Walking into Waffle Cafe on Livernois Avenue feels like a hug from your Detroit grandmother.
Customers are immediately greeted with warmth, smiles, and the aroma of griddled deliciousness. The sounds of soulful tunes of R&B and Motown hits playing overhead from the speakers and the work of local artists such as renowned muralist Felle invite Motor City residents to get comfortable with familiar depictions. Spacious lounge and two-top seating beckon you to relax. For owners Kimyana Freeman and Larry Phillips — who previously ran A Bit of Soul Breakfast Cafe in Redford Township before closing amid the pandemic in 2020 before opening Waffle Cafe on June 1 — creating the perfect vibe is just the beginning.
The star of the place is the namesake waffle, which is represented here in 43 varieties. Belgian-style waffles get dressed up with savory toppings like Buffalo chicken tenders (available fried or grilled); loaded baked potato fixings like sour cream, shredded cheese, and bacon; or are made pizza-style with cheese and pepperoni. Flights of mini waffles are available with up to three savory or sweet toppings. Filling wraps are made with crepe-thin waffles that are stuffed with breakfast staples like bacon, egg, and cheese or shrimp, chicken, or veggies. Salads are served in waffle shell bowls. When the temperatures start to go down, these bowls will be used to serve soup. Sweet temptations include options like a chocolate waffle made a la mode with a scoop of mint chip ice cream, rainbow-swirled “Zuperman” (a play on Michigan’s iconic Superman ice cream), and banana pudding.
Other non-waffle menu items that delight include the catfish bites, lightly battered in cornmeal, and then seasoned, and deep-fried to perfection. Freeman tells Eater that this dish, in particular, has caught on so much that one customer placed four separate orders in one visit. Other specialties include hand-dipped ice cream, coffee and tea. Bonus: Every waffle can be prepared without meat or dairy. Wash it all down with the spot’s fresh lemonades in flavors like lavender or the Very Berry.
Just to name a few.
If you’re sensing how creativity exudes from just about every detail here, that’s because both of the co-owners are also musical artists. Freeman’s stage name is ZanYé, while Phillips goes by DJ L BooG.
“Being an artist and cooking are both a part of my artistry,” Freeman says.
Waffle Cafe Detroit is at 18685 Livernois Avenue and is currently open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Sunday brunch service is coming soon.