Detroit is being heralded as a food mecca, a city bursting with countless new and creative places to eat, drink and socialize.
New bars and restaurants have opened all around the Motor City in the past couple years, from an eatery with the gooiest macaroni and cheese around to a spot that gives you the feeling of entering a spaceship. And many of the new spots offer distinctive opportunities for group dining.
The following are a dozen of these places, some of the city’s up-and-coming hot spots and newest places to eat, drink and just hang out.
Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Brewz!
The macaroni and cheese at Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Brewz! is so thick, you can turn your plate upside down and it stays put. “We call it ooey, gooey good,” says cofounder Gary Sussman. “We have 15 kinds of mac n’ cheese, including macho nacho and Philly cheesesteak.”
Also on the menu are some 40 craft beers, eight wines by the glass and different herb- and spice-infused liquors, along with Zingerman’s Coffee.
Sweet Lorraine’s opened in February 2016 with the vision of being a hip urban spot. “We stripped out the remodeled parts of what used to be a bookstore and got down to the basics that were there from the turn of the 19th century,” Sussman says. “So there’s the original terrazzo floor from around 1915, and we have the exposed beams from the late-1800s. For the tables, we used reclaimed maple wood from demolished homes in Detroit.”
Groups can rent the entire dining area, which can accommodate up to 80 guests for a buffet dinner and up to 115 for a cocktail party. For smaller groups, the dining area can be cordoned off by panels. macnbrewz.com; 313.782.4180
There is a lot of history at Bobcat Bonnie’s. For starters, the building is more than 150 years old. From the warm-colored brick that was salvaged from Eloise, the well-known insane asylum of Wayne County, to the sign located in the game room in the back haling from the former Tiger Stadium, the venue oozes history.
“It’s mostly an open layout in the front, and then as you’re heading to the back there’s a brick archway that leads to the game room, which is also a semiprivate area that has several tables,” says Service Manager Katie Kelley.
A patio is attached to the back room, which can accommodate up to 35 guests both for a seated dinner and a standing affair. Groups can rent the entire venue, which can host up to 115 guests both seated and standing.
Menu favorites include the fried goat cheese, the Captain Crunch chicken fingers and the fish tacos. bobcatbonnies.com; 313.962.1383
Rock City Eatery’s atmosphere incorporates a raw, rustic look made popular in its original, but much smaller, Hamtramck location, with wide-open space, exposed brick walls, iconic Detroit rock-scene art by Creem Magazine photographer Kay Young and paintings by Niagara. “The furniture has been handcrafted with reclaimed wood and steel,” says Jessica Imbronone Sanches, Rock City’s co-owner and general manager
Opened in its present location in September, Rock City Eatery gives classic comfort foods a visual twist. Menu favorites include bone marrow that’s made into a pâté and packed back into the bone, served with nori chimichurri and a radish parsley salad, and the High Steaks dish, which is served on a miniature grill with smoking wood chips.
The dining area can accommodate more than 70 guests for a private event. rockcityeatery.com; 313.265.3729
When you walk in the front door of Katoi, it looks kind of like a … spaceship. Various dim-colored lights blink on and off, and it could probably pass for a discotheque. “Our building is a spaceship that will take bold people to another realm,” says Creative Director Courtney Henriette.
Katoi is a Thai-inspired restaurant that started in 2014 as a food truck. The present location opened in March. Groups can rent the entire facility, which can accommodate up to 70 guests seated, or the dining room, which seats 50.
“Not only is the setting at Katoi bold, our food is too,” Henriette says. “It’s also spicy and dynamic. We don’t represent Detroit, we don’t represent Thailand, we don’t represent a restaurant experience. We represent everyone who walks through the door and engages in the experience.” katoidetroit.com; 313.855.2864
The Peterboro, which opened in March, is a Chinese-American restaurant located in the city’s old Chinatown district. “That area was kind of neglected for 20-30 years, where you can still see some of the remnants of old Chinatown,” says Jon Trasky, the Peterboro’s director of operations. “In recent years you’re seeing some of it get developed in hopes of bringing the neighborhood back up to what it used to be, and we’re a part of that.”
Guests are welcomed by a modern Asian décor, from Chinese lanterns hanging throughout the venue to a picture of a crouching tiger that was painted for the restaurant.
A semiprivate area can accommodate up to 40 guests seated or standing. Groups can rent the entire venue, which can host up to 60 guests seated or standing.
A favorite entrée is the almond boneless chicken, which comes in a Griffin Claw IPA batter and is served with spiced marcona almonds and shredded lettuce. A popular appetizer is the crab rangoon that is served with cream cheese and scallion. thepeterboro.com; 313.833.1111
Gold Cash Gold
Gold Cash Gold, which opened in November 2014, offers a contemporary vibe in an oldschool setting.
“It’s a very lively, fresh, fun atmosphere,” says General Manager Kevin Burrows. “We use predominantly reclaimed materials in most of our construction, from our dining room floor being an old gymnasium floor from an old school in town to our support beams from factories here in town to some of our benches. It’s really cool.”
A semiprivate area in the back—the chef’s table—can seat up to 14 guests and has a full view of the open kitchen. Larger groups can rent the entire facility, which can accommodate up to 90 guests both seated and standing.
The most popular entrée is the pickle-brine fried chicken, which comes with a buttermilk biscuit-and-pepper gravy. A favorite appetizer is the house-made burrata, an Italian cheese-stuffed cheese—fresh mozzarella on the outside and a mixture of fresh cream, ricotta cheese and olive oil in the center. Gold Cash Gold also serves delicious craft cocktails. gcgdetroit.com; 313.242.0770
Grey Ghost Detroit
Opened in July, Grey Ghost Detroit is in a building that has been around since the early 1900s. “It has beautiful, exposed-brick walls that we’ve left for the guests to kind of take in,” says owner David Vermiglio. “There are also some elements of raw metal; it’s an industrial look. We have industrial lighting, too, which is a big part of the ambiance and a big part of who we are.”
Large groups must rent the entire venue, which can accommodate up to 80 guests seated and up to 100 standing. The dining area is connected by accordion windows to a patio, which accommodates 20.
“We’re kind of a modern twist on a steakhouse, so we’ve got a dry aged rib eye, a dry aged New York Strip,” Vermiglio says. “But, believe it or not, our most popular menu item is our fried bologna.” greyghostdetroit.com; 313.262.6534
Granite City Food & Brewery
The Granite City Food & Brewery, opened in February 2016, offers a warm, country atmosphere. “It’s very upscale but casual,” says Events Sales Manager Angela Perez. “You can come in with your business attire or shorts and a T-shirt. Either way, we have the most amazing atmosphere that will make either guest comfortable. Besides our dining area, we have two bars and a brewery.”
A private meeting room can accommodate up to 150 guests seated and up to 200 standing. Groups can rent the main dining room, which can host up to 700 guests both seated and standing. A patio can accommodate up to 80 guests seated and up to 105 standing. Groups can rent the entire facility.
A popular entrée is the ponzu-glazed salmon. A favorite appetizer is the barbecue-pork nachos. gcfb.com; 313.309.9120
For a nice, casual experience downtown with good food and good drinks, pay a visit to GoGos, located inside the Park Bar. Opened in May, the bar has all-glass walls and lots of exposed steel, concrete, brick and wood.
“We have comfortable seating and even the food is served in a casual way,” says Chef Adam Verville. “The food is also made from the freshest and best ingredients, and we cook from scratch. It’s a Hawaiian-inspired menu but really encompasses Japanese, Korean, Chinese and a lot of American influences. You get a nice, creative meal but not at finedining prices.”
On the second floor is another bar, an event space that can accommodate up to 120 guests seated and up to 200 standing. Groups can rent the entire facility—the first floor can host up to 65 guests seated and up to 120 standing. gogos.us; 313.672.4646
Queens Bar Detroit
It is a neighborhood hangout crawling with young professionals. Queens Bar Detroit opened in May. “We have several art deco paintings, plus other works of art, on the walls,” says Sam Spruill, the bar’s co-managing partner. “People love the atmosphere.”
Groups must rent the entire facility, which can accommodate up to 65 guests seated and up to 180 standing.
A popular menu item is the chicken empanada. Craft beers are available. Catering can be done in-house or groups can provide their own caterer. queensbardetroit.com; 313.285.8019
If you are looking for a relaxed fine-dining experience, Selden Standard is for you. Opened in November 2014, this restaurant offers a warm, friendly, sociable atmosphere. It also packs in the crowds nearly every night.
A private dining room, which features French doors and overlooks Second Avenue, can host up to 36 guests seated and up to 45 standing. There is also a 16-person table in the back that is semiprivate, along with a large outdoor patio.
“All of our food and drinks are made from scratch,” says co-owner Evan Hansen. “Our food is prepared in our wood-fired oven and served small-plates style in perfectly shareable portions.”
Two menu favorites are the smoked lamb ribs served with agrodolce, yogurt and lemon zest and the grilled short rib that is served with red mole, squash, a turnip and chimichurri. seldenstandard.com; 313.438.5055
El Club is an art deco bar and pizzeria that opened in May. Groups must rent the entire facility. “We can host up to 250 guests seated and up to 500 standing,” says Virginia Benson, the club’s talent buyer. “Everything is brandnew, redone inside. We have a large patio that can host up to 300 guests [standing].”
Other than a couple of salads and a couple of soups, the menu is all pizza, all the time. Two favorites are the Pepe Z pepperoni red pizza drizzled with honey and the Olive You white pizza, topped with Kalamata olives, sautéed onions and truffle oil. elclubdetroit.com; 313.436.1793