Hashems is a delight for the senses! Neatly-ordered rows of fragrant coffee and spices and candy in every color of the rainbow greet guests entering this Dearborn-based shop.
I visited Hashems as part of a walking food tour offered by the Arab American National Museum. Hashems was the second of the tour’s three stops (to read about our first stop, click here!).
I debated including Hashems on the blog because it technically doesn’t fit 100 Places in the D criteria. It dictates that I highlight locally-owned businesses in the Metro-Detroit area (Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties) that don’t have locations outside of the state. I made this rule to keep myself from highlighting nationally-sprawling chains. Well, Hashems has three locations in Michigan (two in Dearborn and one in Dearborn Heights) – and another in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon! But it is a family-owned establishment, and it’s not a corporate chain. According to Hashems’ website, Bint Jbeil is where Hashems originated, when Abu Ali Sheik Theeb opened the first store there in 1959. It’s the source of the goodness! And having a store outside of the state certainly doesn’t make Hashems some cookie-cutter conglomerate. So I’m allowing myself to bend the rules here, because Hashems is worth some rule-bending.
The Warren Avenue shop is an emporium of deliciousness, indeed! With its wide selection of fresh-roasted coffee and nuts, dried fruit, tea, hand-prepared spice blends, and candy (SO much candy!), shopping at Hashems is a special experience. During my visit with the Yalla Eat! food tour, I tried its tasty coffee, chocolate-covered fruits and nuts, and Turkish delight. I’d never before had the jelly-like confection, of which Hashems sells numerous varieties. I liked it so much that I bought a Nutella-filled raspberry variety: slices of delight for the road!
13041 W. Warren Ave.
Dearborn, MI 48126
(With additional locations in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights)
Grocery shopping is one of my favorite pastimes – especially when it culminates in a feast, as it did when I visited Super Greenland Market!
The Dearborn-based business is more than an Arabic grocery store with a halal meat counter, bakery, and array of fresh produce. It’s also a vendor of cell phones, hookah, and tea pots; a café that sells fresh-prepared foods; and more.
I was brought to Super Greenland Market via the Yalla Eat! walking tour offered by the Arab American National Museum of Dearborn. The guided tour had us sampling foods at three locally-owned Arabic businesses on Warren Avenue. Super Greenland was our first stop.
Our Yalla Eat! tour guide, Rafat, gave us a comprehensive tour of the market that highlighted staples of Arabic diets, including mloukhieh (a green commonly included in soups and stews), yogurt, tea, and lentils. We got to sample fresh dates, which surprised me with their tartness and how little they tasted like dried dates! But the real sampling came at the end of our visit, when we sat in Super Greenland’s café.
“Sampling” is an inaccurate word to describe the spread that awaited us. It was a veritable feast! We got to try eight of Super Greenland’s prepared foods, including its spinach pies, grape leaves, and falafel. All of them were excellent! My absolute favorite was a couscous dish richly flavored with cumin, bell pepper, and parsley. In contrast, the rice pudding infused with rose water and pistachio was subtle in flavor but just as delicious. Everything we tried at Super Greenland (and on the Yalla Eat! tour as a whole) was vegetarian.
To learn more about the Yalla Eat! walking tours, click here. And to learn more about Super Greenland Market, click the link to its Facebook page shown below. Or, better yet, plan an in-person visit!
12715 W. Warren Ave.
Dearborn, MI 48126
(With additional locations in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights)
Max & Ollie’s offers a sweet selection of old and new! The shop in downtown Mount Clemens has a thoughtfully curated collection of vintage clothing, jewelry, accessories, glassware, china, and other home goods. And it’s got brand-new items, too: candles by Mitten Candle Co., for one. Not only are these handmade soy candles crafted made by a friend of mine, they smell downright fabulous (the Firewood scent alone – SO good!).
And Max & Ollie’s is fabulous, too! Not only for stocking my friend’s candles and giving beautiful pre-owned goods a second life, but also for having an owner who is warm and welcoming. This is definitely a small business worth championing!
Stepping into La Roche means entering a sweet treasure trove of goodies! The shop based in downtown Royal Oak proffers plenty of items that make ideal gifts: candles, jewelry, figurines, fancy soaps, incense, apparel, and more. The “more” includes Michigan-centric items and an impressive selection of air plants.
Looking to rent or buy an electric bike, get yours serviced, or tour Detroit via e-bike? Look no further than Electric Ave Bikes!
The shop on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit is all things e-bikes. Part of the Michigan-based bike shop chain American Cycle & Fitness, Electric Ave Bikes is owned and operated by Jason Hall. Jason cofounded Slow Roll, the Monday-night bike ride that routinely drew a couple thousand riders to the streets of Detroit.
Regretfully, I never participated in a Slow Roll ride. But I did get to experience a bike ride with Jason this past June! Because Jason offers bike tours via his other company, RiDetroit. Electric Ave Bikes supplies the e-bikes and is the starting point for those tours.
I went on RiDetroit’s Five Neighborhood tour. For two hours, we rode all over Detroit: to Eastern Market, the Dequindre Cut, the riverfront, downtown, and Greektown. It was fabulous! Along the way, Jason shared bits of history about the neighborhoods we explored and the art we saw. We opened our e-bikes up on the Dequindre Cut, zipping along the smooth path so easefully! I didn’t realize how easy the e-bike made it until I returned to the Dequindre Cut a couple of weeks later on a regular bike. Much frenzied pedaling ensued!
In addition to offering several e-bike tours (including a pizza-themed one!), RiDetroit hosts a walking tour exploring Eastern Market’s murals. Check out its current offerings here.
This Sterling Heights-based shop boasts row upon row of wine bottles, a plethora of varieties and price points. It also showcases a hefty selection of beers and spirits. It’s the place to pick up your favorite craft beer – and discover a few new favorites. Or buy that hard-to-find wine you fell in love with on vacation.
That latter scenario? That was mine at The Wine Garden. I’d visited Chile about a month prior and become enchanted with one of its popular wine varietals, Carménère. The red wine is ubiquitous in Chile but tough to find in the United States. But The Wine Garden had two different types of Carménère!
I’d also gone to The Wine Garden seeking a craft beer as a gift for an IPA-loving friend. I came out with Pigeon Hill Brewing Company of Muskegon’s Philosoraptor IPA – a brew she’d never tried and said was delicious. The Wine Garden for the double win!
Check this place out the next time you’re looking for an interesting liqueur or a bottle of wine that’ll impress guests. The Wine Garden’s friendly owner and staff are happy to help you score your own winning finds!
Inspire Marketplace is a cornucopia of locally made, handcrafted goodies!
The shop based at The Mall at Partridge Creek is bursting with the fruits of artisan creativity: mugs and shirts and artwork and candles, hats and bags and barbecue sauce. Much of the work is handmade, and much of it is Michigan-centric.
There are coasters featuring Detroit landmarks, preserves made from Michigan cherries, wine bottles filled with twinkle lights, works of art lauding lake culture, and so much more.
Buying locally made, handmade holiday gifts from a locally owned business – how could you go wrong?
17420 Hall Rd.
(Inside The Mall at Partridge Creek)
Clinton Twp., MI 48038
(With an additional location at Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi)
Ernie’s Market! What a delight it was to finally experience this iconic Oak Park-based shop and its beloved sandwich.
The red-bricked convenience store/deli holds court on a corner in a residential neighborhood, looking like it’s straight out of the 1950s – because it is. Ernie’s Market opened in 1955 and is run today by the son of the original owners. He’s also named Ernie.
Maybe you’ve heard of Ernie and his big personality and big sandwiches. I was fortunate to encounter both during my visit.
The shop itself is tiny in stature, with a couple of rows of drinks, snacks, and other convenience items. At the back is the deli counter. Everywhere else is crowded with memorabilia: framed articles; Ernie’s-centric artwork; and accolades the market has won over the years (and it’s won MANY – including best-of nods from Hour Detroit and numerous WDIV Detroit Vote 4 the Best awards).
Ernie’s Market offers what it calls “Build It Your Way” sandwiches. There’s the Ernie’s Special, which includes one meat and your choice of toppings; the Ernie’s Double (which has two meats); and the Ernie’s Club with – you guessed it – three meats. And then there’s the Monster.
I think the main draw to Ernie’s Market is that Monster, which has received lots of press – and for good reason. It’s the seven-meat version of the Ernie’s Special, a compilation of turkey, ham, pastrami, pepperoni, salami, chicken, and corned beef. All that meat on a kaiser bun with cheese PLUS your choice of veggies and sauces. And that’s not all! The pièce de résistance of the sandwich is Ernie’s Love Spice, the shop’s proprietary blend of spices.
You know I had to try that Monster sandwich! The only modification I made was to nix the salami (since I don’t like it) and to add extra ham in its place. For veggies, I went with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, banana peppers, and jalapeños. I said yes to cheese, yes to mustard (but not mayo), and yes to the Love Spice (obvi!). All those ingredients were nestled in hefty layers between two halves of an uncut, onion-flecked kaiser bun.
When you’re a first-timer at Ernie’s and order the Monster, it’s requisite for them not to cut the sandwich in half for you. Initiation into the Ernie’s Market legion means taking that Monster head on!
It was such fun to be in the shop and orchestrate the build of that Monster sandwich. The staff members I interacted with were friendly and welcoming. I even got to interact with Ernie himself!
He said hi to me warmly – so warmly, I admit, that I felt sure he was confusing me with someone else he knew. Because of this, I’m embarrassed to admit, I didn’t say hi back at first. Then I realized it was him – Ernie himself!
I didn’t know that Ernie greets all of his customers so enthusiastically. According to the shop’s website, Ernie’s customary greeting to patrons is “Hey Baby!” because he wants people to know he cares about them – even if he doesn’t know their names.
That explains the “Hey Baby!” greeting Ernie gave a father and his young daughter while I was there. I’d assumed he knew them well. Maybe he did – or maybe he was displaying his customary warmth. Regardless, once I got past my initial confusion around his reception of me, it felt wonderful to be welcomed so congenially by Ernie – who, once he heard it was my first time trying his sandwich, said he hoped I liked it.
I hoped I liked the Monster, too!
My hopes were not to be dashed. The epic sandwich was epically delicious! What a kaleidoscope of flavors that Monster sandwich was.
The sheer number of ingredients and jaw-defying height of the sandwich meant that each bite was different. My favorite bites included the hearty meat with that soft kaiser bun, those spicy jalapeños and bananas peppers, and an ample smattering of Love Spice. That’s no surprise, given that I’m a lover of all things spicy. In fact, I bought a bag of Better Made’s Hot ‘n Spicy Corn Chips from Ernie’s to accompany that Monster sandwich.
You may be wondering: did I finish that Monster in one sitting? [Drum Roll] I did not. I ate over half of it for lunch that day. That meant I got to enjoy the leftovers for dinner! They were delicious toasted in the oven.
I wonder if Ernie would find toasting his sandwich sacrilegious. I have to think he’d be all for it. “Whatever makes you happy, Baby!” I can imagine him saying.
Worth noting: Ernie’s is a cash-only establishment – but totally worth the trip to the ATM!
I was enticed inside Catching Fireflies not by its namesake bug, but by bubbles!
The shop based in downtown Rochester bills itself as “a whimsical gift gallery.” That value of whimsy was on full display when I stumbled upon its storefront one Saturday in August. Streams of bubbles danced in the air.
I followed the bubble trail to an open mailbox planted near Catching Fireflies’ entrance. A machine housed inside the mailbox spewed batch after batch of the soapy orbs – and kindled my curiosity about the shop. How could I not visit this whimsical gift gallery with a bubble machine and turquoise exterior?
I succumbed to spontaneity, entering the shop – and a treasure trove of goodies. It was filled with neatly curated collections of greeting cards, candles, soaps, socks, books, toys, knick knacks, magnets, and more. Beautiful items, quirky items, hand-crafted items – they were all there. It was everything a great gift shop should be: a wonderland of delights!
As would any gift shop of its ilk, Catching Fireflies made me want to buy gifts – for myself. I purchased a “Michigan Things” magnet that features such local institutions as party stores and “using your hand as a map.” I also snagged a copy of the Sister Pie cookbook, which I’d coveted for years! Visiting Catching Fireflies gave me an excuse to buy it. After all, I had to show my support for the whimsical gift gallery and its bubble machine – bubbles certainly don’t grow on trees!
203 E. University Dr.
Rochester, MI 48307
(With additional locations in Ann Arbor and Berkley)
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!