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10 Detroit Classic Restaurants for the Bucket List

For a taste of the city’s history, visit these Detroit restaurant stalwarts

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When it comes to restaurants and food, it’s trendy to chase what’s new and what’s next. But in a city like Detroit, where much has come and gone over the years, the old familiars offer a rich culinary experience and often feel best. The institutions listed on this map not only survived the pandemic, but continue to stand the test of time. Several are go-to spots for special occasions, while others are the holes in the wall where everybody knows (or wants to know) your name.

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A number of metro Detroit restaurants have resumed dine-in service. The level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the state of Michigan’s coronavirus tracker. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines. In March 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report that provided statistically significant evidence that dining on-premises at restaurants and bars was followed by a rise in COVID-19 infections and deaths. People who are fully vaccinated should consult the CDC’s interim guidance on restaurant dining and other forms of social gatherings.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Sindbad's Restaurant and Marina

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100 St Clair St
Detroit, MI 48214
(313) 822-8000
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Around since 1949, Sindbad’s is a year-round destination with panoramic views of the Detroit River and Belle Isle. The menu at this family-owned marina still reflects longtime customer favorites: Angus steaks, perch, pickerel, shrimp, scallops, and house-made clam chowder. Arrive by boat or car. Masks required.

2. The Rattlesnake Club

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300 River Pl Dr
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 567-4400
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For fine dining with a view, try the Rattlesnake Club on Detroit’s riverwalk. The menu, which is seasonal, always has an inventive array of appetizers, fish and seafood, and pasta and steaks. Call for curbside pickup.

The Rattlesnake Club

3. The Whitney

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4421 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 832-5700
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Housed in an 1890s mansion, this palatial residence turned restaurant is arguably the city’s most celebrated. The four-course dinner menu is filled with classic American standards. Dine in the garden, or make a reservation for weekend high tea. With 30,000 square feet, the Whitney offers plenty of room for social distancing. Sunday brunch returns in April.

Views inside the Whitney, a mansion turned restaurant The Whitney

4. Mike's Famous Ham Place

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3700 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 894-6922 ext. 8
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This no-frills lunch counter has been here since the 1950s, and not much has changed over the years. Thick, juicy ham slices are the focal point here: with eggs and toast; on a poppy-seed bun; or in a split-pet soup. Grab a whole one for the road. Cash only.

A large ham sandwich on a bun with poppy seeds. It has a slice of ham on top of the bune and a pile of pickles on the side Brenna Houck

5. Duly's Place Coney Island

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5458 W Vernor Hwy
Detroit, MI 48209
(313) 554-3076

An oldie but goodie, this classic Coney Island in southwest Detroit is celebrating 100 years. It’s open 24 hours to satisfy those late-night cravings for a Detroit classic eat. Cash only.

6. Hygrade Deli

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3640 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 894-6620
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Detroit means business when it comes to corned beef, a popular choice year-round. For one of the best sandwiches, head to Michigan Avenue for Hygrade Deli’s iconic Reuben. A mountain of freshly sliced corned beef is layered between slices of grilled rye with kraut, Thousand Island dressing, and melty swiss cheese. Current owner Stuart Litt recently listed the restaurant for sale as it appears he plans to eventually retire. Dining room open to limited capacity.

Brenna Houck

7. Buddy's Pizza

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17125 Conant St
Detroit, MI 48212
(313) 892-9001
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Founded in 1946, Buddy’s Pizza is credited with creating the Detroit-style square pie. Similar to a Sicilian tomato pizza, the square features a thicker, spongier crust with caramelized cheese edges, toppings, and sauce on top. Go for the Detroiter with brick cheese, parmesan, pepperoni, sauce, and a nice spice blend. Dine-in, carryout available.

A large square pepperoni pie Buddy’s Pizza [Official photo]

8. Dakota Inn Rathskeller

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17324 John R St
Detroit, MI 48203
(313) 867-9722
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For a taste of Bavaria, stop at Dakota Inn, where wait staff dressed in traditional garb serve old standards like bratwurst, schnitzel, and warm German potato salad. The restaurant, which has been in the same family since 1933, has an old-school feel, with dark-wood furniture and paneled walls. Kick back with an imported beer at the festive live piano sing-alongs Thursday through Saturday. Social distancing and masks required.

Dakota Inn Rathskeller

9. Baker's Keyboard Lounge

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20510 Livernois
Detroit, MI 48221
(313) 345-6300
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Baker’s opened as a sandwich joint in 1933 and began booking jazz artists the following year. Once a haunt for the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Nat “King” Cole, Sarah Vaughn, and Miles Davis, the art deco lounge still hosts nightly shows. Fans go for the soul food, too: barbecue wings and ribs, blackened catfish, and fried pork chops, for starters. Social distancing and masks required.

10. Sweet Potato Sensations

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17337 Lahser Rd
Detroit, MI 48219
(313) 532-7996
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Sweet potatoes are on the menu here, including in the pies, waffles, cookies, and even the grits. Sweets put the restaurant on the map, but its savory menu (think fried turkey chops, salmon croquette, and black-eyed pea and collard green soup) is what makes it a daily haunt. Carryout only.

1. Sindbad's Restaurant and Marina

100 St Clair St, Detroit, MI 48214

Around since 1949, Sindbad’s is a year-round destination with panoramic views of the Detroit River and Belle Isle. The menu at this family-owned marina still reflects longtime customer favorites: Angus steaks, perch, pickerel, shrimp, scallops, and house-made clam chowder. Arrive by boat or car. Masks required.

100 St Clair St
Detroit, MI 48214

2. The Rattlesnake Club

300 River Pl Dr, Detroit, MI 48207
The Rattlesnake Club

For fine dining with a view, try the Rattlesnake Club on Detroit’s riverwalk. The menu, which is seasonal, always has an inventive array of appetizers, fish and seafood, and pasta and steaks. Call for curbside pickup.

300 River Pl Dr
Detroit, MI 48207

3. The Whitney

4421 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
Views inside the Whitney, a mansion turned restaurant The Whitney

Housed in an 1890s mansion, this palatial residence turned restaurant is arguably the city’s most celebrated. The four-course dinner menu is filled with classic American standards. Dine in the garden, or make a reservation for weekend high tea. With 30,000 square feet, the Whitney offers plenty of room for social distancing. Sunday brunch returns in April.

4421 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48201

4. Mike's Famous Ham Place

3700 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216
A large ham sandwich on a bun with poppy seeds. It has a slice of ham on top of the bune and a pile of pickles on the side Brenna Houck

This no-frills lunch counter has been here since the 1950s, and not much has changed over the years. Thick, juicy ham slices are the focal point here: with eggs and toast; on a poppy-seed bun; or in a split-pet soup. Grab a whole one for the road. Cash only.

3700 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48216

5. Duly's Place Coney Island

5458 W Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48209

An oldie but goodie, this classic Coney Island in southwest Detroit is celebrating 100 years. It’s open 24 hours to satisfy those late-night cravings for a Detroit classic eat. Cash only.

5458 W Vernor Hwy
Detroit, MI 48209

6. Hygrade Deli

3640 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216
Brenna Houck

Detroit means business when it comes to corned beef, a popular choice year-round. For one of the best sandwiches, head to Michigan Avenue for Hygrade Deli’s iconic Reuben. A mountain of freshly sliced corned beef is layered between slices of grilled rye with kraut, Thousand Island dressing, and melty swiss cheese. Current owner Stuart Litt recently listed the restaurant for sale as it appears he plans to eventually retire. Dining room open to limited capacity.

3640 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48216

7. Buddy's Pizza

17125 Conant St, Detroit, MI 48212
A large square pepperoni pie Buddy’s Pizza [Official photo]

Founded in 1946, Buddy’s Pizza is credited with creating the Detroit-style square pie. Similar to a Sicilian tomato pizza, the square features a thicker, spongier crust with caramelized cheese edges, toppings, and sauce on top. Go for the Detroiter with brick cheese, parmesan, pepperoni, sauce, and a nice spice blend. Dine-in, carryout available.

17125 Conant St
Detroit, MI 48212

8. Dakota Inn Rathskeller

17324 John R St, Detroit, MI 48203
Dakota Inn Rathskeller

For a taste of Bavaria, stop at Dakota Inn, where wait staff dressed in traditional garb serve old standards like bratwurst, schnitzel, and warm German potato salad. The restaurant, which has been in the same family since 1933, has an old-school feel, with dark-wood furniture and paneled walls. Kick back with an imported beer at the festive live piano sing-alongs Thursday through Saturday. Social distancing and masks required.

17324 John R St
Detroit, MI 48203

9. Baker's Keyboard Lounge

20510 Livernois, Detroit, MI 48221

Baker’s opened as a sandwich joint in 1933 and began booking jazz artists the following year. Once a haunt for the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Nat “King” Cole, Sarah Vaughn, and Miles Davis, the art deco lounge still hosts nightly shows. Fans go for the soul food, too: barbecue wings and ribs, blackened catfish, and fried pork chops, for starters. Social distancing and masks required.

20510 Livernois
Detroit, MI 48221

10. Sweet Potato Sensations

17337 Lahser Rd, Detroit, MI 48219

Sweet potatoes are on the menu here, including in the pies, waffles, cookies, and even the grits. Sweets put the restaurant on the map, but its savory menu (think fried turkey chops, salmon croquette, and black-eyed pea and collard green soup) is what makes it a daily haunt. Carryout only.

17337 Lahser Rd
Detroit, MI 48219

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