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Detroit Dining Experts Dish on Their Go-To Restaurants for 2023

From the best kale Caesar salads to slurp-worthy ramen in Madison Heights, these experts found plenty of reliably comforting foods

Three entrees from Ima Izakaya in Corktown neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan. Fatima Syed
Serena Maria Daniels is the editor for Eater Detroit.

Detroit’s local media dishes on their favorite moments of 2023 as part of Eater’s ongoing tradition of polling the city’s pros for their year-end takes. Here, our panel discussed their their regular go-to destinations and what they were most excited for this year.

Alina Alam, social media influencer: Obviously, the Paradise Street Eats food truck was very exciting being able to get desi fusion on a truck! I go to Paradise Streets Eats at least once a week to host a high tea guest for my podcast.

Also, Alvinos in Dearborn has become a family spot. My son and I love getting individual slices and their chocolate chip cookies. It’s an amazing experience having halal drive-through pizza. My mom and I are also very excited about Galata, which is the first Turkish cafe in Dearborn and one of a kind.

Jena Brooker, reporter, BridgeDetroit: Ima always. I love all of Chef Mike Ransom’s locations. My favorites on the various menus: boombap, fried tofu with furikake mayo, teriyaki salmon, and the curry yaki udon.

Carolyn Chin, contributor, Eater Detroit: Regular destinations: Leila, Supino, Selden Standard, El Barzon. Most excited for: Barda (though it was just OK).

Serena Maria Daniels, editor, Eater Detroit: In my neighborhood, my #1 go-to this year and all the years was Los Corrales for the pollo al carbón. For right under $20, you get a whole, smoky grilled chicken, charro beans, Mexican rice, and tortillas. It’s my salve when I’m running around doing errands and don’t feel like cooking, but also don’t want to settle for fast food. On the eastside, Cairo Coffee inside of Spot Lite is the perfect place when I’m that side of town to fire up the old laptop on a sofa with an oat milk latte and blog away the afternoon. I was also excited to see how chef Mike Ransom transformed the original Ima location on Michigan Avenue into a casual cafe and market. I appreciate that you can order a specialty coffee drink like the shop’s Cloud 9 with cream, green cardamom, cinnamon, and fresh mint — which tastes like a Thin Mint in a cup — grab a little bottle of sake on your way to the dinner party, or a bag of Power Bites or other snacks during a cross-town bike ride.

Lyndsay Green, restaurant and dining critic, Detroit Free Press: I always find myself returning to Yemen Cafe in Hamtramck. The large portion sizes, the convenience of great late-night dining and that heavenly bread doused in butter and honey – there’s nothing like it.

As for newcomers, I spent more time (and money) at Flyleaf than I spent at home or at the Freep office. On more than one occasion, days sipping iced lattes from a wine glass turned to afternoons noshing on truffle butter popcorn and later evenings cozying up with a book and a stiff cocktail next to the fireplace.

Joe Guillen, Axios Local Detroit reporter: My go-tos didn’t change much this year: Anita’s in Ferndale, Shewolf, Barda, Red Hook, BluFin sushi in Grosse Pointe come to mind. As far as places that excited me this year: Alba, Basan, the new Michigan & Trumbull location.

Mark Kurlyandchik, filmmaker, former Detroit Free Press restaurant critic: My first restaurant meal of 2023 was at Shun Ramen in Madison Heights and it immediately became a go-to throughout the rest of the year for its deeply flavored broths and springy house-made noodles. I’m not the only fan, either. My kids ask for it by name. The happy hour at Ima Izakaya is the best in the city with its $5 handrolls, robata skewers, and rhum martinis, and a no-brainer for a Corktown meeting. For a lunch meeting and as a place to take anyone visiting from out-of-town, Baobab Fare remains my first and last choice.

I didn’t make it to as many newcomers as I have in years past, but Alpino definitely stood out for its laid-back atmosphere, exciting and approachable beverage program, stellar (and not heavy!) Alpine cuisine, and operator David Richter’s heartfelt hospitality. I also had a great meal at Couer in Ferndale. Both places provide high-level and original restaurant experiences without fussiness or pretension, and that seemed to be a winning formula for dining in 2023.

Mickey Lyons, contributor, Eater Detroit; freelance writer: I spent a fair bit of time hanging out right at the corner of 2nd and Alexandrine, with Stadt Garten and Castalia nestled in right by SheWolf, Selden Standard and the fantastic newcomer Seasons Market & Cafe.

Amber Ogden, contributor, Eater Detroit; freelance writer: Central Kitchen and Grand Trunk Pub. Central Kitchen has the BEST kale Caesar salads. Tip: Add blackened salmon. Chef kiss! Grand Trunk is the best pub around; no thrills no frills, but the food never misses. The fish & chips and the traditional Reuben are my go-to favorites.

Carlos Parisi, owner of Aunt Nee’s, host: Obviously, the classic staples like Mike’s Ham and Duly’s have been my go-to spots, but a new go-to has been Mitsos in Eastern Market. It’s new to the scene and has been doing the most craveable Greek street food. I’m thrilled by everything on their menu. Most recently, the Yaya’s Meatballs on rice has made me so happy.