Wayne County

445. Detroit Shipping Company / Coop Caribbean Fusion – November 10, 2019 – Detroit, MI

November2019DetroitShippingCo.1 (2)November2019DetroitShippingCo.3 (2)November2019DetroitShippingCo.5 (2)November2019DetroitShippingCo.4 (2)The Detroit Shipping Company is a container for a lot of things: art galleries, live music, event space, bars, a food hall. There’s a place that sells coffee and ice cream (-320º Coffee and Creamery), a space that holds pop-up shops, a podcast studio, and plenty of outdoor seating (ah, patio weather!), including on a rooftop deck.

The 10,000-square-foot complex located at 474 Peterboro Street gets its name from the fact that it’s been constructed from metal shipping containers, which have been painted a striking metallic blue hue.

I visited Detroit Shipping Company on a Sunday afternoon in November. I went solo, a status I admittedly regretted upon walking into the food hall on the first floor of the building.

The place had the kind of atmosphere that begged to be shared with someone: lively, convivial, celebratory. Groups of family and friends clustered at the long wooden tables in the food hall, eating, drinking, and having a ball. I wanted to be there eating, drinking, and having a ball with my friends! But I decided to make the best of my solo time on that day, reminding myself that I could always do a revisit with pals.

Detroit Shipping Company’s food hall reminded me of a mall food court – except much hipper and with much more compelling offerings. Communal tables presided in the center, and a full bar and stalls staffed by local restauranteurs ringed the perimeter. A guitarist serenaded patrons from a second-floor balcony.

When checking out the foodstuffs offered at Detroit Shipping Company prior to my visit, I was immediately intrigued by the choices. There was a taco joint (Brujo Tacos and Tapas), a place that offered Thai cuisine (Bangkok 96 Street Food), a stand serving Nepalese dumplings (Momo Cha). And there was the stall from which I decided to eat: Coop Caribbean Fusion.

I was attracted to the restaurant’s flavorful-sounding food, specifically the Motor City Chicken Sandwich and Caribbean Fries. Those become my lunch!

After ordering that sandwich and fries at the Coop counter, I was given a buzzer that lit up and vibrated when my meal was ready.

Greeted by the sight of the open-face fried chicken sandwich nestled on a bed of Texas toast and slathered in barbecue sauce, bacon, cilantro, coleslaw, and aioli and French fries loaded with queso fresco cheese, Caribbean seasonings, cilantro, and cilantro-infused aioli, I was excited to dig in.

The meal was a flavor explosion! The barbecue sauce on Coop’s Motor City Chicken Sandwich was rich and flavorful, as was the coleslaw; its crispy chicken was juicy and tasty. And with their creamy queso fresco and zesty seasonings, the Caribbean Fries were the show-stealer of the meal for me, fried to an ideal crispness and loaded as they were with those luxurious toppings. Mmm mmm and MMM!

I’d planned to end my visit to Detroit Shipping Company with some ice cream from -320º Coffee and Creamery, but I was so stuffed from that decadent lunch from Coop that I opted to forego it. A return to this receptacle for ample food, drink, creativity, and community is in order, anyway; Detroit Shipping Company is the kind of place that entreats one to visit again and again – whether solo or with friends.

474 Peterboro St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.detroitshippingcompany.com

www.coopdetroit.com

443. Mint 29 – October 29, 2019 – Dearborn, MI

October2019Mint291 (2)October2019Mint292 (2)I visited Mint 29 on October 29 – and I’m just realizing that numerical synchronicity!

Not that you need to wait for a numerical synchronicity to visit this Dearborn-based establishment – and you shouldn’t, because it promises to be fantastic regardless of day of month.

A friend and I stumbled across the restaurant located in West Downtown Dearborn during a September visit to Unburger. That purveyor of vegan deliciouness is adjacent to Mint 29, and as we sat and enjoyed our meals in the outdoor courtyard area they share, we were intrigued by the pretty fall decorations festooning Mint 29’s portion of patio and the well-dressed servers making their rounds. Seeking a place to dine in late October, the restaurant was an obvious choice to both of us.

Entering Mint 29 on that Tuesday evening, the trek out to Dearborn in the dark immediately felt worth it.

The restaurant’s interior had warm vibes. Industrial decor details (brick walls, concrete floors, exposed ductwork) and polished elegance (crystal glassware; a gilt-edged mirror above the well-lit, well-organized bar) melded to make a space that felt both welcoming and refined. Convivial patrons present that evening were obviously enjoying their food, drink, and conversation, and I was happy to be a part of them.

Mint 29’s dinner menu showcases a selection of steak and seafood dishes, plus striking salads such as the Season Salad with its grapefruit, dried cranberries, cashews, toasted pistachios, blue cheese, and Sweet Japanese Dressing. It’s a upscale menu with upscale prices and sides that come à la carte.

I was tempted to order one of those striking salads: the Chicken Citron with its marinated, seared chicken breast on a bed of rapini, carrots, and wild rice and its cilantro-lime dressing was calling to me, as it was to my friend who was dining with me at Mint 29.

That Chicken Citron salad seemed like the sensible choice for our pocketbooks. But we were both being lured by less sensible choices: her the Mediterranean Sea Bass, and me the 16-Ounce Bone-In Ribeye.

In the end, we said “F it!” and took the leap toward culinary opulence. I added a side of Smashed Potato to my order, while she opted for the side of Sautéed Wild Mushrooms. While we waited for our food to come out, I sat and sipped a glass of pinot noir.

When that 16-Ounce Bone-In Ribeye arrived, I knew it’d been worth the wager. Served on a wooden cutting board with roasted garlic cloves and house-made zip sauce, it was a positively regal slab of meat, with neat criss-crossing grill marks and a perfectly red center (I’d ordered the steak rare: my first time doing that! I never thought I’d order a steak rare, but medium-rare wasn’t cutting it lately; it was consistently coming out overcooked to me, so I finally realized, “Hmm, maybe I’m ordering wrong.”).

That bone-in ribeye tasted as exquisite as it looked: tender and juicy and flavorful and SO good accompanied by the roasted garlic and zip sauce and the rich smashed potatoes, which had arrived in a heaping mound that easily constituted two side portions.

My friend enjoyed her sea bass and sautéed mushrooms, as well, and we agreed that Mint 29 is a keeper. It up-leveled what would have otherwise been a routine Tuesday night into an effervescent adventure.

22000 Michigan Ave.

Dearborn, MI 48124

(Closed Sundays)

www.mint29.com

442. Go! Sy Thai – October 27, 2019 – Detroit, MI

October2019Go!SyThai1 (2)October2019Go!SyThai2 (3)Go! Sy Thai was bustling during my Sunday evening visit a few weeks ago – and for good reason. The Cass Corridor-based, fast-casual iteration of local restaurant chain Sy Thai proffers tasty food in plentiful portions.

Take the Curry Noodle dish that I ordered: it yielded two full meals for me – and then some (and I’m – by most people in my life’s considerations – an eater; I don’t mess around!).

This Curry Noodle dish was not only abundant in size, it was also supremely delicious with its richly flavored red coconut curry sauce slathering weighty rice noodles, fresh green onion and bean sprouts, crushed peanut, and the tender chunks of beef I opted for as my protein (I also chose to get the dish sans the egg it usually comes with).

At Go! Sy Thai, you order at the counter and wait for your food to be called out when it’s ready. The overhead menu showcases an ample list of offerings: classic Thai soups, small plates, and rice and noodle dishes.

For entrée dishes, you select the protein you’d like to be included (beef, chicken, shrimp, or tofu – or a vegetable mix in place of protein) and your desired spice level (Mild, Medium, Hot, X Hot, or Top of the Line).

For the spice level for my Curry Noodle with beef, I selected X Hot and was pleased with it: it was definitely hot in the way that I love, but it wasn’t so spicy that it was rendered inedible (a nearly nonexistent occurrence for me, the person who literally dumps cayenne pepper all over her popcorn – but STILL, props to Go! Sy Thai for rating their spice levels accurately! I know that when it comes down to it, spice level is subjective, but some places get it SO obviously wrong).

Another fun fact about this location of Go! Sy Thai: it’s neighbor to another local goodie, Tou & Mai; the establishments are connected by a short corridor. Tasty, plentifully-portioned Thai food and boba tea mere steps from one another is a set-up I can certainly get behind!

4240 Cass Ave., Ste. 103

Detroit, MI 48201

(with an additional Detroit location on Griswold St.)

www.gosythai.com

440. On the Rise Bakery Café – October 19, 2019 – Detroit, MI

October2019OntheRiseBakery1 (2)October2019OntheRiseBakery2 (2)I love win-win scenarios (who doesn’t love double the wins?). And visiting On the Rise Bakery Café in Detroit was a definite win-win: I got to support a good cause and tote home a loaf of gloriously tasty sourdough bread, to boot.

On the Rise Bakery Café is an entity of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, a Detroit-based nonprofit that provides community support via such initiatives as its substance abuse support group, youth enrichment program, and eponymous soup kitchen.

On the Rise, specifically, lends that community support by employing men and women who have recently completed a drug treatment program or been incarcerated. Proceeds from bakery sales support its employees and services offered by the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

As the bakery’s mission is described on the Capuchin Soup Kitchen website: “With each purchase of our baked goods, you are helping make possible the provision of supportive housing, training, counseling services, educational opportunities, and self help programs. On the Rise Bakery Café is a program where each man is responsible to reach back and support the newest member.”

I love the community support and mentoring aspects of that mission! On the Rise is helping people who have recently been through challenging circumstances better their lives – so that they, in turn, can help others to grow stronger. What an empowering model.

Entering On the Rise’s tidy storefront on the Saturday afternoon of my visit, I was greeted by several employees. The bakery’s wares were currently limited, they informed me, because baking doesn’t occur on Saturdays and because Saturday mornings are a popular time for purchases. But, as luck would have it, one quantity of exactly what I was looking for was still available: a loaf of sourdough bread. It was affordably priced at $4.

I’ve been enjoying that sourdough bread (I froze what I didn’t eat initially) as toast; its delectably chewy texture has made it an ideal accompaniment to both mashed avocado and spinach artichoke dip. Mmmm – just thinking about that sourdough toast makes me want to whip up some right now – perhaps as the bookends to a grilled cheese sandwich?

Besides offering various baked goods such as breads, rolls, cookies, coffee cakes, cheesecakes, pies, turnovers, and muffins, On the Rise also sells house-made soups and sandwiches, chili, ice cream, and beverages such as pop, coffee, and juice (hence the café aspect of its name). Seating inside the storefront allows patrons to sit and enjoy meals.

On the Rise Bakery Café is doing the good work, providing delectable wares plus a difference-making mission – and that is a definite win times two!

8900 Gratiot Ave.

Detroit, MI 48213

(Closed Sundays and Mondays)

www.cskdetroit.org/bakery

439. Taqueria Mi Pueblo – October 6, 2019 – Detroit, MI

October2019MiPueblo1 (2)October2019MiPueblo2 (5)October2019MiPueblo3 (2)October 6 was a monumental day for me. Not only was it my birthday, it was also the day that I finally consumed some of Taqueria Mi Pueblo’s sweet, sweet cuisine.

I’d learned of Mi Pueblo, a Mexican restaurant in Detroit, years prior from an uncle who lives in the city and raved that it was, hands-down, his favorite Mexican restaurant. I’d dreamed of visiting it and attempted a few times to schedule dinners there, to no avail.

Mi Pueblo was starting to become my white whale: looming tantalizingly and ever elusively in my mind – which made it an ideal spot for a birthday lunch with my mom and stepdad. The visit was finally happening!!!

It was after 1 when we arrived at Mi Pueblo on this warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. It was kicking; we waited about 15 minutes for a table. I took the time to peruse Mi Pueblo’s menus and soak up its ambiance.

The place was bringing some good vibes. Mi Pueblo’s exterior is striking, with its neat brown-brick façade, vibrant yellow signage, and bright flowers. Its interior is even more cheerful with its color-splashed walls, strung garlands of bunting, art-bedecked tabletops, and profusion of potted plants.

When we got a table and sat down to it, we joined lively groups of patrons – many of whom appeared to be families – enjoying meals and camaraderie on that Sunday afternoon. I again scanned Mi Pueblo’s extensive food and drink menus.

The beverage menu is loaded with various margarita varietals, fruity cocktails, and fun frozen drinks. Mi Pueblo boasts a full bar and has an extensive tequila collection; in addition to liquor, it offers wine and draft and bottled beer. A virgin cocktail section is available for those who opt to go sans alcohol, as are fresh juices, milkshakes, bottles of Mexican pop, and traditional drinks such as horchata.

And Mi Pueblo’s food menu! It’s loaded with the most delectable-sounding of Mexican dishes: burritos, tacos, enchiladas, a whole section of tostadas, tortas, quesadillas, fajitas, and more. A dessert section caps off the menu, proffering goodies such as tres leches cake, flan, and Tamales de Dulce (sweet tamales). Yum!

After careful deliberation, I chose the Enchiladas Dinner with its three enchiladas (I opted for one chicken, one cheese, and one ground beef) slathered in red sauce, plus a lime margarita on the rocks with salt.

I sipped the tasty (and massive) margarita and munched on the complimentary chips and salsa while waiting for our food to come out.

We didn’t have to wait long. My Enchiladas Dinner arrived in all of its gorgeous cheese- and sauce-slathered glory, I took a bite, and my palate exclaimed WOW!

Mi Pueblo’s enchiladas were bursting with flavor. The red sauce was superior to most other enchilada sauces I’ve tasted: more spice-infused, and more nuanced. The meat was hearty; the cheese was fresh-tasting; the rice and refried beans were solid accompaniments. All melded together to form supreme deliciousness that made my heart and my stomach very happy.

I left Taqueria Mi Pueblo that afternoon feeling full and content, the good birthday vibes sustained. I’d finally become acquainted with the restaurant I’d wanted to visit most over the last several years, and it was a beautiful thing – and a beautiful way to start a new year of life (ushering in a new phase by exploring new places? You can’t go wrong with that!).

7278 Dix St.

Detroit, MI 48209

www.mipueblorestaurant.com

438. Lumen Detroit – October 5, 2019 – Detroit, MI

October2019Lumen1 (3)October2019Lumen2 (2)Because I’m one of those people who unabashedly adores my birthday, I’m always looking for special ways to celebrate it. With its beautiful ambiance, welcoming service, on-point cocktails, and tasty dishes, Lumen Detroit helped create some of that specialness during my most recent birthday weekend.

The restaurant in downtown Detroit is both elegant and contemporary in ambiance with its clean white tiling, glossy wood paneling, and clusters of bronze orb lighting. The glass-walled dining room offers panoramic views of the cityscape outside and patrons dining on Lumen’s patio (who were present on the night of my visit, despite it being rather chilly).

Lumen’s menu proffers a variety of delicious-sounding dishes. As I was canvassing for spots to hold this dinner earlier in the week and perusing said menu, I specifically had a hankering for ribeye steak, which Lumen’s menu didn’t offer. But it did have a New York strip steak served with bernaise butter, aioli, and fries flavored with herbs and truffles.

And its menu held an item that definitively caught my attention – surprisingly, considering my hankering for red meat: the Power Salad, a concoction of arugula and kale and spinach and asparagus and grains and mango and avocado and crispy chickpeas and a Green Goddess dressing that had my palate exclaiming “WOW!”

Other compelling items on Lumen’s menu: appetizers such as a crab cake served with sriracha aioli and Asian slaw and the especially intriguing to me Everything Bagel Wings; soups and other entrée salads besides the Power salad; and dishes such as the Lumen Burger, Vegetarian Bolognese, and Pei Mussels prepared with white wine and chorizo sausage or green curry.

I went into my dinner at Lumen expecting to order that Power Salad, or maybe the New York strip. What was funny – and perhaps a synchronistic gift from the birthday gods – is that when our server came to greet us and tell us the night’s specials, a ribeye steak was one of them! It was like, WHAAATTT? Of course, I HAVE to get that!

So I did. I ordered the ribeye steak with broccoli rabe as the accompanying vegetable. And for my pre-dinner drink, I selected the most phenomenal signature cocktail, which was lavender-hued, potent, and so wonderfully flavored . . . and whose name I (yet again) forgot to take down. But I’m going to cut myself some slack here for this lapse in memory, because I was in the moment that night, enjoying time with the five friends who had gathered to celebrate with me. So, just know that it’s my personal experience that Lumen’s drinks are delectable little liquid bombs of tastiness and tipsiness.

Once our food came out, I dug into my ribeye. It was overcooked considering the temperature request I’d given of medium-rare (it was medium, bordering on medium-well), but the flavor was still phenomenal. And the broccoli rabe accompanying it paired well with it.

And an overcooked steak wasn’t about to kill the birthday magic for me. Overall, the experience at Lumen was great. It was a facilitator of good food, lovely ambiance, and wonderful connection and conversation. I left that night feeling that I’d had the ideal birthday celebration before my actual birthday had occurred. If my birthday somehow got cancelled the next day, I’d still feel like I was ushering in my 35th year on a high note, and Lumen Detroit was definitely a part of making that high note happen.

1903 Grand River Ave.

Detroit, MI 48226

(Closed Mondays)

www.lumendetroit.com

 

435. Unburger Grill – September 24, 2019 – Dearborn, MI

September2019Unburger1 (2)September2019Unburger3 (2)September2019Unburger2 (2)Unburger Grill, you phenomenal purveyor of vegan goodness, you had my palate exclaiming “WOW!” over and over during my recent visit to you!

I’m not vegan – or vegetarian – but I enjoy eating plant-based cuisine. Impressive vegan and vegetarian establishments reside in the Metro-D, making the meatless fare taste as good as – or better than – the animal-based originals.

Unburger Grill in Dearborn is one of those impressive vegan establishments. The fast-casual restaurant serves burgers with house-made patties made from plants; Black Bean Portobello, Spicy Chickpea and Zucchini, Sweet Potato and Quinoa, and Ultimate (described on Unburger’s website menu as “using a blend of the best vegan meat alternatives available”) are the varieties offered.

Diners choose what patty and bun they’d like for the style of burger they select at Unburger: Basic, Mushroom Swiss, Southwestern, Mac Style, or Sweet BBQ. The restaurant also serves vegan sandwiches, sausages, salads, soups, nachos, air-fried French fries, and other veggie-based sides.

A fact I didn’t know before the writing of this post: Dearborn has two downtown areas, West Downtown Dearborn and East Downtown Dearborn. Unburger is located in West Downtown Dearborn.

I’d never seen any downtown area of Dearborn and was excited to discover for myself the area where Unburger is located. It’s super cute! My friend who accompanied me to Unburger and I got enthused about exploring it more in the future.

Behind Unburger and some adjacent businesses is a courtyard with tables where patrons can sit and enjoy their meals. After walking into Unburger and ordering our burgers at the counter, we sat at one of the tables outside and waited for our burgers to be brought to us. They arrived quickly.

I ordered the Mac Style burger with a Spicy Chickpea and Zucchini patty and whole-grain bun, plus a side of the air-fried French fries. It was A-MAZING. The Spicy Chickpea and Zucchini patty was SO full of flavor; it was wonderful. It was definitely the best vegan patty I’ve ever had, hands-down!

Honestly, I found myself liking that Spicy Chickpea and Zucchini patty better than a traditional beef patty – and that’s high praise from me, as I LOVE red meat. Unburger, look at you, making me a plant-based burger convert!

It wasn’t only the Spicy Chickpea and Zucchini patty on my Mac Style burger that was deliciously flavorful – the entire burger was, too. The Mac Style burger was – you guessed it – a vegan riff on McDonald’s Big Mac. It was delicious with its lettuce, onion, pickles, vegan cheese, and Thousand Island dressing – and hefty, to boot. Between eating that Big Mac and the crispy French fries, I was stuffed upon leaving Unburger!

Another thing I liked about Unburger was that the staff was really nice. How employees treat me at a place definitely makes a difference in how I recall it; excellent meals can be marred by snotty staff, and I appreciate how lovely the staff at Unburger was the night of my visit. Thanks, Unburger, for being so welcoming – and for cooking up fare that is both healthful and INCREDIBLY TASTY!

22018 Michigan Ave.

Dearborn, MI 48124

www.unburgergrill.com

434. Tou & Mai – September 22, 2019 – Detroit, MI

September2019TouandMai1 (4)Tou & Mai, satisfying my Thai iced tea cravings!

I visited Thailand in January of this year and became enchanted with one of its signature drinks, the Thai iced tea – a yummy concoction of black tea and sweetened condensed milk. I’d not had one of those delectable babies since being back in the states and had vowed all summer that I’d hunt one down here at home.

It took me until a Sunday afternoon in late September (LOL) to finally focus on this objective. At least I achieved it before summer was officially over – and at least the weather was sunny and summer-like, with a high temperature in the upper 80s.

My Thai iced tea break at Tou & Mai occurred after a browsing session of shops – including Hugh, Source Booksellers, and Nora – in the Midtown/Cass Corridor area of Detroit.

While I knew exactly what I wanted, I browsed the tea shop’s menu while waiting in line. Tou & Mai’s signature offering is boba tea (also known as bubble tea), tea drinks with chewy tapioca pearls and/or jellies added to them.

Tou & Mai’s drink menu is separated into categories: Flavoured Fruit Tea (fruity drinks with a green-tea base); Flavoured Milk Tea (dairy-infused black teas); Real Fruit Smoothie (drink blends including varieties such as Red Adzucki Bean and Creamy Avocado); Extra Special Treat (next-level goodies such as the Litchi Mohito mocktail and the Peaches & Cream slushie infused with vanilla ice cream); and Vietnamese Caffé Latté (which, like the Thai iced tea, incorporate condensed milk).

The Toppings section of Tou & Mai’s menu includes such intriguing drink add-ins as Kiwi Popping Boba, Mango Popping Boba, Coffee Jellie, and Flan Custard.

Tou & Mai isn’t simply a boba tea shop; it’s also what it refers to on its website as an “Asian Mini Mart,” offering grocery items from Southeast Asia such as candy, cookies, condiments, and noodles. It’s also a place that celebrates the owners’ Hmong heritage, selling embroidered, hand-crafted goods made by Hmong artisans.

The Hmong people comprise an ethnic group with its origins in Southeast Asia. I’d admittedly been ignorant of the Hmong’s existence until a few months ago, when I watched an episode of CNN’s United Shades of America featuring them and their story.

The Hmong were recruited by the U.S. government to aid America in the fighting of the Vietnam war. Post-war, many of them fled their homes in fear of persecution for being American allies, and some ended up in the U.S., including here in the Metro-D. According to Tou & Mai’s website, a small Hmong community still exists here today.

So Tou & Mai is much more than the place that quite deliciously satisfied my appetite for Thai iced tea on a sunny September Sunday: it’s a boba tea shop/grocer/celebrator of culture. And it’s definitely worth a visit!

4240 Cass Ave., Ste. 102

Detroit, MI 48201

www.touandmai.com

433. Hugh – September 22, 2019 – Detroit, MI

September2019Hugh1 (3)September2019Hugh2 (2)Hugh, in a nutshell, sells pretty things!

A more accurate assessment of the shop based in Detroit’s Cass Corridor neighborhood is that it sells items that are both aesthetically pleasing AND functional: well-designed home goods such as glassware, barware, candles, clocks, coffee-table books, and furniture, plus personal care items and accessories.

Hugh’s interior is a well-organized place, pleasing to browse. The woman working the store the Sunday afternoon I visited was welcoming, and while I didn’t end up buying anything, I was especially intrigued by the Chemex coffee makers, elegant glass vessels (which remind me of beakers with their middles cinched) used to make pour-over coffee. Now that I’ve read this post on Hugh’s blog about the history of these coffee makers, I’m feeling increasingly taken with them. Maybe it’s time for a revisit?

If you aren’t in the area, you can still shop for Hugh’s pretty-slash-purposeful wares via its website (which also shows more furniture available for sale than is on display in its brick-and-mortar store).

4240 Cass Ave, Ste. 107

Detroit, MI 48201

(Closed Mondays and Tuesdays)

www.thankhugh.com

432. El Club – September 8, 2019 – Detroit, MI

September2019ElClub1 (2)September2019ElClub2 (4)September2019ElClub3 (2)September2019ElClub4 (3)El Club! The venue in Southwest Detroit is an all-ages club that hosts musical acts on a near nightly basis. It’s also where I saw Stef Chura and Ezra Furman perform on a Sunday night in September.

I’d been wanting to experience El Club since I read about it in Hour Detroit a year or two ago and was thrilled when I saw that one of my favorite contemporary musicians, Ezra Furman, was going to be performing there. I ordered tickets right away – and was even more psyched when I saw that closer to the show date, local artist Stef Chura and her band were added to the bill. I was familiar with her music and knew she would rock out!

I’m not familiar, in general, with the artists featured on El Club’s events calendar. I presume most of them are up-and-coming performers or those who appeal to more niche audiences. I’m admittedly not at all hip to the alt-music scene – though after my visit to El Club, I want to be!

The venue’s concert floor is relatively small, looking to accommodate no more than a couple hundred people – and that’s frankly part of its appeal. It’s what makes seeing a show at El Club exciting – you’re going to be right down there on the floor, in the action, a part of a live musical experience that is much more visceral, more alive, than being stuck up in the nosebleeds at some slickly produced yet lifeless stadium show.

The show I attended at El Club was billed as starting at 7 – but that ended up being when the doors opened for the night, which my friend and I discovered when we arrived at the club about 45 minutes early, the sole early birds in sight (LOL). Our early arrival did make parking simple; there’s a lot across the street from El Club where parking is free, so we parked there.

Killing time was easy, as beautiful Clark Park is only a few minutes’ walk away, and we sat on a hill there and watched people being led through square dances by a bluegrass band. It was a surprisingly moving experience, people of all ages and races coming together to joyfully perform these old-timey dance moves.

Back at El Club once the doors opened, I got a beer from the bar (which is a full bar serving beer, wine, and liquor), and my friend and I hung out on El Club’s picturesque patio with its garlands of lights and mural swirling with vibrant colors.

We were waiting not just for the show to start, but for the pizza to appear, because El Club serves slices of the pie. I was under the impression that El Club makes the pizza, but on that night, it arrived via outside delivery. Regardless, it was fresh and delicious.

Sometime after 8, we heard an explosion of music – the show was starting! Stef Chura and her band had boarded the stage; they played for about a half hour to 45 minutes, and they killed it!

Stef Chura’s voice mesmerized me; its got this alt-’90s vibe that I really dig, and I legit found myself thinking “I wanna be a cool rock star like her!” (Maybe in my next lifetime.)

After about a 20-minute break, Ezra Furman and his band hit the stage and also rocked out HARD. It was exciting to see a guy whose music I’ve admired for so long playing that music right in front of me. I actually found myself exclaiming a few times, “He looks the same as in his pictures!” (LOL – bless me with my obvious, fan-girling statement!)

As Ezra thanked us in the crowd for coming out on a Sunday night to support the arts, I felt a proclamation welling up inside of me: “I am going to CHANGE my life: I’m going to see live music more; I’m going to visit El Club all of the time!” I had drank the El Club Kool-Aid – and it felt good.

Flashing forward nearly a month: I haven’t been back to El Club since that night; I’ve let daily life with all of its routines and obligations pull me back into its orbit. But I’m still excited by the memory of my visit there and scan its newsletter every week, seeking the act that will make another magic moment out of my everyday life.

4114 W. Vernor Hwy.

Detroit, MI 48209

www.elclubdetroit.com