In Detroit, flavor is in heavy rotation

Washington Post
Thursday, March 08, 2018

In this city with four major pro teams, there’s another sport: trying to keep track of the dizzying number restaurant openings. National headlines have proclaimed Detroit a hot food destination. Certainly, Motor City natives can list a lifetime of favorites, many dating back generations. The latest restaurant breed tends toward new American cuisine, dedicated to local sourcing with a splash of Michigan-made beer or Detroit-distilled spirits. In one newbie Detroit diner, where tables are so close that your neighbors’ conversations merge with yours, a fellow patron told me she and her husband were opening a wood-fired pizza place soon. Of course! Menus, it seems, are Motown’s new playlist. And in the 313 area-code tradition, consider a nightcap at one of the proliferating bars, including one in the mural-filled Belt Alley. Later, a Coney dog is the classic Detroit fourth meal.

Just off the atrium-lit lobby of the Chrysler House, a 1912 neoclassical downtown skyscraper formerly named the Dime Building, as locals still prefer to call it, is the Dime Store restaurant (eatdimestore.com; 719 Griswold St.; 313-962-9106). This 75-seat spot is a bustling contrast to the stately architecture it occupies. Funky, 1970s-style light fixtures are suspended from tangled black cords above the 12-seat bar. Floors are concrete, east-facing windows offer an expansive street view, and the food is varied, creative and locally sourced. Here, in this self-dubbed American Brunch Bar offering “breakfast, lunch and booze,” T-shirts mingle with business suits and the walls are painted with murals depicting the “heads” sides of Mercury and Eisenhower dimes. Of course you can order a custom omelet, but why not a duck Reuben sandwich ($13.50), which was the most popular item at my table recently. Other favorites include the duck bop hash ($12.50) and breakfast sandwiches ($7.50-$10.50). The menu offers “day drinks,” and its most popular, I’m told, is the peach sparkling wine mimosa ($8), which is as light as midday. Afterward, stop in at Bon Bon Bon, just across the lobby, for a nationally acclaimed chocolate ($3) made just minutes away. Then, work off the calories with a stroll down the block to the Guardian Building, a National Historic Landmark with a stunning art deco interior.

Square Detroit-style pizza is a thing – and you won’t find it at Supino Pizzeria (supinopizzeria.com, 2457 Russell St., 313-567-7879), where round pies reflect owner Dave Mancini’s Italian roots in Supino, Italy, plus years of trial-and-error experimentation in his home kitchen with a KitchenAid. Supino opened a decade ago, making it a veteran of Detroit’s new-wave dining. Its windows face the historic Eastern Market, where it’s a draw for takeout and sit-down diners alike. In addition to pizza, the menu offers antipasti, daily pastas and salads. (Try the rucola salad with labne dressing, $7.) Local bakery Katie’s Cannoli provides the handmade traditional dessert with chocolate sauce and pistachios ($4).