Momentous Meals

By: Karen Dybis | January 24, 2020

Metro Detroit has some of the most well-respected historic businesses around, something you would expect of an area that dates back more than 300 years. There are dozens of companies in Detroit proper that are more than 100 years old as well as eateries that date back to before even your Grandpa or Grandma was born. 

And, just like those beloved seniors, Metro Detroit’s oldest restaurants not only have great histories but traditional, home-style food that makes you feel like you’re at a family reunion. Plus, they range from high-end, special-occasion spots to everyday diners that provide such good coney dogs and the like that even out-of-town celebrity chefs honor their culinary accomplishments. 

A great example is Duly’s Place Coney Island in Southwest Detroit. Back in 2014, the late Anthony Bourdain took his CNN food and travel show “Parts Unknown” to this coney-based mainstay for a bite to eat. He raved about the food and the people of Detroit.

On the show and after his Duly’s visit, Bourdain said: “Every time I visit Detroit. Somebody asks me if I’ve had a good Coney yet. Apparently, I never had a great one. I finally got one. I understand now.” 

Here are some of Metro Detroit’s finest historic restaurants and some of their specialty dishes that made them so notable. 

Giovanni’s Ristorante
This old-school restaurant isn’t too old – it was established in Detroit in 1968 – but it has a mature feel. Plus, you’ve got to love an Italian restaurant that embraces not only its culture but some of the pop culture around its food and reputation. That is why Giovanni’s is so much fun to visit – not only is food delicious, but they have a “Godfather Room,” where they encourage people to hold business meetings. There’s even a “Speakeasy” for private parties. 

London Chop House
It was famous in its day and it is famous again – the London Chop House has ranked as one of Detroit’s best since it opened in the 1930s. Celebrities of all kinds ate there, enjoying the steaks and seafood. It even received national recognition in 1961 when James Beard named it one of the 10 best restaurants in the country. It closed in 1991 when business closed down and the ownership changed hands. But it came back to life in 2013, bringing elegance and good food along with it to downtown Detroit. 

Dakota Inn Rathskeller
When it opened August 1, 1933, the Dakota Inn was the heart of the city’s German community. Today, it calls itself the city’s only authentic German bar where food, singing and family are all emphasized. Its Octoberfest-related events are not to be missed, and it is great for parties and work gatherings. Don’t miss the marinated herring, Reuben soup, sauerkraut and sauerbraten. If you cannot decide, then get a sampler or combo plate. It’s all good. 

Andrew’s on the Corner
If you want that “Cheers” feeling where everybody knows your name, then you’ve got to head to this perfect corner bar. Family owned and operated since 1918, Andrew’s is a throwback to when Detroit ignored Prohibition and enjoyed a friendly drink or two along with a hearty meal. There are a ton of reasons to visit: The homey food, the sports memorabilia or the great waterfront location. It’s also a great spot to have nachos or sandwiches with friends as there is a large interior restaurant alongside the bar. 

Scotty Simpson’s Fish & Chips
It’s the (worst) best-kept secret restaurant in town: Scotty Simpson’s Fish & Chips has been a landmark for everyone who loves to eat and eat well since 1950. The place truly is a step back in time to old Detroit and the people who devoted themselves to serving the best food in town at good prices. Bring a crowd because once you try their fish and other dishes, you’ll be hooked for life.