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11 Unexpected Spots for Tasty Food in Metro Detroit

Discover local flavor at markets, food trucks, gas stations, and beyond

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Between new restaurants opening on the regular and the scores of classic favorites, there’s no shortage of fantastic brick-and-mortar eateries in metro Detroit. But some of the best food can be found in unexpected places.

From delicious gas station tacos to Asian markets with outstanding sushi and urban garden-adjacent food trucks, sometimes its worth seeking out something special beyond the traditional restaurant. Here's a taste of some of the area's best alternative dining experiences.

Did overlook an unexpected spot with great food? Drop a note in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook, or in the community forums. Restaurants are listed geographically.

Next Read: 25 Totally Underrated Metro Detroit Restaurants

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

With an expanded store, H Mart has plenty of Asian produce and other foodstuffs for all of your cooking needs. But if you made the mistake of grocery shopping while hungry, the food counter where you can order Korean tofu stew, fried chicken wings and bibimbap will quell those hunger pains and maybe help keep those impulse Pocky and mochi purchases at bay (probably not, but a day that includes Pocky and Korean food is a win in our book).

Dorothy Hernandez

Noble Fish

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Sushi lovers pack the tiny counter and eat-in area at the back of this traditional Japanese grocery store. You can order from the vast menu, but if you’re in a hurry, there are plenty of options in the to-go case by the cashiers.

Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center

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Some of the best Thai food in town is served at the Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center’s Sunday market. The market features vendors selling flavorful dishes such as green papaya salad, which they make on the spot, and pad krapow (basil chicken).

RE BBQ

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Bob Perye, a former IT worker, began serving pulled pork cooked in a tiny backyard smoker back in 2009. A lot has changed since then (he’s upgraded to a full fledged food truck now). These days you can find him parked at 600 Woodward Heights in Ferndale. Aside from the staple mains of pulled pork, brisket and ribs, the specials are where he gets really creative. Cuban mojo lamb, anyone?

International Mini Cafe

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A virtual smorgasbord of international flavors can be found in this basement-level dining hall inside the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit. Feast on Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexican, and Italian, and American meals at this Midtown hidden gem.

Dearborn Meat Market

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This meat market offers fresh, clean flavors with a small dining area in the back of the shop. Feast on kabobs, fattoush, and baba ghannouj. The grill turns out an impressive array of meat on sticks served with fresh pita, grilled tomatoes, and onions.

Pink Flamingo

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Guerrilla Food’s Meiko Krishok operates a roving restaurant out of an Airstream trailer dubbed The Pink Flamingo during the short but sweet al fresco dining season. While the food truck outfit does travel to different venues around town, one can reliably enjoy one of its farm-to-table meals around a bonfire every Thursday evening in a Corktown community garden. Opening day is May 4. Follow the truck on social media or sign-up for the mailing list to reserve your meal and keep apprised of the Flamingo’s movements.

Las Cazuelas Grill

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Gas station food doesn’t have to be empty calories. Despite its modest surroundings, Las Cazeulas in Michigan-Martin dishes up an expansive menu, featuring favorites such as tacos, burritos, and tortas as well as daily specials.

Los Arcos Market

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Two words: dollar tacos. On Tuesdays, Los Arcos Market slings tacos for a buck. But it’s still worth coming even if it’s not a Tuesday. Traditional taco toppings include carne asada, al pastor, and chorizo. Other offerings include tortas and quesadillas. Get your grocery shopping and taco fix all in one spot.

Taystee's Burgers

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Gas station food typically brings to mind images of not so appetizing hot dogs (which may or may not have been turning on that roller for several hours), nachos with cheese product and sugar bombs. This aptly named Dearborn gas station burger stand will help you fill up your belly while you fuel up your ride. The creative burger offerings include Ali's Notch Yo Burger (with grilled jalapeños and onions, beef bacon, American cheese, Swiss, pepper Jack, nacho cheese, Nacho Doritos, mayo and hot sauce, lettuce and tomato on a toasted onion bun).

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)

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The food on airplanes may leave much to be desired, so fuel up before taking off. Detroit Metro Airport has stepped up its game in terms of food offerings, attracting some top names in the business such as Bigalora and Plum Market featuring Zingerman’s. One option while you wait for your flight is Corridor Kitchen, brought to you by the guys behind Eastern Market’s Corridor Sausage.

H-Mart

Dorothy Hernandez

With an expanded store, H Mart has plenty of Asian produce and other foodstuffs for all of your cooking needs. But if you made the mistake of grocery shopping while hungry, the food counter where you can order Korean tofu stew, fried chicken wings and bibimbap will quell those hunger pains and maybe help keep those impulse Pocky and mochi purchases at bay (probably not, but a day that includes Pocky and Korean food is a win in our book).

Dorothy Hernandez

Noble Fish

Sushi lovers pack the tiny counter and eat-in area at the back of this traditional Japanese grocery store. You can order from the vast menu, but if you’re in a hurry, there are plenty of options in the to-go case by the cashiers.

Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center

Some of the best Thai food in town is served at the Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center’s Sunday market. The market features vendors selling flavorful dishes such as green papaya salad, which they make on the spot, and pad krapow (basil chicken).

RE BBQ

Bob Perye, a former IT worker, began serving pulled pork cooked in a tiny backyard smoker back in 2009. A lot has changed since then (he’s upgraded to a full fledged food truck now). These days you can find him parked at 600 Woodward Heights in Ferndale. Aside from the staple mains of pulled pork, brisket and ribs, the specials are where he gets really creative. Cuban mojo lamb, anyone?

International Mini Cafe

A virtual smorgasbord of international flavors can be found in this basement-level dining hall inside the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit. Feast on Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexican, and Italian, and American meals at this Midtown hidden gem.

Dearborn Meat Market

This meat market offers fresh, clean flavors with a small dining area in the back of the shop. Feast on kabobs, fattoush, and baba ghannouj. The grill turns out an impressive array of meat on sticks served with fresh pita, grilled tomatoes, and onions.

Pink Flamingo

Guerrilla Food’s Meiko Krishok operates a roving restaurant out of an Airstream trailer dubbed The Pink Flamingo during the short but sweet al fresco dining season. While the food truck outfit does travel to different venues around town, one can reliably enjoy one of its farm-to-table meals around a bonfire every Thursday evening in a Corktown community garden. Opening day is May 4. Follow the truck on social media or sign-up for the mailing list to reserve your meal and keep apprised of the Flamingo’s movements.

Las Cazuelas Grill

Gas station food doesn’t have to be empty calories. Despite its modest surroundings, Las Cazeulas in Michigan-Martin dishes up an expansive menu, featuring favorites such as tacos, burritos, and tortas as well as daily specials.

Los Arcos Market

Two words: dollar tacos. On Tuesdays, Los Arcos Market slings tacos for a buck. But it’s still worth coming even if it’s not a Tuesday. Traditional taco toppings include carne asada, al pastor, and chorizo. Other offerings include tortas and quesadillas. Get your grocery shopping and taco fix all in one spot.

Taystee's Burgers

Gas station food typically brings to mind images of not so appetizing hot dogs (which may or may not have been turning on that roller for several hours), nachos with cheese product and sugar bombs. This aptly named Dearborn gas station burger stand will help you fill up your belly while you fuel up your ride. The creative burger offerings include Ali's Notch Yo Burger (with grilled jalapeños and onions, beef bacon, American cheese, Swiss, pepper Jack, nacho cheese, Nacho Doritos, mayo and hot sauce, lettuce and tomato on a toasted onion bun).

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)

The food on airplanes may leave much to be desired, so fuel up before taking off. Detroit Metro Airport has stepped up its game in terms of food offerings, attracting some top names in the business such as Bigalora and Plum Market featuring Zingerman’s. One option while you wait for your flight is Corridor Kitchen, brought to you by the guys behind Eastern Market’s Corridor Sausage.

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