Motown, Hockeytown, the D, Motor City – we all know I’m talking about Detroit and I don’t know about you, but I’m awfully tired of our city being the poster-child for post-industrial demise. Instead, (as usual) I choose the “glass half-full” outlook; I look at this city through rose-colored glasses, seeing every misfortune as an opportunity for change, because after all, change is growth and growth is success.
So, every few weeks I’m going to break down the most popular neighborhoods in Detroit in an effort to highlight the hot spots and expose some hidden gems. I’m kicking off the series with the neighborhood Franco calls home: downtown.
Franco’s office has been located in the GM Renaissance Center since it was built in 1977 (and we’ve been downtown since we were founded in 1964!). Michigan’s tallest building, the RenCen is filled with places to eat, shop and stay and is located along the Detroit RiverWalk, an awesome place to grab lunch or take a stroll. The riverfront also plays host to numerous events when the Michigan weather decides to play nice.
One of my other favorite outdoor spots downtown is Campus Martius Park, the place I consider the heart of downtown. It’s located along Woodward Ave. and is a beautiful place to go in both the winter and summer months. The Campus Martius district alone is comprised of 20,000 office employees (and growing thanks to Dan Gilbert and the whole Detroit Venture Partners team), 750 residents, 50 retail shops and more than 35 places to get your eat on.
Speaking of food, here’s our Franco-complied list of must-taste foods in the downtown district:
Shawarma from Bucharest Grill – this is my personal favorite. Immediately after finishing one of these bad boys I want to rewind life so I can re-enjoy it. Most of my coworkers would agree.
Saganaki from Pegasus Taverna – who doesn’t love a little flaming cheese? This is my family’s go-to restaurant in Greektown.
Lafayette Coney Island – Sara Bloomberg says, “a coney, no onions and well done chili fries. A Bloomberg tradition on a hot, late summer night. We’d pack in the car and head downtown for a coney dog.” It’s always been Lafayette for me. What about you – American or Lafayette?
Paella at Vincente’s Cuban Cuisine – both Tina Kozak and Stephanie Casola noted this as one of their favorite dishes in Detroit. Tina says, “Paella at Vincente’s is the closest you can get to Spain. I’m a paella snob. I know this for certain.”
Burger at Honest John’s –We suggest the regular fixins (i.e. cheese, lettuce tomato). They don’t do fancy, but it’s one of the best burgers around.
I’ve also heard the newly revamped and reopened London Chop House is excellent – I’ve yet to dig deep into my pocketbook for that meal, though.
Sushi overlooking the Detroit River right here at Joe Muer Seafood in the RenCen. The view from both inside and on the patio is pretty amazing.
Finally, helloooo goat cheese mac during happy hour at Roast. And that Roast Burger with the Quail Egg. Don’t get me started.
We could go on, but let’s not. My mouth is watering.
If you’re looking to make your way around downtown, you should give the Detroit People Mover a whirl. It’s just 75 cents a ride and drops you just steps away from almost all of the downtown hot spots like Comerica Park, Ford Field, Detroit Opera House, Joe Louis Arena, Fox Theater, The Fillmore Detroit, Greektown (not just the casino), the GM RenCen and more. Or take a hike! Around the city that is. Unlike many other big cities, most of Detroit’s downtown attractions are within walking distance of each other.
Can’t get enough Detroit? If you hurry, you can snag the August City Guide issue of HOUR Magazine. It’s all about Detroit. In addition, here are some of my favorite sites to follow: Dig Downtown, Curbed Detroit, Positive Detroit and HuffPost Detroit.