After nearly a week of intensive reader voting, today we announce the winners of the eighth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the largest impact on all 24 Eater cities over the past twelve months.
Here now are the establishments — from cocktail bars and neighborhood markets to hotel restaurants and udon bars — that have taken the Detroit food world by storm. Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the readers’ choice and editors’ choice awards. Read on to learn more about this year’s best of the best. Editor's choice winners will receive an illustrious tomato can trophy via FedEx, along with a full feature on Eater in the coming year.
Chef of the Year
For years loyal fans have followed Kate Williams promising career first at Rodin and then on to Republic. Along the way, Williams learned a bit about herself and the type of chef she wanted to be. She’s become a champion to other women coming up in the industry, too, encouraging them behind the scenes and in her own kitchen to develop their style and voice. All of that culminated this fall with the opening of Williams’ first solo venture, Lady of the House. This highly personal project that showcases the chefs’ knack for warm and welcoming dishes such as the eggy chawanmushi that challenge tastes and textures while making diners crave another bite.
Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Mike Ransom, Ima
Restaurant of the Year
Modest in its style and attentive in its service, Ima snuck into the former Rubbed space last winter with less than the usual fanfare. At its core Ima is about two things — udon and rice bowls — served in an unpretentious, communal atmosphere along Michigan Avenue in Corktown. While the Asian-influenced menu is simple and refreshing in its construction, the restaurant has seemingly only improved with time as chef Mike Ransom creativity shines through in each and every bowl that hits the table. Whether they’re vegetarian or meat based, Ima’s broths are filled with layers flavors ranging from porcini mushrooms to sake and miso that complement crunchy, whole pieces baby bok choy. It’s the type of comfort food haven that keeps one coming back for more.
Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Voyager
Design of the Year
Bad Luck Bar, Downtown
The Detroit Optimist Society’s high-end modern cocktail lounge Bad Luck Bar is turning out original cocktails in a lounge that looks and feels unlike any other in the city right now. From the menu to the glowing bar, Dave Kwiatkowski designed the space to wholly submerge its audience into an intimate drinking experience. First-time customers might initially hunt for the right door to enter this back alley bar — look for the coiling snake. The glowing backlit bar draws customers in towards the main space thats filled with patterned wood walls and hexagon lights. A book of illuminati-inspired cocktails guides towards the right drink that’s always served with a stylish glass or flourish of smoke.
Design of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Otus Supply
Hottest Restaurant of the Year
The Apparatus Room, Downtown
In a year of splashy boutique hotel openings and announcements, the stunning new Detroit Foundation Hotel required something a little flashier to set it apart from the crowd. That special something came in the form of Thomas Lents, a Michigan-raised chef who returned to the city after earning two Michelin stars in Chicago to helm the Foundation’s sprawling flagship restaurant The Apparatus Room. With a daily menu that showcases Michigan ingredients in inventive dishes like pici with coney-style bolognese and a new, show-stopping chef’s table dining experience now in full swing visitors staying at the Foundation hardly have to leave the confines of the building to experience Detroit’s plentiful culinary talent.
Hottest Restaurant of the Year Reader’s Choice Winner: Joebar
Market-Cafe Combo of the Year
The Farmer’s Hand, Corktown
Don’t be fooled by its size — The Farmer’s Hand packs a lot into a small package. Step inside on any given day and customer’s can take advantage of Southeast Michigan’s full bounty of meat, dairy, and produce (not to mention art and other retail items). Owners Kiki Louya and Rohani Foulkes have proved experts at filling their shelves with the best and most flavorful foods that the region has to offer, all of which culminate in assemblage of must-try sandwiches and salads served deli style behind the counter. The white walls and comfy seating is as inviting as the friendly and attentive staff greeting patrons behind the counter. It’s the type of cafe-market that every neighborhood should want.
Market-Cafe Combo of the Year Reader’s Choice Winner: Eatóri Market