Metro-Detroit

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

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326. 2941 Mediterranean Street Food – May 7, 2018 – Rochester Hills, MI

May20182941Med1 (2)May20182941Med4 (2)May20182941Med3 (2)2941 Mediterranean Street Food has hit 100 Places in the D!!!

I was super excited to visit 2941 Mediterranean Street Food of Rochester Hills for lunch with friends last week, as the fast-casual Detroit-area chain had been on my radar for a few years (as was the case with many of the places I’ve covered on this blog. Cheers to the moments when long-anticipated visits finally happen!).

I adore Mediterranean food, and as mentioned in my recent post on Burrito Mundo, I also love places that allow me to build my own meals, choosing from a plethora of ingredient options the ones I’d like to add to customizable bowls, burritos, etc. 2941 Mediterranean Street Food is one such place that allows you to build your own bowls, loading them with all kinds of fresh, flavorful goodies.

Stepping inside the bright and clean Rochester Hills storefront with its long communal tables and wicker-basket-accented lighting (check out the light shades that appear to be made from upside-down baskets with the handles still attached in the photo above), my friends and I approached the ordering counter toward the back of the room, where we began the assembly-line production of the build-your-own-bowl process.

In succession, I was asked to: pick my grain base (I chose the Turmeric Basmati Rice); my protein (I did pork; chicken, steak, lamb, falafel, and veggie options were also available); two sauces (garlic sauce was a given for me, and I chose another spicy sauce whose name I can’t recall); two types of torshi, which are pickled vegetables (I went with the Atum beet-and-turnip mixture and the Osiris cauliflower-and-mixed-veggie combo); and two items from the Salads and Snacks category (I nabbed hummus and a salad that included radish, chickpeas, and parsley).

This was an intense decision-making process, my friends. I felt – as I had the week prior at Burrito Mundo when I was shepherded through its burrito-making process – that my first bowl-building experience at 2941 Mediterranean Street Food was simply a dress rehearsal for the next time I was there. Before that subsequent visit, I’ll likely study the menu ahead of time and get all strategic about my choices, because these are important decisions to be made (lunch is on the line!) and because I am that much of a nerd when it comes to customizable meals.

Still, despite feeling unprepared for the intricacies of the meal-crafting process, I felt pleased with how my bowl turned out at 2941 Mediterranean Street Food. I had opted for the larger-sized bowl, which yielded enough food to constitute both my lunch and dinner for that day. It was accompanied by a sizable loaf of soft, irresistibly chewy samoon bread that was perfect for dipping in the hummus and garlic sauce.

While I was surprised at the cost of 2941’s build-your-own bowl (an $11.50 base price for the large-sized bowl, with additional upcharges for extra sauce, extra meat, etc.), the ample portions and pure deliciousness justified the higher-than-expected price in my mind. The pork was tender and well-marinated, the vegetables were fresh and flavorful, and the hummus and garlic sauce were pure, addictive, garlicky goodness (I am SO a hummus/garlic sauce girl!). High-quality ingredients melded together to make a wholly delectable bowl of Mediterranean goodness, and I was TOTALLY a fan.

While the build-your-own-bowl option appears to be the centerpiece of 2941 Mediterranean Street Food’s menu, there are also some signature-bowl configurations to choose from, as well as soups, flatbreads, and a load of what are labeled Street Snacks on the menu (Marinated Olives, Habibi’s Nachos, and Veggie Grape Leaves, for example). Knowing me and my obsession with the whole build-your-own-bowl concept, I’ll probably stick with that option, but it’s nice to know there are predetermined choices on 2941’s menu should I be struck with decision-making paralysis during a visit.

How about you – have you been to 2941 Mediterranean Street Food? If yes, I’d love to hear what you thought of it; feel free to weigh in within the Comments field below!

87 W. Auburn Rd.

Rochester Hills, MI 48307

(With additional locations in Auburn Hills, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Detroit)

www.2941streetfood.com

325. O.W.L. – May 4, 2018 – Royal Oak, MI

May2018Owl1 (2)May2018Owl2 (3)May2018Owl3 (2)Roadside diners encapsulate a kind of romance for many people, that whole freedom-of-the-road, classic Americana vibe. While O.W.L. is located in a suburb (Royal Oak), its perch along Woodward Avenue, that distinguished Detroit thoroughfare, makes it feel like it’s part of that roadside romance.

From the ’50s-esque exterior sign with its namesake bird outlined in neon lighting to the cheeseburger-meets-avocado-toast menu, O.W.L. exudes classic diner vibes with a contemporary, hipster bent.

The restaurant’s interior is tiny, and true to diner form, the seating options are counter-centric: you can either sit along a window-fronting counter with a view of Woodward Avenue or one that faces the kitchen line.  The ordering system is counter-centric, too: you give your request to the cashier at the end of the kitchen-fronting counter, pay your tab, and your food is delivered to you.

About half of O.W.L.’s compact menu consists of breakfast items, boasting five different kinds of egg sandwiches (including Chorizo Sausage and Cheese and Habanero Bacon and Cheese varieties) and other egg-centric dishes such as egg hash, chicken fried-chicken topped with eggs, and chilaquiles (a traditional Mexican dish made in this case with tomatillo salsa, cotija cheese, jalapeños, radishes, eggs, and cilantro). Wings, burgers, sandwiches, nachos, the Tacos Del Dia (tacos of the day), and other breakfast-centric (grilled cinnamon rolls, habanero bacon) and Mexican-influenced items (Chips and Pico, Torta Ahogada) round out the menu.

Upon perusing O.W.L.’s menu, I went with those nachos – a.k.a. the Double Layer Nachos. The thick, crispy slew of homemade chips layered with poblano cheese sauce, sausage chili, shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, fresh jalapeños, pico de gallo, and cilantro were rich, greasy, delectable deliciousness. While they may not be a standard on the average diner’s menu, these babies deserve to be; they are the ultimate in comfort food!

I’m not an egg person, but if I was, the aforementioned Chicken Fried Chicken and Gravy breakfast dish topped with eggs, Texas toast, and a poblano cheese gravy sauce and accompanied by peas and cilantro potatoes would’ve been my bet. My friend who accompanied me to O.W.L. ordered it, and wow, does that dish proffer a weighty portion! The Double Layer Nachos was no slouch with its portion size (as you can see from the photo above), either, and I happily had leftovers to enjoy the next day.

Eating at O.W.L., I found myself reminiscing over the Royal Oak-bar-hopping nights of my twenties; the diner would’ve made the perfect closing-time stop during those evenings of revelry. It’s rare that I stay out late enough anymore that I’m looking to hit a restaurant after the bars are shuttered, but if I do happen to find myself in the Royal Oak area into the wee hours and am jonesing for some gratifying grub, I know where to go! O.W.L. offers its particular brand of roadside romance 24 hours a day, six days a week (it closes at 10 p.m. on Sundays).

27302 Woodward Ave.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.owlwoodward.com

324. Burrito Mundo – May 3, 2018 – Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

May2018BurritoMundo2 (2)May2018BurritoMundo (3)Mexican food is high up there on my List of Things that Bring me Joy (right there with baseball games at Comerica Park and that BOMB ice cream sandwich I enjoyed a few weeks ago at Holy Moly Donut Shop – yep, still thinking about that). So when I learned that Burrito Mundo in Grosse Pointe Woods was a fast-casual Mexican joint where I could build my own burrito, of course I was psyched to visit it! I love me some autonomy when crafting my Mexican meals.

BTW, if you’re wondering why there’s what looks like an unsupervised child in the above-shown photo of Burrito Mundo, worry not: that kid is the baby of a friend who accompanied me to the restaurant. This was his first foray out with us, and we wanted to photo-document it. We’re introducing him to the joys of restaurant-exploration while he’s young (if Auntie Jackie has anything to do with it, this kid is gonna know every hot brunch spot in the D by the time he’s three! 🙂 ).

Back to Burrito Mundo and the crafting of the Mexican meals: this place is like a mecca for burrito building, my friends. While the restaurant’s menu is populated with a variety of intriguing signature burritos (plus tacos, quesadillas, and entrée salads), I knew I had to try my hand at creating my own. The dizzying array of filling choices made it too fun a prospect to ignore.

To start, Burrito Mundo allows you to choose from various meat (and meat-substitute) fillings for your burrito base: ground beef, steak, chicken, pulled pork, shrimp, mahi mahi, tofu, and vegetables.

Then you get to your filling side-kicks. You see all the ingredients you’d expect: tomato, avocado, onion, rice, sour cream, cilantro, beans, guacamole, tortilla strips, jalapeños (both roasted and pickled varieties), cheese, etc. – plus two that are a bit more surprising: potatoes and zucchini/squash. And there are seven kinds of salsa to choose from at varying heat levels, from mild to wild.

To finish, you can opt to have your burrito doused in queso fundido cheese sauce or its tortilla grilled to crispy perfection – or to nix the tortilla entirely, à la Burrito Mundo’s “Ghost” style. The first two options are an upcharge, as is any ingredient that isn’t your standard meat-filling base (steak, shrimp, and mahi are $1.99 extra, but everything else is standard in that category) or tomatoes, cilantro, sour cream, rice, romaine, or salsa. It’s .79 cents to add a cheese, avocado, or guacamole to your burrito, while the remaining ingredients are .29 cents each. In other words, these build-your-own burritos with their base price of $5.29 can get pricey if you aren’t intentional.

But let’s face it, these burritos aren’t Lamborghini-pricey; they’re a reasonable splurge. My pulled pork burrito with its rice, tomato, cilantro, pinto beans, onion, roasted jalapeños, tortilla strips, queso fundido, and roasted tomatillo chipotle salsa was around $8.00.

And eight dollars turned out to be a reasonable price for the massive burrito I was given, which could easily be made into two meals. It was delicious, with tender pulled pork and fresh, flavorful ingredients.

The only thing I would change for my next round of Burrito Mundo burrito-making would be to ask for more salsa and queso fundido on the side, because once they were mixed in with all of the other ingredients in the large-and-in-charge burrito, they didn’t cover much ground (and I like a LOT of sauce, to boot). I’d also add guacamole, because guacamole is LIFE and well-worth the additional .79-cent upcharge.

I’m going to consider this first run to Burrito Mundo a dress rehearsal. As I’m always looking for an excuse to nosh on Mexican food, I’ll consider the burrito-refining process my rationale for a revisit.

19459 Mack Ave.

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236

www.burritomundo.com

323. Catfé Lounge – April 25, 2018 – Ferndale, MI

April2018CatfeLounge3 (2)April2018CatfeLounge1 (2)April2018CatfeLounge2 (3)I am wholeheartedly a cat person. I love, love, LOVE me some feline friends! My cat is the light of my life, and I identify internally as a cat whisperer even if I boast no formal qualifications or mad skills à la My Cat from Hell‘s Jackson Galaxy. So when I learned there was a place called the Catfé Lounge in Ferndale where you could hang out with cats who were available for adoption, I knew I had to check it out.

Somewhere along the trajectory of me learning about the Catfé Lounge within the last few years and my visit last week, I acquired the inaccurate perception that the place was a coffee shop. I thusly envisioned my eventual visit as one where I would sit at a café table, sipping cappuccino and typing away at my computer, while affectionate cats danced across my lap and nuzzled me and I fought off the urge to adopt them all. Probably I should’ve perused the Catfé Lounge’s website before my visit to get clear on the actual set-up of the place.

This misconception was cleared up on the afternoon of my visit. The Catfé Lounge is not a café as its name suggests – at least not in the conventional sense. It’s an adoption center that’s affiliated with the Ferndale Cat Center, a local no-kill shelter, but it’s set up in look and feel more like a cat-friendly living space than a shelter.

There are plenty of chairs around the visiting space, as well as cat-friendly cushions, nooks, and beds. There are cat food bowls, a cat water fountain, and cat toys to help visitors interact with the free-roaming feline friends. On the day of my visit, I would say there were about five cats roaming around.

Cat advocates will be happy to note that the Catfé Lounge follows a strict protocol for its visitors. When you walk in from the outside, you enter a little foyer area where there is hand sanitizer that you must apply before you walk through another door to the visiting area. You must also sign a waiver before you interact with the cats. A $10 donation to the Catfé Lounge is suggested, which I proffered. There are rules on a board on the wall that must be read and adhered to. Additionally, several women who appeared to all be Catfé employees were present during my visit, keeping a watchful eye over the entire scene.

All of the rules, protocol, and supervision admittedly didn’t prime the experience with relaxed, café-esque vibes, but it’s clear that all of these regulations are necessary, because they are there for the cats’ safety, and obviously, the cats’ safety is the number-one priority. But this was definitely the point where my dreams of the freewheeling coffee-shop scene went out the window.

Complimentary beverages (coffee, tea, and water, I believe) were available at the Catfé Lounge on the afternoon of my visit, and there may have been snacks, as well. I didn’t pay much attention to the available refreshments; I was more focused on finding a cat to interact with. There were several other visitors there when I entered, and all of the cats appeared to be preoccupied with them – playing with them, or attempting to ignore them.

Cats are often stereotyped as not giving a crap about humans besides them being the bearers of their meals. I’ve not found that to be the case in my experience with cats; I’ve found them to be generally loving and affectionate towards people, so long as you know how to interact with them. But I will say, on the afternoon of my visit, the cats at the Catfé Lounge didn’t appear to be interested in interacting with me – or any of the humans who were there, really.

There was one cat – the cat shown in the photo above – who I observed as being more friendly in her dealings with the other visitors. I got excited when she suddenly appeared to be coming right for me – until it turned out she was headed for a nearby food bowl. Wah-Wah.

Maybe it’s a good thing that this batch of cats I witnessed at the Catfé Lounge weren’t clamoring for affection, I mused after dejectedly leaving the place after less than 15 minutes. Probably it meant they were well-adjusted and well taken care of in this unconventional shelter setting. And how great is it that the Catfé Lounge lets its felines roam free instead of being cooped up in cages? My humbling experience aside, this place is totally worth checking out if you are considering adopting a cat – and hey, maybe your experience with the cats will be different than mine. There’s no saying that the felines onsite at the time of your visit won’t be all friendly and ready to frolic.

What it all comes down to is this: the Catfé Lounge is a place that is helping cats, which makes them more than all right in my book. I can go elsewhere for a cappuccino and coffee-shop vibes.

801 Livernois St.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.catfelounge.com

321. Megha’s Athidhi Indian Cuisine – April 21, 2018 – Sterling Heights, MI

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Somehow, I’m never eating as much Indian food as I want to be. It’s a cuisine I adore but tend to forget about, so I’m always excited when someone who I’m planning to dine with proposes it. And when the Indian restaurant proposed to me is a new-to-me place? Well, you KNOW I’m THRILLED about that!

So it was last weekend, when I was introduced to Megha’s Athidhi Indian Cuisine in Sterling Heights and its aloo gobi and garlic naan.

Aloo gobi, you warming dish of cauliflower and potato tossed in a spicy, curry-infused sauce, how I adore thee! Megha’s Athidhi aloo gobi was on point: infused with rich spices, fresh mint, and sautéed onion and tomato, plus the perfect level of heat (I like my Indian food HOT, and the spice level didn’t disappoint me here). It was served with white rice and perfect for scooping up with the garlic naan, which was wonderfully fresh and chewy and flavorful.

I didn’t eat at Megha’s Athidhi; my friend and I ordered carryout and devoured it in front of the TV while binging Fuller House episodes (OBSESSED – keep the reboots of beloved ’90s sitcoms from my childhood coming, please!), which I highly recommend as an delightful way to enjoy this delightful Indian fare. While I can’t speak to the level of the dine-in service at the restaurant, I can vouch for our carryout orders being ready in a timely manner and the man at the pick-up counter being polite and pleasant.

While I zeroed in on one of my two Indian-cuisine obsessions while perusing Megha’s Athidhi’s menu (chicken vindaloo is my other love besides aloo gobi), I found it to be loaded with a ton more vegetarian and meat-centered entrees, appetizers, and soups. My mouth is watering and my stomach growling as I again scan the menu on the restaurant’s website and dream of being there for lunch.

Speaking of lunch, Megha’s Athidhi offers a mid-day buffet spread on weekdays. All-you-can-eat Indian buffets are, in my book, the best type of all-you-can-eat buffet – really the only kind that I adore at this point. I have a feeling I won’t be forgetting how much I love Indian cuisine anytime soon with that lunchtime smorgasbord on my mind!

2079 15 Mile Rd.

Sterling Heights, MI 48310

www.miathidhi.com

320. La Mia Lebanese Cuisine – April 18, 2018 – Clinton Township, MI

April2018LaMia1 (2)April2018LaMia2 (3)Shout-out to my friend Jac for introducing me to this gem of a restaurant, La Mia Lebanese Cuisine in Clinton Township!

We went there Wednesday and ordered carryout. I thoroughly enjoyed my shawarma wrap with its grilled pita stuffed with tender chicken, crunchy pickles, and delectably garlicky sauce. The crushed lentil soup was piping-hot, savory deliciousness, as well.

While we didn’t eat in the restaurant, I appreciated the clean, pleasant dining area and friendly service we received. I was also impressed by how quickly our carryout orders came out – they were ready in about five minutes.

I’d not previously heard of La Mia, and I live relatively close to it. It’s on a part of Gratiot Avenue – just south of Hall Road/M-59 – that I don’t often traverse. I’m admittedly fascinated by such unfamiliar pockets, those sections of towns that I live relatively close to yet rarely pass through or visit. They’re one of the best types of places to explore, if you ask me, because they’re near familiar ground and yet feel novel. Ideally, they contain all kinds of intriguing new-to-us establishments just waiting for us to discover them and declare “NEW PLACE TIME!!!!!!!!!”

Whether or not you live in the general vicinity of La Mia and/or are familiar with the neighborhood it’s in, I invite you to check it out if you’re a fan of Mediterranean food and have not yet been there. It’s a goodie!

43998 N Gratiot Ave.
Clinton Township, MI 48036

318. Cheng’s Asian Bistro – April 4, 2018 – Sterling Heights, MI

April2018Chengs1 (2)April2018Chengs2 (2)April2018Chengs3 (2)When I saw Cheng’s Asian Bistro in Sterling Heights open up a few years ago, I felt compelled to try it. Having “bistro” in its name made it sound fancy, and I mused over what the food and interior would be like beyond the unpretentious storefront located in a strip mall.

This past Wednesday, I finally made it over to Cheng’s (it cracks me up how often this is the case – that it takes me years rather than weeks to visit a place I’m curious about. Time truly flies, doesn’t it?). My dinner there turned out to be a momentous occasion in my life.

It was a momentous occasion because based off of my experience there, I have decided that I am hereby designating Cheng’s Asian Bistro as my [DRUM ROLL]: Official Chinese Carryout Joint.

If you are like me and rely on having a go-to, tried-and-true Chinese restaurant to order carryout from, one that’s so good you never question switching it, then you likely get what a big deal this is for me to be switching mine.

While overall in my life I adore – no, am OBSESSED with – trying new places, when it comes to Chinese food, I am particular; I’ve thusly ordered takeaway from the same, tried-and-true Chinese restaurant for years. But my former standby has OFFICIALLY BEEN DETHRONED by Cheng’s Asian Bistro.

It was obvious to me when I tasted Cheng’s Kung Pao chicken that it had to be this way. This version of my go-to Chinese dish was the BEST Kung Pao chicken I have ever eaten; it was PERFECT! Its fresh, crunchy vegetables, tender chicken, and optimal heat-level (I ordered the spice level as Hot, and it was my kind of hot – for-reals Hot!) had me raving. I could not stop marveling over how great the meal was during the duration of it, and I could not stop thinking about that Kung Pao chicken for the rest of the night. Cheng’s had hooked me!

So after years of driving by the restaurant and wondering what its food was like, I finally knew it was delicious enough to beat out my as-of-then go-to Chinese carryout joint – no easy feat. Was the inside of Cheng’s Asian Bistro as fancy as its name had suggested to me?

It turns out that the interior isn’t the elegant, dimly-lit environs that I’d envisioned. But it’s clean and bright and pleasant, with yellow-gold walls, dark-stained wood paneling and floors, and colorful pom-poms and paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Probably it offers better ambiance than many elegant, dimly-lit establishments, because let’s face it: those places can be stiff and gloomy at times. I’ll take cheery over stiff and gloomy any day.

Service was prompt and friendly at Cheng’s and prices were affordable, too: my Kung Pao dinner combination plate with its fried rice, cup of wonton soup, and egg roll was $10.95; the portion was big enough that I was able to make two meals out of it.

I’m thrilled to have had such a positive experience at Cheng’s Asian Bistro, and I can’t wait to have an excuse to order from my new Official Chinese Carryout Joint! Perhaps a sweatpants-and-movie-and-takeaway night is in order – or a celebratory dinner to commemorate when spring finally makes its way to the D for real (please may that be soon!).

43005 Hayes Rd.

Sterling Heights, MI 48313

www.chengsasianbistromi.com

317. Red Olive – March 25, 2018 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

March2018RedOlive1 (2)March2018RedOlive2 (3)I’d never heard of Red Olive restaurant until a few years ago, when I worked with a colleague who was obsessed with ordering takeout from its Auburn Hills location.

Little did I know until recently, this locally-owned chain has 16 locations – 16! – in the Metro-Detroit area. Apparently, I’d been living under a rock, and this place is beloved by many more people than my former coworker.

In fact, I recently learned that one of my very best friends is also a Red Olive regular. Her last meal before her scheduled induction to have her son last fall was its chocolate-chip pancakes. That’s right: Red Olive’s wares helped to fuel a child’s birth! That’s kind of a big deal, especially considering how wonderful this particular kiddo is.

It was becoming more and more obvious that I needed to try this Red Olive place for myself, and last Sunday, I finally did while lunching at the Saint Clair Shores outpost with my aforementioned devotee-friend.

I can’t speak for what décor has been adopted by the 15 other Red Olive locations, but this Saint Clair Shores location, not far from Lake Saint Clair, has embraced the nautical theme. Murals of sailboats afloat on a vibrant blue sea grace the walls. Dark stained wood and deeply-colored booths give the place a more refined look than that of the typical diner.

I was ravenous with hunger and psyched to discover how extensive Red Olive’s menu is. I’d admittedly assumed its offerings would be pretty basic, probably because my former coworker had ordered one meal over and over: a side-salad with ranch, lemon-rice soup, and pita bread – not the most adventurous of cuisines.

In reality, the Red Olive menu is loaded with options; the Wraps section alone was enough to excite me over its selection (there’s a Grilled Fajita Wrap, a Reuben Wrap, a Chicken Shawarma Pita Wrap . . .). An entrée-salad area boasts intriguing varieties such as Strawberry Chicken Avocado Salad, Fattoush Salad, and Chicken Avocado and Mango Salad. There’s a sandwich section; a breakfast section; a section devoted to burgers and Coney dogs. There’s an entrée section containing comfort-food classics such as meatloaf and roast chicken, a whole area devoted to gyros . . . you get the idea. There are a LOT of choices!

I zeroed in on that Chicken Shawarma Pita Wrap, as well as a baby Greek salad. My friend got a breakfast combination plate with eggs and hash browns and the like.

Our food came out quickly. The Greek salad was fresh and filling; the shawarma was wonderfully toasted on the outside and stuffed with filling, tender chicken, crunchy pickles, and delightfully garlicky sauce. YUM!

The food being delicious was the best part of the Red-Olive experience, of course, but our total bill barely topping $20 also didn’t hurt. Now I can see why this place is garnering admirers and sprouting new locations all across Metro-Detroit!

23977 Harper Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

(With 15 additional locations in the Metro-Detroit area)

www.redoliverestaurant.com

315. Irish Tavern – March 17, 2018 – Waterford, MI

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I spent St. Patrick’s Day this year out and about, including a stop at Irish Tavern in Waterford. As you would expect from its name, the bar was decked out in full St. Paddy’s day glory and packed with drink-swigging, green-bedecked revelers.

I was one of those drink-swigging, green-bedecked revelers enjoying the live music and festivities, and I had my eye on the prize: that lunchtime corned beef sandwich.

True, my numero-uno priority on St. Patrick’s Day for much of my 20s was consuming a maximum amount of adult beverages (shocking, I know), but there’s nothing I enjoy more about the holiday now than the excuse to enjoy an EPIC corned beef sandwich. And I was pleased to discover that The Reuben on Irish Tavern’s menu is a glorious rendition of a corned beef sandwich.

This sandwich, with its layers of thickly-sliced corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand-Island dressing between two pieces of buttery, crunchy rye bread, served with perfectly crispy, supremely seasoned French fries, was SO, SO, SO, SO good! And fortunately, The Reuben appears to be a staple on Irish Tavern’s menu, so it can be ordered at any time of the year and not just on Luck-o’-the-Irish-centered holidays [cue me happy dancing!].

Other pluses about this place: despite the busyness of the day of my visit, the various servers I interacted with were prompt, polite, and friendly. The bathrooms were clean, not a hot mess as they often are at bars on occasions of this caliber (though it was still relatively early in the day).  And I see that Irish Tavern’s menu is loaded with enticing food choices besides The Reuben, including a variety of other sandwiches; salads; appetizers; burgers; and Irish favorites such as Shepherd’s Pie, Guinness Braised Corned Beef, and several dishes centered around boxty (traditional potato pancakes). Numerous local craft brews are available, and the whimsically titled Staycation section of the menu touts daily food and drink specials.

So the verdict is in: Irish Tavern is worth a visit, and not just on Luck-o’-the-Irish-centered holidays. Certainly I can come up with an excuse to consume an epic corned beef sandwich, regardless of the day of the year!

4703 Elizabeth Lake Rd.

Waterford, MI 48327

www.itwaterford.com