Cass Corridor is a neighborhood that’s perpetually in transition. Over the course of Detroit’s history, the area has been home to notable nightclubs hosting jazz bands alongside rock groups like the White Stripes and section of Cass Corridor was once home to the city’s Chinatown. Stretching along the west side of Woodward Avenue, Cass Corridor is surrounded by cultural institutions such as Wayne State University, Detroit Institute of Arts, Charles H. Wright Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. It’s also home to the world’s largest Masonic Temple.
As part of the larger developing set of Woodward-adjacent neighborhoods that are often collectively referred to as Midtown, Cass Corridor is a focal point for some of Detroit’s biggest, most controversial developments. Little Caesars Arena, homebase for the Pistons and Red Wings, now anchors a large swath of the area and is surrounded by parking lots. Luxury brand Shinola is also headquartered here.
For visitors traveling Detroit, a trip to the area whether to visit a nearby museum or to check out Third Man Records is probably on the itinerary. Cass Corridor has an abundance of restaurants, cafes, and bars that draw crowds in equal measure and can help fuel a fun day trip. It’s also very pedestrian- and bike-friendly for folks without a car. From old-school bars to cocktail lounges with live jazz to funky food halls, here’s a choose-your-own-adventure guide to a full day in the neighborhood.
9 a.m. Breakfast
Wake up and make your way over to Cass Corridor for coffee and pastries at Avalon International Breads’ original shop. The Willis Street cafe is a nexus for the neighborhood, keeping Detroit in loaves of naturally leavened, organic breads since 1997. In addition to lattes and monkey bread, customers at Avalon can fill up on avocado, bacon, and egg breakfast sandwiches and vegan toast while relaxing on the cafe’s quiet patio. For something a little more full-service, consider visiting Honest John’s. This dive bar with cheeky neon signs is a favorite for breakfast and brunch with options like Butterfinger pancakes and smothered hash browns.
10:30 a.m. Break
Take some time to digest and explore Detroit. Use this long break to visit the many museums around Art Center.
1:30 p.m. Lunch
There are quite a few options for lunch in Cass Corridor and it’s hard to go wrong. People traveling in a group, might enjoy Detroit Shipping Company, a food hall located on Peterboro Street in Detroit’s former Chinatown area. Choose from options like jerk chicken and Caribbean corn at Coop, candied beef with sticky rice and papaya salad at Bangkok 96 Street Food, Nepalese dumplings at Momo Cha, or Italian beef tacos at Brujo. Round off the meal with a cup of coffee or some ultra-smooth nitrogen ice cream at -320 on the second floor.
For a welcoming, neighborhood atmosphere with Spanish tapas in a more traditional restaurant setting, head to La Feria on Cass Avenue. The restaurant serves wonderful bowls of soups daily in addition to the regular small plates menu. Bring a big appetite for the Italian sandwiches at modern deli Rocco’s.
2:30 p.m. Break
4 p.m. Afternoon Beers
Don’t leave the neighborhood without sampling some beers. Cass Corridor is a hub for breweries with spots like Motor City Brewing Works, Traffic Jam & Snug, and sour ale maker Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery all located within the same block. Detroit’s best bottle shop 8 Degrees Plato Detroit also features a bar where customers can sample beers and take bottles to-go.
6 p.m. Dinner
One of Detroit’s most beloved restaurants, Selden Standard is a destination for locals as well as out of town visitors. Chef Andy Hollyday’s New American change regularly, but the restaurant excels at pastas and features a variety of wonderful fire-roasted meats and veggies. Everything is complemented by a robust cocktail program. Don’t miss desserts like the Lebanese rice pudding prepared by pastry chef and Eater Young Gun Lena Sareini.
Italian food lovers should plan a trip to SheWolf, a modern Roman-style restaurant that’s serious about its pastas. Chef Anthony Lombardo’s team mills its own grains for pastas and airy focaccia bread. Customers can choose from options like cacio pepe and seafood linguine and pair their meal with Italian wines, vermouths, or spritzes. No matter which spot you pick, consider making a reservation ahead of time.
8 p.m. Nightcap
In the mood for an after dinner cocktail with some live entertainment? Grab a seat at Willis Show Bar, a restored Art Moderne cabaret that originally opened in the 1949. The lounge reopened in 2018 with a stunning, remodeled interior. Jazz musicians take the stage in the evenings and the bar also features regular burlesque performances. The atmosphere is a bit dressy in keeping with the throwback aesthetic of the space. Walk-ins are welcome, but consider making a reservation — especially for larger groups.
For something a little more laid-back check out one of Cass Corridor’s many outstanding dive bars. Bronx Bar is known for its late-night burger menu, while Old Miami hosts regular DJ nights and has an enormous grassy yard when you need some air.