Where to Eat in Detroit, Michigan for Foodies

I can’t stop talking about how much I love Detroit. I visited Michigan’s largest city for the third time in 2 years in April and fell in love with it all over again. There is something that just intrigues me about Detroit and it keeps me coming back for more. I’m already daydreaming about a return visit!  

Apparently I am not the only one who is loving on Detroit—it was named one of the top destinations to visit in 2017 by the New York Times. I think one of the things that I enjoy most about Detroit is that it is a city that has strong sense of place. The vibe of Detroit is “we know who we are and we couldn’t give a sh*t if you like us or not.” Detroit is a city of resilience, a city of grit, a city of character filled with characters. I dig it.

One of the things I enjoy most about traveling in Detroit is trying all of the local restaurants. As the city continues to turn around and rebuild itself, there is an explosion of new restaurants and bars coming onto the Detroit food scene. There seem to be new ones popping up all the time, and on my last visit, I managed to try two restaurants that had opened up within the last month. Talk about being on top of the food scene in a city I don’t even live!  

Here are 11 restaurant for foodies to try in Detroit!

Lumen1903 Grand River Ave

Brand new to the restaurant scene, Lumen is a trendy spot overlooking Beacon Park in downtown Detroit. With a massive patio and pristine floor to ceiling sliding windows, this place feels airy and modern with an art deco twist. I managed to visit the week they opened, and loved my experience. The menu is full of creative and globally inspired dishes, including a variety of starters that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was particularly a fan of the mac n’ cheese and the warm pretzel sticks. The beer and cocktail list is also on-point. On a sunny day, I’m not sure you could find a cooler spot that this.

Detroit Institute of Bagels 1236 Michigan Ave

If you are looking for a quick and tasty spot to pick up a fresh bagel or breakfast sandwich, look no further than Detroit Institute of Bagels in Corktown. They offer a variety of flavors and combinations but you can also mix and match nearly any of the bagel, schmear and topping varieties to create your own perfect flavor. The friendly service and local clientele of this cafe make it feel cozy, and I find myself returning to this cafe again and again when I visit Detroit.

Grey Ghost47 E Watson Street

One of the trendiest spots in Detroit right now pays homage with its namesake to one of Prohibition’s most notorious rum running pirates on the Detroit River. Although it is largely known for its meat and steak, Grey Ghost does lots of other delicious dishes along with a sizeable “not meat” section on the menu. I loved the jerk chicken wings I ordered and I would definitely return to try the burger, which is rated one of the best in the city. A reservation is required so plan ahead if you want to eat here.

Gold Cash Gold 2100 Michigan Ave

Inside a retrofitted pawn shop is where you find one of Detroit’s coolest restaurants — Gold Cash Gold. Serving up a new Southern menu, chef Brendon Edwards sources lots of local and sustainable ingredients and the menu is constantly changing. Their patio is wonderful in the summertime, but sitting in the well-designed interior is equally as enjoyable. Try the charcuterie board and you won’t be disappointed. The cover photo of this blog post is also from Gold Cash Gold!  

Lovers Only34 Grand River Ave

This modern cafeteria is located in the heart of downtown Detroit, making it a popular spot for lunch with the working crowd. Lovers Only offers a spacious interior that is totally ‘grammable with large windows, colorful printed wallpaper and charming pastel schoolhouse chairs. The menu is limited to burgers, sandwiches and salads but what it lacks in choice, it makes up for in quality. All of the beef is locally sourced and grass fed, and the nostalgia inducing flavors of the fast eddy or recession dog will have you happy you didn’t pack a lunch for work.

Republic1942 Grand River Ave

Just across the street from Lumen (listed above), Republic is built in the recently rehabbed castle-like G.A.B building, one of Detroit’s most historic spots. The diverse but approachable menu offer an eclectic assortment of small plates such as pork belly, smoked ribs and whitefish. The accompanying cocktail list is killer, and I found myself sipping down one too many at this place. The interior is beautiful as is the plating of the dishes, so have your phone handy to snap pictures through the meal.

Chartreuse Kitchen15 E Kirby St

Rated the best restaurant in Detroit for 2017, this colorful restaurant across from the Detroit Institute of Art gets it interior paint color and name from the famous French liqueur — Chartreuse. The knowledgeable staff will teach you all about Chartreuse if you’re not familiar (which I was not!) and you can order a variety of chartreuse either straight up or mixed in cocktails. The menu is full of New American small plates with a focus on seafood and a constantly changing assortment of seasonal vegetables. The bright and fresh flavors pair quite perfectly with their modern and often avant-garde cocktails.

Folk1701 Trumbull Ave

Another newcomer to the restaurant scene, this bright yet cozy cafe in Corktown offers all-day healthy options for brunch. This is a perfect spot for a friend date or upscale lunch. The small but mighty menu doesn’t compromise on quality and their coffee drinks can’t be beat. I opted for the loaded avocado toast and a turmeric milk, both of which were delightfully enjoyable and full of flavor.  

Dime Store719 Griswold St

A popular spot for breakfast and lunch downtown, Dime Store is a tucked into an office building where you can expect crowds throughout the day. Their robust sandwich list will make you salivate just looking at the options and their all-day brunch options will totally scratch the breakfast for lunch itch. I can never turn down a good Eggs Benedict, and Dime Store has got 3 options to choose from!

Green Dot Stables 2200 West Lafayette Blvd

A long-time staple on Detroit’s food scene, Green Dot Stables is an absolute must try on any trip to Motor City. This no-nonsense eatery is located along a largely abandoned stretch of road (seemingly by nothing else), making it a destination spot. There is one thing you are ordering here—sliders—and lots of them. All GDS’s sliders are served a-la-carte, so you order as many as you’d like, ranging from a traditional beef slider to fried catfish to bologna to PB&J. Some of the flavors get a little wacky, but at $3 a pop, tyring something unusual makes the experience all the more fun. There will be a wait nearly all-day long, even when if you arrive right when it open, but with a large outdoor area and fast service, waiting goes quickly.

Eastern Market — Corner at Riopelle and Alfred Streets

A quintessential Detroit stop, the Eastern Market is a year-round indoor/outdoor farmer’s market on the city’s east side. The largest market is on Saturdays, but there are vendors available during the week as well. Check the website for times. You’ll see a variety of farmers selling anything from cheese, honey and bread to fresh fish and meat. There are lots of street art murals in this neighborhood as well, so grab a coffee or kombucha to drink as you wander and explore this area.

Did I miss any of your favorite Detroit restaurants? Comment below with your suggestions and I will visit them on my next trip!

Author: Megan Arz

I am a travel and food obsessed Midwesterner living in Chicago and dreaming of the world. I work as a full-time program manager for Greenheart Travel, but I am also committed to integrating the travel lifestyle into my every day routines. I am passionate about ethical travel, meeting new people, creating unique memories and eating local cuisine!

9 thoughts

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE!
    I’ve been waiting for this post. :)
    Had so much fun checking out Lumen, Republic, Chartreuse, and Grey Ghost with you.
    It’s great that you’re more on top of the Detroit food scene than most of the locals. :D

    1. Folk was delish!! I really liked it. The combination of those two dishes was interesting and different!

  2. Sadly, some of the restaurants listed are often inconsistent in quality. Grey Ghost’s jerk chicken wings are fabulous, but 2 recent visits proved the other meals are less reliable. Gold Cash Gold is worth going just for the interior. However, they’ve been trying to find their footing since they lost excellent chef Josh Stockton (now in Nashville). It’s a better bet for brunch right now. I’m glad you toured the city. With all that said, things are happening and looking great in Detroit right now. I fully expect the above two mentioned to up their game soon as word has gotten out. This is my hope since both places have unique spaces and have invested in the city. I look forward to seeing your picks in Northern Michigan.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Andie. I think you’re totally right about Grey Ghost and Gold Cash Gold finding their footing. I have found that when restaurants are first starting out, like Grey Ghost, they often haven’t found their “groove” yet and inconsistency can be a byproduct of that. Same with chef departures! Thankfully, both spots are so enjoyable to visit because of the space that once they do find their niche, they will be truly awesome. I think Detroit has a lot of good things happening right now. I can’t wait to watch it grow more!

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