Detroit is more than just the birthplace of the Model T and Motown. And, of course, who could ever forget Eminem and the “Worm” Dennis Rodman? But another factor that defines this city is its cuisine. When it comes to food, the Motor City is as diverse as it is delicious—and it delivers.
When hankering for pizza, there’s none other to turn to than Buddy’s Pizza to satisfy that craving. Buddy’s has been churning out Detroit’s iconic pizza since 1946 when Gus Guerra and Concietta “Connie” Piccinato found a new, creative use for the blue steel pans intended to hold automotive parts. Instead, they used them to fire up their first thick-crust, rectangular pizza. These uniquely square Detroit pies flip the traditional New York triangular slice script. A double-proofed dough is stretched across a sheet pan, topped with crumbled Wisconsin brick cheese, and ladled with stripes of tomato sauce. If you’re going to pick just one Buddy’s pizza, make it The Detroiter, which adds pepperoni, shaved Parmesan, and Buddy’s Sicilian spice blend to the classic pie.
Despite a breadth of offerings from soul food (including vegan versions) to Middle Eastern cuisine, Detroit only added Moroccan to the list when Chef Omar Anani opened Saffron De Twah in 2019. This now award-winning modern Moroccan eatery features his interpretation of tagine and couscous, serving up a taste of the North African country’s multi-cultural influences peppered with the chef’s travels. Case in point: on a trip to Egypt, the chef encountered a colossal chicken sandwich that was so extra, diners were given sandwich artist gloves to wear in order to tackle it. His riff is a fried chicken thigh that’s seasoned in berbere spice, and dressed with caramelized honey butter, harissa slaw, and aioli, all served on a soft, challah roll. To add to the list of reasons for ordering from Saffron De Twah, Anani is also one chef who puts community first, having provided more than 100,000 meals to members of the neighborhood in need.
Like Philly cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, Coneys are a menu item that sparks great debate in Detroit. The city’s signature style of hot dog – uncased beef frankfurter smothered in chili sauce, diced onions, and yellow mustard on a steamed bun – was first served from a cart downtown before opening American Coney Island back in 1917. This century-old institution may be one of the multiple outposts to get your Coney fix – Lafayette Coney Island is literally located next-door – but the third generation owned American Coney Island is the spot if you’re craving an iconic dog.
Tucked inside downtown’s Detroit Shipping Company, a structure built from repurposed shipping containers that house a collection of vendors, COOP offers modern Caribbean fare. Helmed by Chef Maxcel Hardy, his Bahamian roots shine through in dishes like his signature jerk ribs rubbed with a special house blend of spices, topped with an island vibe guava BBQ sauce, and served with plantain chips. Other go-to’s include lightly breaded and fried cauliflower topped with a garlicky sauce, slow-smoked jerk chicken, crispy Brussels sprouts, street corn (think Caribbean style Elote), and housemade Jamaican punch. Cue the steel drums.
With a large Arab-American population, the Motor City has several dependable Middle Eastern options. But pretty much everyone agrees that Al-Ameer is the GOAT (including the James Beard Foundation, which honored the restaurant with their America’s Classic award). Working as chefs together in Lebanon before teaming up in Dearborn, MI, Zaki Hachem and Khalil Ammar now produce plentiful mezze platters, charred kebabs, tender shawarma, and “stuffed” lamb served with an addicting garlic sauce. What also gives Al-Ameer an edge is their abundant veggie options, in-house butchery, and the fact that everything is fresh and local whenever possible. If you crave homestyle, honest Lebanese food, Al-Ameer is your answer.
Does it really matter what words we write here when those luscious cakes are coming through your screen? Okay, just two seconds of your time and we’ll be out of your hair. These deliverable cakes help keep Detroiters’ sweet tooths satisfied. Try their ever-popular strawberry crunch cake that’s made with alternating layers of moist strawberry and vanilla cake, iced with whipped cream cheese frosting, and sprinkled with a “fairy dust” of pulverized strawberry flavored Oreo cookies.
Whether it’s tip-off time, halftime, or really anytime, Pistons fans have a spot for stadium-inspired, gorge-worthy eats. Pistons Dish offers up bold plates for NBA appetites, like the Baller Bowl – a bowl of grilled short rib topped with seared pork belly on a bed of Kraut-slaw and finished with spicy-sweet BBQ sauce and root beer onion jam. Or the Mack Ave & Cheese Sando, which marries three-cheese macaroni and candied bacon, then wedges them between two thick pieces of garlic bread to form this high-scoring sandwich. No sporting event is complete without wings – and lots of them. Prepared boneless (bonus points), order these dressed in your choice of classic spicy Buffalo-style, garlic-Parmesan, or Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce with crispy bacon bits and candied pecans. Can’t decide? You don’t have to – the 313 Chicken Wing Combo offers a sampling of all three. No need to thank us for dropping dimes.