Detroit is the most populated city in the state of Michigan, with the metropolitan area holding roughly half of the state’s population. It sits on the U.S.-Canadian border, in Wayne County, which has a population of 5.3 million. Detroit is known as the world’s automotive center, earning the nickname, “The Motor City”. It’s also the city of Motown, the birthplace of techno, and the disputed home of “Hockeytown USA”. Although the city has experienced urban decay with the decline starting in the late 1950s, the construction of two new stadiums in 2002- the Tiger’s baseball stadium and the Lions Football Stadium- has helped revive a portion of Detroit’s downtown. Since then, much effort has been taken to rehabilitate the city, and the number of vacant buildings downtown has been reduced drastically. There are even plans to build a downtown hockey stadium for the Red Wings (to be completed in Spring 2017). Below, our interview with local, Brendan, who will help you navigate your way while you visit Detroit.
THE LOCAL: Brendan
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HIM: Brendan, 27, works for a corporate financial advisory firm in Detroit and has lived in the area for most of his life, minus his college years and brief stints in Chicago and London. While Brendan lives in Detroit’s suburbs, he spends a significant amount of his free time and his weekends in the city. He’s impressed by Detroit’s comeback and commitment to rebuilding restaurants, commercial property and attractions. As Brendan and the locals say, “Detroit will rise again.”
1. Favorite place to get Rowdy?
This is a tough one, and for anyone going out in Detroit it requires a little background. The city has a few key neighborhoods for nightlife: (i) Downtown / Greektown, where the sports complex and business district are located; (ii) Midtown, where Wayne State University and a major hospital system are located; and (iii) Corktown, an emerging area with lots of good food and drink.
I would suggest Midtown because of the plethora of local bars in the area. Bronx Bar is a relatively small establishment that has an outdoor patio and awesome burgers. Third Street Bar is another indoor/outdoor venue, distinguished by two things: games and pies (not pizza). There’s an assortment of pies made, from fruit to meat options, all of which are awesome. The food is served from a window at the back of the bar. Games include ski ball, shuffleboard, and a hook-and-ring game. If you want to check out the local music scene, head to Old Miami or TV Lounge. You’re sure to hear some house and electronica, as Detroit is the birth place of Techno.
Other Downtown Places to Try:
- Level Two– Located across from the Casino in Greektown, this venue is on a second floor and features an outdoor deck. Fourth meal at one of the local Greek restaurants is recommended.
- Whiskey Disco & Cornerstone Barrel House– Downtown and close to Ford Field (Tiger Stadium) with two establishments in one. Upstairs is the Cornerstone Barrelhouse, a bar with local beers and a big whiskey selection. Downstairs is Whiskey Disco, an underground bar and music venue that hosts local electronic music artists and DJs on weekends.
2. Favorite Sunny Day Agenda? Go to a Tigers game! The stadium fills up on most sunny days, and standing room tickets can be purchased for $15. (They have a patio in right field where you can hang out). If you know a local, ask if they’re members at the Detroit Athletic Club and check out the new rooftop deck that looks out onto the stadium (opening in Fall 2015).
3. Best Coffee Shop or Bakery? My favorite is Astro Coffee in Corktown. Another coffee shop to try- if you’re willing to go for a drive- is Fred’s in Ann Arbor. Fred’s has a great menu with lots of healthy options. The West Coast vibe features beautiful interiors and friendly service. Ann Arbor is a quick 40 minutes from downtown Detroit.
4. Most Essential Detroit Tip?
Detroit and its metro areas are very spread out and there is zero public transportation, so make a plan for where to stay and either rent a car or plan on using Uber a lot. As far as where to stay, if you want to be downtown, the Westin Book Cadillac is the best hotel option. There are also lots of Airbnb lofts and apartments in the downtown area if you’d rather stay in a private room or home.
5. Must-Try Food and/or Drink?
There are three places in Corktown, all basically on the same block, that you have to try: Slow’s BBQ, which also has about 50 beers on tap, mostly local; Sugar House, which is a few doors down from Slow’s, serving craft cocktails with a roaring ‘20’s vibe; and Two James, one of the only distilleries within the city limits, which has a tasting room on the side. If you’re in Midtown, Selden Standard is the best new restaurant in the city. Jolly Pumpkin, or JP, is one of the best breweries in Michigan, and they just opened up a Detroit tasting room and restaurant. It’s probably the #1 beer destination in Detroit.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE DETROIT ATTRACTIONS
1. Detroit Institute of Arts – Definite thumbs up.
2. Motown Historical Museum – Can’t Say… I’ve never been.
3. Comerica Park – Thumbs Up.
4. Guardian Building – Thumbs down. There’s nothing to do or see here…
5. Eastern Market – Thumbs up. Most applicable if you’re able to cook and want to buy fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE DETROIT RESTAURANTS
1. Detroit Institute of Bagels – I’ve never been. A bagel place is #1? Strange…
2. Giovanni’s – Thumbs up. Best Italian food in the city and has been around forever.
3. Buddy’s Pizza-Detroit – Thumbs up. One of the original Detroit-style deep dish pizzas, but most of the locations are in the ‘burbs.
4. Pizza Papalis – Thumbs up. Nikki’s in Greektown is another solid Detroit-style pizza option.
5. Selden Standard – Thumbs up.
Have you visited or do you have plans to visit Detroit? If so, did you find this list helpful? Tell us in the comments below!