2520 Michigan Ave., Corktown
It feels like everyone in Detroit is talking about Katoi, which opened in Corktown in early 2016 after running the food truck/pop-up circuit. And it starts to become clear why as soon as you get past the solid block door. It's inarguably scene-y: there's a DJ post, the bar is bathed in a blue neon light, the seating area (which looks into a completely open kitchen) is neon green, and the exposed brick wall (the building is an old garage) in the dining room is a hot pink. That said, the strong food menu—Thai-inspired dishes—is not overshadowed by the vibes.
Mercury Burger & Bar
2163 Michigan Ave., Corktown
Located on the same stretch of Michigan Avenue as Slows BBQ, Gold Cash Gold, and Astro Coffee, this cozy diner is a big part of historic Corktown’s renaissance. It’s not your average burger joint, though: patty choices range from beef topped with Corktown’s own “Topors” Hungarian hot peppers, to salmon filet seasoned with ginger, to a mushroom cap option. Sandwiches, hot dogs, hand-cut fries, and salads round out a menu that also includes a selection of tater tots. There’s also a full bar, where you can snag a rum-spiked milkshake.
Slows Bar BQ
2138 Michigan Ave., Corktown
Sure, the barbecue is great at Slows, but it's also a pretty important part of Detroit's cultural resurgence—their bold opening on Michigan Avenue more than ten years ago ushered in a slew of other now-famous Corktown businesses, including Astro Coffee, Gold Cash Gold, and The Sugar House. There are now four locations, and they're expanding quickly, but we're still partial to the original.
Gold Cash Gold
2100 Michigan Ave., Corktown
Josh Stockton's philosophy at Gold Cash Gold might best be described as "waste not want not," starting with its location in an old pawn shop (hence the name) and the hardwood floor, rescued from a basketball court at a now-closed elementary school, which features a flying eagle. Stockton, who trained at French Brasserie and Blackberry Farm, also brings the mantra to his cooking style, which prominently features pickling, preserving, and whole-animal butchery. Favorite dishes on the seasonally changing menu include burrata with sweet pepper jam, kielbasa with sauerkraut, and a soulful pickle-brine fried chicken.
Mudgie’s Deli & Wine Shop
1413 Brooklyn St., Corktown
Just down the block from Batch Brewery, Mudgie's looks like a residential house at first glance. (You enter around the corner through the white gate on Brooklyn Street.) The first room is a wine shop, which leads into the bar, and then the casual dining room. The move here is sandwiches—they have a big line-up of specialty combos, and then a build-your-own option. The Puglini (chicken with pesto, roasted red pepper, artichoke, and Asiago cheese, served on a warm ciabatta) is a solid choice.
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