Log in

No account? Create an account
Jul. 8th, 2011 @ 12:48 pm Rick's Picks: A Native Detroit Foodie's Guide to Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants around NOTOCON
Between the Hyatt Regency and the Fairlane Mall across the street, there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance of NOTOCON. However, if you’re into gastrotourism (particularly for vegetarian-friendly places), here is a list of some of my favorite restaurants in the tri-country area. You’ll need a car to get to them, but they are all worth the trip. Business hours are taken from the businesses’ website, but you might want to call ahead to verify if you’re arriving early or late.

The following list is arranged according to distance from the NOTOCON hotel (Hyatt Regency Dearborn). Click here to see these restaurants in Google Maps.

  • Pizza Papalis (1.4 miles, Chicago style pizza): Sorry Giordano’s, you may be the Windy City’s go-to place for Chicago style pizza, but the best Chicago style pizza I've ever had comes from across Lake Michigan, from Detroit's Pizza Papalis. Both have a similar buttery crust, but I prefer the Pizza Papalis sauce. My favorite is the Popeye (spinach and mushroom); I will most likely be bringing a frozen, half-baked one home on the plane. For lunch, they also offer individual-sized pizzas. (22022 Michigan Ave #B, Dearborn, MI 48124-2889, ph. 313-724-7722. Open from 10:30 am, closes 10 pm M–Th, 11 pm F & Sat, 9 pm on Sun. They also have a location in Greektown, see below).

  • Middle eastern food in Dearborn (4.5 miles, Middle Eastern): Dearborn is home to the largest Middle-Eastern population outside of the Middle East, so it’s no surprise that this is the place to find the best Middle-Eastern restaurants in the U.S. There are way too many to pick just one, just cruise down Ford Road or Warren Avenue and take your pick. New Yasmeen Bakery also gets great reviews (13900 West Warren Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48126-1455).

  • Traffic Jam & Snug (10 miles, New American): Nestled between the main and medical campuses of Wayne State University, TJ’s (as the locals call it) serves creative and enjoyable food that is popular with faculty, students, and the crowd from nearby Orchestra Hall. Their Tex-Mex lentil burger is wonderful and hearty, but be sure to save room for desert: The Carlotta Chocolata is pure chocolate-espresso decadence. (511 W. Canfield Street, Detroit, MI 48201-1219, ph. 313-831-9470. Open daily from 11:00 am, closes 10:30 M–Th, midnight F & Sat, 8 pm Sun).

  • Greektown (13 miles, Greek): Closer to the riverfront and in the midst of the “casino district” on Monroe Street is Detroit’s Greektown. Here you’ll find excellent Greek food; my personal favorite is New Parthenon, which has a big statue of Zeus in the foyer and Greek-themed murals painted on the walls. Best of all for you night owls and west coasters, the restaurants in Greektown are open late (547 Monroe St., Detroit, MI 48226, 313-963-8888. Hours 11 am – 3 am daily).

  • Blue Nile (16 miles, Ethiopian): Washington, D.C., and its suburbs may be known for fine Ethiopian restaurants, but--having eaten at plenty of them--Ferndale’s “Blue Nile” remains at the top of my list. Their sampler plate is available in meat-free and with-meat versions (lower price on the meat-free option), and the tea here is spicy and wonderful (545 West 9 Mile Road, Ferndale, MI 48220-1798, ph. 248-547-6699. Open for dinner 5–10 T–Th, 4–11 F & Sat, 3–9 Sun, closed M).

  • Star of India (16 miles, Indian): Once located a half mile from my house in Royal Oak, this place has seen a lot of my dining dollars...and for good reason. Star of India has always been one of my favorite Indian restaurants. I also love Priya and Ashoka in Troy, but those are another 6-8 miles up the road. (180 W 9 Mile Rd, Ferndale, MI 48220-1759, ph. 248-546-5996. Hours not posted on website.)

  • Sweet Lorraine’s Café (18 miles, New American): This moderately upscale restaurant has an inventive menu with a long list of daily specials, including several that are vegetarian. Their veggie hamburger is hands down the best I have ever had anywhere, but all their other dishes are likewise fabulous. Reservations recommended. (29101 Greenfield Road, Southfield, MI 48076, ph. 248-559-5985. 11 am – 10 pm M–Th, 11 am – 11 pm F, 8 am – 11 pm Sat, 8 am – 9:30 pm Sun)

  • Café Muse (21 miles, breakfast/brunch, New American): One of the best breakfast places in the area, Café Muse is based on the concept of “comfort food with a twist.” Their grilled cheese has been praised by everyone from Esquire to Reader’s Digest, and none less than Oprah Winfrey declared theirs the best grilled cheese in America. Reservations recommended. (418 S Washington Ave, Royal Oak, MI 48067, ph. 248-544-4749. Breakfast/lunch daily 7:30 am – 3 pm, dinner T–Sat 5 pm – 10pm). One block away at 608 Washington is Pronto!, another favorite for brunch, sandwiches, or New American dining.

  • Toast of Ferndale (21 miles, breakfast/brunch): This is another worthwhile destination for breakfast that is creative and anything but run-of-the-mill. There's often a line to get in, so reservations are recommended. (23144 Woodward Avenue, Ferndale, MI 48220-1341, ph. 248-398-0444). Also nearby is Om Café (23136 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, MI 48220, 248-548-1941), a cozy and unpretentious vegetarian restaurant.

  • Inn Season Café (21 miles, vegetarian): Inn Season is arguably the best vegetarian restaurant in the area. Their menu also includes fish and additional daily specials. It was a few blocks from my house for twelve years, and I happily ate there often. (500 East 4th Street, Royal Oak, MI 48067-2847), ph. 248-547-7916. Hours 11:30 am – 9 pm M–Th, 11:30 am – 9:30 pm F, noon – 9:30 pm Sat, Sun brunch 11 am – 3pm).

  • Thai Bistro (23 miles, Thai): Outstanding Thai cuisine. Think all pad thai is the same? Thai Bistro’s is different from any that I have had anywhere else, and by far the best. Many of their menu selections can be prepared vegetarian or vegan. It’s a bit of a haul from Dearborn, but not too far from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. (45620 Ford Road, Canton, MI 48187, 734-416-2122. Lunch M–F 11:30–2:30, dinner 5–9 M–Th, 5–10 F & Sat, closed Sun).

  • Neehee’s (23 miles, Vegetarian Indian street food): This is a new place, and I tried it when I was last in Michigan. Neehee’s serves vegetarian Indian street food, which is something I've never seen before. I list it here because it’s unique and very inexpensive. The setup is like a Panera or Baja Fresh in that you place your order at the counter and pick up your meal when your number is called. There’s plenty of seating; it's not fancy, but great for a quick bite on the go. As with Thai Bistro next door, it’s a bit of a haul from the Hyatt Regency but not far from the airport. (45490 Ford Road, Canton, MI 48187-4723, ph. 734-737-9777. 11 am – 9:30 pm M-Th, 11 am – 10 pm F & Sat, 12 am – 8 pm Sun).

  • Zingermann’s Delicatessen (40 miles, Deli, bakery, market): Are you the type of person who craves balsamic vinegars so rare that they are locked in a glass display case? Loves exotic cheeses that you won’t find in Whole Foods? Enjoys over-stuffed sandwiches served on artisan bread? From heirloom rice to gourmet moon pies, this is the deli to end all delis. If you’re a foodie, then this is the one place you have to visit while you're in town. They also do mail order, so you can have that balsamic vinegar shipped so it isn’t confiscated by TSA. (422 Detroit Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48103, ph. 734-663-3354. Open daily 7 am – 10 pm).

What can I do?
[User Picture Icon]
Date:July 8th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Thank you for this! I hope I don't come home 20lbs fatter!
[User Picture Icon]
Date:July 9th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
The challenge for me will be finding time to get to any of these places. But ya gotta eat...
[User Picture Icon]
Date:July 9th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)


(Permanent Link)
Sounds very interesting. I see Greektown hasn't changed much since last I was there. The food was almost always good. I'm little surprised you didn't mention any of the ones around Eastern Market
[User Picture Icon]
Date:July 11th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)


(Permanent Link)
Although I worked for 20 years just a few blocks from the Eastern Market area, I never got to know any of the restaurants or shops thataway (except for Rafal's Spice Shop, which is an awesome place to buy spices).