Friday, May 18, 2012

[EID Feature] Eastern Market Rules!

All photos by Nicole Rupersburg.

Eastern Market rules. As the oldest continuously-operated public market in the country (at 121 years), it has always been a popular place for wholesale distribution and has been home to a number of different meat packers and distributors for decades. Saturdays have always had a draw for families all over metro Detroit, so to call Eastern Market a local destination is nothing new. But lately it has become so much more than that.

It is no longer just a local destination; it is a national one. With the spike in Detroit tourism that has happened really over the past year or so, Eastern Market is a tourism hub and a draw entirely unto itself. The Los Angeles Times ran an op-ed which praised Eastern Market as "a bright spot" and celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern saw fit to pay a visit last summer while filming an episode of Bizarre Foods in metro Detroit ... which is to say nothing of everybody's favorite pizza place Supino Pizzeria, which has grabbed national coverage from the likes of the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" and the New York Times. Russell St. Deli is also a belle of the market with their own fair share of New York Times love. The best part is you can walk into any of these places at any time and have a chat with the owners like it's no big.

The recent slew of renovations (which will soon include a community kitchen) have also helped spurn the popularity of the market forward as old meets new, and Eastern Market Corporation President Dan Carmody has actively sought out the DIY artisan food producers who are creating so much local buzz (people like Perkins Pickles, Slow Jams, Corridor Sausage Co. and People's Pierogi Collective, among countless others). New stores are opening with increasing regularity inside the market district, including eclectic boutiques and community spaces as well as food shops. And it has solidified itself as a regional food hub.

Slice from Supino Pizzeria.
In the oft-traversed rhetoric of Detroit's rebirth, there often seems to be an assumption that these things happened overnight. In the case of someone like Midtown's Sue Mosey, Crain's 2012 "Newsmaker of the Year," the seeds for forward progress were planted over a very long two decades and only just recently have borne fruit. She may be newsmaker of this year, but she's been doing it for over 20.

But there are rare cases in Detroit where one can pinpoint an exact moment in time in which a pivotal change occurred, the very clear point at which "before" became "after." One such instance is Corktown. The other is when Dan Carmody and the nonprofit Eastern Market Corporation took over the market in 2006. In a little over five years the market has been transformed, and is in so many ways the heart of Detroit. They have been working hard to reinvent the market and stay at the head of the curve as people have enthusiastically embraced sustainable food culture, local food movements, and DIY food production ... as well as the city itself.

In honor of the 46th Annual Eastern Market Flower Day happening this Saturday, May 20 (the market's most popular event, drawing in over 200,000 people annually), here are some of EID's favorite spots in the market, new (and really new) and old. And more news: starting on Saturday June 9, EID will be offering the long-promised walking tours of Eastern Market - meet some of the business owners and the people behind the products, sample some food and learn a bit of history. More details to come!

Germack Coffee Roasting Co.
Really New
DeVries + Co.
The 118-year-old R. Hirt Jr. Co. is reborn as DeVries - a cleaner, more open space offers the same great products and then some. Read more here.

Germack Coffee Roasting Co.
The company best known for bringing us those pink pistachios now roasts their own coffee on-site in a brand-new, fully spiffy location that also serves as a coffee shop with WiFi and specialty market selling a variety of locally-made artisan food products. Instant love.

Detroit Mercantile
From the original maker of Made in Detroit, Detroit Mercantile is an all-things-Detroit store featuring locally-made clothing lines, cruiser bikes and rock posters. They'll also serve a Detroit-themed breakfast and lunch on Saturdays. Opens this weekend.

OmniCorp Detroit
Sort of a creative think-and-do-tank with actual hands-on equipment like a sewing machinery and even a metal working shop, OmniCorp is a hub for hands-on DIYers with "open hack" nights where anyone can go and make things using salvaged materials.

A fully-functional print shop that uses old-fashioned letterpress for personal and commercial work (they also have a gallery space and teach workshops on using the letterpress and bookbinding).

Red Bull House of Art
It's so new it hasn't even opened yet, but check it out next week as it launches in time for Movement.

Some Unnamed Restaurant with Two Custom-Built Brick Ovens
So new it doesn't even have a name yet.

Also New
Supino Pizzeria
It only just opened in 2008 but fast became one of Detroit's most popular pizzerias, and with good reason - their Neapolitan-style pizzas are superior, and items are all sourced locally from places like Brother Nature Produce, Porktown Sausage and City Wings.

Russell Street Deli
Sustainability-sourced and community-conscious, Russell St. Deli (under new ownership since 2008) sources their products locally straight from the market and makes everything from scratch in-house while also giving back to the community through various philanthropic fundraising efforts. Also vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

Mootown Ice Cream
Just opened in the summer of 2011, this family-owned ice cream shop is the first ice cream shop in Eastern Market's history. Read more here.

Division Street Boutique
A funky, Detroit-centric T-shirt store (makers of the infamous "Detroit Hustles Harder" T's). They're also hosting their 4th annual block party during Flower Days this weekend.

Famers Restaurant.

Bert's Warehouse
Whether you love them for the massive events they host (like the Dirty Show) or for the wall of ribbers lined up outside on Saturdays grilling endless slabs of meat for the masses while metro Detroit's finest warble their best karaoke, Bert's is a classic.

Cost Plus Wine Shoppe
Still one of the only places in the city where you can buy good beer and wine, Cost Plus has a nice variety of affordable craft and imported beers and small-production wineries, including many Michigan producers.

Gabriel Import Co.
Offering a huge selection of imported olives (sample as many as you'd like!) as well as Mediterranean specialties like hummus, tabbouleh and spinach pies made fresh daily.

Milano Bakery
Simple breads; fantastic homemade soups, sandwiches and desserts; and great pizza can be found at this Kosher bakery with the largest hearth oven in Michigan.

A Detroit staple famous for their Bloody Marys and mussels.

A best-kept secret a bit on the outskirts, their stuffed burger is one of the best in Detroit.

"The Meat Mall" (Gratiot Central Market)
Beef, corned beef (made by four generations of the same families), pork, poultry (including game birds), specialty meats (from goat to tripe), fish, BBQ supplies, a bakery, and prepared foods like sammiches. Six days a week (and sometimes seven for holidays and Lions games).

Rocky Peanut Company
An emporium of bulk candies, nuts and other items.

Louie's Ham and Corned Beef
Enough said. Read more here.

Farmers Restaurant
Greasy spoon gut-bombs breakfasts and also corned beef. Read more here, again.