Tell Me About Detroit.
June 20, 2011 8:11 AM   Subscribe

Tell me your Detroit secrets.

We just moved to Ann Arbor, and would like to get to know our nearest big city. We basically know nothing, and are especially interested in any weird and wonderful cultural attractions and events and things to do and see- everything from barbecue to community gardens to music (techno, jazz, you name it) to artists' squats to movie palaces to things and people (bloggers, activists, business owners) that are making Detroit into something other than a site for photographic ruin-porn. Already checked out the posts here and here-- thanks for any and all additional recommendations!
posted by foxy_hedgehog to Travel & Transportation around Detroit, MI (20 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
All my Detroit-visiting friends love Slow's. Well, the meat-eating ones.

You just missed the Detroit Electronic Music Festival and its associated afterparties, but the festival managers Paxahau hold other events.
posted by mkb at 8:29 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, Cyberoptix ties have been mentioned before on the green. The owner of the studio has done Detroit gallery showings and performances as half of Dethlab.
posted by mkb at 8:32 AM on June 20, 2011

Be sure and start in A2 since there is a wealth of awesome food/art/music/etc. right in your own town. We live down in NW Ohio and we often go to Ann Arbor for that sort of stuff, not usually to Detroit.
posted by ohheh at 8:35 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Four stories of used books at John King Used Books. It's the best place to blow an afternoon.

Follow book-browsing with a tasty sandwich at Mudgie's and some super-drippy baklava at Astoria Pastry.
posted by Turkey Glue at 8:41 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Arts, Beats and Eats runs around Labor Day and is a nice time.

When I visit the area I always make sure to visit Buddy's Pizza.
posted by getawaysticks at 8:45 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

+1 on Slows.
posted by sandmanwv at 8:52 AM on June 20, 2011

Organize an AA-area meetup! This way you might get to pick the brains of the locals.
posted by research monkey at 8:58 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

My original plan was to spend two months here building an event that would, in many ways, give exposure to Detroit's cooler secrets. Alas, the project ended early... but not before I was able to track down some great secrets!
The Eastern Market isn't much of a secret, but worth checking out on a Saturday or Sunday for outdoor barbecue, Motown infused karaoke and line dancing, and general cross cultural community happenings.
On Friday nights (and only Friday nights), Cafe D'Mongos is THE place to be.
The Heidelberg project is a mind tripping walk through an artist converted block.
And general bar hopping throughout Corktown should keep one busy enough for a couple days.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 9:02 AM on June 20, 2011

Omnicorp Detroit is a pretty cool hackerspace

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Detroit Soup, which I usually volunteer at. It's a soup dinner bringing together people from all over Metro Detroit to listen to community art and service presentations that are looking for some funding. You pay $5 at the door, meet amazing people, listen to presentations, eat, discuss, be merry, and vote. The winning presentation gets the door money. Next one is on July 10th. There's actually SOUPs popping up all over the area. Dearborn, Hamtramck, a second one in Detroit at Spaulding Court... it's a pretty amazing event.

Loui's Pizza in Hazel Park (just north of Detroit) is THE place to get Detroit Style pizza. Be warned though, you'll go into a pretty nasty Food Coma aftewards.

The Detroit Fireworks are coming up as well, this monday, at Hart Plaza.
posted by swashedbuckles at 9:19 AM on June 20, 2011

If you're into cycling, Ann Arbor has a variety of groups.

The AA Bicycle Touring Society is more about long rides and touring.
The AA Velo Club is more for sport rides and racing.
If you're into mountain biking, there is also the MMBA, which is statewide but has a core active group in the southeast.

Art Fair is happening in a few weeks. It's going to shut down the city from Wednesday through Saturday and clog all the nearby roads. It's one of those things that's impressive and fun the first year, interesting the second year, and a pain in the ass for the rest of the time you're here. So enjoy it before the novelty wears off.

Detroit the city might be a deserted wasteland with pockets of interest, but the greater metro area is home to well over a million people. Almost anything you want or want to do can be found somewhere; you just have to drive to get to it. We have the same arts & entertainment weeklies that every other urban area does, and those are usually good ways to learn about the local scenes when you don't know anybody yet.

I heartily encourage posting a meetup on IRL once you're settled in. Be glad to meet you.
posted by ardgedee at 9:54 AM on June 20, 2011

+1 on Slows, but it's not just for meat eaters! They have great veggie options too. Also +1 on Mudgie's Deli in Corktown (their soups are amazing). Diamond Jack's River Tours on the Detroit River are actually very fun and a nice intro to Detroit and its history. Detroit Derby Girls. Great Detroit blog. Ignite Detroit. Also the Motown Museum is DEFINITELY worth visiting - make sure you do a tour!

Also Shatila Bakery in nearby Dearborn has amazing Middle Eastern pastries.

Feel free to MeMail me for more - I live in the area.
posted by Ms. Toad at 9:58 AM on June 20, 2011

Welcome to A2!

Detroit has some world class summer events. Belle Isle is one of my favorite places to walk around (with a friend) and a nice vantage point from which to watch the Freedom Festival fireworks from (coming up soon!). The aforementioned Electronic Music Festival is always fantastic (catch it next year), as is the Red Bull Air Race.

The ruin porn is fun. Find a group of urbex folks and check out the Packard Plant, Fisher 21 plant, Book Depository, etc. It's amazing stuff just from an architectural history standpoint. Oh, and if architecture interests you, check out Preservation Wayne's walking tours.

And yeah, Art Fair is coming. You need to go, if for not other reason than to understand why everyone complains about it. Get yourself some sort of art on a stick.

I'd also be up for a meetup at some point.
posted by pjaust at 10:37 AM on June 20, 2011

For food:
Slows, hands down best bbq
Sala Thai v best thai
Polish Village (which I am sitting down@ right now) for polish food (yes, its hamtramack, but nestled in Detroit)

For Jazz you can't beat Cliff Bells
Generally cool music venues of Magic Stick/Majestic.

Feel free to mefi mail me. Life long metro Detroiter.
posted by handbanana at 10:50 AM on June 20, 2011

Also the Detroit Institute of Arts is amazing.

And slows has the best damn mac and cheese in the area.

I get excited about Detroit.
posted by handbanana at 10:53 AM on June 20, 2011

Not Detroit or A2, but close: Materials Unlimited in Ypsilanti.
posted by googly at 11:23 AM on June 20, 2011

I lived and worked on the far east side, so that's the area I'm most familiar with. If you're ever in that area, Vergote's Fish Market on Harper Ave has a fabulous selection of fresh seafood. You can either buy it to cook at home or they'll cook it (deliciously!) for you. They also have a selection of hot entrees available (I've never had better hot wings than the huge ones sold at Vergote's). The Cadieux Cafe has a wonderful old-world ambience, scrumptious steamed mussels, live music and feather bowling.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:47 AM on June 20, 2011

Eastern Market Eastern Market Eastern Market.

It's a giant farmer's market, open-air florist's, flea market and warehouse district, rolled into one three-by-six-block area just off 75 near Gratiot & 375. Not only can you get every variety of produce seasonally available, not to mention an assortment of containers from plastic bags to hand-woven wicker baskets to carry it all home in, Kataclysm once very nearly bought a baby pig out the back of a truck, where we also saw three women appraising a variety of chickens for sale....
posted by FlyingMonkey at 6:09 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'll second what was said about Ann Arbor. My girlfriend is from Ypsilanti, and she's basically transitioned from describing it as "a suburb of Detroit" to "a suburb of Ann Arbor." A2 has some pretty nice stuff, including this organic pizza place I can't remember the name of, but they have a pesto pizza that will bring you to tears upon the realization that it cannot last forever. Seriously, they use, like, ciabatta dough for the crusts or something. Some of the best pizza I've ever had and now I'm all sad that I live in rural Japan where I cannot easily get pizza much less truly great pizza

uh anyway

Ann Arbor has a whole lot going for it in and of itself. Lovely town.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:09 PM on June 20, 2011

DoctorFedora, are you thinking of Silvio's?

(My current Ann Arbor pizza favorite is Mani Osteria & Bar, which opened recently.)

OP, if you are exploring the area in general, some of the Detroit suburbs have particular ethnic enclaves. Madison Heights is the place to go for pho and shop at Vietnamese groceries, while Novi has great Japanese noodles at Ajishin, Japanese-style baked goods at Pastry House Hippo, and plenty of Japanese ingredients as well as prepared foods at One World Market. And there's Dearborn for Middle Eastern food.
posted by research monkey at 6:13 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another vote here for Preservation Wayne's Walking Tours. I just did their downtown one a few weeks ago (pics here), and the guides were very knowledgeable.

And some of the buildings downtown (the Guardian, in particular), are way cool.
posted by kaszeta at 9:10 AM on June 24, 2011

« Older How can I fail physical therapy and get my breast...   |   How to get rid of all this furniture? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.