Some things to note:
#1: I did not choose the winners of these categories, but these are the blurbs I wrote for them.
#2: Below are only the blurbs I wrote because that's all I care about.
#3: Some of them were painful to write.
#4: Some of them were so painful to write they were completely re-written by my editors (see: BlackFinn, a place I hold so much disdain for I cannot even fake it for money).
#5: For those of you who are also my friends on Facebook and have been keeping score, I am still running at 100% on the "2011 Slows Initiative" (see: Good Girls Go to Paris entry; the Roast feature which I will be posting the EXTENDED cut later...I am not responsible for cuts made so long as I included the Slows reference in my original submission).
#6: I am trademarking the phrases "taco truck diaspora" (see: Jacques' Tacos) and "bougie on a budget" (also in the forthcoming Roast review), so bust off.
Best Restaurant to Rediscover: Forte
Birmingham’s been getting a lot of action lately with some much-talked-about new restaurants (including our “Best Restaurant to be Seen,” South Bar). With all the new (shiny!) restaurants debuting, it’s easy to forget about the old stand-bys … but Forte deserves your attention once again, with a new Executive Chef (Rich Travis, most recently of Tribute) and totally redesigned interiors and menus which include playful small plates and pizzas. The name is the same, but that’s about it.
Best Restaurant To Be Seen – South
Birmingham’s hottest new destination is all warm weather and beach bodies, even in the dead of winter. From the spicy Latin-fusion menu to the sultry club nights where there’s never a cover, this chic multi-room hotspot is a destination all its own. Part casual-upscale restaurant, part sports bar, part nightclub & ultralounge and all VIP, South has us feeling the Miami heat. Celebutantes and ballers are known to frequent, and you can feel like one yourself at Direction South with Jody Haddad on Thursdays. During the summer the ONLY place to be is that patio.
Best First Date Restaurant – Fountain Bistro
Look guys, there’s nothing wrong with dinner and dancing, but dinner and ice skating followed by hot chocolate and fire-roasted S’mores? – now THAT shows your creativity! Lucky for you, Fountain Bistro offers all of that right outside their door. Located directly in Campus Martius Park, with its summertime dancing water fountain and wintertime ice rink, Fountain Bistro offers endless opportunities for a romantic rendezvous in the heart of downtown. Oh, and their food is also fantastic. You’re on your own for the second date, but this will guarantee you at least get one!
Best Creperie – Good Girls Go To Paris
Good Girls is to crepes what Slows is to BBQ – it is so much more than simply a place to eat, but rather a bonafide DETROIT experience, known as much for its food as it is for its ambiance, its people, its story of against-the-odds success. Offering nearly 50 different kinds of savory and sweet crepes bursting with fresh, indulgent ingredients (all named after the “good girls” in Torya’s life), this place has charm, character, and our favorite crepes in the Paris of the Midwest.
Best Restaurant For Appetizers – Centaur
Yes, they have martinis. But did you know that they also have the most impressive appetizer spread in town? From lamb lollipops to cheesecake lollipops, the all-small-plates selection is extensive and every item is outstanding. The price is equally attractive: all plates are $10 or less with towers (orders of 3) half off Sunday through Thursday 4 to 7 p.m. And – AND – food is served until 2 a.m. 7 days a week. And also they have lots of martinis.
Best Food To Soak Up The Booze – Plaka in Greektown
Rough night? Yeah, we understand. So do the fine folks at Plaka Café, which is open 24 hours for your post-drinking-binge eating binge. They have a wide variety of food … and it has grease in it … and carbs … and it is often the difference between spending the whole next day in the fetal position or popping a couple of aspirin and going to brunch. Plus it gives you some time to shake off the vodka before stumbling home. It’s all about your safety.
Best 24-Hour Restaurant – Leo’s Coney Island
Where else can you get pancakes, gyros and a Coney dog at 4 a.m.? Not Denny’s, that’s for damn sure. Shoowt. Leo’s Coney Islands are open 24-7 like 7-Eleven, and they’re just about as easy to find. Whether you’re a high school student sitting with your 12 besties drinking coffee and discussing the merits of the band of the moment (ah, the good old days) or you’ve got the late-night drunchies (or maybe mid-day; we don’t judge here), Leo’s has you covered.
Best Bang For Your Buck – Big Boy
Don’t act like you don’t know. Roast may have burgers on lock, but sometimes we like to sink our teeth into the “Original Double Decker” – two all-beef patties with American cheese, lettuce and Big Boy’s signature “special sauce” on a sesame seed bun (the template for all fast-food copycats). And for a mere $6.99 you can also get their “endless” soup, salad and fruit bar, and here’s an insider’s tip: they can ASK you to leave, but they can’t FORCE you. Just sayin’.
Best Bagel – Detroit Bagel
Oh bagels, cleverly-disguised doughnuts that you are, why must you tempt us with your tantalizing array of flavors all wrapped up in your soft round body with just the right amount of crunch in your glossy golden crust and all tender and chewy on the inside! For 40 years now Detroit Bagel Factory has been baking up these carbolicious delights fresh daily and we love them like we love a bad habit. Try the parmesan; it will change your life.
Best Sunday Brunch – Beverly Hills Grill
We take our brunch very seriously here in metro Detroit. Unlike a surprising number of other big cities (we’re looking at YOU, Chicago), locals know that brunch is not just a meal – it is an ART. So it is not uncommon to find lines out the door and waits of up to two hours at some of our favorite brunchtime destinations, the most infamous of which is the Beverly Hills Grill. Though not as chic as its 90210-ish name might imply, their brunch menu epitomizes epicurean sensibilities. Bananas Foster French Toast with candied pecans and cinnamon is a decadent ooey-gooey delight. The Potato Latke “Sandwich” with Canadian bacon, brie, sweet onion and an over-easy egg sure doesn’t sound kosher but we’re cool with it. A Sunday at Beverly Hills Grill is sure to be a splurge – and you should be prepared to wait – but it’s well worth it.
Best Steakhouse – Gaucho’s
Four words: 15 kinds of meat. Gaucho’s Brazilian Steakhouse is the only authentic “churrascaria” in the area. The way it works is simple: all meals are fixed price and you have unlimited servings of fire-roasted, skewered meats. (And when you need a little rest between meats, your meal also includes their gourmet salad bar which features Italian salami, smoked salmon and prosciutto – and no that does not count as more meat … it’s more like transition meat … a meat intermezzo?) You use green and red tokens to signify to the gaucho – the meat-carver – when you want more meat or when you need a time-out to digest (which color is used for which is fairly intuitive). Otherwise the gauchos come around presenting 15 different meats in intervals and you just eat and eat and eat. MEAT. It’s less fine dining and more FUN dining, and we love the succulent meat parade.
Best Seafood Restaurant – Ocean Prime
Ocean Prime gives us the best of both land and sea (which we’d certainly expect from a marriage between Cameron’s Steakhouse and Mitchell’s Fish Market), but in addition to stellar seafood the space itself is STUNNING. Soaring ceilings, soft curves, tactile textures and artistic lighting make this a feast for the eyes as much as the stomach; but don’t be jealous, stomach – crab-crusted blue tilapia and Chilean sea bass in a champagne truffle sauce are just a taste of what’s in store for you.
Best Fondue – Melting Pot
At the Melting Pot your prix fixe 4-course meal offers a variety of options. Choose your own luscious cheese blend served with crusty hunks of bread for dipping; enjoy a hearty salad with their signature dressings; pick from an assortment of meats and seafood served with vegetables to cook in a rich broth or oil; and finally decide on your decadent chocolate dessert served with strawberries, fudgey brownies and creamy cheesecake for dipping. Playing with your food has never been so sexy.
Best Tex-Mex – Penny Black
Tex-Mex/BBQ/Cajun/Southwest … Rochester’s spankin’ new homage to spicy Southern cooking presents a scattershot variety of fusion items, from handmade guacamole to hot wings, brisket sliders to Baja fish tacos, Cajun beef tips to shrimp po’ boys, St. Louis ribs to jambalaya, quesadillas to fajitas. Really, the array of options is staggering, like touring the American South from one coast to the other. Tex-Mex is just one of many styles on the menu here, and all are equally worth exploring.
Best Food Truck – Jacques’ Taco
From “roach coaches” to the newest “it” cuisine, taco trucks have experienced a major overhaul in our collective conscious. Now the adventurous “foodie” seeks them out as wild prey in unexplored terrain. The truly tenacious (these things can be hard to track) are rewarded with the unique culinary experience of cheap street food that’s better than what you get at most restaurants, and OH! the bragging rights! Jacques’ Taco is a ramped-up version of the traditional taco truck: Chef Wes is a Michelin-starred chef preparing gourmand versions of tacos, and is often in suburban areas like Royal Oak and Novi. Taco trucks are not indigenous to these parts but as their populations have spread, some have become domesticated (a phenomenon known as taco truck diaspora). Jacques’ makes your undertaking a bit easier by announcing where they’ll be on what days, so even if you’re not a culinary thrill-seeker you can still enjoy the spoils.
Best Raw Food – Tom’s Oyster Bar
It doesn’t get much more raw than oysters. And for raw oysters, it doesn’t get much better than Tom’s Oyster Bar. They serve six different types of cold water raw oysters daily from some of the best oyster waters in the world. But that’s not all that’s raw about Tom’s: they also have a full sushi menu featuring all of the classics as well as some signature creations, and the cold smoked salmon is a house specialty.
Best Ribs – Oxford Inn
Ribs are becoming a bit of a heated topic in these parts thanks to a surge of upscale BBQ joints along with old-school rib shacks all promising to be the best. But when it comes to ribs, to each ribeater his own. If you prefer award-winning baby back pork ribs caramelized with BBQ sauce that are so tender, so juicy the meat just falls right off the bone and into your mouth, Oxford Inn has the best in town.
Best Salad – J. Alexanders
J. Alexanders offers a wide range of casual-upscale American steakhouse dishes, but we love those heaping salads for dinner. If the word “salad” makes you think “polite plate of greens,” J’s challenges you to take on their Boca or Cypress salads and dare to call them dainty. Generously topped with hearty ingredients and flavorful house-made dressings, these greens eat like a full meal. Plan on getting a to-go box for that “delicate” salad of yours.
Best Fast Food – McDonald’s
What? It’s the world’s largest fast food restaurant chain and it’s even more Mc’merican than apple pie. For hundreds of millions of people all over the world, those golden arches conjure happy childhood memories by way of the appropriately-named Happy Meal, and there is no better hangover cure than the sausage, egg & cheese McGriddle. And when these guys bring back an old menu item, it makes international headlines (see: the McRib). Now go get yourself a Shamrock Shake while supplies last.®
Best Sub Sandwich – Potbelly
They say they were named after an antique stove, but we know the real truth: a “potbelly” is what you’ll become if you indulge in your love of their sandwiches a bit too often. Oh, sure, they have their “Skinnys” menu … but our favorite is “The Wreck” – four different kinds of meat with mayo and Swiss cheese served on their warm buns that goes straight to our buns. Add to that an order of creamy potato salad and a hand-dipped Oreo malt … hence, “potbelly.”
Best Bar Burger – Rosie O’Grady’s
Rosie O’Grady’s is a sports bar haven, but it’s also a haven for hungry diners craving high-quality bar food, from coal-fired artisanal pizzas to exceptional burgers. Made with U.S.D.A. Choice Angus ground fresh on-site daily and hand-pattied to order, these burgers are in a whole different league than the rock-hard, flavorless frozen patties you get at most other bars. Our choice is “Emily’s Choice”: a bleu cheese-stuffed burger cooked over mesquite with Jack cheese, bacon and avocado. Droolikins.
Best Burrito – Zumba
Inside the tiny building that houses Zumba Mexican Grille is a world of fresh, affordable, healthy Mexican food that will forever make you swear off the over-processed “food product” you get at certain fast food chains. The burritos are more than a handful – literally – and are stuffed with rice, beans, and your choice of meat and toppings. And with the skirt steak burrito being the most expensive item on the menu (at $6.35), you can leave without feeling guilty about your waistline OR your wallet.
Best French Fries – Mr. B’s
Mr. B’s has been a staple of the metro Detroit sports bar scene for many years, and what has made it consistently popular with each new wave of freshly-21 collegiate sportsfans and the older tried-and-true regulars is the fact that it’s a no-frills kind of place. The menu is all bar standards, but the fries are their signature: their “original recipe” crispy seasoned fries are a long-time local favorite, and a welcome change from the soggy, bland fries at other places.
Best Pizza (deep dish) – Pizza Papalis
If you’re looking for authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza, look no further than Pizza Papalis in Greektown. They’ve been serving their golden-crusted 3-inch-thick pies since the ‘80s, formulating exclusive recipes with high-protein unbleached flour for the flaky crust and imported Italian tomatoes for their secret recipe sauce. The result is a heavy pie generously stuffed with premium ingredients. The deep dish take longer in the oven, but you’ll need that time to build your appetite: one slice is enough to stuff even the hungriest pizza connoisseur.
Best New Restaurant for Pizza – Pizzeria Biga
There’s gourmet pizza, then there’s Pizzeria Biga. They offer the true Neapolitan pizza experience using a starter (called “biga”) that makes a lighter and airier dough, the same method that’s been used in Italy for centuries. The toppings are pure European sensibility: house-made charcuterie, robust imported cheeses, oven-roasted vegetables. The resulting pizzas have a tender, chewy, bubbling crust and wholly unique flavor combinations (“Farm Egg,” anyone?). You can also take home a bottle of wine at LESS than retail cost. Now THAT’s amore.
Best Ice Cream Shop – Ray’s
Ray’s Ice Cream is the kind of old-fashioned ice cream parlor (back when they were called “parlors”) that brings about a wave of nostalgia for a period of time most of us only know from the movies. This independent neighborhood ice cream shop and soda fountain has been owned by the Stevens family since 1958. They offer over 40 flavors of smooth ice cream by the head-sized scoop, as well as sundaes made with Michigan’s own Sanders hot fudge.
Best Sushi Chef – Inyo, Kenny Wee
The true test of a chef is in his Omakase. “Omakase” means “to trust” in Japanese, and a chef working in this tradition is known for his inventiveness of flavor, style and presentation – it’s a sushi chef’s swagger. Inyo in Ferndale is already lauded for having some of the most inventive sushi in metro Detroit, but to truly see Executive Chef Kenny Wee’s talent in its rawest form (so to speak), opt for the Chef’s Choice menu: 7-10 courses requiring 24-hour advance notice, an Omakase experience like none other.
Best Caribbean – Bahama Breeze
At Bahama Breeze, they put de lime in de coconut and drink ‘em both up. Jerk seasonings and mango pineapple salsas abound on their extensive menu that features the uniquely lush flavors of the tropics, from savory fire-roasted jerk shrimp in garlic thyme sauce to tender West Indies baby back ribs glazed in guava BBQ sauce. The island-themed menu, endless list of refreshing tropical drinks, and lively Caribbean spirit will make you sing, “Daylight come mon, me no want go home.”
Best Italian – Andiamo
After 20 years, the Andiamo Restaurant Group has become a distinctive brand in metro Detroit with 10 different locations serving up some of your favorite rustic Italian-American dishes. This locally-owned chain is your favorite place for hearty pastas and old-fashioned Italian hospitality, and each location has its own unique personality and flavor. Whether for a business lunch, a romantic dinner, or a 200-person banquet, Andiamo serves you well. Buon appetito!
Best Middle Eastern – Olives
Living in a metropolitan area with the largest Arabic population outside of the Middle East means we have easy access to REALLY EFFING GOOD Arabic food everywhere we go. (What’s that, Chicago? New York? Awwww, so sorry you’re missing out!) Olives Mediterranean Grill offers all of our Lebanese and Greek favorites – hommous, baba ghanouge, kibbee, stuffed grape leaves, fattoush and tabboulee salads, shish kafta and chicken tawook, gyros and shawarma, as well as raw juices. The void left by La Shish has successfully been filled.
Best Thai – Bangkok
Thai cuisine is so much more than Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles (not that we have anything against drunken anything). Authentic Thai incorporates the delicate flavors of kaffir lime, coconut milk and lemon grass – with a whole LOT of spice kicked in (if you so desire). Bangkok Cuisine offers diners a full Thai flavor profile friendly enough for American tastebuds, but spicy enough to be called anything but meek. Think you can handle the heat? Order the extra hot; we DARE you.
Best All-You-Can-Eat – Harbor House
When you think of all-you-can-eat, you probably think of tacky buffets that announce “over 100 items daily!” or places that cater to the olds. At Harbor House, the all-you-can-eat dinner is table-served with options like shrimp, pork chops, frog legs and whitefish, all served with beer-battered mushrooms, soup, salad and fresh-baked bread for only $20. You can also upgrade to crab legs for $34.99 and prime rib (Fridays and Saturdays only) for $25.99. Nothing tacky about that!
Best Cupcakes – Cupcake Station
It was the first of its kind in Michigan, and it’s still our favorite. The Cupcake Station is all cupcakes all the time, baked fresh from scratch every single day. These tempting treats are sinfully delicious with rich, moist cake all wrapped up in whipped buttercream frosting and topped with candy pieces and chocolate drizzle. Specialty cupcakes are stuff-in-your-mouth-sized edible works of art. Stop in on Two Buck Tuesdays when regular-sized cupcakes are only $2.
Best Sunday Mimosas – D’Amato’s
D’Amato’s hasn’t made any kind of ground-breaking innovations to the basic mimosa – it’s still just orange juice and sparkling wine – but they (a) offer them bottomless, which is the ONLY way to brunch, and (b) also offer bottomless Bellinis. Which. Is just. AWESOME. D’Amato’s also has the rockinest brunch in town with live music by Gino Fanelli’s Red Hot Sugar Daddies, which is like swing-jazz-whiskey-rock that goes better with bottomless booze than food does. (You should probably eat too though.)
Best Pancakes – International House of Pancakes
Lots of places do pancakes. Lots of places even do specialty pancakes. But NO ONE does pancakes like IHOP. (And no other pancake has a recurring starring role in “Eat This, Not That.”) The truth is, taking a stack of buttermilk pancakes, stuffing it with cinnamon roll filling, slathering on cream cheese icing and piling on the whipped cream is not, in fact, healthy. These are IHOP’s new CINN-A-STACK pancakes. We can’t WAIT to try them.
Best Specialty Maki Roll – Café Sushi
The Super Max Roll. Know it. Love it. Sushi purists will sneer; everyone else will salivate. The Super Max Roll is your standard-issue California Roll – avocado, cucumber – stuffed with tempura-fried shrimp and fried conch. Then the entire roll is dipped in tempura batter and fried. THEN it’s covered in spicy mayo and more conch meat and THEN it’s broiled until it’s all hot and bubbly. And then you eat it. Any questions?
Best Restaurant You Haven’t Been To – Café Muse
It is the Oprah book of Detroit restaurants, but there’s a lot more on the menu than the Grilled Cheese that Launched a Thousand Yelp Reviews. The team at Café Muse has worked hard to step out of the Big O’s shadow, and the restaurant’s true potential shines in its ambitious dinner menu. They take pride in working directly with local farms to source fresh, in-season ingredients and boast a handsome selection of hand-crafted cocktails, Michigan craft beers, and a carefully-curated wine list.
Best Old-School Dining Experience – Lelli’s
Lelli’s in Auburn Hills is an old-school Italian steakhouse serving up steaks, chops and seafood the same way it has since the original location in Detroit opened over 70 years ago. You got your huge plates of pasta. You got your obligatory lake perch. You got your 14 different preparations of veal (not including combination plates) and five different preparations of lobster. It’s not chic. And it’s not cheap. But here you can actually TASTE what Detroit’s glory days of dining were all about.
Best Sushi: Crave
Crave in Dearborn set the standard for sushi restaurants-as-ultralounges in metro Detroit. This place is pure culinary couture, where high fashion meets high food art. Known particularly for its ultra-sexy summertime party series “Crave the Sunset,” Crave also boasts an equally sexy sushi menu. The sushi here is contemporary fusion, drawing inspiration from various different culinary traditions with particular Mediterranean influence in their use of citrus fruits and spices. Some of their signature rolls include the “Sunset Roll,” made with shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, Japanese cucumber and masago topped with seared scallops and citrus tomato mint relish. The “Temptation Roll” is baked eel, cream cheese and Japanese cucumber layered with seared mignon and topped with a sweet drizzle. These are NOT your typical sushi rolls. These are not what would even be considered “inventive” at other sushi restaurants. These are a culinary creation all their own, and you can only get them here.
Best Casino Restaurant: Wolfgang Puck
Detroit’s casinos offer some of the finest dining opportunities in metro Detroit, and we’re not talking about buffets here. Wolfgang Puck Grille inside the MGM Grand Detroit is an artful melding of upscale contemporary and casual rustic. Stop in for a burger and beer before a game, or enjoy a lavish five-course meal with sinfully opulent wine pairings for a special occasion. Either way, they welcome you as their guest with dedicated service and a sophisticated menu in this cozy yet chic environment.
Best Irish Bar – Old Shillelagh
Those little green men you see aren’t just the Guinness and Jameson talking. Well … they are, actually, but you’re not the only one. At the Old Shillelagh everyone’s Irish and it’s St. Patrick’s Day all year round! Bang along on the table to Irish drinking songs, slam an Irish car bomb, and have a bloody brilliant time. As the old Irish blessing goes, may you be in heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you’re dead … you’ll need the head start.
Best Latino Bar – Vicente’s
Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine offers a full Latin supper club experience – a wide range of Cuban and Latin foods including seafood paella and a full tapas menu, a variety of tropical-flavored mojitos and red and white sangria, and most importantly – SALSA. Every Friday and Saturday night they offer free salsa lessons followed by salsa dancing, merengue, bachata, reggaeton and top 40 into the wee hours. Even the spiciest thing on the menu can’t touch the amount of heat on the dance floor.
Best Bar At Midnight – Tin Fish
At Tin Fish, customers get a well-rounded experience. By day it is a sophisticated seafood restaurant with a contemporary atmosphere and fresh seafood dishes. By late evening, it is a full-fledged martini bar where singles and professionals alike unwind. And at midnight, the space is transformed to a rocking nightclub, packed with dancing bodies who know the night is still young. This place is the perfect mix of casual, trendy and fun, and the witching hour is when all the magic happens.
Best Bar For The Bachelorette – Amnesia
Not just because it’s a fitting name … PRECISELY because it’s a fitting name. Brides-to-be and their gaggle of girls will love the funky throwback ‘70s grooves at the newly redefined Amnesia inside Motor City Casino. What’s not to love? Big pants, big shoes, big hair – given the penis paraphernalia common to bachelorette parties, there is a certain preoccupation with things that are big, so the theme is consistent. Plus it can’t hurt the bride to hear “I Will Survive” a few times.
Best Draft Beer Selection – CK Diggs
Rochester Hills has a big secret it’s been keeping from us for over a decade now. It’s one of those hidden-in-plain-sight secrets that hasn’t so much been kept from us as we never knew we were missing it. Welcome to CK Diggs, where there are 40 craft and imported beers on tap on their impressive custom-built tap system. Michigan craft brews have a strong show, but if the draft selection doesn’t blow your skirt up they have another 90 beers available by the bottle.
Best Pick-Up Scene – BlackFinn
If you enjoy a quiet bar where you can sit and enjoy a quality aged scotch while having a pleasant conversation with friends … this is not your bar. BlackFinn is where the people who used to go to Woody’s and O’Tooles go once they graduated college, got jobs and started making grown person money. And this is their singles scene. The atmosphere is a bit more upscale, but the end goal hasn’t changed since the frat house. How YOU doin’?
Best Bar On A Monday Night – Clancy’s Irish Pub
Clancy’s in Clinton Township is what happens when an Irish pub marries and has little boozy babies with a sports bar. On Monday nights they offer half-off pizza and $1.75 pints to go with whatever sport is in season. Their express lunch is $4.99 every day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., or get a burger, beer and fries for $5.95. If you’re feeling the luck of the Irish, take the 5-lb burger challenge and get your name on the Champion Burger Wall of Fame.
Best Bar On A Tuesday Night – Tiki Bobs
Where spring break never stops! On Tuesday nights, Tiki Bob’s Cantina in Pontiac throws the biggest college night party in metro Detroit with Channel 95.5. Doors open at 9 p.m., ladies are free before 10:30 p.m., 18+ are welcome, Miller Lite is $2 all night … expect to see people dancing on the bar, doing body shots and taking Ke$ha’s “Take It Off” quite literally as a series of instructions. Why spend the money on a plane ticket to Cancun?
Best Bar On A Wednesday Night – Roger’s Roost
Roger’s Roost in Sterling Heights is the eastside hotspot on Wednesday nights, and it’s all because of the ugly mugs. Bring in your own ugly mug and get it filled for just $3 ($4 for imports), up to 34 ounces. They also have $3 shots throughout the night and half-off appetizers. The bar area has a ton of TVs, pool tables, games and live entertainment. It’s all about the unfussy boozing and this place is ALWAYS packed. Eastside knows how to throw down!
Best Bar On A Thursday Night – Great Baraboo
CLEARLY the eastside knows how to throw down because they’re cleaning house this year with the best bar nights of the week … at the Great Baraboo Brewing Co. in Clinton Twp., the best bar night is their Thursday night Ladies’ Night. Authentic Coach hand bags are raffled off and ladies get $3 martinis all night. Also on Thursdays, Mug Club members can bring in their growlers and get a refill for only $4.
Best Bar On A Friday Night – Emerald Ballroom
Friday nights take us to “the Clem,” the affectionate name Eastsiders have given to Mt. Clemens. Channel 95.5 hosts “New School Fridays” with all the hip hop hits you love in this often-overlooked state-of-the-art nightclub facility. Guys are free before 10 p.m., ladies 21+ are free before 11 p.m., cover is only $5 for all 21+ and ladies 18-20. They also have $2 drinks until 11 p.m. and $2.50 Bud Select all night long. Ain’t no party like an eastside party.
Best Bar On A Saturday Night – Clutch Cargos
On Saturdays we head back to Yack-town with Channel 95.5’s Nick Craig broadcasting live and DJ David B spinning all night long at the former church-turned-den of sin, Clutch Cargos. Ladies are free before 11 p.m. and $2 drink specials on premium liquor until 11 p.m.
Best Bar On A Sunday Night – Tonic
Pontiac. Channel 95.5. Here we meet again. This time it’s at Tonic Nightclub with a live broadcast featuring DJ Paul Martindale. Tonic’s been the hottest place to be on a Sunday night for so long we don’t even remember a time when it wasn’t, and Pontiac has more poppin’ for the college-age set than any of the so-called “college towns.” We like our booze cheap, our beats fast, and our bass down low. Thank you for accommodating, Pontiac.
Best Happy Hour – Uptown Grill
If you live in or near Commerce Township, this is the only beer bar, martini lounge, upscale restaurant, casual diner, wine bar, early morning breakfast place, late night breakfast place, steakhouse, seafood restaurant, pizza & burger joint, coffee house, sports bar and nightclub you’ll ever need. It may suffer from a multiple personality, but they do it all remarkably well. Every day they have their standard happy hour specials - $2 shots, $3 bombs – then each day of the week has its own list of specials, too.
Best Retro/Nostalgic Bar – The Study in Ronin
Ronin is a trendy place for people who loathe trendy places. The warm woods, earthtones and rich textures give it a very chill vibe. The staff is friendly with aesthetic hints of Royal Oak’s old goth sensibility and the music is a mix of and new wave. This is the kind of nightlife atmosphere that best appeals to those of us who were industrial-goth teenagers smoking cigarettes in the old Brazil coffeehouse before we grew up and got money but now still don’t fancy jock rock or the sportsfan crowds. Ronin is all retro Royal Oak.
Best Bar Before A Tigers Game – Bookies Bar & Grille
The Official Detroit Holiday that is the annual Tigers home opener is April 8 this year. There are a lot of bars downtown you could celebrate at, but Bookies Bar & Grille is hands-down the best place to be on this or any other Tigers game day. They’ve got three floors of fun and a sunshine-drenched rooftop patio that’s one of the best places to drink during the summer. Bookies is also just a short walk to Comerica Park (and Ford Field, and the Fox Theatre, etc.) so this is the ideal one-stop destination; if the park is just a little too far of a stumble for you, then hop on the Bookies bus and it’ll take you straight there. Or just stay here and watch the game on their 16-ft projection screen. They always have killer game day beer & booze specials, and their bar food is some of the best in metro Detroit.