Wayne County

245. Mudgie’s Deli – April 29, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170429_152143 (2)20170429_152307 (2)20170429_155110 (3)Hi, guys! I am sitting and writing these words in a never-before-visited and very awesome coffee shop – so look out for the post on that soon. But right now I’m here to talk about my visit to Mudgie’s Deli in Detroit two weekends ago.

After having a round of beers at Tommy’s Detroit Bar & Grill and receiving free tickets to that afternoon’s Tigers game from kindly strangers, my friend Jaclyn and I enjoyed five innings at Comerica Park before the frigid temperatures forced us out in search of the warm indoors. It was time for sandwiches at the deli I’d been dying to visit since the Corktown 5K (I had hoped to coax my friends into having lunch there after the race).

OK, this is just another reason for me to declare Corktown as my favorite neighborhood in Detroit. Not only is it easily navigable, has ample free parking, and is home to Slow’s, Detroit Institute of Bagels, Le Petit Zinc, Mercury Burger and Bar, and a jillion other beloved-by-me local establishments, it’s also home to Mudgie’s Deli and its extensive menu of intriguing sandwich choices.

Seriously, this restaurant’s menu is LOADED. There are so many sandwich choices that they are grouped by category; you’ve got a Poultry, Fish, Vegetarian & Vegan, Beef, Multi-Meat, and Salami section to choose from.

Nearly every sandwich description had me drooling. Here are a few to give you an idea of how boss these sandwiches are:

-The Brooklyn: “Beef brisket, Neuske’s nitrate free cherrywood smoked bacon, beer cheese[!], and caramelized maple onions on a kaiser roll.”

-The Hippie Dippie Sh*t Man (best sandwich name EVER): “Avocado, baby spinach, local sunflower sprouts, walnuts, dried cranberries, diced apples, shredded carrots and cucumber with raspberry vinaigrette rolled in whole wheat flat bread.”

-The Madill: “Roasted turkey breast, Neuske’s nitrate free cherrywood smoked bacon, avocado, tomato, romaine lettuce, garlic mayo and melted pepper Jack cheese on an 8″ hoagie bun served warm.”

That last one, The Madill, is the one I ordered after much deliberation (reading that it contained bacon AND avocado AND garlic mayo hooked me!). And man, did it turn out to be delicious! It was also huge; two people could easily share it. I thought I was going to take half home, but it was so good that I ended up polishing off all of it.

Mudgie’s is not just a deli with delicious sandwiches: it has a full bar! I had the most delicious Spanish coffee (perfect at warding the chill of the blustery day from my bones) with my Madill. It also has a little wine-shop area where you first walk in with bottles for sale. AND it offers Sunday brunch, featuring popular breakfast dishes such as Eggs Benedict, French toast, and biscuits and gravy plus a select variety of its delectable sandwiches. Worth noting: hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays; Mudgie’s is open 11 to 9 Mondays through Wednesdays and 11 to 11 (with the bar open until 12) the rest of the week.

So the verdict from this gal is that Mudgie’s is most definitely awesome. I need to go back and try more sandwiches – especially after being entranced by the slideshow of tantalizing sandwich photos on its website in the midst of writing this post!

1413 Brooklyn St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.mudgiesdeli.com

244. Tommy’s Detroit Bar & Grill – April 29, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170429_120602 (2)20170429_124856 (2)Last Saturday was a Detroit Day for me – yayyyy!

“Detroit Day” is what my friend Jaclyn and I call it when we go and spend a couple of hours in the city, generally to lunch and day-drink at restaurants and bars we’ve never been to. It’s one of my favorite things to do EVER (no surprise there, considering this blog!).

We knew we wanted to eat lunch at Mudgie’s (a coveted visit for months for me) on this Detroit Day but decided to get a drink before that. Scrolling through Yelp and seeing which bars were open by the noon hour, we found Tommy’s Detroit Bar & Grill. It turned out to be our best spontaneous find since Two James Spirits – not only because we were approached by kindly strangers there who gifted us lower-level Tigers tickets for that afternoon’s game (YES!), but also because it’s a generally awesome bar.

Tommy’s Detroit Bar & Grill, you have settled within my heart as one of my Beloved Detroit Bars (right there with The Old Miami and Tom’s Tavern)! I love your down-to-earth, friendly vibes. I enjoy that you are within sight’s distance of my beloved Red Wings’ now-former home, Joe Louis Arena (obviously I’m learning about your value as a JLA pre-game pit-stop wayyy too late). I appreciate that you offer free shuttles to Lions, Tigers, and Red Wings games, and that from what I understand, you have a deal worked out with the adjacent parking lot to offer free parking on game days. And I love that you, akin to many businesses in the city, are housed in a building with a rich history – a building that, in its over 175 years of existence, has been everything from a stop on the Underground Railroad to a Prohibition-era speakeasy with a secret underground casino thought to have affiliations with the notorious Purple Gang, according to your owner.

Yes, the building Tommy’s is housed in has a wild backstory! The eponymous owner, Tommy, took the time to show us a display in the back room of the bar explaining the history. Wayne State actually did an archaeological dig project involving the building back in 2013 to investigate its history. Pretty cool!

Why else to love Tommy’s? It has an extensive happy hour period (from 4 to 8 p.m.) Mondays through Fridays (excluding game days and big event days), with three-dollar wine and well drinks and one dollar off domestic draft and bottled beers.

624 3rd St.
Detroit, MI 48226

www.tommysdetroit.com

242. Polish Village Café – April 12, 2017 – Hamtramck, MI

20170412_121246(1)20170412_121433 (2)20170412_124825 (2)Hamtramck is represented on the blog – via a visit to a local institution, Polish Village Café!

So excited to represent Hamtramck on the blog! This is only my second time down there, but I love the neighborly feel of its downtown area and the houses nestled all close together. I know from a friend who lived there for years that community is an important part of living in a Hamtramck neighborhood, and I could feel it. People were out walking around during my visit, living life. As much as I love being a hermit sometimes and want to stay-stay-stay in my bubble, I also crave that sense of community – which is what draws me out to explore, I suppose!

Polish Village Café was a microcosm of community on the Wednesday afternoon that I visited it. Place was kicking! I was impressed, because I didn’t expect it to be that packed for a weekday lunch. But its illustrious history as one of the most popular Polish restaurants in the Detroit area (the “cellar beer garden,” as it’s referred to on the restaurant’s website, has been around since 1925; it was named the Polish Village Café in 1976) apparently ensures that it stays busy!

Lunch with coworkers was the reason for my visit, and YET again, we were visiting a delightful establishment that I didn’t want to leave to return to our dreary corporate office, because, I mean, a tavern strewn with twinkle lights and blue and white paper lanterns is a MUCH more magical place than a gray cubicle any day of the year. That’s a truth right up there with the Law of Gravity.

And the food! If you visit Polish Village Café, go for the pierogis and dessert crepes; they were both excellent. I’m sure I don’t have to twist many of your arms to get you to try the potato-and-cheese pierogi with its fried-dough exterior and creamy, savory, cheesy, comfort-food-y filling. Or to sample the raspberry dessert crepe, both rich and delicate in that way that only a crepe can be.

I will admit something that may be akin to sacrilege for Polish Village Café devotees: I didn’t especially care for the entrée I ordered, the Garlic Chicken. It was a breaded, pan-fried chicken breast that sadly came out kind of dry and not tasting at all garlicky. And the green beans accompanying it were canned green beans, which I didn’t expect. The sauerkraut included on the plate was awesome, though! Probably I should’ve went with my gut and ordered a platter of pierogis instead, rather than bumming just the one off of my coworker.

Despite my disappointment in my entrée, I’d like to give Polish Village Café another whirl sometime given how beloved it is and how delicious I found the pierogis and crepes to be. Plus I dug its whole basement-tavern ambience thing. Seriously, why can’t offices be made to look like basement taverns? Even if we weren’t all drinking while we were working, it would still make going back to work after lunch feel more FUNNNN.

Worth noting: if you are planning to eat at Polish Village Café, it’s helpful to know that it’s a cash-only establishment. Yep, that’s how O.G. they are.

2990 Yemans St.

Hamtramck, MI 48212

www.polishvillagecafe.us

236. Nancy Whiskey – March 12, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170312_114523 (2)20170312_114645 (2)20170312_120512 (3)Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all!!!

If you are looking to cut out of work early and indulge in some crazy St. Paddy’s Day non-adulting shenanigans, Nancy Whiskey is the place for you. Cuz you know this Corktown Irish bar is going crazy right about now with half-gone celebrants decked out in green knee socks and tophats and shamrock-themed face paint.

I’m not planning to go out and revel with the revelers today, but I am feeling mighty nostalgic right now for my early-to-mid-20s, when taking off work to start drinking green beer at 9 a.m. was a given. ~Sigh.~ Those were the days!

If I’m being honest with myself, though, I’ll admit I got my fill of the St. Paddy’s Day party vibes last Sunday after running in the Corktown 5K associated with the parade held annually in that historically Irish part of town.

If you’ve never been to the Corktown St. Patrick’s Day parade – held annually on the Sunday prior to the holiday – it’s definitely something you should consider experiencing at least once. It’s quite a spectacle! Just aim for a year when it’s not 40 degrees and downpouring (2016) or with temps in the teens and a bitter wind chill (this year). Crossing my fingers for a balmy 50-degrees-and-sunny experience next year!

But I digress – back to Nancy Whiskey! It’s one of the D’s oldest bars. According to its website, it’s been around since 1902! And the corned beef it served up on parade day was excellent. I’d heard good things about it from a former coworker and Corktown-parade diehard who was obsessed with getting a corned-beef sandwich from Nancy Whiskey every year, and man, it lived up to her hype. I only got one corned-beef slider, but it was loaded with an ample amount of tender, thinly-sliced meat – Mmmmmm. It was a much-needed beacon of comfort as I tried to ignore the fact that I was walking around in frigid temps in sweat-dampened race clothes (the unglamorous side of running in the Corktown 5K).

2644 Harrison St.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.nancywhiskeydetroit.com

235. Dime Store – March 5, 2017 – Detroit, MI

Dime3Dime1Dime2Dime4 (2)The Sunday before last, it was all about heading downtown for brunch at a place that’s been on my radar for the last year, Dime Store. It’s inside the beautiful old Chrysler Building – or Dime Building, as it was formerly called – and is a breakfast/lunch joint.

OK, I’d heard this place was popular, but I didn’t do my homework around exactly how popular it was. Me and my two friends accompanying me waited an hour and 15 minutes before being sat at the counter. I know people have waited an hour and 15 minutes to be sat at restaurants; that’s not revolutionary, but damn! did that feel like a long time! Needless to say, we were all very much ready to eat by the end of it.

So the moral of the story is, if you visit Dime Store on a Saturday or Sunday around prime breakfast/lunch time, be prepared to wait (at least you can kill time by shopping for delectable chocolate nuggets at Bon Bon Bon as we did). We were told that coming before 10 a.m. helps, so if you’re an early bird, you’ll probably be good. Also, we noticed that groups of two got sat more quickly than larger groups; the tiny environs appears to accommodate them more easily.

Once we finally got in, I enjoyed the cute hipster-diner ambiance and unwinding with a glass of Vinho Verde wine (there’s a full bar and a section of the menu aptly titled “Day Drinking” featuring brunch-centric drinks). And the food was awesome. I got the Sweet Poached Pear salad pictured above and enjoyed the flavorful combo of mixed greens, sweet pear, spicy pepita seeds, cornbread croutons (mmmm), fennel, onion, and shredded cheese (I’m blanking on what kind – fontina, I believe) substituted for the usual goat cheese, all tossed in a bacon vinaigrette dressing. SO good! My friends also enjoyed their meals (French toast and an omelette), and it was a relief to know that our long wait wasn’t in vain.

With all of the other excellent restaurants in the area, I can’t say that I’ll make a habit of eating at Dime Store during the harried weekend brunch rush. But I’d love to check it out again at a more subdued time.

719 Griswold St., Ste. 180

Detroit, MI 48226

www.eatdimestore.com

234. Bon Bon Bon – March 5, 2017 – Detroit, MI

Bon3 (3)Bon2Bon1Bon4Hi, guys! Happy Monday!!!

I hope you had an excellent weekend and were able to get some exploring in. Mine entailed some intense decluttering Saturday (getting rid of unnecessary crap is the best!) and running in the Corktown 5K in those frigid temps (windburn city!). The race went better than I expected in the bitter cold, and afterward I was able to hit a new bar during the St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans (post forthcoming!), so you know I’m happy. But today I’m here to recount a visit I made the weekend before this last one, to the downtown storefront of Bon Bon Bon.

Bon Bon Bon! I’d been wanting to taste their wares since I’d read about them in Hour Detroit a year or so back. Because come on, artisan bon-bons! Chocolate is one of my Top Five Favorite Things in Life, so I knew the Bons, as the candies are called, would be right up my alley.

I had aspired to visit the Hamtramck location, which is the facility where the chocolates are made and the storefront is open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. But the Universe was like, “Real talk: this meeting of you and the Bons is taking wayyyy too long for you to orchestrate, so I’m going to orchestrate it for you.”

And so it came to pass that while waiting to get seated at a very popular brunch restaurant (to be revealed in my next post!) inside the Chrysler Building downtown the Sunday before last, I stumbled across Bon Bon Bon’s Detroit storefront, also within that building. It’s small and pleasant, with bright orange walls and display cases featuring the glorious individually-boxed and numbered bons.

If you have to kill time during an absurdly long wait for a table, buying artisan chocolates has to be the very best use of that time EVER.

Given the wide selection of novel chocolate gems – including a whole section featuring Paczki-inspired Bons containing cake-and-jelly-flavored filling (my friend got a strawberry one and said it was amazing), Bons sprinkled with Earl Gray tea, and one topped with crushed Better Made Chips (yes!) – picking only a few to take home was a challenge. After much deliberation, I chose three (the parenthetical descriptions of each are quoted from Bon Bon Bon’s website): a Number 24, Strawberry and Balsamic (“balsamic reduction, strawberry jam, dark chocolate olive oil ganache”); Number 40, Arabic Coffee (“Great Lakes Coffee espresso ganache, cardamom royal icing, coffee bean”) and Number 41, Whisky Lullabye (“whisky caramel, chamomile dark chocolate ganache, candied chamomile”).

Once I made my selections, the woman behind the counter encased them in the cardboard packaging shown above, stamping its interior with the name of each Bon before sealing it up with red tape and a rubber Bon Bon Bon band. The whole experience felt special, the antithesis of purchasing a factory-manufactured candy bar from a vending machine. At $3 apiece, the Bons were treats that I knew I must truly savor and enjoy.

And savor them I did. Each tiny handmade work of art packed a massive flavor punch, making them well-worth their price tags. It’s a toss-up between the Strawberry and Balsamic (that balsamic reduction was wonderful!) and the Whisky Lullabye (a most decadent caramel!) on which one is my favorite.

So thank you, Universe, for guiding me to this shop by accident so I could finally make this much-anticipated visit! I can’t wait to see where in the city you take me next.

719 Griswold St., Ste. 100

Detroit, MI 48226

www.bonbonbon.com

231. Central Kitchen and Bar – February 13, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170213_122414-2I deeply respect any establishment that makes me crave a turkey burger, so I know that Central Kitchen and Bar and I are pals after my recent visit.

I’m generally not a huge fan of ground bird. I find it to be a pales-in-comparison substitute for its beef counterpart with all of its savory, fatty, red-meat goodness. But the turkey burger on Central Kitchen and Bar’s lunch menu invoked me. Blackened and festooned with avocado and sweet peppers and muenster cheese on a brioche bun, it tasted as irresistible as its menu description made it out to be. A side of fries with garlic aioli further cemented the friendship between me and this tiny-yet-chic restaurant located off the lobby of the First National Building, the grand skyscraper that looms above Campus Martius in the heart of downtown.

This turkey burger wasn’t the only intriguing item on the menu. From the Roasted Baby Carrots salad with arugula, pepitas, feta labneh, and a fig sherry dressing to the Vegetarian Tacos with blackened roasted cauliflower, avocado, and crema, the other entrees items sounded equally as compelling.

660 Woodward Ave., #4A

Detroit, MI 48226

www.centraldetroit.com

225. Katoi – January 18, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170118_17380620170118_17390120170118_173909The first half of January, I didn’t do any exploring – I was too busy recovering from the busy holiday season and acclimating to 2017, I guess! I’d been dying to get down to Detroit for weeks and weeks, and I was there to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Fisher Theatre the week after New Year’s – but alas, no exploring of new places occurred then (the neighborhood around Fisher Theatre is sorely lacking in restaurants and bars –  local restaurateurs, scope it out!). So I was psyched to have an excuse to go downtown again on the 18th – not only because I was going to the Red Wings/Bruins game thanks to a generous friend who gifted me a ticket for Christmas, but also because I knew we’d be trying at least one new place (yay to friends who are open to exploring!).

I was especially enthused when my friend said she was down for dining at Katoi. The Thai restaurant, which opened last year, had been on my radar thanks to a coworker who is supplying the restaurant with her free-range, organic pork. She’d praised the creativity and skill of the head chef and commented on the unique space that housed the restaurant.

Apparently, I wasn’t paying enough attention when she spoke about the building, because I didn’t realize that Katoi is housed in what appears to be a former auto shop. It’s also on a stretch of Michigan Avenue in Corktown that’s less lively than the strip that houses Sugar House and Slow’s and Astro Coffee and Gold Cash Gold about a third of a mile down. Perhaps the desolation I felt was summoned by the GPS navigating us off of Michigan Ave. to the trash-strewn alley behind the restaurant, telling us that we had arrived . . . yeah, NO, GPS.

At any rate, the outside of Katoi is nondescript and deceptive, belying the awesomeness that is inside. Stepping across the threshold of this former industrial building, I stepped into – what else? – a trendy, intimate dining space, all exposed brick, frosted glass, and colorful lighting. Like so many other buildings in Detroit, this one has been reborn into something completely different from what it once was. I never tire of discovering the various incarnations of this city. The repurposing, the creativity – it’s so exciting!

The menu presented so many intriguing options that it was hard to select only a few. Most dishes were more like small plates than full-blown entrees, so my friend and I ended up sharing four: the Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts with a cashew cream sauce, the nuanced Thrice Cooked Sweet Potatoes, the spicy Drunken Pastrami Noodles, and the meaty Crispy Spareribs coated with a caramel fish sauce crust. All were delicious, but the vegetable dishes were our hands-down faves; they were so flavorful! My friend and I were like, “We need someone to cook us vegetables this delicious every day!”

We also had some KILLER cocktails whose names I neglected to take note of. Mine was pink, grapefruit-infused, flavorful, and strong.

When we left Katoi around 6:45 to head to the Joe, the tiny waiting area was packed, and the lot, alleyway, and street outside the restaurant were littered with cars parked every-which-way. Not a bad draw for a Wednesday night in the middle of winter!

2520 Michigan Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.katoidetroit.com

 

224. Espresso Elevado – December 27, 2016 – Plymouth, MI

espressoelevado1espressoelevado2Coffee shops are some of my favorite places to hang out – especially independent ones. The well-known corporate chain shops just don’t exude the same character that the small, locally-owned ones do (while I do admittedly have a fondness for Tim Hortons –  their peppermint tea is stellar! – the ambiance is, well . . . that of an interior of a Tim Hortons). My friend who recently met me in downtown Plymouth loves coffee shops, as well, so we thought enjoying a hot beverage at Espresso Elevado before hitting the road would be a fitting way to cap off our visit.

The interior of this coffee shop is tiny; there are only a few tables to sit at, plus a pair of plush armchairs. But it’s cute and cozy and makes a mean cappuccino.

Espresso Elevado offers a variety of specialty coffee drinks and yummy-looking baked goods (including gluten-free ones). In studying its website, the emphasis on coffee brewing as a craft is apparent, as is the value given to fostering a workplace where all are recognized for their respective roles and talents (there are profiles on everyone from the founder to the creative director to the baristas). I like that about it. The place may be small, but it’s got big heart!

606 S. Main St.

Plymouth, MI 48170

www.espressoelevado.com

223. Bohemian Home – December 27, 2016 – Plymouth, MI

bohemianhome1bohemianhome2bohemianhome3Bohemian Home is yet another cute shop that I visited while in downtown Plymouth last December. Its wares included: a number of Michigan-themed items, artisan candles, and the fun coin purses shown above.

Seriously, Plymouth, you are on point! If you haven’t visited its downtown, you need to. Its plethora of arty shops and restaurants and Gilmore Girls-eque town square will charm you.

427 Forest Ave.

Plymouth, MI 48170

www.bohoplymouth.com