Veteran Detroiters always knew their city was a meat-and-potatoes town. To find more-eclectic cuisine meant doing what most people downtown did after work: Leave.
No more. Detroit is in the midst of a culinary transformation. Rock-bottom housing stock and an emerging generation of young restaurateurs and chefs settling in to experiment have brought new restaurants, breweries, tasting rooms, cocktail bars, pop-up events and quirky lunch spots promising nutritious food — in neighborhoods where the only option to eat had previously been fast food. Keeping up with launches is now a sport in this rebounding city, which over the past decade survived a government bailout of two of its three major car companies, the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history and the shuttling of a recent mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, to federal prison.
“Now people are excited,” says Dennis Archer Jr., part owner of Central Kitchen + Bar, a bustling gastropub facing Cadillac Square downtown. “Before, when people would visit, it would be for the auto show or a game. Checking out the Detroit food scene was not a priority. Now it’s on their agenda.”