Hamtramck

329. Planet Ant Theatre’s Ant Hall – May 17, 2018 – Hamtramck, MI

May2018PlanetAntAntHall1 (2)May2018PlanetAntAntHall3 (3)OMG, you guys, did I have a blast last week watching improv at Planet Ant Theatre’s Ant Hall in Hamtramck!

Have you ever been to a Planet Ant production – specifically the Thursday night Comedy Slice Block Party? It is an absolute DELIGHT, a three-hour revue of various improv groups providing off-the-cuff hilarity and absurdity that I found to be massively entertaining. At $5.50 a ticket, entrance to the Comedy Slice Block Party was a steal considering the intense laughter therapy it provided me.

Planet Ant Theatre had been on my radar after reading a profile on it in Hour Detroit a year or two ago (thank you, Hour Detroit, for yet again providing a spot-on recommendation). Attending a show there seemed like the perfect kick-off to my 2018 Best Summer EVER initiative, so I recruited my friend Jaclyn, whose willingness to check out new places is just one of the many reasons she is dear to me (my friends are seriously the best at tolerating my obsession with exploring the area for this blog).

After dinner at Dos Locos Tacos, we walked over to the Ant Hall, the Planet Ant satellite building where the Comedy Slice Block Party was being held. When I’d picked the weekly Thursday-night improv event from the schedule of comedy, plays, and live music, I hadn’t realized it was held at a building other than the main theatre, the vibrantly purple two-story brick building with its giant ant-head logo splayed on one side.

I discovered that the Ant Hall is a smaller building just across the street from the main theater and is connected with a bar called the Ghost Light bar, which is accessible from inside the Ant Hall. (I thought of potentially counting the Ghost Light as another new-to-me place separate from the Ant Hall – but despite it having a different street address, for me the two places and my experience visiting them felt connected.)

When we meandered into the Ghost Light once it opened at 7, I dug the small bar’s dimly-lit, dive-bar coziness and inviting aura.

Around 7:30, a guy entered the Ghost Light and announced that the improv show was about to start and that us bar patrons should feel free to wander into the theater to enjoy some comedy. Jaclyn and I finished our beers and headed over to the theater, our curiosity piqued about what this Comedy Slice Block Party would entail.

I’d bought tickets for the show online and been instructed to pick them up at the Ant Hall lobby counter. But we never picked up the tickets because we never saw anyone at that counter at any point prior to the show. Given that, and given the open invitation from the aforementioned guy in the Ghost Light, we could have easily gotten away with not buying tickets at all. But I was glad we had, to support the theater in that way (thumbs-up to nurturing the arts!).

Joining the show already in progress, we entered the theater, which consisted of a stage with several rows of folding chairs set up in front of it. Our entrance brought the audience total to five people.

Throughout the evening, that audience grew so that it eventually consisted of about 20-something of us. It ended up being a small-but-mighty crowd, good-vibing and boisterously laughing. Several brief intermissions were interspersed throughout the show, to allow us attendees to use the restrooms and frequent the Ghost Light for drinks, which we were allowed to bring into the theater.

From the get-go, I admired the improv performers of this show. Acting in front of a sparse audience, under pressure to spontaneously follow their teammates’ cues and be comical in the process, took major courage – at least, for me it would. These guys and gals had guts!

And they were FUNNY. I laughed and laughed and laughed at each portion of the Comedy Slice Block Party featuring a different improv group. Man, it felt so good to laugh like that! Every time I crack up that much, I remind myself that I need to do it more often. Improv shows need to become a mainstay in all of our lives!

(BTW, in case you are interested in becoming one of these gutsy guys and gals who gets onstage and make funnies on the fly, Planet Ant Theatre offers improv training classes – check out its website for more info.)

Each group performed for about 15 to 20 minutes – perhaps longer as the night went on. I wasn’t keeping track of time because I was enjoying myself so much – the nearly three-hour show flew by.

Most of the groups performed standard improv sets; a few varied the format. There was one act called Alex Explains it All (shown in the second photo above) that did what came off more as theatric performance than improv. Goth Alex was joined onstage by her boyfriend guitarist, her drag-queen mother, and her drummer stepfather, Skid Rock, for a rousing act of shenanigans and song.

The last set of the night at this Comedy Slice Block Party show incorporated one of the most inherently unfunny elements on the planet: torture. It had troupe members getting spanked with a rubber paddle for producing jokes that merited boos, walking blindfolded amongst a minefield of live mousetraps, and performing sketches with one team member’s head submerged in a bucket of water – until that person begged out and tapped in the next team member to hold his/her breath under water for as long as he/she could tolerate.

This torture set: that shit was crazy! It definitely made me a bit uncomfortable, in a “Is it OK to laugh at this?” sense – which was probably part of its intent. While I certainly didn’t derive pleasure from the troupe members’ discomfort, it was entertaining in its unconventionality. Props to those guys for being willing to endure beatings, mouse-trap pinches, and water torture in the name of comedy!

Overall, attending this Comedy Slice Block Party was the most entertaining thing I have done in months; it was an absolute riot. I’m going to self-prescribe myself the directive to attend improv and comedy shows on a regular basis, because laughter really IS the best medicine, in my book!

2320 Caniff St.

Hamtramck, MI 48212

www.planetant.com

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328. Dos Locos Tacos – May 17, 2018 – Hamtramck, MI

May2018DosLocosTacos1 (2)May2018DosLocosTacos2 (2)May2018DosLocosTacos3 (2)This is a post about a Mexican restaurant housed inside of a former hamburger joint in a city known for its Polish and Middle Eastern cuisine. Say hello to Dos Locos Tacos!

The tiny restaurant perched at the corner of Joseph Campau Avenue and Caniff Street in Hamtramck brandishes red-lettered “Hamburgers” signage above its door, but neon lights in the window flaunt its real name, complete with a logo of a taco enveloped by a heart.

That taco enveloped by a heart could be tattooed on my soul, I love Mexican food so much! While I’d initially planned to check out a new-to-me Middle Eastern restaurant while in Hamtramck last week, when I spied the recently-opened Dos Locos Tacos among the Yelp results for the area, I knew I and my similarly-taco-obsessed friend who was meeting me in Hamtramck had to go there.

Thusly, we found ourselves in this tiny hipster-retro diner on a Thursday night, dunking perfectly crunchy chips into enticingly garlicky guacamole and awaiting the corn-tortilla-clad centerpieces of our culinary hearts.

In perusing Dos Locos Tacos’ menu, I noticed that it offers tamales, quesadillas, and burritos (each taco variety offered can be upgraded to a burrito) in addition to its namesake item. I decided pretty quickly that in addition to the aforementioned shared chips and guacamole, I would order two tacos: one beef chorizo and the other carne asada (because red meat is LIIIFE).

Both tacos were tasty, but the carne asada one stole my heart. Wow, was that one rich in flavor with its tender shredded steak, crumbly cotija cheese, and vibrantly fresh cilantro! I could’ve eaten a platterful of those.

Open at 3 p.m. daily and closing late (at midnight Sundays through Wednesdays and 4 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays), Dos Locos Tacos is an on-point option for a late lunch, dinner, or post-bar-crawling grub session (which begs the question: is there ever a time of day when tacos are not an on-point option? I think not.).

10337 Joseph Campau Ave.

Hamtramck, MI 48212

www.doslocostacos.com

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