Friday, May 30, 2014

Living like a local in Detroit

Today's post comes from the fabulous Gina Monastiere of Live for Travel. I got to meet Gina a few years ago at a travel show in New York, which proved my theory - Internet friends can be REAL friends! I'm sorry to say that we'll be losing Miss Gina to Italy  later this year, but while we've got her here in the U.S., she agreed to write about her home city of Detroit.

If you're interested in contributing to this series, click here to learn more. You can also hit me up on Twitter via #livinglikealocal.


Detroit was once the most glorious, booming, thriving city in the United States. As one of the oldest cities in the Midwest, there's a lot of spectacular sights to see. Founded in 1701 and built by the French, it's no surprise that we have a ton of French inspiration around town. The architecture is ornate, detailed, unique and eclectic, the history is rich and interesting, and the innovative culture still remains. Detroit used to be the epicenter of art, music, design and growth, and still thrives in those areas today. It’s full of great music, cool venues, awesome community/cultural festivals, and talented artists and designers alike. Not to mention, some incredible food joints. Yeah, Detroit gets a bad rap, and while it's true that we have high crime rates and completely abandoned areas, we still love and adore our one-of-a-kind city. Downtown is fairly safe, and a lot of fun, but going around town with a local is the best and safest way to see Detroit. So with that being said, let's pretend we're all locals here and it's a Saturday morning…



Going out for breakfast is a favorite around here, and we love our classic breakfasts. Scrambled eggs, omelets, pancakes with fruit, and French toast with lots of powdered sugar, but we also love our crepes. Depending on what we're in the mood for, we might grab a coffee and a light breakfast at the quaint little French cafe, LePetit Zinc. 

The cheerful interior of Le Petit Zinc.
Or how about a delicious sweet (or savory!) crepe at Good Girls Go toParis Crepes? Not feelin' the French stuff? Try an all-American breakfast of massive proportions at The Hudson Cafe.

A fabulous name - and fabulous food!

Eastern Market

After breakfast, we head over to Eastern Market on Saturday mornings to pick up some fresh local produce and flowers. There are also lots of antique shops, meat markets and restaurants. Sometimes we'll stop at SupinoPizzeria. Supino's is hands down the best pizza in town. It's a must.

Get your shopping done at Detroit's Eastern Market.

Midday Coffee

The majority of us like a little pick-me-up in the afternoon, and we love to meet friends for coffee on days off. Avalon Bakery (amazing baked goods), Astro Coffee, Great Lakes Coffee, or RoastingPlan(my personal favorite!) are all great choices downtown.

Roasting Plant Coffee.


Urban Exploring

Detroit is quite a sight to see. Abandoned buildings are everywhere, and urban exploring here is absolutely breathtaking. But it's definitely not for the inexperienced. These places can be dangerous, and some illegal, so it's best to go with a native Detroiter or someone who knows where (and where not) to go. Some amazing sights are The Packard Plant, Brush Park, and Michigan Central Station - the icon of urban exploring.

Take in the spooky atmosphere of Detroit's abandoned buildings, such as Michigan Central Station.


Detroiters also love sports - baseball and hockey, especially. Comerica Park hosts the Detroit Tigers and is a beautiful stadium. Catch an afternoon game and lunch there, and be sure to wear navy blue and orange! Right across from Comerica Park sits HockeyTown Cafe, inspired by the Detroit Red Wings. After an afternoon baseball game, head over there for dinner or another round of beers! Who knows, you might even see a Tiger or Red Wing sitting at the bar!

Lunch & Dinner

Detroiters are total foodies. We like creativity in all forms of our life, including food. But we also love our cheap Coney dogs. Be sure to check out Lafayette Coney and/or AmericanConey. But if you try both, you MUST choose your favorite afterwards. We take sides here - Lafayette VS American (go Team Lafayette!).

Better to live well than long - especially when hot dogs are on the menu. (Editor's note: YES. I don't see any problem with being a schmegetarian who loves hot dogs, they are my favorite food.)

Nothing like a good old-fashioned rivalry.

Want something little more fancy? The Whitney has an amazing full course menu. This beautiful 22,000 square-foot Romanesque Revival Victorian mansion was built in 1890 by David Whitney, a lumber baron and millionaire back in the day. Not only is it world-renown for its delicious food, it's also known to be haunted. Or how about a Prohibition-style dinner? Check out CafeD’Mongo’s Speakeasy. Great menu, delicious drinks, spectacular atmosphere.

Speakeasies are way more fun than... not drinking.

Vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free? We have that too! A plethora of options, actually. Some of  my favorites are Seva, Detroit Vegan Soul, and Mudgies (vegan or not - best sandwiches in town!).

Craving some Middle Eastern? Try Bucharest Grill. Fun fact: Did you know that Metro Detroit has the largest Middle Eastern community outside of the Middle East? That's right folks, no doubt about it, we have the best tabbouleh and shawarma in the country!

Last but not least, Slows Bar BQ. If you love barbeque, it's a must.

Slows Bar BQ

Let's just look at some close-up barbecue, while we're here...


Bars & Clubs

There are three major things us Detroiters like to do on Saturday nights. We like to go to events (art, music, food, sports, etc.), we like to drink and we like loud music of all types.

So with that in mind, some cool places to check out at night are: TheBronx Bar, a laid-back atmosphere with cheap drinks and pretty great food. The Sugar House, craft cocktails just as sweet as it sounds! Park Bar, where I spent my 21st birthday (enough said) and a chill sports bar. The Town Pump Tavern, delicious bar food and all the college kids gather here. The Old Shillelagh, a great Irish pub with amazing live music. It's an awesome place to get your beer jig on! Last, Cliff Bells is a fabulous jazz club that has been open since 1935 and still looks the same!

Music and wine are on the menu at Cliff Bells.

Gina Monastiere is a travel-obsessed designer, writer, and healthy living advocate from Detroit, Michigan. You can find her at Live For Travel, or connect with her on Twitter at @live_for_travel.

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