— by Eric Noble, Mike Dovorany, Bob Martin, and Maeva Ribas via LAcar.com
Are you planning on hitting the NAIAS this January? The cars’ll get your motor running, so sooner or later you’re going to need to fuel-up your body. Here are our suggestions for those looking to follow the excitement of cars and carpet with worthy food and drink.
Spoiler alert: The following reviews can and will make you salivate!
Slow’s Bar BQ
2138 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 962-9828 [visit website]
Right across the road from where Tiger Stadium proudly sat, and just over a mile from Cobo Hall, sits Slow’s Bar BQ. With a kitchen this good, it could be all about the food, but there’s more on offer than that. A meticulously designed wood and brick interior pairs with tasty selections and a generous bar to make this joint a hot tip for Motor City visitors. The kind of place carmaker design teams go to celebrate a successful concept debut at the show.
The Slow’s experience starts before you walk in. The neighborhood has yet to be “redeveloped,” so there’s plenty of street parking. Jump from your ride and you’ll smell the deliciousness long before stepping into the subtle entryway.
Once seated, the obvious choices are the pulled pork, baby back ribs, and the beef brisket. This requires a minimal amount of DIY effort, as each table comes complete with five tantalizing barbecue sauces.
Sandwich selections create a tempting excuse to slip out of the show for lunch and include the award-winning Yardbird sandwich (voted one of the three best sandwiches in America on the Travel Channel’s “Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America”) and The Reason, which is pulled pork, coleslaw, and dill pickles. Don’t miss out on standout side orders like the mac-n-cheese, Sweet potato mash, and Zingerman’s corn bread.
Slow’s taste also heads toward New Orleans, with fried or blackened catfish, jambalaya, and St. Louis spareribs.
No need to shed a single tear into any of the 56 tap brews; the food is humanely and sustainably raised on family farms, free from antibiotics and hormones.
Slow’s Bar BQ isn’t just invigorating pallets. Owner Phil Cooley came to town in 2005, when the area was, well, in need of tenants. Today, Cooley’s fine establishment is helping make the neighborhood one of Detroit’s success stories.
400 Monroe St., Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 965-4600 [visit website]
Fishbone’s Rhythm Kitchen Café, owned by the Gatzaros family since 1989, is one of the stalwarts of downtown Detroit’s famous Greektown area. If you’re walking the auto show floor with an entourage, they can accommodate large parties for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in this substantial, Bourbon Street themed eatery.
The specialty in Fishbone’s is New Orleans style fare – a welcome warmer in January Michigan. The menu is well stocked with tempting dishes like shrimp creole, crawfish étoufée, jambalaya, and Andouille sausage. The Alligator Voodoo appetizer offers an added dose of legitimacy.
While French Quarter flavor is what Fishbone’s emphasizes, kitchen offerings are nothing if not diverse, ensuring every guest finds something to love. The signage proclaims steaks, seafood, and sushi, and all are prepared to high standards. This diverse menu touts whiskey ribs, chicken piccatta, a 20 ounce T-bone, orange roughy, petit lobster tails, Alaskan king crab legs, Tako salad (cooked octopus with a special sauce), and even a Godzilla roll.
If your auto show trip spans a weekend, Sunday brunch at Fishbone’s has a multi-tier sweet table the size of Detroit’s own Escalade.
Prices aren’t for those travelling couchsurfing.com, but Fishbone’s is good value for a quality food catch. A quarter century of patronage by loyal locals means a lot in a town that has rolled with every up and down the auto industry has had to offer.
Given the limited free parking in parts of town, a hidden gem of Fishbone’s is its free shuttle service to local events. Checking with the restaurant ahead of time is advised, but worth every bit of that planning. With a shuttle on tap, there’s nothing stopping your posse from ordering one more round at this Greektown fixture.
Cobo Joe’s Smokehouse, BBQ, and Sports Bar
422 West Congress St., Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 965-0840 [visit website]
Okay, let’s be honest here, while Cobo Joe’s does pride itself on the food, that’s not what makes this place rock. Anyone that lives in the area knows you come to Cobo Joe’s for the fun. Come on, it’s a sports bar!
There are plenty of watering holes around, and Cobo Joe’s has a good selection of drinks – and for a reasonable price. But, come here during a Red Wings game and this bar comes alive! True to its name, Cobo Joe’s is situated right across the street from Cobo Convention Hall and the Joe Louis Arena, just remember three little words: location, location, location. You can’t beat this!
Cobo Joe’s has the requisite selection of smoked favorites like chicken, ribs, and shrimp. The pit master ensures the meats and poultry are slow smoked over a combination of peach, apple and sugar maple woods – Texas style meets Detroit. And of course, there’s a barbeque plate, which comes with a hearty half-pound of meat.
But, don’t let the Smokehouse name fool you; the menu has something for everyone, with a decent choice of salads, sandwiches, pizza, and burgers.
In a pre-packaged world, it’s also nice to know that all of the food on Cobo Joe’s menu is still completely homemade.
Like any good sports bar, Cobo Joe’s has the mandatory appetizers. But, in addition to wings and chicken tenders, there are a few out-of-the-ordinary options like Sriracha Sizzle Shrimp, and Candied Bacon Skewers.
This brash restaurant and bar isn’t a johnnie-come-lately to the area. The building itself used to be a speakeasy in the 20s and 30s. But now, everything is done above board. This includes selling tickets to national and local events. This isn’t just a sports bar; it’s also a national ticket broker. Yes, Cobo Joe’s has it all!
1128 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 961-2500 [visit website]
In 2008, just as economic doom was descending on Detroit, the Book Cadillac Hotel reopened following a $200 million renovation. Roast was the hotel’s feature restaurant. The timing couldn’t have been worse – Roast would need to earn its place in this hardscrabble environment.
Roast did more than just survive, it has excelled – this is a steakhouse of the first order – headed by Michael Symon who is highly regarded for his skills in the kitchen at Roast and his other dining establishments.
Besides incredible foods and a stylish atmosphere the restaurant is roughly a short, half-mile hop from Cobo Hall.
The well-rounded menu includes delectable choices like Duck Pappardelle, sturgeon, and pan seared scallops. However, the steaks and chops are worth serious consideration. It’s hard not to be swayed by Dry Aged Porterhouse (for two), New York, and rib eye steaks. The filet mignon is tempting with either sea salt and olive oil, or crab béarnaise sauce, as is the rack of lamb and the smoked pork chop.
Bonus points go to the Beef Cheek Pierogies. Other starters, like grilled octopus, poke, charcuterie, and beef tartare, are reason enough to put Roast on the bucket list.
Food aside, the beer menu is highly rated for variety and offerings that you won’t readily find elsewhere. Making life easier is a beer sommelier. Yes, a beer sommelier!
Global wine offerings cover global vineyards in California, France, Italy, Spain, and more.
Rounding out the drink menu are intricate cocktails, like the Isle of Pheasants and Tom’s Old Sins that are bound to take the edge off any day.
There are plenty of good places to eat and drink in Detroit, but Roast is a bit like a Cadillac. Sure, a Chevy can get you where you want to go, but which would you rather have?