Ten Best: Experience La Noria

By: Karen Dybis | April 26, 2019

Every Detroit neighborhood needs a landmark – a signature of sorts, be it a statue, a store or a restaurant – that identifies not only as a destination but a place with soul and spirit. For a stretch of Michigan Avenue, La Noria Bistro is that benchmark, a beacon letting visitors know good food and good times await.

La Noria is Chef Norberto Garita’s newest contribution to Detroit’s food scene that specializes in both traditional Mexican and traditional Italian dishes. That may seem like a culture clash, but Garita’s talent for blending spices and flavors also allows him to create an atmosphere that is both upscale and casual, refined yet hearty.

Garita took a former coney restaurant and turned it into a bistro centered around a wood-fired brick oven. Its warmth provides an ideal environment for baking thin, crispy pizzas alongside a full kitchen that offers an array of Mexican comfort food as well as sophisticated dishes that the chef – a James Beard Award nominee – is known for around the city’s growing culinary circles.

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What makes La Noria stand out is its location. Michigan Avenue has emerged over the past decade as home to a variety of beloved restaurants from the Detroit Institute of Bagels to the Mercury Burger Bar to Slow’s Bar B Q. To get to La Noria, you have to keep driving, way past Ford Motor Co.’s massive Michigan Center Depot renovation, beyond the trendy coffee shops and into a part of the avenue that has yet to see Detroit’s comeback story come into play.

Here, you will see Mom and Pop shops, an oasis of car-repair places and other everyday services. Men and women work hard here, and simplicity supersedes superiority. It’s not the glitz and glamor of downtown or Midtown. Rather, La Noria serves as a respite from the everyday – its freshly painted façade stands out along the avenue, and the heady scent of the wood-fired stove greets you as you walk up to its door.

Inside, old coney-dog days are long forgotten. The interior features a cool tile floor, rustic tin ceiling, warm wood tables and a giant mural of manly faces from a different time and era. The smaller dining room has wood beams, exposed brick and the bright fire from the pizza oven, creating a welcoming ambiance that reflects Chef Garita’s hospitality.

Garita received his Culinary experience working in Manhattan, later moving to Michigan where he worked at the now closed Il Posto Ristorante Italiano. He seems to have found an ideal home in La Noria, where he can show off his skills while making people feel at home.

Nancy Greenia first visited La Noria with a group of five for Detroit Restaurant Week and knew she needed to make a return trip. It left the right impression on her.

“The second time, there were 26 of us,” she said, and their orders ranged from Guacamole to pizza, pasta to octopus and carpaccio and zucchini.

“It was beautiful,” Greenia said. “Simply put, the quality of the food matches the service. Both are great. … It is not chi chi. It’s not a diner. It’s just a great place to have good food and wine.”

Enter for a chance to win two tickets to dinner at La Noria courtesy of your Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers / Detroit Free Press Top 10 Takeover on May 7th, 2019. Be sure to enter no later than Noon on May 2nd for an opportunity to bypass the long wait!