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Michigan Food Experts Discuss the Most Exciting New Dining Options in 2020

Which dining newcomers stood out during an crushingly difficult year?

A geodesic dome is open on one side revealing furniture at East Eats.
East Eats is a restaurant designed as a completely outdoor dining experience.
East Eats [Courtesy photo]
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

As is tradition at Eater, we closed out 2020 by surveying local food writers and our own staff on various restaurant-related topics, and publishing their responses throughout the week. Next up: What newcomer on the scene excited you this year?

Serena Maria Daniels, Founder and Editor, Tostada Magazine:

I was excited to see that the pandemic didn’t slow down the opening of La Palapa del Parian, the brick and mortar addition to El Parian’s fleet of taco trucks. It was just the perfect evolution of an already stellar taqueria business. Owner Nancy Lopez opened its doors as carryout-only right around when dining-in was shut down for the first time in March. She told me at the time that she was worried about the staff that she had just hired but wanted to do what it took to figure out a way to move forward. When dining-in did start back up for a while, she and her team were ready.

Mark Kurlyandchik, Restaurant Critic, Detroit Free Press:

Because of how the job changed this year, I haven’t been able to sample much in the way of new offerings. I’m just not doing a whole lot of eating on the job. However, I love the ingenuity and promise of a place like East Eats and its spirit of rising to meet the challenges of this moment. Seeing that type of attitude abound this year, despite all the setbacks, has been the most exciting aspect of the beat in 2020.

Melody Baetens, Restaurant Critic, The Detroit News:

Bunny Bunny, to name one. I felt actual butterflies of excitement every time I brought the paper bags into the house.

Zahir Janmohamed, Co-Founder, Racist Sandwich:

Midnight Temple in Detroit.

Brenna Houck, Editor, Eater Detroit:

I was pretty delighted by my meal at Midnight Temple. I also became a regular at Michigan & Trumbull, which opened in January. Also shamelessly loved the frozen coffee at Yellow Light Coffee and Donuts. It’s honestly amazing how many great food options turned up in 2020 despite all that’s happened.

Mickey Lyons, Freelance Writer, Eater:

I cannot express how thrilled I was to finally be able to order fresh, sustainably-sourced seafood this year, when Motor City Seafood opened up their operations to retail. They’ve been sourcing our best restaurants for a few years now.

Stacey Brugeman, culinary columnist and freelance writer, Traverse Magazine and Eater:

Farm Club in Leelanau County. They are doing such beautiful things, in a beautiful space — and the bucolic, outdoor setting is perfect for COVID-times.

All Year in Eater Coverage [ED]

Midnight Temple

2466 Riopelle Street, , MI 48207 (734) 558-5649 Visit Website

El Parian

6680 Dix Street, , MI 48209 (313) 460-6907

Michigan & Trumbull

1441 West Elizabeth Street, , MI 48216 (313) 637-4992 Visit Website


1018 Navahoe Street, , MI 48215 Visit Website

La Palapa del Parian

1633 Lawndale Street, , MI 48209 (313) 749-7143 Visit Website

Bunny Bunny

1454 Gratiot Avenue, , MI 48207 (313) 974-6122

Yellow Light Coffee and Donuts

14447 East Jefferson, , MI 48215 (313) 469-7780 Visit Website

East Eats

1018 Navahoe St., Detroit, MI Visit Website