Burgers, Tacos and Pitas: Street food in the D

By: Toni Cunningham | April 8, 2014
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I think it’s safe to say that everyone is a fan of food trucks. There’s nothing better than having the option of great food when you’re on the go and don’t have time to sit down at a restaurant. But what about when you’re jonesing for the simplicity of some street food flavors and actually want to relax and enjoy your meal? The answer: street food restaurants.

Street food, which is usually sold from a vendor or portable food stand, provides grab-and-go dishes, just like food trucks. Typically, they stick to a specific cuisine. Whether you’re craving Indian, Italian, Asian, or something in between, there is a street food restaurant in Metro Detroit to satisfy your craving.

Curry Up, 2711 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor, serves Indian street food that is inspired by the aromatic, healthy food carts found in the streets of India. The menu includes quick snacks/finger foods, classic Indian dishes like Cholle Bathure (curry chick peas served with deep fried bread) and Pav Bhaji (spicy mixed veggies served with grilled butter buns and onions), as well as Indian style wraps and sandwiches.

Neehee’s, 45656 Ford Rd., Canton, is another Indian street food restaurant, but this one serves vegetarian food only. Pakoda (various fried snack dishes), sandwiches and meals are all on the menu, as well as Indian-Chinese fusion meals (noodle and fried rice bowls) and South Indian dishes, including dosa wraps, and various dosa dishes (dosa = a savory crepe or pancake type item, for those of you not in the know).

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San Street is the only street food eatery on this list that is, in fact, on the streets. The Asian food cart can be found in various parts of Ann Arbor depending on the day and time (check out the schedule via the link above). Dishes include Buns! Buns! Buns! (steamed buns filled with your choice of meat, mushrooms or tofu), a Rice Plate + Combo Bun (the former accompanied by Japanese rice), or San Street Banh Mi (a Vietnamese sandwich with various veggies, cilantro and Sriracha mayo).

Imperial, 22828 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, is one of my personal favorites. The street food-style tacos are something that invade my dreams, and that’s not just because Superman himself has been spotted at this eatery. You can’t go wrong with any of the tacos, but the Al Pastor and Adobada de Pollo will not be regretted. A new taco special is announced every Friday and is served through the following Thursday, as well as a monthly hot dog special. Did I not mention they serve street style hot dogs as well? They do.

Frita Batidos, 117 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor, serves Cuban-inspired street food with flair. The menu’s fritas (or traditional Cuban burgers) are made with a chorizo patty, then topped with sweet chili mayo and French fries, and is served on an egg bun. If chorizo doesn’t fit your fancy, you can get a black bean, chicken, fish or beef frita with various mayo choices. Additional fresh toppings include cilantro-lime slaw, tropical slaw, Muenster cheese, a sunny side up egg and avocado spread. There are other sandwiches and plates on the menu, like an Inspired Cuban and Open Face Grilled Cheese, but I’d go with the frita.

KouZina, 121 N. Main St., Royal Oak, serves Greek street food on homemade pita bread. Gyros are made with your choice of lamb and beef, chicken, or pork, and are served on original, multi-grain or gluten free pita with either tzatziki or zesty feta sauce. Other choices include a Greek Salad, Veggie Bowl and Spinach Pie.

Street food served indoors is a great concept for many reasons. First of all, Michigan weather is unpredictable, and no one wants to get caught in April’s showers with food in hand. Secondly, we’re not always on the go, and it’s nice to sit down and enjoy a meal with someone else every once in a while. You’ve got plenty of options: now, go!