Experiences In The D | The Blog for Visit Detroit

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If these Plates Could Talk!

Posted on Monday, August 05 2013 in Dining

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Every town has its tried-and-true favorite restaurants that have been around for decades. Detroit is no exception; some of our most popular restaurants are well past the century mark! These dining institutions help to shape the character of our city. Here are just a few suggestions for visitors who’d like to sample the history of “local flavor.”

My personal favorite is Roma Café, Detroit’s oldest restaurant, which began as a boarding house for farmers in Detroit’s Eastern Market, transitioned into a restaurant in 1890, and remains at its original location. The red checkered tablecloths, tuxedoed waiters and intimate dining rooms complement the authentic Italian cuisine. Specialties include the Roma salad, fresh pastas and a selection of veal entrees.

The Whitney, housed in the elaborate 1894 lumber baron mansion of David Whitney, Jr., is a grand Detroit fine dining tradition. This spring, the restaurant introduced upscale breakfasts on weekdays. For those on a budget, guided “Champagne Tours” are available by appointment for $10, or try the nightly specials served in the garden during summer months.

On Detroit’s east side sits the Cadieux Café, a storied speakeasy during Prohibition that continues as a social gathering place filled with the Belgian customs and recipes of its founders. Steamed mussels and your choice of Belgium beers are the perfect accompaniment to a game of featherbowling. What, pray tell, is featherbowling, you may ask? It’s the Belgian cousin to horseshoes and Bocci ball that you really must experience for yourself to appreciate. Court reservations recommended!

A Friday lunch at Mexican Village is a fun way to kick off your weekend fiesta. It’s fast; it’s inexpensive; and it’s delicious! The restaurant, in Detroit’s Mexicantown, is surrounded by similar eateries, but Mexican Village was the first to introduce Mexican dining to Detroit. Ole!

Sinbad’s, Mario’s, Jacoby’s German Biergarten — yes, the list goes on! These long-time Detroit dining establishments wouldn’t still be around if they didn’t offer something special. Definitely worth a visit!


Please tell us your favorite historic Detroit restaurant!


By: Michelle Fusco

Photo credit: Bill Bowen (dish at The Whitney)