Detroit

252. Vertical Detroit – June 8, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170608_191848 (2)20170608_203101 (3)After glorious food and drink at Wright & Co. on a beautiful summer’s night in the D last month, my friend and I decided to continue the evening on Vertical Detroit’s patio. I was excited to visit the wine bar, because it was yet another place that had been on my radar for a long time, and because I HEART wine.

What I didn’t realize was how baller-wine-territory this place would be. Vertical’s wine menu is not playing around! There are numerous glasses of wine in the $20-$45 price range. I’m used to wine costing that much in restaurants – by the bottle, not the glass.

What I’m trying to say is that many of Vertical’s offerings were too out-of-our-price-range-at-this-juncture for my friend and I to consider. But there were also a number of by-the-glass choices costing in the teens and even a few for $9 (now we’re talking!). I decided on a glass of one of the most affordable ($11) reds, the 2014 Brunelli “Apricale” Sangiovese Blend from Tuscany, and enjoyed sipping it while catching up with a good friend and soaking in the tranquil early-evening city vibes.

I love wine, but I am by no means an expert in wine – even after participating in several extensive wine tastings and trainings during my years working as a server. My mind simply doesn’t retain info on grape varietals, vineyard terroirs, and the like, and no matter how hard I try, I’ll likely never be able to pick out those flavor notes of tobacco and leather. I am sure if I could that I’d be better able to appreciate Vertical’s extensive menu of dearly-priced finds. I am sure those wines have been chosen with care and are the best-of-the-best.

I do wonder if my tastes will ever get so rich as to entice me to pay $45 for a glass of wine. Probably not, even if my wallet gets rich. I would rather put that money toward the food-aspect of the meal and drink a second-rate glass of vino. My palate doesn’t seem to care about grape pedigree, even as it (very much!) respects the craft of wine-making.

Ambiance, on the other hand . . . ambiance is definitely important to me. I dug Vertical’s interior, which was elegantly dark and cozy with its richly tiled walls and chandeliers.

Besides offering an extensive wine list, Vertical Detroit offers craft cocktails and a selection of (mostly local) draft beers. It also boasts a food menu offering a sophisticated array of appetizers, small plates, and desserts such as lamb heart tartare, pork osso bucco, and crème brûlèe.

1538 Centre St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.verticaldetroit.com

251. Wright & Co. – June 8, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170608_175218 (2)20170608_180557 (2)20170608_180748 (2)Wright & Co.! I’m in love with you!!!!!

I’d heard great things about Wright & Co. and had it on my radar for months. I finally had an excuse to visit it last month when I went downtown on a Thursday night to get tickets from the Comerica Park box office and recruited a friend to go with me.

OK, I love visiting Detroit any day of the week, but it’s especially exciting to go down there on a week night after work because work days aren’t always the most intriguing for me. The most excitement I generally have on a work night is when I decide to drink wine and eat popcorn at the house while exhorting the characters in my fave cheesy-good TV dramas to not sleep with that shady dude and ruin their relationship with So-and-So! Full-throttle thrills there.

But when I go downtown on a work night, it automatically feels special, and I’m able to at least partially ignore the fact that I have to go into the office the next day while I’m drinking an alcoholic beverage akin to the nectar-of-the-gods and eating glorious treats such as loaded potato chips.

Loaded potato chips were one of the small-plates dishes my friend and I shared at Wright & Co. They are called Fresh Potato Chips on the menu and are a true thing of glory – check out the photo of them above! Are they not magnificent, those crispy, golden house-made potato chips smothered in white cheese sauce, bacon, scallions, and a tomato relish??? As you can imagine, they were insanely good.

Most – if not all – of the items on Wright & Co.’s menu are the small-plate size; guests are encouraged to select and share several dishes. My friend and I also ordered the Butternut Squash Pasta – another out-of-control-good dish. The butternut squash and parmesan made for a decadently creamy pasta whose richness was enhanced by flavorful pork belly and Brussels sprouts. We also got the Pork Belly Sliders, which were pure perfection topped with arugula, tomato jam, and sriracha aioli. YEESSSSSS! This place IS obvi one of the special ones.

Wright & Co. isn’t in the upper-echelon of Detroit restaurant glory solely because of its food; its craft cocktails are damn good, too. Now, could I tell you what beverage I ordered there? Unfortunately, no. I captured the names of the dishes I tried at the restaurant that night, but I immediately forgot which drink I ordered. Whoops. It was the pink one shown in the photo above, and I think it had whiskey in it. All I remember is, I dug it.

I dug the interior of the restaurant, too. Wright & Co. has this classy-industrial vibe going on with its brick walls, copper hardware, and exposed-bulb lighting accented by rich-red booths and a painting of a stormy seafaring scene that looks like it belongs in your old-money uncle’s study. The windows of the restaurant also offer a premier view of downtown.

Wright & Co. is open for dinner at 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and for brunch on Sundays (from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

Another aspect of the restaurant worth noting: we found it challenging to find. We spent about five minutes staring at GPS confused and walking around in circles because we didn’t see the restaurant. We then noticed a nondescript door in the building it was shown to be located within, 1500 Woodward Avenue. The door is not actually off Woodward but is around the corner. There is a buzzer system like in an apartment building where you can buzz the restaurant to let you in; I believe the door would be locked otherwise but am not sure because a guy inside the building saw us and opened the door for us.

Once you get inside the building, you enter an elevator and go up to Wright & Co. on the second floor. The elevator door opens, and you are there! You’ve stepped into an escape away from your everyday workaday world.

1500 Woodward Ave., Floor 2

Detroit, MI 48226

www.wrightdetroit.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1413 Brooklyn St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.mudgiesdeli.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

624 3rd St.
Detroit, MI 48226

www.tommysdetroit.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2644 Harrison St.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.nancywhiskeydetroit.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

719 Griswold St., Ste. 180

Detroit, MI 48226

www.eatdimestore.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

719 Griswold St., Ste. 100

Detroit, MI 48226

www.bonbonbon.com

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

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

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

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

660 Woodward Ave., #4A

Detroit, MI 48226

www.centraldetroit.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2520 Michigan Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.katoidetroit.com

 

204. Tom’s Tavern – October 27, 2016 – Detroit, MI

20161027_22540020161027_21040320161027_21051820161027_212355After dinner at La Feria in Midtown last Thursday night, one of my friend’s friends who we were with suggested Tom’s Tavern, one of his favorite bars from his college years. His friend preceded to drive us to an area of the city that I wasn’t familiar with: roughly near the U of D campus, but seemingly not much else of note (besides a Little Caesar’s that will figure into the story later).

We drove in the dark to this deserted-looking part of town and stopped at what looked to be a literal shack on 7 Mile Road west of Wyoming. Seriously. It was a tiny building that didn’t look much bigger than the shed in my dad’s backyard, with exterior walls that appeared to be constructed of plywood coated in a worn white coat of paint.

I like my friend’s friend, a guy she has recently started seeing. And little brings me more joy than a good dive bar. But when our car pulled onto the grassy lot behind this shack in this not-so-great-looking neighborhood, I was like, “WHERE is this guy taking us???”

We got out of the car and walked up to the back door, following other people who were entering there. The small room immediately behind that door indeed contained the kind of random flotsam you would find in somebody’s garage. We then walked through another room that was a kitchen, where the owner, an older gentleman with a long, grizzled white beard, and a woman smoking a cigarette, presumably his wife, huddled around some preparation that involved grilled mushrooms. It was probably their dinner, as I’m pretty sure Tom’s Tavern doesn’t serve food in any traditional sense – just in the ways that will be described shortly.

After walking through the kitchen, we came to the actual bar area, which was tiny and had the vibe of being in someone’s basement or family room. It was packed with people – mostly middle-aged, with a few appearing to be in their 20s and 30s. And it was chock-full of character. We found a table back toward the restrooms, to the right of the area where the musicians play.

What to describe first? To start, the floors at Tom’s Tavern slant all whimsically helter-skelter, so be mindful of that. When you approach the bar, you’ll find that standard alcohol legal age limit sign – you know, the one that states that only patrons who were born on or before today’s date in 1995 1984 will be served? I took great delight in this, as 1984 is the year of my birth, and it felt excellent to be 21 again in this time-warp reality.

I celebrated my age regression by ordering a vodka-and-soda and was happy to see that Tom’s was serving one of my favorites, Tito’s vodka (poured freehand from a jug-sized container of it) and also had lime wedges – because let’s face it, that wasn’t entirely a guaranteed amenity at a place like this. The bar is cash only, another aspect you want to bear in mind when planning a visit. It serves conventional bottled beers such as Pabst Blue Ribbon (a dive bar classic!)  – and also bottles of several local craft brews. I don’t believe there are any beers on draft. It sounds like red and white wine is generally available in addition to liquor and beer, but the owner, named Ron (who took the bar over from the eponymous Tom when he passed, I am told), couldn’t locate any red – my primary drink of choice – when I was there.

Shortly after our group sat down, the room fell into a hush. A man seated at the front of the bar started playing acoustic guitar and singing – folksy, bluesy stuff. It was like we were attending an intimate concert; people listened reverently while munching on the bowls of hard pretzels that the owner, Ron, brought to each table. After a while, a second guitarist joined the first one, and they played and sang together. A guy who we all sang happy birthday to accompanied them on the piano for one of the more raucous songs, and at one point, Ron and one of the beautiful younger patrons shared a dance.

And toward the end of our visit, Ron, who I hadn’t realized was missing, all of a sudden came through the front door bearing four Hot-and-Ready pizzas from the Little Caesar’s across the street and urged us all to eat.

I was captivated the entire time I was at Tom’s Tavern, by everything from the reverence-inspiring live music to the graffiti-strewn women’s room to this WHAT???? Free PIZZA?? OK, I’m officially obsessed.

Seriously, this place was magical. I’m in love with dive bars to begin with (see my recent post on my birthday visit to The Old Miami), and then to be in one that was so loaded with charm and good vibes and this built-in intimacy, where you feel goodwill toward your fellow bargoers simply because you are sharing this amazing common experience . . . it was special. Special is even too lame of a word to describe it. It was . . . transcendent. Hats off to Ron for curating such a transcendent place. Places like Tom’s Tavern don’t happen on accident.

I hope you catch the same feeling that I did if you decide to visit. There’s no guarantee that there will be live music or free pizza – or even that it will be open on the night you head over. Our guy who brought us here said that in his experience, Tom’s doesn’t keep consistent hours but that it generally seems to be open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The bar’s Yelp account gives the hours of operation as Wednesday through Sunday, 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., but I find it hard to believe that that is accurate, so if you are wanting to plan a trip, you can call the number given below to verify it’s open. Tom’s doesn’t have a website, but it does have a Facebook page, where it was posting regularly this summer about the musicians playing there on given nights; however, there have been no updates there since late September. Best to be safe and call – although if it’s closed, you can always hit up that Little Caesar’s across the screen for a consolation prize.

10093 W. 7 Mile Rd.

Detroit, MI 48221

313-862-9768