13 Detroit Restaurants That’ll Drive you to the Motor City

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Are you from Detroit? 

If you’re like me, you claim Detroit, but you’re not a Detroiter in the truest sense of the word. In my case, my claim on a Motor City identity is tentative at best. In fact, I’m such a Southfielder that it’s downright sickening. Even though I may have been born into a Rosedale Park home in Northwest Detroit, my mother gave physical birth to me in Southfield’s Providence Hospital, and my family permanently retreated north of 8 Mile Road when I was only three years old. 

Even when I mention having lived in Rosedale Park at one point, plenty of folks consider that too safe of a neighborhood, as if the only true Detroiters are those that grow up in mortal fear.

Despite growing up in a place most authentic Detroit denizens regarded as “soft,” there was never a physical barrier between Detroit and its northern suburbs preventing me from bridging the gap and sampling a true taste of Motown cuisine. This results in my list of must-visit Detroit restaurants, touching on all of the essential debates, including Coney dogs, Detroit-style pizza, and burgers.

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First of all, Slow’s BBQ is the best Carolina barbecue restaurant outside of the Carolinas. In fact, Mrs. Jewett – the octogenarian North Carolinian who lives down the street from my parents – assures me that Slow’s provided her with the best Carolina barbecue meal of her life. In and of itself, that well-informed endorsement is beyond sufficient to propel Slow’s onto my Detroit restaurants list, even without considering that my wife and I ate at Slow’s immediately before I proposed to her on Belle Isle. Sentimentality aside, the Triple Threat Pork is undeniably worth getting on The Lodge for.

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Carolina BBQ that’s better than the barbecue in the Carolinas.

While we’re on Michigan Ave, we might as well head east toward Griswold to settle the longstanding debate: Lafayette Coney Island or American Coney Island? To me, it was never close. No matter how badly you might want me to give it up for America’s favorite fightin’ Frenchman (every Hamilton fan gets the reference), American Coney Island is easily better than Lafayette. Yeah, I said it. Fight me.

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Detroit’s one true Coney king.

Detroit Restaurants that Serve Burgers and Sliders to Talk About

Take a sharp turn and head west on Lafayette Street to find Green Dot Stables and their mouthwatering sliders. My wife, who spent a full summer doing a study abroad program in Cuba, is partial to the Cuban slider. Go figure.

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Back at the corner of Brush Street and Gratiot, we find ourselves in Greektown for another of my favorite entries into the best-burger discussion, Basement Burger Bar, which makes the best custom burgers that I’ve ever had inside the city limits. From there, we can stay in Greektown a little bit longer and go to Pegasus Taverna. The food there is always tremendous, despite me not being able to pronounce anything on their menu. I may be linguistically challenged, but I know good food when I taste it.

In terms of the greater Metro Detroit area, my favorite burger place is Redcoat Tavern in Royal Oak. I’m partial to Redcoat Tavern for multiple reasons. First, the Original Redcoat Special is probably the best burger I’ve ever had anywhere on Earth. Second, they serve Dark Horse Beer. My second cousin Kristy is one of the owners of that brewery, which churns out the best beer in Michigan. Third, it’s the only restaurant where I’ve come across a Detroit Pistons legend in real life. 7’1” James “Buddha” Edwards sauntered in out of the parking lot wearing all white. He was impossible to miss. 

As a side note, the only other time I met a Piston in real life was when I hounded Lindsey Hunter during his workout and the old Bally Total Fitness Executive Club which used to be on Telegraph Road, just north of Maple Road. I clearly was stalking him. So much so, that he pointed out that I had different weights on each side of the bar during my bench-press sets.

The Great Detroit-Style Pizza Debate

In order to settle the Detroit-style pizza debate, we need to leave Detroit and make our way to Buddy’s. I’ve been to Shields Pizza at least 20 times more often than I’ve been to Buddy’s for two reasons:

  • Shields is less than two miles from my house.
  • Shields is delicious.

Make no mistake about it, Buddy’s serves the superior pizza.

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Want to try more of my favorite hangouts in Metro Detroit? Check out my official CurEat list of Detroit restaurants! Don’t have CurEat? Download on iOS or Android!

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