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Athens Souvlaki
Athens Souvlaki
Bill B./Yelp

25 Totally Underrated Metro Detroit Restaurants

Seek out these under-appreciated spots

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Athens Souvlaki
| Bill B./Yelp

Most of us are well-acquainted with metro Detroit's top places to eat. Then there are those neighborhood haunts that in all the buzz somehow manage to get overlooked.

In 2014, Eater Detroit asked readers to submit the best of those establishments that don't seem to get enough time in the spotlight and mapped it. A lot has changed in the local dining scene since then. Some spots are now regulars on the Eater 38 and others have closed or undergone changes. It was time to revisit this list.

From holes in the wall to finer dining, here's a taste of some of the area's under-appreciated, under-the-radar, and underrated restaurants. Did we miss your favorite spot? Passionately make your case in the comments, on FacebookTwitter, or at the tipline.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Bonoful Sweets & Coffee

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12085 Conant St
Hamtramck, MI 48212
The vast menu at this Bangladeshi destination includes many traditional dishes such as biryanis, masalas and samosas, as well as Indo-Chinese specialities such as cauliflower or chicken Manchurian and Singapore noodles.

2. Cutter's Bar & Grill Eastern Market

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2638 Orleans St
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 393-0960
Visit Website
For those in the know, Cutter's is the place to get a 32-ounce burger boasting two thick patties sandwiched between three buttered pieces of bun, and then teeming with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, habanero peppers, mushrooms, bell peppers, pepperoni, bacon, sliced turkey, and two kinds of cheese. Any place that serves up this burger tower should be a household name, but this Eastern Market staple gets lost amid the buzz for bigger, flashier places (*ahem* Shake Shack).

3. Ivanhoe Cafe — Polish Yacht Club

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5249 Joseph Campau St
Detroit, MI 48211
(313) 925-5335
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Founded nearly 100 years ago, the Ivanhoe Cafe is a Detroit institution. Equally known for its pierogies and perch, this charming establishment has a ton of character and history. The service is also friendly and attentive, making it a go-to for people wanting to show out-of-towners a slice of local culture.

4. Satay House

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31101 Dequindre Rd
Madison Heights, MI 48071
(248) 588-1738
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Dishes such as roti canal served with a curry and potato dip brings in loyal diners, and the nasi lemak and sarung barung taro cake are among the highlights of the vast menu that explores Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines.

5. Empire Dynasty

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29505 W 9 Mile Rd
Farmington Hills, MI 48336
(248) 888-6866
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Looking for a legit Chinese spot? At this Farmington Hills eatery, there's the English menu, then the Chinese menu and then there's the "Pure Chinese" menu (make sure to bring a translator). With options beyond General Tso's chicken (which they do serve), diners come here for flavorful offerings like mapo tofu, mutton with fennel seeds, spicy pork stomach, fried intestines, and pig feet.

6. Kitchen Hanzo

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6023 Haggerty
West Bloomfield Township, MI
(248) 624-8666
You don't have to travel all the way to Japan to soak in the izakaya (the Japanese equivalent of a gastropub) culture. Small, shareable plates such as octopus salad, fried shrimp with mayo, and seaweed served in a vinegar-based sauce go well with some sake.

7. Jeff's Kitchen

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1130 E West Maple Rd
Walled Lake, MI 48390
(248) 669-8896
Pro tip: Peruse the menu online and order 24 hours in advance because it's only Jeff in the kitchen and family members serving at this cozy spot in Walled Lake. Soup dumplings are hard to find around here, so those are a must. Other things to try include the mapo tofu and Grandma's pork.
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  • 8. Christine's Cuisine

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    729 E 9 Mile Rd
    Ferndale, MI 48220
    (248) 584-3354
    Visit Website
    Dishing up home-cooked meals since late '90s, this Ferndale restaurant tends to get overshadowed by the latest and greatest hot spot to open in town. Pierogies and kielbasa are some of the popular picks but there's more than Polish fare; the eclectic menu will satisfy any craving from sandwiches to salads to pasta.

    9. Athens Souvlaki

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    21738 W 11 Mile Rd
    Southfield, MI 48076
    (248) 356-6463
    Visit Website
    Tucked away in a strip mall, this Southfield no-frills spot offers tasty Greek eats that's a few steps above your average coney or diner. The gyros and lemon rice soup are on point, but what sets it apart is that it takes pride in making things from scratch such as the yogurt and pita bread.

    10. El Caribeño

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    8065 Vernor Hwy
    Detroit, MI 48209
    (313) 728-6764
    Visit Website
    There's so much more to Southwest Detroit than tacos, and this Dominican restaurant should be on the list of any food lover exploring the area. Among the must-haves are empanadas (available with chicken, steak, or cheese) and the bollitos for starters and mofongo — fried plaintains mashed up with garlic and pork rinds.

    11. El Guanaco

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    1710 Livernois Rd
    Troy, MI 48083
    Street-style tacos and pupusas can be found north of Mexicantown at this casual Troy (yes, Troy) family-owned eatery. The empanadas, which are filled with ground pork, potato or cheese, are fried to perfection.

    12. Trizest Spicy Sichuan Restaurant

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    33170 Dequindre Rd
    Sterling Heights, MI 48310
    Trizest doesn't have the most cutting-edge decor or fastest service, but it's the fiery Szechuan cuisine that sets this place apart. Go straight to the House Special category of the menu, which features the restaurant's best dishes. The Sichuan lamb with vegetables and spicy bean sauce and squirrel fish (get both sauces) are musts, as is the Yibin flame noodle. The mapo tofu will blow (and numb) your mind.

    13. Colors - Detroit

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    311 E Grand River Ave
    Detroit, MI 48226
    (313) 496-1212
    Visit Website
    Downtown Detroit has become a hot spot for newer, flashier restaurants, but Colors (open since 2011) is a great option for a night on the town as well. Located in the basement, it's a part of Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan, which advocates for industry workers' rights, including fair wages. The menu highlights locally sourced, organic products, with crowd-pleasing favorites such as salmon, burgers, and steak for dinner.

    14. Gangnam Chicken

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    112 Catalpa Dr
    Royal Oak, MI 48067
    (248) 439-6645
    Visit Website
    Included in our original list, Gangnam Chicken still flies under the radar. The wings are perfectly crispy and retains its crunchy texture even when doused in the soy garlic or spicy sauces. Another must-get is the kimchi fries, a match made in heaven. Also rumor has it, if you call ahead with a special request that's not on the menu, chances are the owner/server/cook will make it for you.

    15. Rincon Tropical

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    6874 Saint John St
    Detroit, MI 48210
    (313) 334-8526
    Visit Website
    Another example of the diversity to be found in Southwest Detroit, this Puerto Rican eatery slings authentic dishes such as mofongo, pernil, alcapurrias (fritters), and arroz con gandules.

    16. Ellen's Bakery & Cafe

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    2495 Orchard Lake Rd
    Sylvan Lake, MI 48320
    (248) 681-5700
    Visit Website
    This Sylvan Lake restaurant is a solid option for brunch, which gets forgotten amid the buzz surrounding flashier or trendier options in the area. Reliably good food is its hallmark, with delicious options such as duck confit hash and delectable pastries. Lunch offers indulgences such as soft shell crab sandwich and lobster bisque.

    17. Thang Long

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    27641 John R Rd
    Madison Heights, MI 48071
    (248) 547-6763
    Madison Heights eatery Thang Lon stands out from its peers along John R. by offering hard to find Vietnamese dishes like claypot catfish, sweet and sour tamarind catfish soup and betel leaf beef.

    18. Corsi's Restaurant & Banquet Halls

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    27910 W Seven Mile Rd
    Livonia, MI 48152
    (248) 777-4960
    Visit Website
    There's no shortage of pizza in Detroit, but this Livonia family restaurant has been dishing up craveable pies for a couple of decades. Carnivores feast on the meat lover's pizza, which is loaded with pepperoni, ground beef, Italian sausage, ham, and bacon.

    19. Antojitos El Catracho

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    4627 Vernor Hwy
    Detroit, MI 48209
    (313) 399-3135
    This Southwest Detroit eatery dishes up Central American fare that's affordable as it is delicious. The pupusas and sopas are the main draws.

    20. Rafic's Falafel

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    6905 Schaefer Rd
    Dearborn, MI 48126
    (313) 551-5046
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    Falafel is in the name, so that's the obvious choice choice at Rafic's, but not as obvious is the tender, crispy fried chicken.

    21. International Mini Cafe

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    111 E Kirby St
    Detroit, MI 48202
    (313) 377-2555
    Visit Website
    This eatery in the basement of the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit is totally underrated. With a diverse selection of inexpensive eats such as falafel, chicken curry, and tabbouleh, this place is a hidden gem to be sure.

    22. Los Arcos Market

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    2210 Fort Park Blvd
    Lincoln Park, MI 48146
    Grocery stores are a great place to discover hidden gems, such as this taco joint. Choices abound, with typical fillings such as asada and al pastor as well as more adventurous choices such as beef head and pig stomach.

    23. Phoenicia

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    588 S Old Woodward Ave
    Birmingham, MI 48009
    (248) 644-3122
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    Another entry in our previous list, Phoenicia has mastered fine-dining Lebanese food. The sophisticated atmosphere is matched by impeccable service and a delicious menu that includes some surprises like pork ribs. While on a weekend evening, Phoenicia packs the house it still remains an under-appreciated entry into metro Detroit's dining scene.

    24. Taste of Ethiopia

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    28639 Northwestern Hwy
    Southfield, MI 48034
    Ethiopian food is not widely available in metro Detroit, so the cuisine itself is underrated in general but worth seeking out. Taste of Ethiopia, which has moved into new and bigger digs in Southfield, is known for friendly and attentive service and flavorful Ethiopian eats such as the awaze tibs (chopped lean marinated beef marinated, cooked with onion garlic and other herbs and spices) and kifto (finely chopped tender sirloin seasoned with "mitmita" and "kibe" and traditionally served raw). Vegetarians will also find lots of plant-based friendly fare.

    25. Yemen Cafe

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    8740 Joseph Campau Ave
    Hamtramck, MI 48212
    (313) 871-4349
    Locals come here for a taste of Yemen outside of Yemen. Fans rave about the fahsah (meat stew), lamb, and ghallaba. Newer digs have raised its profile a little bit, but still a little under-appreciated. It's open late too, perfect for when the midnight munchies hit and fast food just won't cut it.

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    1. Bonoful Sweets & Coffee

    12085 Conant St, Hamtramck, MI 48212
    The vast menu at this Bangladeshi destination includes many traditional dishes such as biryanis, masalas and samosas, as well as Indo-Chinese specialities such as cauliflower or chicken Manchurian and Singapore noodles.
    12085 Conant St
    Hamtramck, MI 48212

    2. Cutter's Bar & Grill Eastern Market

    2638 Orleans St, Detroit, MI 48207
    For those in the know, Cutter's is the place to get a 32-ounce burger boasting two thick patties sandwiched between three buttered pieces of bun, and then teeming with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, habanero peppers, mushrooms, bell peppers, pepperoni, bacon, sliced turkey, and two kinds of cheese. Any place that serves up this burger tower should be a household name, but this Eastern Market staple gets lost amid the buzz for bigger, flashier places (*ahem* Shake Shack).
    2638 Orleans St
    Detroit, MI 48207

    3. Ivanhoe Cafe — Polish Yacht Club

    5249 Joseph Campau St, Detroit, MI 48211
    Founded nearly 100 years ago, the Ivanhoe Cafe is a Detroit institution. Equally known for its pierogies and perch, this charming establishment has a ton of character and history. The service is also friendly and attentive, making it a go-to for people wanting to show out-of-towners a slice of local culture.
    5249 Joseph Campau St
    Detroit, MI 48211

    4. Satay House

    31101 Dequindre Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071
    Dishes such as roti canal served with a curry and potato dip brings in loyal diners, and the nasi lemak and sarung barung taro cake are among the highlights of the vast menu that explores Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines.
    31101 Dequindre Rd
    Madison Heights, MI 48071

    5. Empire Dynasty

    29505 W 9 Mile Rd, Farmington Hills, MI 48336
    Looking for a legit Chinese spot? At this Farmington Hills eatery, there's the English menu, then the Chinese menu and then there's the "Pure Chinese" menu (make sure to bring a translator). With options beyond General Tso's chicken (which they do serve), diners come here for flavorful offerings like mapo tofu, mutton with fennel seeds, spicy pork stomach, fried intestines, and pig feet.
    29505 W 9 Mile Rd
    Farmington Hills, MI 48336

    6. Kitchen Hanzo

    6023 Haggerty, West Bloomfield Township, MI
    You don't have to travel all the way to Japan to soak in the izakaya (the Japanese equivalent of a gastropub) culture. Small, shareable plates such as octopus salad, fried shrimp with mayo, and seaweed served in a vinegar-based sauce go well with some sake.
    6023 Haggerty
    West Bloomfield Township, MI

    7. Jeff's Kitchen

    1130 E West Maple Rd, Walled Lake, MI 48390

    8. Christine's Cuisine

    729 E 9 Mile Rd, Ferndale, MI 48220
    Dishing up home-cooked meals since late '90s, this Ferndale restaurant tends to get overshadowed by the latest and greatest hot spot to open in town. Pierogies and kielbasa are some of the popular picks but there's more than Polish fare; the eclectic menu will satisfy any craving from sandwiches to salads to pasta.
    729 E 9 Mile Rd
    Ferndale, MI 48220

    9. Athens Souvlaki

    21738 W 11 Mile Rd, Southfield, MI 48076
    Tucked away in a strip mall, this Southfield no-frills spot offers tasty Greek eats that's a few steps above your average coney or diner. The gyros and lemon rice soup are on point, but what sets it apart is that it takes pride in making things from scratch such as the yogurt and pita bread.
    21738 W 11 Mile Rd
    Southfield, MI 48076

    10. El Caribeño

    8065 Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48209
    There's so much more to Southwest Detroit than tacos, and this Dominican restaurant should be on the list of any food lover exploring the area. Among the must-haves are empanadas (available with chicken, steak, or cheese) and the bollitos for starters and mofongo — fried plaintains mashed up with garlic and pork rinds.
    8065 Vernor Hwy
    Detroit, MI 48209

    11. El Guanaco

    1710 Livernois Rd, Troy, MI 48083
    Street-style tacos and pupusas can be found north of Mexicantown at this casual Troy (yes, Troy) family-owned eatery. The empanadas, which are filled with ground pork, potato or cheese, are fried to perfection.
    1710 Livernois Rd
    Troy, MI 48083

    12. Trizest Spicy Sichuan Restaurant

    33170 Dequindre Rd, Sterling Heights, MI 48310
    Trizest doesn't have the most cutting-edge decor or fastest service, but it's the fiery Szechuan cuisine that sets this place apart. Go straight to the House Special category of the menu, which features the restaurant's best dishes. The Sichuan lamb with vegetables and spicy bean sauce and squirrel fish (get both sauces) are musts, as is the Yibin flame noodle. The mapo tofu will blow (and numb) your mind.
    33170 Dequindre Rd
    Sterling Heights, MI 48310

    13. Colors - Detroit

    311 E Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48226
    Downtown Detroit has become a hot spot for newer, flashier restaurants, but Colors (open since 2011) is a great option for a night on the town as well. Located in the basement, it's a part of Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan, which advocates for industry workers' rights, including fair wages. The menu highlights locally sourced, organic products, with crowd-pleasing favorites such as salmon, burgers, and steak for dinner.
    311 E Grand River Ave
    Detroit, MI 48226

    14. Gangnam Chicken

    112 Catalpa Dr, Royal Oak, MI 48067
    Included in our original list, Gangnam Chicken still flies under the radar. The wings are perfectly crispy and retains its crunchy texture even when doused in the soy garlic or spicy sauces. Another must-get is the kimchi fries, a match made in heaven. Also rumor has it, if you call ahead with a special request that's not on the menu, chances are the owner/server/cook will make it for you.
    112 Catalpa Dr
    Royal Oak, MI 48067

    15. Rincon Tropical

    6874 Saint John St, Detroit, MI 48210
    Another example of the diversity to be found in Southwest Detroit, this Puerto Rican eatery slings authentic dishes such as mofongo, pernil, alcapurrias (fritters), and arroz con gandules.
    6874 Saint John St
    Detroit, MI 48210

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    16. Ellen's Bakery & Cafe

    2495 Orchard Lake Rd, Sylvan Lake, MI 48320
    This Sylvan Lake restaurant is a solid option for brunch, which gets forgotten amid the buzz surrounding flashier or trendier options in the area. Reliably good food is its hallmark, with delicious options such as duck confit hash and delectable pastries. Lunch offers indulgences such as soft shell crab sandwich and lobster bisque.
    2495 Orchard Lake Rd
    Sylvan Lake, MI 48320

    17. Thang Long

    27641 John R Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071
    Madison Heights eatery Thang Lon stands out from its peers along John R. by offering hard to find Vietnamese dishes like claypot catfish, sweet and sour tamarind catfish soup and betel leaf beef.
    27641 John R Rd
    Madison Heights, MI 48071

    18. Corsi's Restaurant & Banquet Halls

    27910 W Seven Mile Rd, Livonia, MI 48152
    There's no shortage of pizza in Detroit, but this Livonia family restaurant has been dishing up craveable pies for a couple of decades. Carnivores feast on the meat lover's pizza, which is loaded with pepperoni, ground beef, Italian sausage, ham, and bacon.
    27910 W Seven Mile Rd
    Livonia, MI 48152

    19. Antojitos El Catracho

    4627 Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48209
    This Southwest Detroit eatery dishes up Central American fare that's affordable as it is delicious. The pupusas and sopas are the main draws.
    4627 Vernor Hwy
    Detroit, MI 48209

    20. Rafic's Falafel

    6905 Schaefer Rd, Dearborn, MI 48126
    Falafel is in the name, so that's the obvious choice choice at Rafic's, but not as obvious is the tender, crispy fried chicken.
    6905 Schaefer Rd
    Dearborn, MI 48126

    21. International Mini Cafe

    111 E Kirby St, Detroit, MI 48202