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Many of Corktown’s most popular restaurants and bars are located along Michigan Avenue.
Michelle and Chris Gerard

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One Excellent Day of Eating and Drinking in Corktown

From award-winning restaurants to laid-back breweries, here’s how to spend 24 hours in Detroit’s funkiest food neighborhood

As Detroit’s oldest existing neighborhood, Corktown is the epicenter of the city’s restaurant surge and home to some of its most beloved bars (both old and new). Located within the boundaries of Southwest and west of downtown, the neighborhood was named from the influx of Irish immigrants who settled in the area during the mid-to-late 1800s. Today, Corktown’s scene feels as dynamic as ever thanks to a mixture of locals and a steady flow of young professionals and creatives into the area, drawn by the eclectic scene.

With the recent investments by Ford Motor Company in a nearby office space and the forthcoming renovations of Corktown’s biggest landmark — the Michigan Central Station — the neighborhood is undergoing major changes. Despite the recent flood of money from property investors, a mix of lowkey pubs, music venues, and restaurants serving inventive food are maintaining the spirited and thrifty, DIY feel of the area for now.

Chances are for folks who are visiting Detroit for the first time, will at some point find themselves in this neighborhood and it’s certainly worth the trip. There’s also an abundance of shops worth exploring and lovely residential streets filled with historic, colorful Victorian homes. Travelers will find the area relatively easy to navigate by foot or by bike and will never find themselves far from a good meal. One can easily spend 24 hours in the neighborhood without missing a thing. It’s all here — hip brunch spots, funky breweries, and award-winning restaurants. For a quick romp through Corktown and a primer on the multitudes of food and beverage options in the neighborhood, let this itinerary guide your visit.


Find options like gluten-free waffles with maple syrup and crushed pistachios at Folk, an all-day cafe located in Corktown.
Michelle and Chris Gerard

9 a.m. Breakfast

Wake up at Trumbull & Porter, a hotel with trendy art in and outside of the guest rooms, and an outdoor courtyard suited for live music, installations, and a beer garden. From the hotel, head up just the street to the sunny, modern, all-day brunch café, Folk for perfect for a perfect breakfast. The mainstays here include options like potato hash with greens and avocado, refreshing kale salads with vegan cashew dressing, gluten-free Belgian waffles with pistachio crumble, and avocado toast on thick slices of bread. If you need a caffeine kick, there’s an espresso machine. Consider trying a latte flavored with one of Folk’s pastel-hued milk infusions.

10:30 a.m. Break

Get some shopping in after breakfast. There’s several funky retailers to choose from in the neighborhood including Mama Coo’s — a stylish vintage and antique shop in nestled in pint-sized space next to Folk. Kitty corner to the block is Hello Records. Drop in and dig through the crates for new or used records from the 1940s through the 2000s. Whether you prefer jazz, soul, funk, blues, or want to discover local Detroit artists, there’s something here for any vinyl collectors. For book lover’s, will not want to miss the multi-level maze that is John K. King Used & Rare Books. Explore the endless stacks for dusty novels and nonfiction volumes.

Customers fill tables inside the orange-walled dining room at Mudgie’s deli.
Mudgie’s Deli in Corktown serves big sandwiches and an extensive list of beers and wines from around the world.
Michelle and Chris Gerard

1 p.m. Lunch

After some shopping, wander over to Mudgie’s Deli anchoring the corner of Porter and Brooklyn Streets for a hearty lunch. This beloved neighborhood establishment serves some of the best sandwiches in Detroit and its beer and wine selections are nothing to sniff at either. People with dietary restrictions can count on vegetarian and vegan options as well as gluten-free bread. Consider ordering the Gutty, a massive sandwich served on a kaiser roll and topped with Milano salami, Sy Ginsberg pastrami and corned beef, bacon, beef brisket, sharp cheddar, romaine lettuce, and garlic mayo. If the weather’s right, kick back with your meal out on the patio.

2:30 p.m. Break

Take a break and head over to Meta Physica Wellness. Relax your muscles with a massage or sweat in the sauna. If you want to refresh yourself after your treatment, pick up a smoothie, juice, or elixir from the organic juice bar. Alternatively, consider renting a MoGo bike and touring the neighborhood shops along Michigan Avenue including El Dorado General Store and Mid-Century antiques destination Xavier’s. Don’t forget to ride over to Roosevelt Park and take in the view of Michigan Central Station — a massive, decommissioned train depot.

Astro Coffee, located along Michigan Avenue near Roosevelt Park, serves a variety of coffee and espresso drinks as well as sandwiches and fresh pastries.
Michelle and Chris Gerard

4 p.m. Coffee

After your break, head over to Astro Coffee for some afternoon coffee. This café is well-known for its selection of sandwiches — especially the egg sandwich — and offers baked goods, some of which are vegan. Astro also roasts its own beans.

6:30 p.m. Drinks

There’s no shortage of places in Corktown to grab a drink. In the mood for whiskey? Try Two James Distillery, the first licensed distillery in the city since Prohibition. Beer lovers will enjoy Batch Brewing Company on Porter Street. The Sugar House, which helped kick off Detroit’s transformation into a world-class cocktail city, serves excellent renditions of classic drinks and a seasonal house cocktails, too.

8 p.m. Dinner

It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to picking a spot for dinner in Corktown. However, don’t leave without checking out chef Kate Williams’ Eater Award-winning restaurant, Lady of the House. Here, the rustic dishes are hearty, so don’t hesitate to share. Start off the meal with oysters served with two styles of sauce. Don’t overlook the carrot “steak” with hollandaise and pistachio, and cauliflower with parmesan sauce, challah, and fennel. The bread is made in-house and served beside soft butter and apple butter. Rotating charcuterie selections are also on the menu, along with lamb loin, prime rib large enough for two, and whole roasted chicken. For dessert, try the popular potato doughnut with chamomile cream, dehydrated yogurt, and sugared thyme. Consider making a reservation at Lady of the House in advance. Alternately, stop by for happy hour drinks and a snack at the bar, which is always open to walk-ins.

PJ’s Lager House in Corktown is a pub and live music venue, known for its vegetarian options and late-night sandwiches.
Michelle and Chris Gerard

11 p.m. Late-night drinks and entertainment

Detroit has an active nightlife, and Corktown is no different. Wind down with some fun at one of the bars in the neighborhood, like PJ’s Lager House, a live music venue and bar with good sandwiches, or the old-school Nancy Whiskey’s Pub with its sprawling patio. Play a game of pool with a glass of whiskey at McShane’s Irish Pub. For live jazz, DJs, and a truly excellent patio, head to the most laid-back wine bar in town — MotorCity Wine.

All Eater Guides Coverage [ED]
All Neighborhood Guides Coverage [ED]
All Corktown Coverage [ED]

Batch Brewing Company

1400 Porter Street, , MI 48216 (313) 338-8008 Visit Website

Lady of the House

1426 Bagley Street, , MI 48216 (313) 818-0218 Visit Website

Nancy Whiskey Pub

2644 Harrison Street, , MI 48216 (313) 962-4247 Visit Website

Astro Coffee

2124 Michigan Avenue, , MI 48216 (313) 808-0351 Visit Website

Motor City Wine

1949 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, MI 48216 313-483-7283

Two James Distillery

2445 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216

PJ's Lager House

1254 Michigan Avenue, , MI 48226 (313) 961-4668 Visit Website

The Sugar House

2130 Michigan Avenue, , MI 48216 (313) 962-0123 Visit Website

Folk

823 Meridian Street, , TN 37207 (615) 610-2595 Visit Website

Mudgie's

1300 Porter Street, , MI 48226 (313) 961-2000 Visit Website

McShane's Irish Pub & Whiskey Bar

1460 Michigan Avenue, , MI 48216 (313) 961-1960 Visit Website