composite shot of plates over cityscape

Top Restaurants in Metro Detroit

Two decades ago, Detroit’s high-end food scene was dismal at best. Now the city is brimming with culinary talent that could court any food critic. These chefs, farmers, and restaurateurs are proud of their Midwestern heritage, placing a strong emphasis on produce grown in local soil (some, hyper local, going so far as purchasing land in the city for the express purpose of growing food for their restaurant). Others aren’t shying away from bringing their global imaginations and diverse backgrounds — from Algerian to Vietnamese — to some of the city’s historically segregated neighborhoods. 

Mostly, Detroit’s industry folk just want to get weird and have a good time — and do so handsomely without the pressures faced by new restaurants in big cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. As someone who admittedly fled the city for a bigger, shinier one and has since returned, I’ve been astonished at the degree to which the food scene here has flourished in the decade I was away. 

Now I’m hungry to catch up. In addition to personal experience, the recommendations below are supported by numerous national awards, extensive recognition in local and national publications, and positive reviews from Detroit’s most brazen and loyal culinary fanbase. If you’re not local to the city, a weekend trip this summer to Detroit to familiarize yourself with its food scene may be in order. 

Ladder 4

plated chicken neck sausage over potatoes

ladder4winebar/Instagram

Ladder 4 takes its name from the fire company who once called operated inside. The chic, brick-laden facade of this restored firehouse looks only vaguely reminiscent of its former identity. Now, the fires are little more contained, a little more nuanced, and largely relegated to the kitchen, where Ladder 4 has been churning out cheeky, experimental dishes, like house-made chicken sausage stuffed into the neck of chicken, since February 2022. Critics have taken note — the restaurant has already received numerous accolades, including as one of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants of 2023. 

The menu is best-described as “wine food,” seemingly centered around the terroir of its harder-to-source ingredients, like morels and rabbit, rather than any one specific cuisine. To drink, expect funky skin contacts and co-ferments and other oh-so-natural wines. If you’re lucky you might get to sample pretty produce plucked from the garden across the street, which is tended to by the executive chef’s wife, Charlotte Gale. 

ladder4winebar.com

(313) 638-1601

3396 Vinewood St, Detroit, MI 48208

Marrow

plated lake trout with pork over puree

marrow_detroit/Instagram

Marrow is a nose-to-tail butcher shop in Detroit’s West Village. At its core, Marrow is a mission-driven business advocating for good meat education and shorter supply chains.The restaurant’s lofty ambitions continue to unfurl across Metro Detroit: In addition to the restaurant’s flagship location, Marrow sells its provisions at the popular Eastern Market in Downtown Detroit.

At the original Kercheval location, the lunch menu is mostly improvised. Sandwiches are first-come-first-serve, expertly designed to utilize whichever delectable scraps of meat and charcuterie need to be used up first. Of course, this isn’t your average trim: Expect smoked meats, still piled high, plus pates and luxe pickled condiments.

By night, this nose-to-tail butcher shop moonlights as a four-time James Beard nominated restaurant. The a la carte menu and five course chef’s tasting menu feature dishes from executive chef Sarah Welch’s, “Top Chef Season 19 finalist.” Expect to taste Michigan beef served with other local accoutrement, like ramps. Keep your eyes peeled for specials-board confit of locally-sourced trout from Eagle Creek Fish Company, topped with whatever smoke meat the kitchen has on hand.

marrowdetroit.com

(313) 513-0361

8044 Kercheval Ave, Detroit, MI 48214

Selden Standard

tartare on plate with baby gem

seldenstandard/Instagram

10 years ago, the neighborhood of Cass Corridor was virtually unrecognizable – just a collection of derelict buildings and empty lots. Fast-forward to 2024 and Cass is now brimming with culinary talent. Many thanks can be given to Selden Standard, named Outstanding Restaurant semifinalist is 2024 by the James Beard Foundation. The restaurant has been called one of the pioneer’s in the neighborhood’s food revival. Like many of Detroit’s best restaurants, chef Andy Hollyday’s culinary focus is simple, seasonal ingredients, many of which are prepared in the restaurant’s wood fire oven, and all of which are intended to be shared.

 A constant on the menu is Selden’s beef tartare which, with its rotating assortment of accoutrement, always feels original. Sit at the bar and enjoy a pour of amaro and a bowl of house-made pasta. For a more adventurous bite, the chef’s spicy play on traditional Roman carbonara features trendy chili crisp condiment, plus the traditional guanciale, pecorino, and farm egg. 

seldenstandard.com

(313) 438-5055

3921 2nd Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

Mabel Gray

ravioli in cream sauce on plate

chefjamesrigato/Instagram

Chef James Rigato cooks Michigan food. What does that mean exactly? Well, the chef lives in the state, cooks in the state, and generally reveres the state, its community, and the ingredients it produces. ‘Mabel Gray’ is even a reference to Alice Mabel Gray, a countercultural recluse who lived off the land along the coast of Lake Michigan. (Though Rigato admitted to the Detroit Free Press that it was a folk song by the same name that inspired him.)

The restaurant itself is equally rock and roll: There is no set menu here, and everything is handmade. Rigato has worked hard to cultivate a network of purveyors -– butchers, farmers, and foragers – who provide the bulk of ingredients for Mabel. A spirit of improvisation and Midwestern resourcefulness is interwoven throughout his menu, too: Take the chef’s ravioli special: The filling is made with an assortment of gourmet trimmings from American Wagyu, French veal, and North Dakota bison. Whatever Rigato serves you, you can expect that it will be sourced thoughtfully, executed expertly, and delicious on the palate.

mabelgraykitchen.com

(248) 398-4300

23825 John R Rd, Hazel Park, MI 48030

Sozai

two herring sashini  on plate

sozairestaurant/Instagram

“Sustainable” sushi is a relatively modern term, born out of a need to distinguish sushi establishments peddling bluefin tuna from those that take great pride in sourcing traceable, low-impact seafood. One such establishment is chef Hajime Sato’s Sozai in Clawson, Michigan, a Detroit suburb. Sato is strident about sustainable sushi and traceability, prudently noting the origin of each filet of fish and shelled mollusk that are brought through the restaurant’s kitchen.

Sozai is known for introducing guests to unusual and oft-menu’d seafoods in the interest of aquacultue stewardship. Take for example kamenote, the Japanese name for barnacles, a prehistoric-looking crustacean that’s seldom harvested from waters off the coast of Alaska. The taste is a cross between a crab and a clam. Sato doesn’t shy away from featuring smaller, lower-impact fish, like kibinago, or silver stripe round herring, an anchovy-sized fish which are served in whole filets, draped over hand-packed rice as nigiri. In addition to raw fish, you can expect to find cooked seafood as well, like Blue point oysters from Virginia, poached in a special blend of saké, mirin, and kombu dashi. To drink, the selection of sake is almost as extensive as the seafood.

sozairestaurant.com

(248) 677-3232

449 W 14 Mile Rd, Clawson, MI 48017

The Whitney

elegant dining room at the whitney

thehistoricwhitney/Instagram

Considered one of Detroit’s “grandest” restaurants, The Whitney is a fine dining establishment located within an expansive, storied brick estate called The David Jr. Whitney mansion. Emblematic of the city’s elite, this Motor City landmark was built by a successful lumber baron in the 1800’s. Inside the mansion you’ll find a fine dining restaurant, plus its upscale bar, Ghostbar.

Don’t expect modern food here: this is a classic Detroit institution for those looking for a meal with a bit of old-world glamor. The Whitney is one for classics, perfectly executing dishes once heralded by the turn-of-the-century upper-class, like lobster claw “martini,” beef Wellington, and roasted pork in the style of osso buco. Start with the restaurant’s signature bread basket: slices of french bread dipped in wine, garlic, butter, and parmesan cheese; finish with duet of mini pastries for dessert. If you’re seeing a show, you can order off the restaurant’s pre-theater menu. Stroll through property’s own gardens while you wait for your table, weather permitting. The dress code is, understandably, country club casual so plan on showing up wearing something approximating your Sunday best. 

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thewhitney.com

(313) 832-5700

4421 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

Voyager

seared opah fish over mint béarnaise

voyager_ferndale/Instagram

Head north up Detroit’s main artery, Woodward Avenue, and you’ll find Voyager, a nationally-acclaimed, coastal-inspired neighborhood restaurant in the nearby suburb of Ferndale. Voyager’s team keeps their seafood purveyors seemingly on speed dial, sourcing and serving fresh oysters and crab legs with the aplomb of a seaside joint in Bar Harbor. While the North Coast isn’t exactly known for seafood beyond lake fish, Voyager keeps things fresh with casual dining options like British-style fish and chips and hot crab dip.

While the restaurant may have transitioned to more casual options after the recent departure of two of its chefs , chef-driven dishes still prevail: Beautifully golden, pan-seared opah, a meaty, versatile white fish is served with Michigan asparagus, mint béarnaise & pistachio. Roasted American red snapper is served whole, doused in a spicy, fruity habanero-ginger butter and a smattering of bright green chimichurri for balance. Kung-pao octopus delights with all the umami overtones of the original chicken-based dish. In the warmer months, enjoy a seat out on the restaurant’s extensive patio, where you can pick from a selection of happy hour options including a “two-buck shuck” oysters feature.

voyagerferndale.com

(248) 658-4999

600 Vester St, Ferndale, MI 48220

Barda

restaurant interior bathed in red light

spoonfulof_inkInstagram

In 2022, Barda was named a James Beard finalist for Best New Restaurant and it’s easy to see why: Heralded as Detroit’s first (and only) Argentinian restaurant, chef Javier Bardauil and co-owner of Barda, Ignacio Gerson bring the cuisine’s signature wood-fired cooking indoors for a smoky, sultry experience. It’s clear Argentinian-born Bardauli likes playing with fire, having worked at Francis Mallmann’s Patagonia Sur Restaurant in Buenos Aires. 

The efficient restaurant weaves the wood-fired concept seamlessly throughout the menu. Vegetable-focused small plates center around the chef’s penchant for char (as in burnt zucchini ceviche). A caesar salad with boquerones, not anchovies, features charred romaine as its base that miraculously retains the salad’s characteristic crunch. Large-format proteins are only minimally adorned with a corresponding sauce to avoid distracting from their brilliant crusts. In quintessentially Argentinian fashion, beef is revered (try the strip loin steak with chimichurri butter, or the tira de asado –- fat beef short ribs on the grill. There’s even toast to support a spoonful of reserve caviar smeared thick with tallow. 

bardadetroit.com

(313) 952-5182

4842 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48208

Oak and Reel

plate of bucatini with preserved lemon

oakandreel/Instagam

Chef Jared Gadbow’s attention is sharp. The restaurant’s agnolotti look like hand-rolled dough pillows in miniature. What else would one expect from a seasoned chef who led his team to a continuous two Michelin-star title across nine straight years at the NYC restaurant Marea? Upon his eventual return to Detroit, Gadbaw sought to bring this same craft and elegance to the Midwest. 

Oak and Reel focuses on coastal Italian cuisine. Whole fish are sourced from local seafood purveyor Motor City Seafood Company, and expertly butchered in-house. From short lumache to cappellacci, all of the pasta is made fresh daily. (Sourdough bread, too.) Taste bucatini with preserved lemon, walnuts, and oregano pecorino –- a guest favorite that’s been on the menu since the restaurant’s opening. Ingredients and techniques dear to the Italian cookery canon are highlighted on the menu, like bitter greens showered with a feathery grating of hard, salty cheese and olive-oil drenched crudo. While the classics may dominate, irreverent twists, like a meaty tuna bolognese topped with broccoli rabe pesto and mascarpone keep diners on their toes.

oakandreel.com

(313) 270-9600

2921 E Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202

SheWolf Pastificio and Bar

swirled gelato gelato in fancy glass

shewolfdetroit/Instagram

SheWolf highlight some of Italy’s most-cherished regional dishes, but it’s pasta that’s the crown jewel here. Head past the kitchen and you’ll find a room dedicated to the very art of pasta-making: glass doors enclose a sleek haven tiled in white and dusted with flour where guests can witness pasta dough extruded and hand-formed into its many iterations. Several shapes on the menu feature less-common grains, like spelt andrye. 

Though the menu traverses the entire Italian peninsula and its islands, Roman cuisine is the focus. SheWolf takes its name from the myth of Romulus and Remus, the founder of Rome allegedly rescued by a mysterious “shewolf.” 

The menu is designed to be read like a flow chart, allowing guests to see the trajectory of Rome’s most storied pasta dishes, and how they evolve into something else entirely with the simple additions and subtractions of pork, tomato, and egg. Iconic also is the restaurant’s bi-colored pistachio-and-chocolate gelato, extruded in neat swirls from the tines of a soft serve machine — a must for first-timers.

shewolfdetroit.com

(313) 315-3992

438 Selden St, Detroit, MI 48201

Saffron De Twah

fish sandwich drizzled with remoulade

saffrondetwah/Instagram

Saffron De Twah is a contemporary Moroccan bistro helmed by Palestinian-Egyptian American restaurateur, Omar Anani. The highly-lauded halal hangout offers selection of appetizers, sandwiches, and drinks infused with the culinary traditions of North Africa. In its falafel sandwich, deep-fried chickpea patties are stuffed into pillowy batbout, a North African flatbread similar to pita. Harissa, a spicy Moroccan staple, features heavily throughout the menu: Taste it tossed in a slaw as a topping for the restaurant’s popular berbere-spiced moroccan fried chicken sandwich, or drizzled over thrice-cooked potatoes. Though lemonade hardly tempers the sting of searing chili, Saffron De Twah’s is not to be missed, made from hand-squeezed fruit and scented with orange blossom.

In addition to being a two-time James Beard finalist for Best Chef: Great Lakes, chef Anani is also an advocate for food security and environmental stewardship. During the pandemic, he launched the Saffron Community Kitchen, a local initiative that continues to provide meal relief for those in need on Detroit’s east side. The Kitchen is currently working to set up a community fridge that allows members of the community to grab meals as needed.

saffrondetwah.com

(586) 359-6138

7636 Gratiot Ave, Detroit, MI 48213

Flowers of Vietnam

server holding plate of fried chicken

flowersofvietnam/Instagram

Like many of Detroit’s most lauded restaurateurs, chef George Azar came up cooking in big name, big-city kitchens. Only, his experiences were with some of the biggest, having previously worked at Copenhagen’s Noma and Chicago’s Alinea. Azar began Flowers of Vietnam as an unexpected weekend pop-up of South Asian fare, hosting dinners out of the Coney Island shop his father leased. Fast-forward to 2018 and Azar turned the former Coney Island into the permanent home of Flowers of Vietnam.

Despite the neon Americana hanging from the wall, the food at Flowers is distinctively Vietnamese, with beloved dishes like tôm rang muố, fried salt-and-pepper prawns which you should suck the marrow out of before crunching down on the fried, seasoned shell. But Azar is conscious of keeping the menu friendly to a more Midwestern palate, featuring dishes like caramel chicken wings (tossed in a sticky, glazey fish sauce-based sauce, and other fried delights. 

flowersofvietnam.com

(313) 554-2085

4440 Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48209

Chartreuse

table in front of bright green wall

chartreuse/Instagram

In name alone, Chartreuse is an homage to The Emerald Room, one of the original restaurants at the landmark Park Shelton building. In practicality, this modern farm-to-table restaurant named itself for focus on bright, seasonal ingredients that make up it’s menu. 

The surprisingly concise menu covers a lot of geographic terrain (panang curry short ribs, potato sausage with spaetzle, and masa tots with smoked poblano salsa). Yet no dish feels out of place or uncomfortably “fusion.” Each is anchored confidently in ingredients that feel distinctly Midwest: chicken wings from Michigan birds, salad greens from local Werp Farms, and of course, walleye, gussied up as rillette. Like most concepts centered around locality, the menu ebbs with the day and the season. While Chartreuse doesn’t offer a tasting menu, eager or indecisive palates can ask their server to have the kitchen send out some of the dishes it’s most excited about.

chartreusekc.com

(313) 818-3915

15 E Kirby St D, Detroit, MI 48202

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