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A Guide to Eating and Drinking at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival

Pop-up restaurants, a food truck rally, and a special festival beer

Mo Pop [Official image]

Approximately 35,000 people are expected descend onto the grassy banks of West Riverfront Park on July 28 and July 29 for the annual Mo Pop Festival to check out acts like St. Vincent, Portugal. The Man, and Bon Iver. Every year the music lineup seems to outdo itself, but the food and drink options are also getting better with age.

The number of trucks rallying at Mo Pop has more than doubled in the six years since the festival launched, co-director Jason Rogalewski tells Eater. Much of that expansion has grown naturally with the increase in festival attendance. “We just didn’t want it to be your typical carnival food. We wanted it to be actually better than that,” he says.

In recent years, Mo Pop organizers have also found ways to improve upon the original food truck rally and beer tent model. In 2017, for example, the festival replaced the long-standing beer garden with the Shipyard — a pop-up space featuring food from local restaurants. “ This year Shipyard will have menus from spots like hit Ferndale seafood restaurant Voyager and Slows Bar-B-Q.

Mo Pop collaborated with Populace Coffee on a special roast.
Mo Pop [Official image]

At the same time as it’s been growing its food offerings, Mo Pop has also been building its visibility on people’s social media feeds through partnerships with local companies like Griffin Claw Brewing Company, which created a special Festipale Ale complete with a can designed specifically for Mo Pop. “It was a huge hit with people and was definitely one of our highest sellers,” marketing manager Nick Trentacost says. “When you go back and look through the social media traction, it was one of the most photographed elements in the entire festival.” Mo Pop and Griffin Claw are teaming up once again this year with a new brew called the Mo Pop 2018 Festival Golden Ale. The beer will be released this week at stores across metro Detroit including 8 Degrees Plato and Plum Market.

Mo Pop is also collaborating with Bay City-based roaster Populace Coffee on an exclusive Mo Pop-branded coffee. There are only 500 bags of the roast. People can find them online, at Populace Coffee locations in the Siren Hotel or Bay City, and in limited quantities at the festival.

As for drinks at the festival, Mo Pop will have special cocktails available at bar stands throughout West Riverfront Park. The bar in front of the Shipyard will also be pouring five different Griffin Claw beers. Here’s a full rundown of the local restaurants, cafes, and trucks heading to Mo Pop this year. Tickets are still available online.

Shipyard

Jacob Mulka [Official image]
  • Voyager: Ferndale-based seafood restaurant serving everything from fresh oysters to Szechuan crab spaghetti
  • Lover’s Only: A downtown Detroit restaurant serving burgers, hot dogs, cold fried chicken sandwiches, and more
  • Fist of Curry: This now-shuttered Mexicantown restaurant specializes in international curries including Japanese kare, tikka masala, Jamaican jerk curry, and beyond
  • Slows Bar-B-Q: A Corktown barbecue restaurant serving ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and sandwiches with a variety of sauces and sides
  • Imperial: This Ferndale bar and taqueria is known for its taco offerings (including vegetarian options) and bacon-wrapped Sonoran hot dogs
  • Drought: This company sells bottled cold-pressed, raw juices and cold brew coffee

Food Truck Rally Alley

Jacob Mulka [Official image]
  • Island Noodles: Wok-fried soba noodles with veggies and optional teriyaki chicken
  • Chef-In-A-Box: Burgers and fries
  • Chick-A-D: Battered-and-fried chicken on a stick, chicken tenders, and chicken corn dogs
  • Chicken Coupe: Chicken and waffles and loaded fries
  • Crepe Day-Twah: Sweet and savory crepes
  • Delectabowl: Comfort foods and salads served in bowls including gluten-free and vegan options
  • Drifter Coffee: Local coffee and tea
  • Hero Or Villain: Eclectic sandwiches including vegetarian options
  • Holy Cow Indian: A vegetarian and vegan truck serving tacos made with naan instead of tortillas
  • Los Dos Amigos: Classic street tacos, burritos, tortas, quesadillas, and more
  • Mean Weenie: Hot dogs and sausages with creative toppings like macaroni and cheese or barbecued pork
  • Monkey Business: Gyros, breakfast wraps, nachos, soups, and more
  • Nosh Pit: All-vegan and vegetarian options including sandwiches, soups, and sweets
  • Populace Coffee: Bay City-based coffee roaster pouring a Mo Pop-branded roast
  • Rollin Stone Wood Fired Pizza: Neapolitan-style pizzas in styles like margherita, pepperoni, prosciutto-arugula, and more
  • Saucy Joe’s: Italian comfort foods including meatball subs
  • Shredderz: Loaded hash browns and sandwiches topped with crispy hash browns
  • Treat Dreams: Ice cream in flavors like chocolate covered potato chip, maple-bacon-waffle, and Mexican chocolate

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