Detroit’s supercharged restaurant scene is leaping forward once again with a whole new crop of restaurants and bar on track to open this spring. As winter winds down, restaurants are rushing to debut during that ever-appealing warm weather season when foot traffic is at its peak and Detroiters are actually interested in getting out of the house. Already March is looking packed with the expected arrival of spots like breakfast and lunch restaurant Folk in Corktown and the impending unveiling of downtown burger restaurant Lovers Only, with plenty more on tap very soon. There’s also quite a few fresh bars in the works including the Kiesling in Milwaukee-Junction and Cass Corridor’s Willis Show Bar.
Keep in mind that estimated opening dates are always a moving target thanks to construction and permitting delays. From Roman-style pasta spot SheWolf to long-awaited chefs table Albena to the area’s first food hall Detroit Shipping Company, here are 18 highly anticipated eateries opening in the Motor City this spring.
Location: 1701 Trumbull
Key Players: Kiki Louya and Rohani Foulkes
Projected Opening: Late-March
Cafe-market combo and Eater Award winner The Farmer’s Hand is budding into a second space at the corner of Trumbull and Bagley where founders Rohani Folkes and Kiki Louya will get the chance to spin their cooking chops into a full-scale breakfast and lunch restaurant. The 24-seat eatery will feature quiche, veggie hash, meat pies, and grain bowls all with a distinctive international spin plus espresso and an ice cream counter from Reilly’s Craft Creamery.
Location: 438 Selden
Key Players: Anthony Lombardo
Projected Opening: Late May/early June
Chef Anthony Lombardo (formerly of Bacco Ristorante in Southfield) is opening his Roman-style pasta restaurant in Midtown this spring. Expect the “Big Three” in Roman pasta — carbona, amatriciana, and cacio e pepe — made fresh using flour milled on-site in full view of the dining room. SheWolf will also feature a bar specializing in Italian wines, vermouths, and spritzer cocktails.
Albena and Candy Bar
Location: The Siren Hotel
Key Players: Garrett Lipar, Tiffany Henderson, and Emma Taylor (Albena), Marlowe Johnson (Candy Bar)
Projected Opening: Spring
James Beard-nominated chef Garrett Lipar (formerly Torino) will helm an eight-seat chef’s counter called Albena on the ground floor of the soon-to-open Siren Hotel in downtown’s Wurlitzer Building. With his new venture, Lipar is aiming to set a slightly more brisk pace than similar tasting menu-only restaurants he’s experienced with a run time around 90 minutes. Seatings will cost under $200 per person and will feature dishes influenced by the Great Lakes region. Bartender Marlowe Johnson (formerly Gold Cash Gold) will be helming the hotel’s 30-seat, pink hued cocktail lounge called Candy Bar. Those projects will be joined by a Populace Coffee bar, a second floor “not-so-greasy spoon” called Karl’s, a piano karaoke bar called Sid Gold’s Request Room, and a rooftop bar.
Cork and Gabel
Location: 2415 Michigan Ave.
Key Players: Matthew McGrail and Joe Mifsud
Projected Opening: April 31
German, Irish, and Italian flavors will all find a home on chef Matthew McGrail’s menu for Cork and Gabel. The restaurant currently under construction in a space next door to Two James Spirits will feature a large open dining room with an open kitchen and a horseshoe bar specializing in bourbon, whiskey, and scotch. An added bonus: plenty of off-street parking.
Location: 34 Grand River Ave.
Key Players: Eli Boyer, Justin Tootla, and Jennifer Jackson
Projected Opening: Imminent
The latest project from the people behind Ferndale’s hit seafood restaurant Voyager is poised to debut any day now in downtown’s Capitol Park neighborhood. The menu will feature hot dogs, sandwiches, and burgers made from Michigan pasture-raised beef such as the Classic Smash (a six-ounce patty with onion, mayo, and mustard on a sesame potato roll) or the Burlington (a six-ounce patty with dijonaise, raw and cooked onions, pickle relish, and Wisconsin-style cheddar cheese sauce on a brioche bun). There will also, of course, be shakes made with Calder Dairy ice cream.
Location: 4206 Woodward Ave.
Key Players: Kohei Kayano and Yohei Uchida
Projected Opening: Spring
Los Angeles-based noodle shop Urban Ramen is looking to expand to the Detroit restaurant market this spring. The company’s second outpost is will replace Falafill on Woodward Avenue near Rock City Eatery. The menu at the company’s original outlet features chicken, pork, and vegan maitake mushroom shoyu ramen broth and also serves sushi, rice bowls, and poke.
White Star Pizza
Location: 2135 Michigan Ave.
Key Players: Gail and John Kwiatkowski and Matt Ziolkowski
Projected Opening: Late spring/summer
This casual restaurant and bar helmed by former Pepe Z’s pizza chef Matt Ziolkowski is slated to open in Corktown in late spring inside the former Detroit Artifactry space. The pizzeria is expected to dish up “artisanal, Detroit-style pizzas” with vegan-friendly options and a selection of local beers and hard ciders.
Willis Show Bar
Location: 4156 3rd Ave.
Key Players: Detroit Optimist Society, Steve Livigni, Sean Patrick, and Brandon Smith
Projected Opening: April
Fourty years after closing its doors, this old-school cabaret and bar in Cass Corridor is making comeback with help from both Detroit and LA-based bar and restaurant power players. The Detroit Optimist Society’s Dave Kwiatkowski is currently overseeing a meticulous renovation that aims to recreate the original bar’s distinct Art Moderne interior.
Second Best Bar
Location: 42 Watson St.
Key Players: Joe Giacomino, John Vermiglio, Will Lee, and David Vermiglio
Projected Opening: Late spring/early summer
Grey Ghost is gaining a sibling right across the street with the opening of Second Best Bar. The pub will aim to fill a more casual drinking niche with takes on cocktails and shots like kamikazes that might have been more at home in the 1990s. In addition to the drinks, diners can expect tasty bar snacks and sandwiches. The space will also feature plenty of pub games including shuffle board.
Location: 1903 Grand River Ave.
Key Players: Norman, Bonnie, Scott, and Suzanne LePage
Projected Opening: March/April
Beacon Park’s anchor restaurant Lumen is set to open its doors very soon in downtown Detroit. The 4,000-square-foot will feature a distinctive design with seating atop the swooping sustainable roof. Helmed by the owners of Big Rock Chophouse and Clubhouse BFD, Lumen will offer a blend of brasserie and Belgian-style beer garden food alongside beers from the family brewery, Griffin Claw.
Location: 6568 Woodward Ave.
Key Players: Lucy Peters, Max Sussman, Eli Sussman, Sopheana Duch
Projected Opening: -late spring
Lucy Peters and Sopheana Duch of Rose’s Fine Foods have teamed up with Michigan natives chefs Max and Eli Sussman to bring an affordable, all-day restaurant and bar to New Center this year. Since the initial announcement, the idea of the 60-seat establishment has evolved. It’s now expected to feature a casual ordering format where customers check boxes on paper menus. Diners can expect options like sandwiches, salads, and soups plus snacks like chicken wings at the bar.
Chili Mustard Onions
Location: 3411 Brush St.
Key Players: Pete LaCombe
Projected Opening: possibly April 1
Coney island dining gets the vegan treatment at this forthcoming restaurant in Brush Park. Owner Pete LaCombe plans to offer meat and dairy-free burgers, gyros, spinach pie, and other Detroit diner essentials. The restaurant is also expected to offer beer, wine, and cocktails.
Detroit Shipping Co.
Location: 474 Peterboro St.
Key Players: Jonathan Hartzell, James Therkalsen, Dominic Walbridge
Projected Opening: April
Detroit Shipping Co. is finally poised to make landfall in Cass Corridor this season bringing with it two bars, pop-up art space, retail, and six standalone restaurant vendors. The building, located next door to The Peterboro, began stacking shipping containers in November. Meanwhile, the lineup of restaurant stalls has been finalized to include Brujo Tacos & Tapas, Coop, Bangkok 96 Street Food, 320 Degrees Coffee and Creamery, Motor Burger, and Bread Meats Bread.
Rocco’s Italian Deli
Location: 3627 Cass Ave.
Key Players: Gabe Guido, Kyle Mrkva, and Jeff Guido
Projected Opening: Late-April/early May
The Cass Corridor neighborhood will gain a good old fashioned Italian deli with the long-awaited debut of Rocco’s this spring. Rocco’s will serve as both a specialty Italian market and a restaurant slinging everything from meatball sandwiches to chicken parmesan. The restaurant buildout is well-underway and the building recently gained signage.
Location: 5517 Michigan Avenue
Major Players: Norberto Garita and Bertin Garita
Projected Opening: Late-March
Chef Norberto Garita is known for his Mexican-Italian restaurant El Barzon, but the owner has plans to open a casual eatery right next door. La Noria, which means “water wheel,” will offer wood-fired oven pizzas, tacos, tortas, and more in a converted coney island. The restaurant features a full bar and, most importantly, a beautiful brick patio.
Location: 3980 Second Ave.
Key Players: Kevin Peterson and Jane Larson
Projected Opening: March 21
The team behind Detroit-based fragrance company Sfumato designed their Midtown storefront as a convertible space that easily transitions into a small, 18-seat bar in the evenings. On the menu, drinkers can expect a short list of cocktails that incorporate Sfumato scents for an enhanced sensory experience.
Location: 449 East Milwaukee Ave.
Key Players: Carlo Liburdi, Rich Perry, Rob Wilson
Projected Opening: Late-March/early April
This recently renovated cocktail lounge is set to make a splash in Detroit’s Milwaukee-Junction neighborhood very soon with a short list of original cocktails, beer, wine, and frozen drinks. The owners painstakingly restored the space while retaining its 1920s character and have assembled a top-notch bartending team that includes bar manager Rob Wilson (Selden Standard), Amanda Mentzer (La Rondinella), and Kaytee Querro (Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails). In the summer, the bar will also feature a patio hideaway.
- The second outpost of Dearborn’s Brome Modern Eatery is poised to debut very soon in downtown Detroit. The restaurant recently gained its exterior signage.
- Lester Gouvia’s popular caribbean food truck Norma G’s is expected to make the jump to brick-and-mortar, though the timeline is still relatively up in the air.
- Pastry chef Matt Knio is bringing his popular French pastries to a second Cannelle Patisserie outpost in downtown Detroit accross from Lovers Only.
- West McNichols is about to gain a new breakfast restaurant called Simply Breakfast. It’s expected to open sometime this spring or summer.
- Three intriguing new restaurants including Asaysia are sneaking into downtown Detroit this year with two of them debuting this spring.
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