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This Diner Has The “Best Eggs In Detroit.”

By: Aaron B. Cohen | January 20, 2022
Whistle Stop Diner

“Best eggs in Detroit!” That’s what Joseph Dopke bellowed from behind the counter as Cassie Kish made her way to the bar. He was mid-shake on a Corn ‘n’ Oil – his unique contribution to Kiesling’s methodically curated selection of craft cocktails. But although his arms whipped in a sort of controlled frenzy, his mind was elsewhere – fixated on breakfast the next day.

Like himself, Cassie found her employ behind a counter. But while he worked late afternoons into the wee hours, she held down the recovery shift, rising with the sun to set the stage for the meal that would prove his salvation. “Everyone knows Whistle Stop is the best breakfast in Detroit.”

Technically, it’s not Detroit. The original Birmingham location opened in 1965 and was purchased by its current owners in 2012.

Valter Xhomaqi left Albania for the United States in 1995 and took up work at The Whistle Stop to establish a life while his wife completed medical school back home. In February ‘99, she joined him stateside, and within a month, found her first job bussing tables at the same establishment.

Certainly a change in pace for the now Dr. Xhomaqi. 

“When I would talk to my mom she would ask me how it’s going. ‘Is it hard?’ ‘No, it’s easy,’ I would say. And I’m thinking to myself, ‘Oh my God Elda, what are you doing?’ It was so hard. But you know what? We did it. And that’s why we’re here today.”

In 2002, the Xhomaqis left Whistle Stop to embark on their own version of the American dream. The Double EE was a diner – just like Whistle Stop – but it was theirs. For the next decade, the Ferndale restaurant established and maintained a loyal patronage of customers. Then, in 2012, opportunity came knocking, and the Xhomaqis – former Whistle Stop employees – took control of the restaurant. Employees turned restaurateurs.

Fast forward four years, and another beloved Metro Detroit breakfast joint is going out of business. Amongst the myriad of reasons a restaurant might go under, location was definitely not the culprit. Neatly tucked away on the half-mile stretch of Woodward between Royal Oak and Ferndale, equidistant from Birmingham and the heart of downtown Detroit, Mae’s occupied prime real estate. Once again, the time was ripe for expansion.

The second Whistle Stop location officially opened its doors in 2016. Since then, it has achieved a sort of cult-like following as Metro Detroit’s unofficial respite after a night out, where debilitating hangovers meet the hair of the dog, and as Kiesling’s Joseph Dopke emphatically reiterates, “the dankest eggs.”

We’re talking scrambles and skillets. Omelets, obviously. A whole menu section devoted to Bennies. They’ve got hollandaise for days. Get some on the side to drizzle over your lobster fix omelet (found on the specials menu).

But also, house-made cinnamon rolls heated up on the grill. Cinnamon swirl and lemon cream pancakes. A breakfast quesadilla that passes the stretchy cheese test every single time.

Bloodys with bacon. Mimosas that do not skimp. Nobody’s judging if you want a little Baily’s in your coffee.

Even the oatmeal is great. If you don’t think it’s possible for oatmeal to be great, try it for yourself.

It’s the little things that make all the difference. House-made jams. Grits that are finished with a crispy, parmesan crust. A diverse, local selection of hot sauces. There’s nothing stock about this place.

They’d do great if they only served breakfast. But the burgers are juicy. The deli turkey is thick-cut. The coleslaw is crisp and perfectly creamy.

If you came in with a perfectly marbled wagyu ribeye, they’d probably nail that too. But that’s not what Whistle Stop is about. It’s a restaurant for the community, by the community.

Since March, the Birmingham location has been closed for renovations. Upon its reopening, Elda will head north up Woodward Ave to run the restaurant that opened the doors to her new life in the United States. Meanwhile, her husband will stay in Pleasant Ridge, continuing to manage the restaurant that, every weekend, revives Metro Detroit.