’s Signature collection, and four are deemed Black Label. An eight-milliliter bottle (dubbed the Travel size) of a Signature scent is $30; a Black Label variety in that size is $40. Sixty-millileter Standard size bottles run $90 and $120, respectively.

And then there are the perfume flights – the route I ended up taking. I couldn’t decide which of Sfumato’s scents I liked the best, so I decided to get to know the four Signature varieties (Epiphany, Gravitas, Siren Song, and Survival Instinct) better via the flight option, which proffers one-milliliter sample vials of each for $15 (the flight containing the four Black Label perfumes is $20).

Three and a half weeks after my visit to Sfumato, I’m down to the dregs of those four vials of Signature scents, and I’ve enjoyed the heck out of them. I find wearing the herbal, woodsy, citrusy, luxurious plant-based scents both soothing and exotic.

It’s a close call between Gravitas, Survival Instinct, and Epiphany as to which one is my favorite, but my snap-judgment verdict at the moment is that it’s Epiphany, with its aura poetically described on Sfumato’s website of “intense greenness with hints of dew-covered moss and life ready to step into the sunlight. An elegant party that always pleases, no matter who attends. The scent of myself, delivered divinity on a fresh spring day.” How can one not feel transformed by the wearing of a scent with a description such as that?

As the wearer feels transformed by the donning of Sfumato’s enchanting scents, so Sfumato itself transforms into something else entirely. In the evenings, starting at 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, its shop counter turns into a bar rail, and it becomes Castalia, the cocktail bar.

And as one might expect, Castalia is not your typical cocktail bar. Each of its signature alcoholic beverages have been inspired by one of Sfumato’s scents. When you order one, it’s served to you with a napkin sprayed with the scent that inspired the drink. You’re encouraged to sniff the napkin as you sip the drink to mingle the olfactory experience with the tasting experience. Non-alcoholic versions of each cocktail are also available.

I decided on the cocktail that paired with the Mocha Valentino Black Label perfume, the Cacao Manhattan, and savored the rich notes of chocolate, coffee, and spice in the whiskey-based drink as well as in the scent that accompanied it.

While as a perfume shop Sfumato’s tiny interior had been welcoming, I especially adored the environs as a bar. With its dusky lighting and stone walls, it was intimate and cozy; the bartenders were the consummate hosts, friendly and charming. What an ideal place to enjoy a warming cocktail and the rich scents that accompany it on a dreary winter’s evening (or any evening, really)!

3980 Second Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.sfumatofragrances.com

www.castaliacocktails.com

370. Crispelli’s – October 10, 2018 – Berkley, MI

October2018Crispellis1 (2)October2018Crispellis4 (2)October2018Crispellis3 (2)The pizza drew me to Crispelli’s of Berkley, but what captured my heart was its salad.

The heart-capturing was specifically carried out by Crispelli’s Mediterranean salad, with its wonderfully zesty lemon-oregano dressing and super-fresh-tasting ingredients: crisp mixed greens and cucumber; marinated red onion; vibrant beets; briny Kalamata olives; creamy chunks of feta; and crunchy toasted breadstick.

This Mediterranean salad is LIIIFFEEE, my friends. I got the side-salad version of it, which was hearty for its size; entrée and family-sized versions are also available. In my humble opinion, it would 100 percent not be a mistake to come to this pizzeria and order that salad as your entrée. And that’s saying a lot, because I love me some pizza.

And Crispelli’s, the local pizza purveyor with additional locations in Troy and West Bloomfield (and a bakery, Bread by Crispelli’s, in Royal Oak), is known for its pizza. It’s kind of a big deal around these parts, so it’s crazy to me that it took me over 4.5 years of blogging at 100 Places in the D to finally sample its wares. The Red Pie pizza I  ordered, with its chunks of fresh mozzarella, sausage, caramelized onion, and Detroit-style deep-dish crust (patrons are given a choice between that and thin crust), was good. But I’m telling ya, that salad!

Aesthetics-wise, I enjoyed the mish-mash of ambiance at the Berkley location of Crispelli’s. The front part is casual: an order-at-the-counter dining hall-type set up. The back area is fancier, with a bar and servers to attend to guests, and there are patio areas where you can receive sit-down service, as well. I enjoyed sitting on the front patio in what was presumably my last outdoor dining experience of the year (R.I.P. ’til 2019, patio season!).

28939 Woodward Ave.

Berkley, MI 48072

www.crispellis.com

369. Basement Burger Bar – October 7, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018BasementBurgerBar1 (2)October2018BasementBurgerBar4 (2)What do mac ‘n’ cheese bites, dried cranberries, peanut butter, and grilled pineapple have in common? They’re all burger toppings available at Basement Burger Bar in Detroit.

Recent celebrations of my birthday included a Sunday lunch with friends at the downtown-based location of the local restaurant chain. I’d wanted to dine at a place known for its great food and casual, pub-like atmosphere; Basement Burger Bar checked those boxes.

The interior of the Detroit location of Basement Burger Bar is certainly glossier than your typical basement. I’d call it industrial-chic-meets-laid-back-sports-bar. There are plenty of flat-screen TVs situated about so you can focus on the day’s sport offerings; the Lions played (and won!) while we were there, and the raucous cheering of football fans adjacent to us enhanced my enjoyment of the meal (their energy was infectious!).

The drink menu included plenty of Michigan-made craft beer offerings (including the Founders Rubaeus raspberry ale I enjoyed) as well as signature cocktails and a selection of wine. My main focus, however, was the food menu, which included loads of appetizers, entrée salads, and a few featured burgers. But the pièce de résistance dominating that menu was the build-your-own-burger section.

This custom-burger menu is the most extensive I have seen to date! Seven steps are involved in the crafting of your dream hamburger:

-Step 1: pick a patty. Basement Burger Bar is getting creative here, with more than just your standard ground-beef patty as an option. You can also choose from bison, American Kobe beef, poultry (turkey burger, grilled chicken breast, and breaded chicken tenders), pulled pork, and vegetarian options (falafel, black-bean patty, and portabella mushroom cap, respectively).

-Step 2: denote a burger cooking temperature, from rare to well.

-Step 3: select your bun. Brioche, nine-grain, pretzel, and gluten-free varieties are available (the latter two going for an extra charge), and you can choose to go no-bun (the menu says you’ll receive “extra veggies” with your burger if you do so).

-Step 4: opt for a sauce. One is free; each additional sauce costs 25 cents each. Most of the sauces (or “spreads,” as they’re referred to on the menu) are noted as homemade, including the hummus, basil pesto, and buttermilk ranch.

-Step 5: gather your toppings. The first five are free; each additional topping thereafter is 25 cents. Most of the toppings listed here are pretty standard – tomato, pickles, red onion, relish, for instance – but some, such as the carrot strings and aforementioned cranberries, caught my eye. A sub-category of this section is the premium toppings, which are each an additional designated charge. These are the truly delectable toppings: your homemade guacamole, hickory-smoked bacon, grilled pepperoni, Detroit-style chili, mozzarella sticks, Frickles (which I can only assume are fried pickles) . . ..

-Step 6: choose your cheese. No vegan cheese here; this is all straight-up dairy, from Gouda to feta, nacho cheese to Swiss.

-Step 7: designate your sides. Sides are an additional cost, but how can you resist the siren song of beer-battered fries, onion rings, and my personal favorite, tater tots? Side-salad and coleslaw are included in this section in case you are feeling virtuous – as are toppers of nacho cheese, chili, and what’s designated as “The Works” (sour cream, bacon, and onion) in case you are not (chili-cheese tots would be LIFE, wouldn’t they?).

With all of the decision-making involved in this burger design, it would’ve been easy to get overwhelmed as I filled out my menu card. But I decided to keep it relatively simple, not going overboard with the toppings. The result did not disappoint me.

Imagine a hefty ground-beef burger cooked to a juicy medium perfection and nestled within a pillowy brioche bun along with thick-cut red onion, juicy tomato, crunchy pickles, creamy guacamole, spicy ketchup, and jalapeño jack cheese, accompanied by irresistibly crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside tater tots. YUM, YUM, and more YUM: this burger was INCREDIBLE!

So while I didn’t opt for the zany factor while designing my burger at Basement Burger Bar – no peanut butter, carrot strings, or Frickles for me – I found its rendition of a pretty-much-classic cheeseburger (jazzed up with that spicy ketchup and guacamole) ideal as it was, and I enjoyed the heck out of it – as I did the relaxed ambiance and prompt service. This one is a keeper!

1326 Brush St.

Detroit, MI 48226

(With additional locations in Canton and Farmington)

www.basementburgerbar.com

368. Loui’s Pizza – October 6, 2018 – Hazel Park, MI

October2018Louis1 (2)October2018Louis2 (4)October2018Louis3 (3)Loui’s Pizza: I’m OBSESSED!!!!

The last-but-most-certainly-not-least of the five new places I visited on my 34th birthday, the Hazel Park-based pizzeria majorly exceeded my expectations, even dethroning Buddy’s Pizza as my favorite local pizza purveyor, which is a VERY BIG DEAL.

I actually feel sacrilegious saying I like Loui’s Pizza better than Buddy’s, because Buddy’s is a part of the family mythology on my mother’s side. My great-grandma made the sauce at the original, still-open location at Six Mile and Conant in Detroit. Buddy’s Pizza is sort of in our DNA – or at the very least, our go-to main course for family celebrations. But MAN, is Loui’s Pizza good!

The pizzeria was PACKED when my mom, stepdad, and I arrived around 7:30 on that rainy Saturday evening. Its cheery red interior felt homey and welcoming with its ceilings hung with twinkle lights and multitude of empty wine bottles signed by patrons; it vibrated with good energy. Loui’s cozy-retro confines felt like the warmth of a beloved grandparent’s hug: safe and secure and reassuring.

Our server was prompt and friendly. While we waited for our pizza, we shared an individual-sized antipasto salad. I’m generally not one for antipasto salads, but this one impressed me: it was fresh and flavorful, with chunks of ham in addition to the salami and a tasty dressing.

And then, it was the moment of truth: our pizza arrived. I bit into my first slice of sausage-and-onion-topped pie, and O.M.G.

Loui’s pizza may be the best pizza I have ever eaten; it’s certainly the best pizza I can recall eating. The cheese was rich, plentiful, and flavorful. The edges of the crust were crispy, greasy deliciousness. The bottom part of the crust was not super well-done, allowing us to taste its doughiness – which we enjoyed, because it was wonderful tasting. The sauce was not as plentiful as Buddy’s, and also not as strongly flavored, and we liked that.

We all agreed: this iteration of Detroit-style pizza was better than Buddy’s, however awkward that was to admit in the face of our family mythology (sorry, Buddy’s – we still love you!).

The gloriousness of Loui’s pizza continued for me with the two leftover slices I took home along with a portion of cheesy breadsticks my mom had ordered to-go because they’d taunted us from a nearby table. How good those were, too! They were loaded with that rich, flavorful cheese.

Two weeks later, I’m still dreaming of Loui’s and its epic pizza and breadsticks. I want to hole up within its cozy interior and get some of that cheesy, greasy, doughy perfection back into my belly!

Worth noting: Loui’s is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

23141 Dequindre Rd.

Hazel Park, MI 48030

362. Shawarma Stop – September 25, 2018 – Sterling Heights, MI

September2018ShawarmaStop1 (3)September2018ShawarmaStop3 (3)Shawarma Stop = a WIN! I’ve got all good feels about this Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant in Sterling Heights.

During my visit Tuesday night, the restaurant’s dining area was clean and welcoming, the staff on duty were warm and polite, and the food was delivered quickly and downright DELICIOUS.

I admittedly glanced over Shawarma Stop’s menu that night more than perused it, because I knew what I wanted for my dinner: a chicken shawarma pita wrap and a small fattoush salad. I’m stuck on those two when it comes to Mediterranean food (as I am crushed lentil soup, and lemon-oregano chicken, and hummus, and of course garlic sauce . . .), especially the fattoush salad. Man, is that a good salad!

But some fattoush salads are better than others – and Shawarma Stop’s is one of the best I’ve had. The lettuce, cucumber, and tomato in it were fresh, the dressing was perfectly zesty, and most critically: the pita chip pieces were fried extra crispy so they stayed crunchy when tossed in the dressing, which made my heart VERY happy (soggy pita chips make for a sad fattoush-eating experience, indeed). AND the small version of the salad was much bigger than I expected; it’s an amply-sized side salad! That made my heart even more happy.

The chicken shawarma with its tender grilled chicken, tangy pickles, juicy tomatoes, and wonderfully bold garlic sauce was tasty, too. It was also large enough that I was able to take half of it home to enjoy as leftovers.

Now that I’ve examined Shawarma Stop’s menu more closely, I feel I MUST go back and try the build-your-own-pita-or-bowl option where you get to choose from a variety of choices the protein, sauce, and four toppings you’d like in your meal. I love the build-your-own concept, and I’m already envisioning a beef shawarma bowl with hummus, white rice, feta, onion, and banana peppers . . . Mmmm.

Other options on Shawarma Stop’s menu include an assortment of salads, appetizers, sides, and pitas, plus grill items such as shish kabob, lamb chops, and a whole deboned chicken. Combination platters designed to serve two, four, seven, or 12 people are also available.

Whether you’re looking to grab carryout or have a quick and pleasant dine-in experience, Shawarma Stop is so worth the trip. I’m already craving another of its fattoush salads and pondering a revisit!

13903 19 Mile Rd.

Sterling Heights, MI 48313

www.shawarmastoponline.com