Detroit

586. Nain Rouge Brewery – October 8, 2022 – Detroit, MI

Nain Rouge Brewery, serving up sinfully good beer!

I discovered the Detroit-based brewery during birthday celebrations for moi last month. Friends ordered its beer during dinner at Smith & Co., and we noticed the brewery was right across the way. So we popped over for a round of drinks after, before continuing on to Willis Show Bar.

It turns out that Smith & Co. is the only restaurant to serve Nain Rouge’s wares. The brewery also works with Eastern Michigan University’s brewing school, according to its website, aiming to “help promote diversity in the beer industry.”

What an awesome partnership! Obviously, Nain Rouge Brewery’s character is nothing like its namesake’s, that legendary creature who is said to cause mayhem in the D. Nain Rouge the brewery was, in my experience, a welcoming place devoid of drama – a chill space to enjoy pre-show drinks. But the “red dwarf,” as its name translates, has left its imprint on the brewery – in the form of its devilishly delicious beer.

Nain Rouge’s current tap list boast a range of choices, from an amber lager to a coffee stout to a honey- and hibiscus-infused wheat beer. There are three kinds of IPAs, a kölsch, a pilsner – even an Oktoberfest selection. I went for the Wisehead Chocolate Vanilla Porter, and it was right up my alley: rich, tasty, smooth.

Maybe that’s how Nain Rouge the imp is able to sneak in and cause a ruckus: by being as smooth as Nain Rouge the brewery’s beers. Maybe Nain Rouge Brewery has more in common with its namesake than I initially thought!

666 Selden St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.nainrougebrewery.com

585. Smith & Co. – October 8, 2022 – Detroit, MI

A Saturday night spent with friends in Detroit: is there anything better? That’s especially the case when you’re dining on Smith & Co.’s Nain Rouge Mac & Cheese!

The Midtown/Cass Corridor-based restaurant and bar serves up hearty fare in a convivial environment. The interior ambiance can be described as upscale industrial: concrete floors, exposed beams, and destressed elements mixed with leather banquettes, gloss, and mod lighting.

Delving into the menu’s array of sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and entrées, I saw several choices that enticed me – the Korean Fried Chicken sandwich being one. I even toyed with the idea of getting a salad, intrigued by the Fried Green Tomato with its medley of kale, kamut, beans, radishes, red onion, snap peas, feta, croutons, mint, the titular tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette.

But the Nain Rouge Mac & Cheese won out – and I’m SO glad it did! The noodles were doused in creamy beer cheese and tossed with barbecue sauce-infused pulled beef, chunks of bacon, and fried onion. It was rich, flavorful, indulgent – the exact qualities you want a birthday dinner to have.

The drink I imbibed at Smith & Co. embodied those same traits. A luxurious mix of Kahlua, vodka, coffee, and dalgona topped with coffee foam, the Espresso Martini Chamber Seven was so nice, I ordered it twice! The current selection of specialty cocktails includes the Pumpkin Spice Old Fashioned and a seasonal sangria. Beer from nearby Nain Rouge Brewery is on draft, and for those who don’t drink, a Zero-Proof section features two mocktails and drinks from the likes of local leisure soda vendor, Casamara Club.

Celebrating my birthday with friends at Smith & Co. was wonderful – namely because of those friends’ company. But the delicious food and drink amplified the experience. Thanks, Smith & Co., for helping make this special day even more special!

644 Selden St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.smithandcodetroit.com

583. Detroit Public Theatre – October 2, 2022 – Detroit, MI

Get swept away by story at Detroit Public Theatre!

Season Eight of the local theater company kicked off in a brand-new home: the renovated Third Avenue Garage building in Detroit’s Midtown/Cass Corridor neighborhood. Prior to this, Detroit Public Theatre held its plays at venues around town – most recently at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

The theater is a beauty of a building! The airy lobby is an elegant example of the industrial aesthetic, with neat concrete floors, exposed brick walls, and a wood-plank ceiling. A bar along one side serves beer, wine, cocktails, and non-alcoholic libations.

I was there to see Mud Row. Written by lauded playwright and native Detroiter Dominique Morisseau (who is also Detroit Public Theatre’s Executive Artistic Producer), the play explores themes of racism, civil rights, gentrification, and (oft-complex) family dynamics. The intimate theater was an ideal space for this emotionally raw, moving production. Seated a couple of rows from the actors, I definitely felt in on the action.

Mud Row wrapped on October 30. Detroit Public Theatre’s next production, Noura, a tale about an Iraqi immigrant family grappling with their past during the holiday season, debuts November 15. To learn more about Noura and Detroit Public Theatre’s other Season Eight productions – and to buy tickets! – click here.

3960 3rd Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.detroitpublictheatre.org

581. Milk & Froth – September 18, 2022 – Detroit, MI

Milk & Froth, bringing summery ice-cream vibes year-round!

One unnaturally hot Sunday in mid-September, I fulfilled my dream to visit this ice cream shop operating out of the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit. Milk & Froth brings delicious dairy and non-dairy goodness in the form of intriguing ice cream flavors such as Malt Cherry Chocolate, Matcha Pistachio, and Chocolate Hazelnut.

I opted for one of Milk & Froth’s house-made waffle cones topped with scoops of Salted Caramel and Sea Salt Butter Cake. It was SOOOO good! The ice cream was richly flavorful and luxuriously creamy. And the waffle cone? It wasn’t mere window-dressing for the ice cream, but delectably fresh and crunchy.

I went for two of Milk & Froth’s dairy ice creams, but I was tempted by a couple of the vegan varieties. My friend raved about the Roasted Strawberry made with coconut cream, roasted strawberries, and strawberry compote.

This visit to Milk & Froth was the topper to an amazing day spent spent wandering Detroit, which included visits to Founders, Astoria Pastry Shop, and the world’s largest rubber duck on display outside Huntington Place (or Cobo Hall, as it’s still known in our hearts!). EVERYONE was out that day: at the auto show, the Lions game, the Tigers game, the restaurants, the casinos. It was my favorite view of Detroit: brimming with all kinds of people enjoying all the city has to offer. Milk & Froth is one such offering, and it’s one you shouldn’t sleep on! Grab a cone or pint from the shop – or seek out pints at the stores showcased on its website.

535 Griswold St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.milkandfroth.com

580. Baobab Fare – September 14, 2022 – Detroit, MI

Delicious Baobab Fare! The restaurant on Woodward Avenue in Detroit serves up flavorful East African fare in an artfully designed, welcoming setting.

Baobab Fare is owned by husband-and-wife duo Nadia Nijimbere and Hamissi Mamba, who originally hail from Burundi. According to Baobab Fare’s website, their intention is for the restaurant to “serve as a safe space for other immigrants and Detroiters alike, knowing that it is a meeting place where all are welcomed and embraced. Baobab will help to fill a gap as it relates to African fare and culture in the city.”

That’s a mission I can get behind – especially when it’s being so deliciously done! The meal I had last month at Baobab Fare, the Mhogo, was SO tasty. It’s a dish Baobab Fare only serves on Wednesdays. It consists of chicken that’s been pan-fried, shredded, and infused with a mustard-onion sauce, yuca root, and the choice of either yellow beans or peanut-stewed spinach (I opted for the latter). I ordered a side of plantains to accompany it (because plantains are EVERYTHING to me), and an African tea with oat milk.

I cannot stress how wonderful this meal was! The chicken and spinach were rich and flavorful; the yuca, buttery, starchy, comfort-food goodness. The spinach especially had me exclaiming. How could something as innately banal as spinach be transformed into such tastebud-thrilling fare??? I don’t know the answer to that question – but Baobab Fare does. The accoutrements to the meal – the spiced African black tea and plantains – were just as delicious.

Sitting in Baobab Fare’s beautiful dining room, chatting with a good friend whilst savoring this marvelous meal – on a workday Wednesday, no less – was such a treat. Here’s to new-place visits that elevate the everyday – especially when they’re visits to restaurants with purpose, heart, and a talented kitchen staff! Baobab Fare checks all the boxes there.

6568 Woodward Ave., Ste. 100

Detroit, MI 48202

www.baobabfare.com

576. Norwest Gallery of Art – August 27, 2022 – Detroit, MI

Experience beautiful, thought-provoking art at Norwest Gallery of Art!

The gallery based in the Rosedale Park neighborhood of Detroit features work by contemporary artists, many of them African and African-American. The exhibit on display the day of my visit was Pray for Us, a gorgeous collection of photos and video highlighting mothers and their connection to and influence on spirituality. Curated by Detroit-based artist Bre’Ann White, the exhibit included a reproduction of the living room of her mother, Edna, who recently died from cancer. What a poignant display of love and remembrance that was.

Norwest Gallery of Art is also the steward of Womxnhouse Detroit, an artists-residency program that supports BIPOC artists who identify as women or non-binary. The program’s artists display their work in an annual exhibit installed at Norwest owner Asia Hamilton’s childhood home. The second-annual Womxnhouse Detroit exhibit is on display through October 23; learn more about it and purchase tickets here. If it’s anything like last year’s exhibit, it’s sure to be a powerful experience. Do yourself a favor and go.

And do yourself a favor and visit Norwest Gallery of Art! The exhibit on display there as of the writing of this post, a collection by Jamar Lockhart titled In Living Color, appears to be full of beautiful, thought-provoking art, indeed.

19556 Grand River Ave.

Detroit, MI 48223

www.norwestgallery.com

574. Oak & Reel – August 22, 2022 – Detroit, MI

What a fantastic experience dining at Oak & Reel was! From the food to the service to the ambiance, this Detroit-based Italian restaurant is serving up top-tier excellence.

I’d become familiar with Oak & Reel from Hour Detroit‘s coverage of it. The magazine crowned Oak & Reel 2022 Restaurant of the Year. Detroiters must’ve took notice, because the restaurant was packed when my friend and I arrived at 7:30 on a Monday night. Fortunately, we were able to snag two open seats at the bar.

Oak & Reel’s interior is a pretty, airy space, a pleasing mixture of industrial and contemporary elements. I loved the profusion of potted plants and striking hexagon tiles that covered one section of ceiling.

Service at the restaurant was excellent. The bartender who waited on us was a delight, friendly and attentive. He praised my drink choice, the Serpenti, an utterly delicious mixture of tequila reposado, passionfruit, lime, and calabrian chile. I love a spicy cocktail!

From the octopus Bolognese to the butter-poached halibut to the Raw portion featuring oysters, tuna, and other ocean delicacies, seafood is featured heavily on Oak & Reel’s menu. But there are plenty of options for non-seafood-lovers, too (take it from me, who is one of them!). One is the Caramelle, a pasta dish featuring ribbon-like strips of ravioli filled with short rib meat and topped with blistered yellow and red grape tomatoes, bread crumbs, and marjoram. This was my order, and it was exceptional! The house-made pasta was perfectly tender, and I savored the rich filling, crunchy bread crumbs, and vibrance of the blistered tomatoes and herbs.

After a meal that perfect, I didn’t need dessert – but I strongly considered it. How could I not, when Oak & Reel was offering tempting choices such as the Triple Chocolate Tarte with orange and cacao nibs and the Bomboloni, donuts with rosemary sugar and lemon anglaise?

Just like those desserts, the experience of dining at Oak & Reel was an extra-special treat – one that I definitely yearn to savor again!

2921 E. Grand Blvd.

Detroit, MI 48202

www.oakandreel.com

569. Motor City Wine – July 23, 2022 – Detroit, MI

Motor City Wine is many things: a wine shop, a wine bar, a host of live music . . . and the site of one of the most gorgeous patios in Detroit!

Motor City Wine’s offerings have obviously been thoughtfully curated. There are more than just the usual varieties from the usually-featured winemaking regions. Stroll through its Instagram account (motorcitywine) to see wines from all over the world: the Czech Republic, South Africa, the country of Georgia. Buy a bottle from the shop and drink it in the bar by paying a $10 corkage fee. Or purchase a glass featured on the bar’s menu. Wine not your thing? Motor City Wine also serves beer.

Live music is another regular offering at Motor City Wine. Its website’s September calendar shows DJs and musicians playing sets Thursdays through Sundays. Restaurant pop-ups are also a regular occurrence.

And that patio! It’s a pretty, greenery-infused retreat – the perfect place to savor a glass of Motor City Wine’s wares.

1949 Michigan Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.motorcitywine.com

566. Electric Ave Bikes – June 19, 2022 – Detroit, MI

Looking to rent or buy an electric bike, get yours serviced, or tour Detroit via e-bike? Look no further than Electric Ave Bikes!

The shop on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit is all things e-bikes. Part of the Michigan-based bike shop chain American Cycle & Fitness, Electric Ave Bikes is owned and operated by Jason Hall. Jason cofounded Slow Roll, the Monday-night bike ride that routinely drew a couple thousand riders to the streets of Detroit.

Regretfully, I never participated in a Slow Roll ride. But I did get to experience a bike ride with Jason this past June! Because Jason offers bike tours via his other company, RiDetroit. Electric Ave Bikes supplies the e-bikes and is the starting point for those tours.

I went on RiDetroit’s Five Neighborhood tour. For two hours, we rode all over Detroit: to Eastern Market, the Dequindre Cut, the riverfront, downtown, and Greektown. It was fabulous! Along the way, Jason shared bits of history about the neighborhoods we explored and the art we saw. We opened our e-bikes up on the Dequindre Cut, zipping along the smooth path so easefully! I didn’t realize how easy the e-bike made it until I returned to the Dequindre Cut a couple of weeks later on a regular bike. Much frenzied pedaling ensued!

In addition to offering several e-bike tours (including a pizza-themed one!), RiDetroit hosts a walking tour exploring Eastern Market’s murals. Check out its current offerings here.

3613 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.americancycleandfitness.com/about/electric-ave-pg994.htm

559. Bronx Bar – April 30, 2022 – Detroit, MI

What’s better than springtime Saturday in the city? Springtime Saturday in the city capped off with a visit to the Bronx Bar!

Detroit is magical any time of year for me, precisely because it fosters magical establishments such as this longtime fixture in the Midtown/Cass Corridor neighborhood.

From the colorful stained-glass lamps hanging from its ceilings to the deer figurines flanking its tables, the Bronx Bar oozes old-fashioned charm. There’s a vintage jukebox (that holds CDs!) and a dolphin figurine inexplicably wearing a bra (because why not?). Roll-up doors open one wall to the outside, offering up fresh air and street-side people watching, and patio tables flank the exterior. Chalkboard menus advertise bar fare ranging from veggie-forward (a black-bean burger; a sandwich christened the Clean Veggie) to saturated-fat-infused decadence (fried bologna, cheese sticks, a ground-chuck cheeseburger). The bar stocked with bottles means everyone is bound to find a favorite drink.

If you’re looking for a little charm infusion, look no further than this effortlessly charming place!

4476 2nd Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201