People are creatures of habit, but I think it’s important to try new things. Break the mold. Spice things up.
When it comes to new culinary experiences, you don’t have to go far in Metro Detroit. There are far more restaurants and bars popping up than we have room for in one article, so I grabbed a few that stand out to me to share with you all. From burgers to Lebanese and eastern European dining, here are five new places where you can enjoy a bite (or drink!) right now.
What began as a gas station pit-stop has bloomed into a full-grown location inside of a strip mall in Dearborn Heights. Taystee’s is the passion project of Ali Jawad and Mohamad Nassereddine, both of whom were looking for a big change in their professional lives. After enjoying success while operating out of Jawad’s grandfather’s gas station, the duo set their sights on opening their own, independent location. In late October, they got their wish. The interior is reminiscent of your favorite regional burger chain a la Five Guys and In-N-Out, but it’s 100% local and, well, tasty.
Menu recommendation: Ali’s Notch-Yo-Burger — four kinds of cheese (including nacho), nacho cheese-flavored chips, hot sauce, grilled onions, mayo, beef bacon, lettuce and tomato on an onion bun. It won Detroit’s Burger Brawl in 2016.
In the spirit of burger joints expanding to additional locations, Ann Arbor-favorite Frita Batidos opened doors in downtown Detroit in early October. This Cuban-style burger counter specializes in two things: fritas — beef, chorizo, chicken, or black bean burgers — and tropical, indulgent milkshakes made with Guernsey Dairy vanilla bean ice cream. To appeal to the busy worker bees of the city, Frita Batidos in Detroit will also offer sandwiches, salads, and ginger rice bowls. You can also look forward to beer and craft cocktails, complete with a happy hour (Sun-Thurs, 4-6 p.m. + last hour of service nightly).
Menu recommendation: Frita employs a build-your-own style of service, so my recommendation is to let your imagination (and your stomach) run wild! But, if you need a little help, the Chorizo Frita Loco is a crowd-pleaser.
Noticing that a large portion of their clientele were coming from Ferndale, Hamtramck-based Balkan House made the decision to expand to the hip downtown area in November. Now, you can get eastern European foods, such as chevapi, pljeskavica, palacinke (crepes), and döner kebabs. To appeal to the bar crowds, Balkan House in Ferndale will be open till 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Menu recommendation: döner kebab — Turkish, peppery sandwich of thinly sliced meat beef and lamb meat stuffed inside soft, house-made bread. It is commonly eaten as a late-night snack in Europe.
Located in the restored Farwell building in downtown Detroit, Leila aims to capture and share the communal feeling of Lebanese family dining known as “mezze.” The space is designed with an open kitchen and a wood-fired oven that is constantly baking fresh pita bread for its diners. Speaking of bread, the menu is packed with Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern dishes, such as tabbouleh, baba ghanouj, falafel, kibbeh, shish barak and more. If you’re just looking for a new place for drinks, the bar (no reservations needed) serves beer, wine and Lebanese craft cocktails.
Menu recommendation: awarma fettah (lamb confit, yogurt sauce, pita) with a fattoush salad (cucumber, tomato, pita, za’atar) and “The Beirut” (arak, pomegranate juice, simple syrup, soda water) for dessert.
Operated by Bill Keros, whose family is of Lafayette Coney Island fame, and Scott Purdon, City Ramen opened its doors in Royal Oak in October. With help from Michelin-starred Japanese chef Tomoharu Shono, everything on City Ramen’s menu is made from scratch using local vendors.
Menu recommendation: bold ramen (spicy miso) — if you like a kick to go with your bowl of traditional Japanese noodle soup, this is the one to try. They also serve vegan ramen and sides, like edamame and sticky ribs