615. Johnny Black’s Public House – March 18, 2023 – Waterford, MI

Throw a party at Johnny Black’s Public House! With happy hour specials that include $2 Taco Tuesdays and a Bottomless Mimosas brunch option, you can’t go wrong celebrating a special occasion at this locally-owned restaurant chain with spots in Lake Orion, Rochester Hills, Sterling Heights, and Waterford.

A birthday brought me to the Waterford location of Johnny Black’s. A friend opted to celebrate her special day with a boozy brunch fueled by Johnny Black’s bottomless mimosas. I opted for Spanish coffees instead. What a delightfully warming way to start my day!

Our party nestled cozily into one of the large booths in the cavernous bar, whose décor I’d characterize as refined industrial: gleaming wood floors, leather-backed booths, exposed ductwork, bare-bulb lighting. Rows of flat-screen TVs wrapping around the walls add a sports-bar vibe.

Johnny Black’s brunch menu includes an array of stuffed omelets and other enticing options, including Fruity Pebble-flavored pancakes; breakfast tacos stuffed with such fancy ingredients as whiskey-infused onions, spinach, and a sriracha aioli; and chicken-and-waffles served with cinnamon butter and bourbon sauce.

The lunch and dinner menu is well-rounded, including a mix of hearty appetizers and small plates, plus salads, pastas, sandwiches, burgers, protein-centric entrées (including salmon, filet, and ribs), and a plentiful pizza section. I made the Western Burger my choice, and what a decadent treat that was! The juicy beef burger was bedecked with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, crispy onion straws, and barbecue sauce.

Johnny Black’s bar offers signature cocktails and makes a mean Bloody Mary; its ample garnishes include a mini breakfast sandwich. Find a reason to celebrate something on a Saturday or Sunday so you have an excuse to try that bad boy!

In all seriousness, you don’t need an excuse – or special occasion – to visit Johnny Black’s. The chill environment, great service, and delicious food and drink is excuse enough!

5171 Dixie Hwy.

Waterford, MI 48329

(With additional locations in Lake Orion, Rochester Hills, and Sterling Heights)

613. Brome Modern Eatery – March 12, 2023 – Dearborn, MI

Brome Modern Eatery is the epitome of taste and quality!

The Dearborn-based restaurant is committed to using high-caliber ingredients in its burgers, fries, salads, milkshakes, smoothies, and juices. Brome makes its burgers from grass-fed, organic beef and values sustainability and responsibly-sourced ingredients, according to its website. The restaurant is also 100-percent halal.

Take one bite of Brome’s Dante’s Heaven burger, and you’ll taste those values in action. Juicy beef, creamy ghost pepper jack cheese, spicy cherry pepper relish, smokey turkey bacon, savory braised onion, and sweet habanero bring a kaleidoscope of flavors. Top it off with some perfectly crispy tater tots, and you’ve most definitely got a meal made in heaven!

Brome’s patty options include fried fish, fried or grilled chicken, and two kinds of vegan patties (one of which is the Impossible burger). Sink your teeth into a Crispy Chicken Mex, a fried chicken burger nestled among layers of avocado, corn salsa, pickled jalapeño, chipotle mayo, and a cheddar jack cheese sauce, or the Wild Mushroom, a beef burger layered with Swiss Cheese, wild mushrooms, arugula, braised onion, and a mustard grain-infused aioli.

The salad section of Brome’s menu is no slouch, either. Take the Kale Crunch. It’s topped with shaved Parmesan, toasted pine nuts and bread crumbs, dried cranberries, and a lemon vinaigrette. Or the Farmer’s Market with its mixed greens, kalamata olives, quinoa, cherry tomato, cucumber, red onion, bell pepper, chèvre, and an herb vinaigrette. These are some elevated greens!

I didn’t have room for a milkshake after scarfing down that deliciously rich Dante’s Heaven burger, but I wish I did. A creamy Reese’s, Salted Caramel, or Malted milkshake would’ve been right up my alley.

SO MUCH GOODNESS abounds at Brome. I look forward to a chance to savor more of that delectable goodness!

22062 Michigan Ave.

Dearborn, MI 48124

612. Ringwald Theatre at Affirmations – March 5, 2023 – Ferndale, MI

The Ringwald Theatre has captivated audiences for 16 years! I joined that legion of captivated fans after my visit to the playhouse in early March.

The Ringwald was located at 9 Mile and Woodward in downtown Ferndale until 2021, when it made a home just down the road, inside Affirmations LGBTQ+ Community Center. Many of the plays it produces highlight LGBTQ+ characters and stories.

Venture beyond Affirmations’ bright, inviting lobby, down a corridor, and into a tiny theater, with in-the-round seating for maybe 50 people along the perimeter of the performance space. Take a seat, and you’re right in on the action.

Case in point: my viewing of the play Assassins, a disturbing, thought-provoking, and darkly humorous musical about presidential assassins. At times, actors were no more than a foot or two away from me; one almost backed into me during a scene.

The production was excellent. The performers were talented actors and singers, expertly conveying the raw emotions of the disturbed individuals they portrayed. They roamed across the performance space, playing to all four sides of the audience. Everyone had a clear view of the action: the screaming, singing, joke-cracking, pistol-wielding dramatics.

I will definitely return to the Ringwald for another production, to see the actors making magic in this intimate, inclusive space, captivating audiences for yet another season.

290 W. 9 Mile Rd.

Ferndale, MI 48220

611. Weiss Distilling Company – February 25, 2023 – Clawson, MI

Step into another dimension at Weiss Distilling Company! Otherworldly ambiance and thoughtfully crafted cocktails make this Clawson-based speakeasy a place to experience.

I visited Weiss Distilling early on a Saturday evening, when there was still daylight. I followed the hostess through the tiny lobby and through a sliding elevator door that led not to an elevator but to a tasting room. Suddenly, I was transported into another realm: into this gorgeously moody bar that was the personification of midnight. Orange light spilled from a glowing wall illuminating shelves of bottles; a geometric-patterned mirror wall exuded its own bewitching luminescence. Flamboyant bundles of flowers exploded from the ceiling, and the dark-pattered floral wallpaper seemed to glow in places. A round bar dominated the room and is where I perched that evening, feeling ten times more glam for having stepped into this space.

Weiss Distilling produces a variety of spirits: gin, vodka, bourbon, rum, absinthe, and moonshine. Showcasing these wares is a robust menu of craft cocktails, with cheeky names such as Sexty Texty and Cinnamon Stick-It in Your Sassy. Drinks range from unabashedly fruit-forward (the gin-based Trop Cherry, for example) to more spare and savory (the Tara Strong: vodka infused with dill, sea salt, lemon, and soda water). Intriguing ingredients abound: dragonfruit tincture, rose bitters, a brown sugar-and-balsamic reduction. Nonalcoholic drink options are available, too.

I didn’t realize until writing this post how similar the flavor profiles of the two drinks I ordered at Weiss Distilling were (I guess I have a type!). The Karl Havoc was a delicious concoction of bourbon, orange liqueur, orange, citric acid, cinnamon, and aromatic bitters; the Tinderella, its vodka-based cousin, infused with orange liqueur, orange, citric acid, cinnamon, chocolate bitters, and demerara sugar.

What a treat it was to sit and sip these delightful potions in this delightful portal, removed from the real world. Weiss Distilling is definitely a place to which I want to escape, again and again!

34 E. 14 Mile Rd.

Clawson, MI 48017

610. Whiskey Taco Foxtrot – February 24, 2023 – Clawson, MI

Whiskey Taco Foxtrot is serving major flavor! And fun. The restaurant/bar based in downtown Clawson exuded mega TGIF vibes during my February visit.

Whiskey Taco Foxtrot’s well-stocked bar includes extensive whiskey and tequila collections, beer, hard cider, and craft cocktails. That latter category has an especial focus on margaritas and old-fashioneds – no surprise given the aforementioned liquor collections.

I LOVED the cocktail I ordered at Whiskey Taco Foxtrot. The Peanut Butter Old Fashioned was a deliciously tasty concoction of peanut butter-flavored whiskey, black walnut- and chocolate-flavored bitters, and orange zest. A girl could get used to having a drink like that in her life!

The restaurant’s food menu features Mexican fare: nachos, burritos, enchiladas, and the like. But the pièce de résistance is the tacos. Options range from conventional – ground beef, carnitas – to creative, with more tacos in the latter category. There’s a Fried Avocado taco, a Buffalo Chicken taco, a Chicken Parm. There’s an Asian Chicken taco with a cabbage slaw, sliced jalapeño, and sweet chili sauce, and a carnitas taco infused with a Rock & Rye barbecue sauce (which is presumably infused with the Faygo pop of the same name).

From those tantalizing taco options, I chose three: the Carnitas, the Rock & Rye Carnitas, and the Potato & Avocado. And let me tell you, all three of those tacos were FANTASTIC. Every single bite of those tacos was exclamation mark-worthy!

The Carnitas featured tender pork on a bed of avocado serrano sauce, topped with pickled red onion. It was AMAZING. The Rock & Rye Carnitas, with that rich Rock & Rye-infused barbecue sauce and battered-and-crispy-fried onion strings, was also exceptional! And the Potato & Avocado? It was – you guessed it – also OH SO GOOD!

How could a meat-free taco taste so great? When the meatless filling includes fried potato, creamy avocado, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle mayo – that’s when!

After scarfing down those revelatory tacos, it was no wonder to me why Whiskey Taco Foxtrot was full on this Friday night. Fabulous food and drink make this a place worth getting acquainted with, no matter the day of week!

28 S. Main St.

Clawson, MI 48017

609. White Wolf Japanese Patisserie – February 15, 2023 – Clawson, MI

White Wolf is a haven for lovers of sweet treats! The Clawson-based bakery features a cornucopia of carefully crafted cakes, breads, and pastries; coffee, tea, and espresso drinks; and even a craft cocktail menu.

White Wolf describes itself as a Japanese patisserie. One of its specialties is Japanese breads, including an pan, a soft bun filled with a sweet red bean paste. There are various breads with sweet and savory fillings, plus all manner of desserts: croissants and cheesecakes; cute little cakes topped with strawberries; shortbreads and Swiss cake rolls. There are vegan ginger cookies, matcha-and-almond-infused blondies, banana bread laden with black sesame seeds. SO much goodness to discover and delight in!

And the ambiance! White Wolf exudes good vibes. The clean, bright space is the perfect place to camp out for a couple of hours, working on your computer or catching up with a friend, as you keep yourself in steady supply of tasty baked goods and caffeinated beverages.

One of my favorite things about hanging out at White Wolf was watching the bakers. “Industrious” is the word that comes to mind when I think of them. Their work area is on display to guests; there’s a row of counter seats just on the other side of them, so you can sit and watch them work. There were at least six bakers working on the day I was there, and they worked tirelessly, with a cheery sense of rapport that I found uplifting.

During my time at White Wolf, I savored a nitro cold brew coffee and a spongy chocolate Swiss roll with a white cream filling. I couldn’t resist trying more treats, so I took a slice of White Wolf’s matcha-infused Mille Crepe Cake and a bacon-and-Gruyère-filled bun to go.

The bacon-and-Gruyère-filled bun was melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Soft bread stuffed with rich cheese and bacon . . . I could’ve eaten a basketful of those buns. And the Mille Crepe Cake was a culinary work of art. Between each of the multiple (at least a dozen) layers of crepe was a subtly sweet matcha cream filling. It was a decadent indulgence.

The trials and tedium of everyday life need to be broken up by decadent indulgences such as that Mille Crepe Cake. That’s why I savor visits to special places such as White Wolf!

31 E. 14 Mile Rd.

Clawson, MI 48017

605. Peninsulas – February 4, 2023 – Berkley, MI

Peninsulas’ products embrace our mitten-shaped state!

The Berkley-based shop knows all about the pride that comes from making a map of the Upper and Lower peninsulas with your hands. It sells Michigan-centric gear: sweatshirts, hats, mugs, pins, t-shirts, toys, candles, water bottles, and more promoting the Great Lakes state. Many of the products it stocks are also Michigan-made, according to its website.

While the Berkley location of this indie business calls Metro-Detroit home, Peninsulas embraces Up North via a Cross City location. It’s spreading the love of our fair state far and wide – and what’s not to love about that?

3171 12 Mile Rd.

Berkley, MI 48072

(With an additional location in Cross City, MI)

604. Yellow Door Art Market – February 4, 2023 – Berkley, MI

Shop made-in-Michigan at Yellow Door Art Market! The Berkley-based shop champions local makers, featuring goods ranging from clocks to candles, shirts to soaps, magnets to art prints.

Yellow Door offers a great selection of Michigan- and Detroit-focused fare and many fun and funny items (one example: cutting boards emblazoned with sayings such as “Wine makes football more interesting” and “I like pig butts and cannot lie”). There’s handmade jewelry; essential-oil-infused beard oils; stickers emblazoned with inspirational sayings; and candles that smell like Michigan things (by Wyandotte-based candle brand JKM Soy Candles). It’s a treasure trove of delights: the perfect place to purchase a gift (for a loved one or yourself). Treat yourself to a dose of whimsy and step inside Yellow Door!

3141 W. 12 Mile Rd.

Berkley, MI 48072

603. Book Suey – February 4, 2023 – Hamtramck, MI

Book Suey is for book lovers! And for lovers of sweet connection and community.

Housed in the Bank Suey building in Hamtramck, this co-op book shop fosters community by regularly hosting events such as author readings, a flash fiction writing club, a mending circle, and a monthly book club.

Patrons browsed the shelves during my trip to Book Suey, but there were also people just hanging out, reading or chatting. I could see why they found the shop so appealing: it exudes warmth. Twinkle lights, potted plants, and ample sunlight streaming through its several windows – not to mention the gorgeous details it maintains by being housed in a hundred-year-old building – give it cozy, down-to-earth vibes. Written staff recommendations add a personal touch to its offerings, a carefully curated selection of fiction and nonfiction, including a section devoted to Michigan authors and publications.

The warmth of the ambiance is superseded only by the warmth of Book Suey’s staff. I only interacted with one staff member during my time there, but they were lovely, enthusiastically affirming my book choice, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (the staff-recommended pick piqued my interest!).

A love of bookshops is practically embedded in my DNA; I don’t need an excuse to visit them. But I especially don’t need an excuse to visit Book Suey. Its sweet vibes, staff, and community events make revisiting a given.

10345 Joseph Campau Ave.

Hamtramck, MI 48212

600! RH House – January 21, 2023 – Rochester Hills, MI

RH House, offering luxe dishes and drinks in a sophisticated setting! This is the perfect place to hole up on a chilly Saturday night with a ribeye steak and piece of cake. I speak from experience!

The restaurant based in Rochester Hills actually had me tempted to order a salad. I know I couldn’t have gone wrong with the RH Salad, a mix of greens, tangerine, apple, feta, candied pecans, dried cherries, red onion, and a honey-balsamic vinaigrette. But the 16-ounce ribeye called to me from the midst of the dinner menu. That menu features decadent pastas such as the Pappardelle Sausalito (pappardelle noodles tossed with hot Italian sausage, cremini and shiitake mushrooms, and a tomato-basil cream sauce) and Scallop Carbonara; seafood dishes including sea bass and teriyaki-glazed salmon; steaks, chops, and chicken (see the RH Prime Rib and a 28-ounce bone-in Tomahawk ribeye that’s been dry-aged for 28 days); sandwiches; starters; salads – even a Build Your Own Wagyu Burger with topping options such as Gruyère, egg, and garlic aioli.

Navigating through those tantalizing choices, I stuck with the ribeye, and I’m glad I did. It was the most beautiful piece of meat. Look at it, resplendent in its char-marked glory and glistening juices! It was absolutely as delicious as it looks, tender and flavorful. It was such a treat to enjoy with a mix of veggies and my starch of choice, a creamy risotto.

The richness persisted as I ended the meal with RH House’s Eight Layer Carrot Cake. As the name suggests, this was not a dainty petit four of a dessert. No, this was a veritable slab, studded with candied pecans, striated with layers of cream cheese frosting, and drizzled with caramel. It was an oh-so-decadent end to an already luxurious meal.

What a perfect place this was to celebrate my 600th visit for 100 Places in the D! Whether you’re looking to celebrate your own milestone or a run-of-the-mill Tuesday, you can’t go wrong with RH House. It’s open daily, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of its menus: it offers happy hour, lunch, brunch, a well-stocked bar – and of course, dinner and desserts.

2630 Crooks Rd.

Rochester Hills, MI 48309