441. Old Detroit Burger Bar – October 25, 2019 – Troy, MI

October2019OldDetroitBurgerBar1 (3)October2019OldDetroitBurgerBar2 (3)I love a big, juicy burger any day of the week, but especially on Fridays. Because burgers scream “TGIF!” to me!

Old Detroit Burger Bar is serving up the big, juicy burger goodness any day of the week, not solely Fridays. But my recent visit to the local restaurant chain’s Troy location did fall on a Friday – and I was vibing hard on its TGIF-infused aura.

The restaurant’s interior is sleek sports bar with a comfy feel: lots of browns and grays and glossy wood, accented with neon-blue fluorescent lighting. A bar with wraparound seating dominates one section; flat-screen TVs abound and are tuned in to the sport matches du jour.

Old Detroit Burger Bar’s food menu showcases much more than its namesake item: it’s got appetizers, entrée salads, sandwiches, and dishes such as Homemade Lasagna Dinner and The Lake St. Clair (fish and chips, naturally). It even serves its rendition of a Coney dog and a loose Coney burger. But my eyes were zeroed in on its burger section because: see Paragraph 1.

Names of Old Detroit Burger Bar hamburgers have a local slant to them. There’s The Ambassador, The Michigan Ave., the I-75. That last burger, by the way, is a two-pounder loaded with grilled onions, jalapeños, and American, Swiss, AND cheddar cheeses, served with Thousand Island dressing. According to Old Detroit Burger Bar’s website, if you finish one of those behemoths, you can get your picture added to a wall of fame devoted to I-75 slayers.

And there’s the burger I decided to order, The Vernor. The half-pound hamburger is bringing Southwest Detroit-inspired flair with its jalapeños, green peppers, guacamole, American and cheddar cheeses, and sour cream served on the side. I opted for tater tots to accompany mine.

My table’s food came out quickly, and I used the steak knife stabbed into my Vernor burger to cut its hefty form in half. It was everything I’d hoped it would be: juicy, beefy, cheesy, spicy, guac-laden deliciousness! The tater tots were tantalizingly crispy, greasy nuggets of spud.

My Vernor burger was so big that I was easily able to save a chunk of it to take home – though it was so tasty that I did ponder devouring the whole thing then and there (maybe if there was a wall of fame involved, I would have!).

3946 Rochester Rd.

Troy, MI 48083

(With additional locations in Lapeer, Lake Orion, and Clawson)

www.olddetroitburgerbar.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

 

437. The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms – October 5, 2019 – Ferndale, MI

October2019FifthWallEscapeRooms1 (2) In the first week of October, it was that time of year for me again: BIRTHDAY TIME! Celebration was obviously in order, and a visit with friends to The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms in Ferndale kicked off the festivities.

I’d been wanting to try out an escape room for a while, and while checking out the local options, I ran across The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms. It intrigued me right away, as it’s a locally-owned establishment with rooms that incorporate Michigan elements and with themes that seemed much more creative to me than those of the downtown-based branch of a national escape-room chain heavily advertised on Google.

The three rooms to choose from at The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms at the time (and as of the writing of this post) were The Purple Gang (billed as an “introductory escape room” on the Fifth Wall website; it gives an abbreviated escape time of 25 minutes); The Harry Houdini Trap; and Weirder Stuff, a creepy caper held in a cabin in 1980s northern Michigan.

I opted for the Weirder Stuff room and recruited five friends to join me in the one-hour escape extravaganza.

When we entered The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms at the time of our booking, we were greeted by two guys who I assumed were the owners and given an introductory explanation of the room parameters: the rules, point system, etc. We were being given one hour to crack the numerical code that would allow us to escape the room, though we had the option to stay in the room beyond that point (until the full hour was up) if we wanted to continue to solve the full puzzle and earn additional points. Our group of six would have the room to ourselves, as we were the only ones to book it during that timeslot (the Weirder Stuff room holds 10 people).

We then watched a short introductory video giving us further context on the mission we were about to embark on and were ushered into our escape-room scenario.

The configuration of the room, as well as the puzzles presented within it, were much more elaborate than I’d expected. I don’t want to give away any of the elements of the room or its storyline, so I’ll simply say that it’s obvious that a lot of care and creativity were poured into the crafting of this room by The Fifth Wall team and that they did an excellent job creating an immersive experience. Also, the spooky/supernatural elements of the Weirder Stuff room make it an ideal outing for Halloween season.

After about 52 minutes of intense sleuthing, our group cracked the code that would let us out of the cabin we’d been locked within! We, however, decided to spend the remainder of the hour attempting to crack the full puzzle of the room.

We fell short. It was a bummer to gain peak momentum in the last 15 minutes of the challenge and not be able to see the full exercise through – but that’s how the escape-room game goes!

At the end of the hour, our hosts entered the room and gave us feedback about how we did and answered some questions we had about puzzles that stumped us. They said we’d gotten a lot farther in the Weirder Stuff room than most groups did, which made us feel better about the endeavor of which it seemed we’d just started to scratch the surface.

The Fifth Wall guys had also popped in aurally via a loudspeaker during the challenge to give us hints when we’d been stuck on certain elements, which was helpful.

My takeaway from my first escape-room experience was that it was much more challenging than I’d expected (I definitely had moments of feeling like the whole thing was over my head during the Weirder Stuff room) but super entertaining. I was pleased at how well my friends and I worked together; it was fun to participate as a team in such a novel experience. The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms, thanks for helping me kick off my birthday celebration in such an enjoyable and engaging way!

1930 Hilton Rd.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.fifthwallescape.com

436. Albert’s Coney Grill – October 4, 2019 – Auburn Hills, MI

October2019AlbertsConeyGrill1 (2)October2019AlbertsConeyGrill2 (2)Dining at Albert’s Coney Grill proved to be a delicious endeavor.

The Coney Island-style restaurant located in Auburn Hills presented a clean, well-lit dining room; quick, pleasant service; and tasty, affordable food during my lunchtime visit earlier this month.

Albert’s menu is extensive, featuring various culinary avenues: appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, and burgers; seafood dishes and stir-fries; Italian and Greek fare; a whole page devoted to breakfast items; and of course, Coney dogs.

Choosing my meal that day was easy, as I was in the mood for a salad and zeroed in on the Chicken Greek Salad on Albert’s menu. The friend who I dined with that day ordered the Chicken Strip Salad.

Our salads arrived quickly and were HUGE. They were accompanied by addictively chewy pita bread triangles; dressing came on the side in plastic squeeze bottles.

I doused that Chicken Greek Salad with ample amounts of Greek dressing and loved every bite of its crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumber and onion, pickled beets, creamy feta, zesty olives, spicy pepperoncini, and tender grilled chicken.

The salad was so big that after eating my fill at lunch that day, I had a meal-sized portion left to enjoy for dinner. Thanks, Albert’s Coney Grill, for handling two meals in one fell swoop for me!

2061 Featherstone Rd.

Auburn Hills, MI 48326

(Closes at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays)

www.albertsconey.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