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 what restaurant or restaurant-related debut they’re more excited for in 2024.
Alina Alam, social media influencer: For 2024, I am most excited to continue my efforts to bring more high tea options to metro Detroit. My passion led the owner of Paradise Street Eats to open an entire cafe dedicated to high tea in collaboration with the owner of the Trucks Park. Call me biased but that was a dream come true for me showcasing South Asian-style high tea, not just British style.
Serena Maria Daniels, editor, Eater Detroit: A few long-time projects I’ve been tracking for years look to be closer to opening: Paradise Deli and Marketplace in Core City, Nepantla in Southwest Detroit, and Little Liberia in New Center. Paradise founder Nezaa Bandele has been an integral part of Detroit’s foodways for generations and with this brick and mortar, she will be able to bring nutritious vegan food options to Core City within the ground level of Allied Media Project’s new headquarters in the Love Building on Grand River. Nepantla founder Rocky Coronado has been refining their menu of vegan Mexican food for the past several years and I think 2024 will be the year they will be able to welcome guests inside the long-vacant Charlie Clark’s Bar on West Vernor Highway, which they have been renovating for some time. Another longtime effort that appears to be reaching the light at the end of the tunnel is Little Liberia, founded by Ameneh Marhaba in 2016, first under the name Kitchen Ramarj. Marhaba has also been working for years to refine her menu, turning to followers of her work for feedback. With the help of $100,000 that Little Liberia scored from the 2022 Comerica Hatch Detroit contest, Marhaba is planning to open sometime in 2023 at 6513 Woodward Avenue — the space that formerly housed the Room Project co-working space.
Lyndsay Green, restaurant and dining critic, Detroit Free Press: My crystal ball tells me, 2024 is going to be a great year for new restaurants! I’m looking forward to dining at places like Vecino, the upscale restaurant inspired by Mexico City coming to Midtown; Nepantla, the vegan Mexican taco truck turned eatery in Southwest Detroit; Vesper and the return of Lady of the House. Also looking forward to Baobab Fare’s second location opening up on Detroit’s east side.
Randiah Camille Green: I’m waiting (impatiently) for Nepantla Cafe to open its brick and mortar in Southwest Detroit after having to catch them at pop-ups for so long. This plant-based taqueria inspired by Mexican and Indigenous cooking traditions received a Motor City Match grant earlier this year to help make the cafe a reality, complete with zero-proof mocktails. In case you’ve ever wondered how to seduce me, vegan tacos and mocktails are my love language. Plus, it’s nice to see a vegan restaurant opening in the city following the loss of so many staples in recent years like Cass Cafe, Inn Season Cafe, and Chili Mustard Onions. Las Vegas vegan comfort food joint The Modern Vegan is also setting its sights on a location in Royal Oak, though I’m less excited about the heartburn that their deep fried “chicken” and “Philly Cheesesteak” skillets are sure to give me.
Mark Kurlyandchik, filmmaker, former Detroit Free Press restaurant critic: My wife and I began the year by celebrating our 10 year anniversary in Mexico City and had an amazing time, so I’m curious to see if Vecino can deliver on the CDMX-style experience they’ve teased. I’m also stoked to see what chef Joe VanWagner has up his sleeve now that he’s left the Dixboro Project to open his own place. I’m keeping an eye on Leña, from the folks behind Coffee Down Under and the Shelby. The crew has assembled a top-notch team of culinary professionals for this fire-driven Spanish concept, so expectations are high. Speaking of fire, Javier Bardauil’s Puma should have quite a vibe — and his choripan is, indeed, fire. Just around the corner, Vesper Books & Wine from Rob Wilson & Symantha Duggan is sure to be the hot new wine bar/community gathering space. And finally, I’m excited for Le Suprême baker Jonathan Peregrino to strike out on his own with a brick-and-mortar space for his Filipino-inflected JP Makes & Bakes, and to see my friend and historic preservationist Paddy Lynch revive another Detroit institution with Dutch Girl Donuts. The new year is looking good!
Mickey Lyons, contributor, Eater Detroit; freelance writer: Can Vesper pretty, pretty, PRETTY please open? Wine bar + bookshop is pretty much my version of heaven.
Amber Ogden: I’m excited for Little Liberia and glad the area will have more African-centric food options.
Carlos Parisi, owner of Aunt Nee’s, host: Vesper Books and Wine! I couldn’t be more excited to scream at the top of the mountain about this beautifully curated warm space for all to enjoy wine, books, snacks, and friends. Founders Symantha Duggan and Rob Wilson have both been very much part of the fabric of Detroit’s dining culture, and they’ll finally have a space for so many of us to feel right at home.