Honor & Folly
2132 Michigan Ave., Corktown
When Meghan, the current owner of Honor & Folly, first stepped into the building that her brother bought a decade ago on a worn Detroit block, she could see straight up to the sky—from the basement. She was living in another apartment on the same block at the time, which didn't have a working door—she nailed it shut each night with her husband. The restoration work done here was—in a word—incredible. Today, Honor & Folly is Detroit's most charming guesthouse, a second-story Victorian apartment space in a now vibrant area of Corktown: It's above Astro coffee house, and on the same street as Gold Cash Gold, Slows, et al. (The apartment is also in walking distance to Michigan Central Station, which was designed by the same architects as NYC's Grand Central. The station has been out of commission since the late 1980's but remains an extraordinary Beaux-Arts sight.) It's a real walk up the staircase to Honor & Folly but the view at the top of the open (entirely working) kitchen and sun-filled living room justifies. With two bedrooms—each with a queen bed and own bathroom—the apartment works as…
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.
Green Dot Stables
2200 W. Lafayette Blvd., Corktown
The always-packed Green Dot is situated in a parking lot among warehouses; it looks like an average Irish pub from the outside, but inside it's much more kitchsy—and wonderful. For food, it's sliders with a twist: quinoa burgers with kale and chimichurri, grilled cheese, gyros, BBQ bacon with sweet potato. At $3 a piece, you might expect them to be microscopic—but they're actually quite big. For drinks, there are Detroit and Michigan beers on tap, plus bottles from local breweries like Atwater, and cocktails—all for $3 each (not kidding).
2130 Michigan Ave., Corktown
Sugar House (which has gone by a couple different names) was one of the earlier places to move into this now more lively stretch of Michigan Avenue in Corktown, and it's arguably the spot to go in Detroit for cocktails. (It's owned by Dave Kwiatkowski, who is also half the duo behind Downtown restaurant Wright & Company.) The dimly lit interior is a mix of Victorian style and cabin/hunting decor with a long, wood bar and large chandelier hanging over the table in the front window space. The bartenders here make all the classics (including the Detroit gin signature, "Last Word," with green chartreuse and lime) and seasonal originals (marked on the menu for their Michigan ingredients and Detroit-specific ingredients). Keep an eye out for the mixing of an old-fashioned with smoke in the bottle.
Trumbull and Porter
1331 Trumbull St., Corktown
Located in the more industrial section of Corktown, Trumbull and Porter is like a low-key, Detroit version of The Ace. The hotel has just shy of 150 rooms, decorated in a minimal, hip aesthetic. Cool, slate grey concrete floors are covered in Southwestern-patterned rugs, framed illustrations of birds and buffalos hang above the bed headboards, and marble-top desks are pushed against opposite walls. The lobby has a coffee/beer bar, and is a short walk to Batch Brewery. Note that the first floor of Trumbull and Porter is currently under construction (conducted during the day time), which is expected to be completed near the end of 2016.
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.
John K. King Used & Rare Books
901 W. Lafayette Blvd., Corktown
Housed in a former glove factory since the early 1980's—which explains the oversized hand painted sign across the building's exterior—John K. King Used & Rare Books shop is truly next level. Wandering the enormous, overflowing rows of shelves that wind from the first floor to the fourth is a dream-like experience for any book lover. And what's really crazy is that the mind-boggling number of books here (Mr. King, who began trading in 1965, has about a million books in stock, and this is by far his largest home for them) are entirely uncomputerized collections—meaning they are organized wholly by hand making it a wild treasure hunt. Trying to find a Sylvia Plath? The team knows just where to go in the poetry section, and what edition of which book was recently taken off the shelf by a reader who came before. The fiction section on the third floor alone merits days of exploration and many returned visits—the store's collection is ever shifting. The rarest of the titles are kept separately—those are actually searchable online, so you can have any special requests for books to be pulled ready in…
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