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Outdoor Dining in the Paris of the Midwest

Posted on Wednesday, June 06 2012 in Dining


The influence of French settlers in Detroit is still obvious in our street names, and it’s now making a resurgence with Detroit’s outdoor dining establishments, where food is served Parisian-style (with a Motor City twist) to Detroiters looking for a taste of Europe. From classics to new establishments, it seems you can’t walk down a street in Detroit without being greeted by diners on the sidewalk. So pull up a seat on the street or a waterfront deck, and enjoy the people-watching while you dine in style. Here’s a selection of our favorites: 

Fountain Bistro: Located in Campus Martius Park, Fountain Bistro is right in the heart of Detroit, serving French-influenced cuisine for a relaxing day downtown and light-fare lunch for Detroiters who work downtown.

Rattlesnake Club: It’s tough to imagine dining on the Detroit Riverfront without thinking of the patio at the Rattlesnake Club. Gourmet cuisine, views of the water, pedestrians and a summer breeze. Délicieux.

Plymouth Coffee Bean: Michigan’s longest-running independent coffee shop has been voted Detroit’s Best Coffee House by the Detroit Free Press and HOUR Detroit Magazine. Located in downtown Plymouth, this coffee shop is known for its cozy atmosphere and made-to-order crepes.

Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub: Housed in an historic ticket station, this downtown Detroit bar is famous for its beer menu and sandwiches. And since it’s one block from Campus Martius and Hart Plaza you’ll truly feel the energy of the city.

Commonwealth: For a simple fried-egg sandwich and an artfully-made cup of coffee, don’t miss downtown Birmingham’s Commonwealth. The sidewalk seating puts you just off Old Woodward, for great views of the city.

La Dolce Vita: La Dolce Vita is located in the Palmer Park District and has been a frequent winner of HOUR Detroit Magazine’s "The Best Patio in Detroit" award since its opening in 1995. It’s as popular for its pasta dishes as it is for its atmosphere.

Bastone Brewery: Royal Oak’s Bastone Brewery was featured in our blog post on Detroit’s best microbrews. But Bastone also deserves recognition for their outdoor seating in the heart of downtown Royal Oak — great for beer drinking.

Fishbones: Seafood on the shore — St. Clair Shores, that is. Fishbones is one of Detroit’s most recognizable names in fine open-air dining and drinking events, right on Jefferson Ave.


Sardine Room: Downtown Plymouth’s newest hotspot serves classic cocktails and raw oysters on the half-shell, among other dishes. Sit outside and watch the fountain in Kellogg Park. Or, close your eyes and imagine you’re an expatriate.

Slows Bar BQ: The darling of Corktown soul food also offers one of Detroit’s best outdoor patios, for enjoying a meal, beer and bourbon, or an outdoor afternoon in the city.

Tashmoo Biergarten: Just outside the Indian Village neighborhood, Detroit’s new European-style beer garden serves Michigan beer for a good cause — profits go to the village’s community development corporation. Read more at MLive and Detroit Moxie.

Do you have a favorite restaurant for outdoor dining in Detroit? Maybe you prefer a picnic on Belle Isle. Let us know in the comments.