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

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

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

599. Regale Craft Food & Drink – January 20, 2023 – Macomb, MI

Have a fun and flavorful night on the town at Regale Craft Food & Drink! The Macomb-based restaurant and bar is a classy, convivial place to grab a well-crafted drink and sample delicious dishes.

Regale’s menu consists of shareable-sized dishes representing a variety of cuisines. Lamb Empanada and House-Made Gnocchi sit alongside Kimchi Fried Rice and Wild Mushroom Croquettes. As explained in the About section of Regale’s website, the “moderately portioned dishes are perfect for sharing so that everyone can experience a variety of offerings that Chef Shawn has carefully created.”

I can attest to that! Admittedly, I didn’t share either of the dishes I ordered at Regale. But I did order two dishes that represented wholly different cuisines: the Poutine (total TGIF fare!) and the Curried Vegetables (my attempt to balance the Poutine’s decadence with healthfulness).

The Poutine came out before the Curried Vegetables, and I was so into it that I ended up crushing the entire dish. How could I not when the fries came topped with a heaping mound of tender beef brisket, creamy cheese curds, crispy fried onion, sumptuous demi-glace, and a generous drizzle of sour cream? They were so rich, so flavorful, SOOO delicious!

Because I filled up on that Poutine, I didn’t get to savor enough of The Curried Vegetables until I finished them later at home. Served with rice, this was a comfort-food dish in its own right. It was a delight to eat the steaming-hot veggies and rice complemented by the creaminess of the coconut milk, the crunch of the cashews, and the vibrance of the curry and cilantro.

Speaking of complementary: if you’re looking to get a well-balanced cocktail at Regale, you can’t go wrong with the Date Night. Consisting of a date-infused vodka complemented by ginger, thyme, and green cardamom, the well-balanced cocktail is a very easy sip. And if sweet-and-spicy is your thing, go for the Ghostarita: a lively concoction of ghost pepper-infused tequila, chili, and mango.

Regale’s craft cocktail menu is intriguing enough that I can’t see myself veering from it. But if I did, I’d have a well-curated selection of beer, wine, and spirits to choose from.

Careful curation: that’s what Regale is all about! Well-prepared, flavorful food and drink, inviting ambiance, and stellar service meld to make a place people want to be.

48810 Hayes Rd.

Macomb, MI 48044

597. The Backdoor Taco and Tequila Bar – December 21, 2022 – Rochester, MI

Cozy up to The Backdoor Taco and Tequila Bar! You’ll be privy to its selection of over 150 tequilas, plus margaritas, craft cocktails, and of course, tacos.

The bar based in downtown Rochester has a Not Tacos section on its menu, too (yes, that’s literally what it’s called). So if one of The Backdoor’s seven taco varieties isn’t speaking to you, you can order nachos, flautas, or another Not Tacos treat.

Tacos are always speaking to me. I ordered two of The Backdoor’s tasty Pork Carnitas tacos, opting for the “Street Style” preparation: tacos incorporating two corn tortillas, with diced onion and cilantro atop the filling, and served with a lime wedge. As part of the Make It a Combo! deal, I added sides of rice and beans.

Waiting for my tacos, I sipped a Blackberry Beret margarita on the rocks (Hornitos Reposado tequila and triple sec infused with muddled blackberries, agave syrup, and fresh lime juice) and soaked up the ambiance of the sleek, dimly-lit bar. The Backdoor’s small interior lends an intimate vibe, aiding in its aim to embody a speakeasy. Its nondescript storefront and location behind its sister restaurant, D’Marco’s, further enhance that vision.

Everybody wants to steal away from the real world sometimes – and if you can do that and eat tacos, even better. The next time you’re seeking solace in the form of shredded chicken or shrimp tacos, sidle up to The Backdoor’s bar!

401 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

593. Michno’s Café – November 4, 2022 – Redford, MI

Michno’s Café is a neighborhood bar oozing comfort and charm! The Redford-based pub offers down-to-earth environs; friendly, fast-moving servers; a well-stocked bar including a sizeable selection of Michigan craft brews; and a food menu featuring burgers, sandwiches, fish-n-chips, and other hearty pub fare.

With this visit, Redford is now represented on 100 Places in the D! It’s always exciting for me to feature another city on the blog. And it’s always exciting to celebrate the start of the weekend by taking that first bite of a rich, juicy cheeseburger, which Michno’s served up to me! I can also attest to its Trish’s Ultimate Reuben being excellent (a friend shared hers with me). And its fries. Michno’s fries were delectably crispy.

If you’re looking to feel at home in a cozy watering hole with fantastic food and fair prices, you can’t go wrong with Michno’s!

25524 5 Mile Rd.

Redford, MI 48239

590. Host – November 1, 2022 – Utica, MI

To visit Host is to have an EXPERIENCE! An immersive, thoughtfully curated, extremely delicious one. From its phenomenal food, drink, service, and ambiance, this restaurant in downtown Utica checks ALLLL the boxes.

Host is unique. Not only is it a restaurant-slash-coworking space, it also offers rotating residencies to chefs. That means that every month or two, there’s a brand-new menu!

Take a look at Host’s schedule for the next several months. As of the writing of this post (February 2023), Chef Mark Camaj (who helped open SheWolf) has curated an enticing array of Italian dishes. German food pop-up DeutschTroit will take residence for the month of March. Then Italian returns when Chef Michael Murabito brings a Sicilian Mediterranean menu in April and May. And chef duo Breakin’ Cornbread will kick off summer at Host with a menu described as “Big Energy Comfort Food,” available from June to mid-July. There’s tastiness for DAYS!

I visited Host in early November. Chefs Davante Burnley (now Host’s Executive Chef) and Kiluanji Watkins curated a menu of extreme deliciousness. Dining with three friends who love food as much as I do meant sharing a variety of dishes. These included the Confit Duck Pontine, Smoked Plum and Burrata, and Crudites (a spread of smoked pepper hummus, confit tomato and garlic, fresh vegetables, and grilled pita). Yes, these dishes were all as amazing as they sound! With its hand-cut fries topped with shredded duck, pecorino cheese, chives, and a sumptuously rich duck demi glaze that I could drink by the gallon, the Duck Pontine in particular was to die for.

That spread could have been a complete meal in itself, but you know we had to try more! We continued by ordering individual entrées. For me, that was the Lamb Bolognese. I’m a sucker for lamb Bolognese! And chefs Davante’s and Kiluanji’s version did not disappoint. Their ground lamb arrabbiata tossed with bucatini noodles and accented with shredded pecorino and fresh basil was full of flavor.

After eating our own dinners, our group reconvened the family-style experience, sharing the Cider Mill Donuts. And you know, based on everything else you’ve previously read, that those donuts were ABSOLUTELY as good as you’re imagining. Better, even! The fresh-fried donuts were oh-so-delectably crispy on the outside, soft and cakey on the inside. Tossed in cinnamon sugar, they were served with a house-made caramel sauce. And they were LIFE. What a mic drop to an amazing meal!

Throughout this exceptional culinary journey, we were also imbibing exceptional drinks. I started with the Avocadica, an intriguing concoction of tequila and mezcal infused with lime and spicy avocado. I ended with a fantastic rendition of a classic: an Old-Fashioned.

While at Host, my friends and I were well taken care of. Our server was great, friendly and attentive, and both the bartender and Chef Davante paid us visits. The bartender gave us drink recommendations, and we enjoyed thanking Chef Davante for our exquisite meal!

Ambiance-wise, I was totally feeling Host, too. The decor incorporates both natural and modern elements. Cut-outs in the wall behind the bar are covered with verdant moss, while an arrangement of dried plants and pendant lights hanging from the ceiling highlight a long table in the center of the restaurant. The tables are bedecked with vases of fresh flowers, and an art installation comprised of what look to be large, neutral-colored dried leaves, moss, and feathers is emblazoned with the restaurant’s name in neon-light letters. It all meshes into a vibe that’s both chic and cozy. It’s an ambiance that enhances the immersive feeling you get when you visit Host. You leave the everyday world behind for one that feels intimate, special.

Speaking of ambiance: I’m thinking I need to check out Host’s coworking space. Judging from pictures on Host’s website, it’s got ambiance for days, with plush leather chairs, exposed brick, and velvety green curtains. Packages range from the Office – which, at a fee of $1,100 a month, presumably hosts a team – to the $29-a-day drop-in fee for individuals.

Not only does the restaurant offer dinner, but it boasts a brunch menu, plus what it’s dubbed a “Coffee & Pastries Pop Up” on Mondays. Check Host out for yourself, and prepare to have an experience!

7759 Auburn Rd.

Utica, MI 48317

587. Recipes – October 9, 2022 – Rochester, MI

Recipes, a pinnacle of brunch places! The restaurant based in downtown Rochester serves hearty, flavorful fare in a setting worthy of champagne sipping.

Recipes’ menu is chockful of breakfast choices. It’s got omelets for days (including a make-your-own omelet-skillet option), a plethora of pancakes, granola, hashes, frittatas – you name it! There are seven kinds of Eggs Benedict, and egg skillets with names such as Rambler (a sophisticated mix of mushroom, chicken, broccoli, almonds, onion, and hollandaise sauce) and Straggler (a mix of mushroom, ham, Cheddar Jack cheese, tomato, onion, and potato). It’s a cornucopia of a.m. options!

More of a lunch person? Recipes has got you covered. Burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and Asian fare such as Pad Thai and Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio (vermicelli noodles with grilled pork) are included on its menu.

Perennially the person favoring the lunch side of a brunch menu, I opted for Recipes’ Crunchy Thai Salad. The mix of fresh raw veggies (cabbage, cucumber, carrot, cilantro, green onion) and healthful protein (chicken breast and peanuts) were just what I needed after a night of birthday-celebration indulgence. Fried wontons, rice sticks, and Thai peanut dressing brought additional crunch and vibrance to this wonderfully tasty mix, which was served with cheese-topped garlic bread.

Alcohol is also offered at Recipes. It serves brunch-friendly cocktails such as the Irish Coffee and Bloody Mary – and, as do other brunch spots of its ilk, champagne and multiple kinds of mimosas.

Ready to sip, savor, and celebrate a day a brunch-i-ness? Look no further than Recipes Rochester!

134 W. University Dr.

Rochester, MI 48307

(With additional locations in Farmington Hills and Troy)