Detroit’s restaurant writers dish on their biggest surprises of 2022 as part of Eater’s ongoing tradition of polling the city’s experts for their year-end takes.
Melody Baetens, restaurant critic/reporter, The Detroit News: Not restaurants, but I was deeply saddened that two Italian bakeries — Alcamo’s in Dearborn and Harper Bakery in St. Clair Shores — both closed in 2022, as well as New Martha Washington in Hamtramck. I’m happy the owners are able to retire, though. Karl’s in the Siren Hotel was surprising and a huge bummer, too.
Courtney Burk, contributor, Eater Detroit: Every single one.
Serena Maria Daniels, Detroit City Editor, Eater: Cass Cafe was one of the first restaurants I began frequenting when I moved to Michigan in 2011. I wasn’t eating meat at that chapter in my life and found it frustrating that there were so few vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the city. I fell in love with menu items like the delicious vegan curry lentil soup, the grilled cheese with five different kinds of cheese, and the fact that the bar served kombucha — long before the whole n/a craze hit the region. The space itself felt authentic, with the right mix of artists, academic and student types, longtime Detroiters, and newbies (like me) alike.
Another sad closure was Bagley Central. I loved the subtle Chicano rocker vibes that exuded the space — vibes that I miss from “back home” in Los Angeles. The drinks were affordable, but no less creative, and I was looking forward to making that my neighborhood happy hour spot once pandemic restrictions loosened up.
Lyndsay Green, restaurant and dining critic, Detroit Free Press: Man, there were many closures that saddened me this year. I’m happy to see it rebounding and even expanding in the former Great Lakes Coffee space, but the temporary closing of Red Hook Greenway due to a terrible accident was unfortunate. The space was always my go-to for a red eye after a power walk on the Riverfront.
The closing of Great Lakes Coffee itself was also disappointing. As a writer who does her best work at night, the space was the perfect spot for late-night writing sessions with coffee or a cocktail beside my laptop.
Bunny Bunny was another sad loss for the community. I’ll miss those brunches where fried chicken biscuits and soft-shell crab fried rice dishes hit the spot.
Mark Kurlyandchik, editorial director, Frame: There’s no way of saying this nicely: This was a terrible year for Detroit-area restaurants. Too many stalwart favorites (Cass Cafe, Roast, et al) to name here, but the one that hit me the hardest was probably Val’s Pizza. I’ve gotten to know the proprietors over the last two years and was really hoping for them to go all the way. It’s a good reminder that business and relationships are really, really hard, and just putting out an amazing product isn’t always enough.
Mickey Lyons, contributor, Eater Detroit: Losing Cass Cafe was a blow. I graduated from Wayne State, and some of my favorite memories of those years are of sitting and nursing a cup of soup and iced tea while I devoured a novel between classes. The owners and staff were dedicated Cass Corridor folks for many years and really helped anchor the community.
Carlos Parisi, founder, host, Aunt Nee’s, Sandwich Talk podcast: There were unfortunately so many, however a place I regularly visited with my mom was Detroit Vegan Soul [in West Village]. We both loved their menu, and to us, it was a nice place to catch up on conversations.