Latkes are the quintessential Hanukkah dish. For generations, the deep-fried potato pancakes have symbolized a time of celebration, perseverance, and family. While latkes are most often prepared from scratch at home, Metro Detroit offers a handful of delicious options to get your annual fix. If you’re looking to nosh on Detroit’s finest, crispiest, golden-brown Chanukah treats, look no further. We’ve got you covered for all eight days (and beyond).
For the most authentic experience, your best bet is one of Metro Detroit’s iconic Jewish delis. Along with corned beef, hot pastrami, kosher dogs, and lox, most offer a traditional latke that rivals even the most revered bubbies.
Start with the three S’s: Stage, Steve’s, and Star Deli. These restaurants have withstood the test of time with good reason – the food is superbly delicious. While you’re there, check out the extensive selection of additional items you can (and should) add to the feast. Cheese blintz, rugelach, and seven-layer cake are all fair game when it comes to Chanukah spread.
Delis are, without a doubt, the best place to score traditional latkes, but here in Detroit, our multicultural influence lends itself to all sorts of culinary variety. The Polish influence can be felt all over the city, but especially in Hamtramck, where traditional restaurants serve up pierogies, cabbage soup, kielbasa, and of course, potato pancakes. While there are subtle differences between traditional Jewish latkes and Polish potato pancakes – namely the texture – the concept remains the same: grated potatoes and onions, golden-fried in vegetable oil. Check out Polonia or Polish Village Cafe for a taste of Detroit’s authentic Polish cuisine.
With locations in Pleasant Ridge and Birmingham, Whistle Stop Diner, known first and foremost for its remarkable breakfast and brunch menu, serves its own highly-decadent take on latkes. While the preparation deviates substantially from the standard Hanukkah practice, the result is unique and delicious in its own right. They’re deep-fried (as opposed to pan-fried) served with sour cream (as are most), and a house-made apple compote in place of traditional applesauce.
If you’re up for the challenge, it’s hard to beat latkes made from scratch. Purists will argue the only way to do it is by hand, but if you plan to serve a group, a food processor will dramatically reduce the time spent grating potatoes and onions. Make sure you have plenty of vegetable oil (you can never use too much oil), and stock up on the sour cream and applesauce.
For an added twist, experiment with additional ingredients like beets, leeks, and even sweet potatoes. While the process can be labor-intensive, it is also forgiving. Once your mixture hits the pan, trust your eyes and ears to determine when the frying is complete. You want a crispy, golden exterior and soft center.
The holiday season is about enjoying the simple things. This year, celebrate Hanukkah with the time-tested staple that will leave you looking forward to next year… if you can wait that long.