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

243. Jalapeños – April 19, 2017 – Pontiac, MI

20170419_192330 (2)20170419_192753 (2)20170419_195340 (2)Any night is a good night to get Mexican food, right?

At least, that’s my point of view. Mexican food is one of my dearest loves (all of that spicy, cheesy goodness . . . mmmmm). I’m actually slated to go and get some tonight at my fave pre-100-Places-in-the-D Mexican restaurant EVER, El Charro in Fraser (an East-side classic!).

Two weeks ago to the day, I was also out eating Mexican food – but at a new-to-me restaurant, Jalapeños in Pontiac. [NEW PLACE ALERT!!!]

One no-brainer marker of a good Mexican restaurant is, in my opinion, its chips. Free and tasty chips with endless refills are a must. Check mark in Jalapeños’ favor – its chips were awesome during my visit. They were fresh and crispy and salty, and I gorging on them like a starving woman while waiting for my friend whom I was meeting. (It’s not a visit to a Mexican restaurant if you don’t nearly completely fill up on chips before your entrée arrives, right?).

Another distinction of a great Mexican restaurant: generous portion sizes. No daintiness, please; that’s not what I came for. Jalapeños delivered on their portion sizes with my tamale dinner, which contained three good-sized tamales and rice and beans. Add to that the bright, cheerful restaurant interior and the most obvious marker of a solid Mexican restaurant, the overall tastiness, and you’ve got a high score from me for Jalapeños.

806 Baldwin Ave.

Pontiac, MI 48340

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

241. La Dulce – April 8, 2017 – Royal Oak, MI

20170408_180021 (2)20170408_185207 (2)20170408_18244120170408_182656 (2)Hi guys! I am popping on before a Detroit Day (~SQUEAL!~) to recount my visit a few weeks ago to La Dulce, a Spanish tapas place in Royal Oak.

The interior of the restaurant is light and airy, sophisticated, done up in blues and whites. In addition to standard table seating, there are also clusters of upholstered chairs and couches situated around low tables, so that if you are eating at one of those (as we were), you feel as if you are at an intimate dinner in someone’s living room.

I enjoyed a glass of rosé with the tapas spread my friends and I shared: a bowl of green olives, the Ibérico Ham Tosta (thinly sliced cured ham on toasted bread spread with garlic, grated tomato, and olive oil), Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes smothered in a white cheddar sauce, spicy red sauce, and more Ibérico ham), and Gildas (skewers loaded with anchovies, tuna, olives, peppers, and cornichon pickles).

OK, if my 30s mean sitting in elegant restaurants sipping wine and enjoying flavorful tapas with good friends, then I am all about this life! Who said being an adult had to be boring, anyway? If you are looking to treat yourself to a fancy, grown-up-yet-not-dull night out, La Dulce is definitely worth a visit.

115 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.ladulce.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25343 Van Dyke Ave.
Center Line, MI 48015

239. Rebel Café – March 26, 2017 – Royal Oak, MI

20170326_110900 (2)20170326_121723 (2)20170326_113306 (2)Sunday brunch has become a regular thing for me and two of my best friends, and Royal Oak is a routinely agreed-upon meeting spot. I thought we were running out of new places to try – until I stumbled upon Rebel Café!

All of my friends have been incredibly accommodating of my desire to visit locally-owned, new-to-me places for this blog. It’s at the point where many of them will automatically ask when we’re planning to hang out, “Where have you not been yet?” For this I love them more than they could possibly know. After three-plus years, I was afraid this obsession of mine with the novel would be getting tiring for them. But they have wholeheartedly embraced it, and I’m loving it. So cheers to my lovely pals! I’m glad to know they were getting sick of the same ol’, same ol’ corporate chains, too.

Sorry – little tangential love-fest there. But speaking of love, I can pretty much say I heart Rebel Cafe’s Asian salad. It is DELICIOUS – and I appreciate that they are not shy with the proportions on this one. This bad boy is loaded with shredded cabbage, carrot, jicama, crispy wontons, edamame, onion, and cucumbers and tossed in a sweet sesame dressing – and there’s the option to add chicken to it, too (yes, please!).

I had assumed that the Rebel Café was solely a breakfast and lunch joint – maybe because it features the kind of eats you would typically consume at those times: a slew of early-morning items such as pancakes and breakfast burritos, plus popular noontime items like sandwiches and salads. But it’s open in the evenings, too – until 3 a.m. (Coney Island competition!) on Fridays and Saturdays and until 9 p.m. every other day  of the week.

This is one of those casual joints where you order at the counter. The food was tasty and the place was clean and pleasant during my visit, so it’s getting my vote for a quick and affordable meal option whether morning, noon, or night.

410 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.rebel-cafe.com

238. Fillmore 13 – March 24, 2017 – Pontiac, MI

20170324_165022 (2)20170324_171159 (2)20170324_182615 (2)Hey guys! I’m so glad to be back on the blog with a post here today – finally! The last few weeks were a little cray-cray-ba-nay-nay as I helped to plan and throw a dear friend’s shower and caught up on life stuffs. I like to remind myself that a busy life is a good life but am glad things have calmed down a bit so I can get on here and share with you the awesome places I’ve visited over the last few weeks, such as the recently opened Fillmore 13 Brewery in downtown Pontiac.

So can I say that I’m kind of obsessed with downtown Pontiac right now? It’s really looking awesome! Not only is there a Slow’s To-Go down there and the excellent Exferimentation Brewing Company, there’s this great new brewery called Fillmore 13. I am loving its down-to-earth, industrial-chic vibes, welcoming demeanor, and delicious craft brews and grub.

During my Friday happy hour visit (which is obvi the best time of the week EVER to visit a bar – TGIF-style!), the friendly, attentive bartender let my friend and I try a few of the beers before we made our choices. I settled on a four-sampler paddle of the chocolate stout, apricot Belgian ale, hazelnut porter, and saison pale ale. I loved them all, especially the apricot (a refreshing, perfect-for-warm-weather brew!) and the hazelnut.

Food-wise, I got the BBQ Sidewinder Nachos, which are basically the epitome of drinking eats. They’re these crispy potato wedges cut in this curlicue-type shape and doused in beer-infused nacho cheese, sour cream, green onions, and glorious barbecued pulled pork – YESSSSSS.  That is happiness balm for the stomach and spirit right there.

What I like about Fillmore 13’s food menu is that they’ve got the typical bar fare such as those Sidewinder Nachos and chicken wings and pretzels and cheese plus more sophisticated offerings. Most bars don’t have, say, an artisan cheese platter; a charcuterie tray; a pizza topped with prosciutto, goat cheese, and arugula; or sandwiches named Turkey Brie. But Fillmore 13 does. And I love that. Because I adore a luscious, straight-up dive-bar sandwich, but I also love a pulled pork topped with green-apple coleslaw and nestled on a brioche bun. There’s enough room in the world for all the choices, right?

7 N. Saginaw St.

Pontiac, MI 48342

www.fillmore13brewery.com

237. Tonia’s Victorian Rose – March 21, 2017 – Rochester, MI

20170321_125022 (2)20170321_113006 (2)20170321_115355 (2)Happy Friday, guys! I hope you’re looking ahead to a weekend open to much fun and exploring. I’ve got some good plans on the docket for the next few days, including visiting a brand-spanking-new local brewery tonight (counting down the minutes until happy hour as I type!), so look out for more new posts soon.

Today is all about my recent lunch visit to Tonia’s Victorian Rose, a tea room located in downtown Rochester.

OK, so I know the term “tea room” is probably not the most ear-perking one for many of ya, but let me assure you, Tonia’s Victorian Rose is straight-up delightful. A coworker treated me and another gal to lunch there Tuesday, and once I stepped into its soothing lilac-walled, sunshine-kissed, vintage-tunes-infused, grandly-grandmotherly interior, I didn’t want to leave. I was like, “Can we go get our laptops and hunker down with pots of tea and work here the rest of the afternoon?” Seriously – because pretty much this joint is the antithesis of my corporate day-job office. It has good vibes, is what I’m saying.

As you’d expect, the menu of Tonia’s Victorian Rose showcases a multitude of teas, including intriguing flavors such as Acai Pomegranate Blueberry Green Tea and Lavender Earl Grey as well as various decaffeinated options. I enjoyed a pot of decaf Earl Grey.

And the food there was great! I appreciated the selection offered, which surprised me for a tea room menu. I expected the few typical choices: chicken salad, mini sandwiches of the cucumber and egg-salad varieties, the requisite scones. And yes, there are chicken salad and scones on the menu, and you can get trays of those OG mini tea-party sandwiches if you make a reservation ahead of time. But there are also: sandwich varieties that you might not expect, such as the Italian Chicken and the Grilled Veggie Focaccia; crepes of both the sweet and savory varieties; two kinds of quiches; pot pie; and several soup and salad choices.

I ordered the Extreme Victorian Rose Salad, a mash-up of two of the salads on the menu, the Cashew Chicken and the Victorian Rose. To be honest, I was confused about what I was ordering; I somehow missed that the Cashew Chicken Salad was a chicken salad of the aforementioned chicken-mixed-up-with-mayonnaise variety. I’m generally not a fan of chicken salad, so I was bummed by my misstep. But I ate it, and let me tell you: it was excellent! I loved the raspberry vinaigrette on the leafy part of the salad, the cashews mixed into the chicken-salad part, and the juicy mandarin oranges. The dish also came with a cranberry-orange scone accompanied by this awesome whipped butter with orange zest mixed in.

And then, there was dessert! Yes, the menu of Tonia’s Victorian Rose also offers various desserts, such as the rose-flavored ice cream topped with a dried (and edible) rosebud we enjoyed as a palate cleanser and conclusion to this tasty and tranquil meal.

118 W 3rd St.

Rochester, MI 48307

(Open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday)

www.toniasvictorianrose.com

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