Parks & Rec Diner
1942 Grand River Ave., Downtown
This spot gets its name from its castle-like residence, the Grand Army of the Republic Building, which was home to the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department for 40 years. The all-day, every day breakfast menu is full of elevated classics, like cornbread waffles served with Detroit-style chili and cider-donut French toast. The giant house-made cinnamon roll—filled with walnuts and doused in an orange chevre icing—is legend enough to deserve its own category on the menu. Parks & Rec shares executive chef Sarah Welch with the adjacent (and equally wonderful) Republic Tavern.
Wright & Company
1500 Woodward Ave., Downtown
Wright & Company occupies the second floor of one of Detroit's oldest buildings, Wright-Kay, at Woodward Ave. and John R. Street—brought to you by the same team behind other popular Detroit spots like Sugar House (the cocktails at Wright & Co. are excellent, too), and Chinese-inspired Peterboro. The Wright & Company space is brilliant: exposed industrial piping, tin ceiling, vintage light fixtures, long marble bar with steel chairs, curved booths, and light flooding in from the surrounding floor-to-ceiling windows. It's generally busy and they don't take dinner reservations (although you need one for Sunday brunch), so come early or plan to hang at the bar (no arm twisting required) while you wait for a table.
500 Woodward Ave., Downtown
Unlike its smaller original outpost in Birmingham, Townhouse’s 314-seat downtown location is an expansive, beautiful space with an all-glass atrium, wraparound patio, and a huge open kitchen. The classic American menu takes comfort food to the next level with creamy herbed mac 'n' cheese, large, bright salads, and cornflake-crusted walleye with buttermilk grits. A great cocktail list and an extensive whiskey selection ensure that there’s rarely a free seat at the bar.
719 Griswold St., Downtown
Part of downtown’s emerging restaurant scene, Dime Store calls itself an “American Brunch Bar”—a dining category we can certainly get behind. A full bar serves Michigan craft beer, wine, and cocktails, which are all welcome complements to the restaurant’s extensive list of sandwiches. Duck-confit hash, build-your-own omelets, and inventive eggs benedicts lend a modern twist to an otherwise retro breakfast menu. Located on the lobby level of the century-old Chrysler House skyscraper, the casual spot has an inviting vibe that defies its industrial setting.
Joe Muer Seafood
400 Renaissance Center, Downtown
Fancy eateries are not what makes Detroit a cool city. That said, if you're looking for a white tablecloth meal while you're here, go to Joe Muer Seafood—which still isn't strictly formal. The restaurant has a long history with the city: An original Detroit destination, the first iteration of Joe Muer opened in 1929 and remained opened until the late 80's. In 2011, the original concept returned, with some updates of course. The restaurant is now in the admittedly maze-like GM Renaissance Center, but in a prime corner spot with a view of the Detroit River just beyond its glass windows, or outdoor patio, depending on the month/where you're sitting. A lot of people come for the raw bar/seafood tower situation; lunch at the central sushi bar is a smart move. Off of the main dining space, there are a few rooms available for private dining, too.
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