Do you ever get sick of all the sunshine being blown up your ass from local media and particularly local blogs with names like "[something-something] DETROIT!" ? So do I. Here is a list of things that are awful.
Every year every media outlet runs the obligatory "best patios" run-down in time for summer. (Here's mine, and mind you that was pre-GLCRC.) There is usual very little variation from year to year or from one glorified PR/ad sales vehicle to the next, and phrases like "hidden gem" and "urban oasis" are used without restraint. But not all patios are good patios, much like not all restaurants are good restaurants. These patios pretty much suck. Here's why.
#1 Pizzeria Biga (Royal Oak)
I love the new Pizzeria Biga building. It's totes gorg, soaring ceilings and all the pretty things owned and designed by the man with the best taste in all of metro Detroit. And then there is that godforsaken patio. Proving once again that just because you can doesn't mean you should, the patio at Pizzeria Biga is the most poorly-situated patio in all of metro Detroit. Flimsy tables wobbling around on artfully broken concrete make your entire meal a balancing act, but the real crime here is that it's RIGHT NEXT TO THE FUCKING RAILROAD TRACKS. Do you know how many times that fucking train goes by during peak dinner hours? Twice on my last visit. Twice I had to completely cease all conversation because that fucking train is, literally, RIGHT NEXT TO YOU and even the loudest of us can't shout over it. And do you know what a train isn't? Short. It isn't short. What should offer some measure of tranquility ends up being as violently jarring as having a picnic in the parking lot behind the 7-Eleven where the EMS vehicles wait for their emergency calls. Love the inside, love the beer selection, love pizza, everything else is lovely, but that patio is the worst.
Majestic Cafe (Midtown)
Alright, so I realize Detroit is in its renaissance and everything is all better and so on an so forth and something-something DETROIT! But there are still things about Detroit that are no different now than they were three years ago back when the dominant narrative was one of a feral dystopic wasteland before the switch was flipped and we all happily hurled ourselves towards the other extreme. What I'm really trying to say is that no one told the housing-challenged about Detroit's renaissance, and they're still out there, shouting at cracks in the sidewalk and using bus stops as waste management facilities. New Yorkers like to talk big about their beggars but rest assured I've yet to find a city in the continental United States with a homeless population as violently aggressive as ours. The "homeless problem" is actually a significant one that only gets addressed when there's a Super Bowl in town and is otherwise ignored in the narrative of nu:Detroit. But for all the happy little hipsters playing house in Midtown, the homeless are still out there, all around us, still quite visible despite our collective efforts to ignore them. And lest this sound like soapboxing, I do it too and the last thing I want to deal with during my $30 bottomless mimosa brunch is the never-ending stream of vagrants angrily demanding money because that's just, like, a bummer man. And while the stark juxtaposition between the privileged colonizers who only look homeless but who have plenty of money for overpriced PBRs and shots of Jamesons and the long-time un-residents who haven't yet been pushed out by them is an anthropologically fascinating thing to witness and probably the closest thing to a true narrative of nu:Detroit, this is why I don't hang out on the Majestic Cafe's sidewalk patio.
#3 The Well (Detroit)
That last one was extra long so I'll keep this short: same as above. Also, as far as patios go, this one is just kind of silly but I have certainly witnessed some interesting things happen on it back when $2 Labatt Blue Light night was the highlight of my week. Yes, that happened.
#4 The Old Shillelagh (Greektown)
Not only is this the most awful place you could possibly be on a Saturday night (and it IS), but to get to their rooftop patio--which in itself isn't bad, aside from the awful people--you have to walk up like 16 flights of stairs. Okay, so you've got a bunch of freshly-made-21-year-olds who came to PARTY IN DETROIT, WOOOOOOOO and they're getting wrecked on Jaeger bombs because that's what newly-minted legals do and they're all partying on the patio because that's what people in Michigan in the summer do, but on top of that they're being made to navigate multiple flights of stairs in their exceptionally inebriated states like shaky foals just learning to walk on still-unstable legs (it takes years to develop proper alcohol legs). The only saving grace for the Old Shillelagh is that most of them won't remember the tumbles they took come the next morning and 21-year-olds still have yet to be fully indoctrinated into our compulsorily litigious society and are too afraid to tell their parents even if they are hurt because they probably weren't supposed to be there in the first place.
#5 BlackFinn (Royal Oak)
This place is the WORST. There is nothing inherently bad about their patio other than the fact that it's theirs. The problem is that the walls are the only thing containing the awfulness of this place and preventing it from breaking through its barriers and inflicting itself upon the rest of the world. The patio, with its garage doors that open into the bar, is a gaping entry into the Hellmouth.
Bubbling under Sneakers Pub (Ferndale), Niki's Pizza (Greektown), Crave Lounge (Dearborn), the Detroiter Bar (Greektown), Woody's (Royal Oak), Dino's Lounge (Ferndale)