GreatLakesBetterFood's Profile

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Where to eat en route to DTE Energy Theater? [Detroit Area]

I am heading to a concert at DTE coming up and am looking for a place to go beforehand. I'm driving up from Ann Arbor, so I'll like go up 23 for a bit and then cut across around 59 - I am willing to take a slight detour for a good food spot though.

My initial idea was to go to The Root in White Lake but they are closed on Sundays. I am looking for anything from a taco stand to a nice farm-to-table restaurant like The Root.

Jun 26, 2013
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Do hidden gems exist in Mid-Michigan? (No worthy stops en route up north.)

I have 2 ideas for the route along 127 if you're heading north from the Lansing area:

1) Meat BBQ in Lansing's Old Town. This is a relatively new bbq spot in the Old Town part of Lansing that has undergone a bit of a revitalization. The bbq is surprisingly very solid and worth a slight detour off of 127.

2) Sure Shot BBQ in Mt. Pleasant. Also a pretty good bbq spot.

I covered these places in a writeup here: http://greatlakesbetterfood.blogspot....

As far as going up 131 from Grand Rapids, there is a Fricano's a bit north of GR, which is classic west MI pizza. There is also a gastropub in Howard City that I've been meaning to make it to called Latitudes Roadhouse. Oh, also Mr. Foisie's pasties in Cadillac.

Jun 26, 2013
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Carnival (Mexican) Market’s food counter in Pontiac, MI

Following up to my own post - I made it to Taqueria El Rey for the al pastor this weekend. It was great, the pork was cooked on a vertical spit right out next to the counter. I tried the al pastor tacos, carnitas tacos, and their grilled chicken. The carnitas were great as well, nice and juicy just like they should be. The al pastor was great, maybe a slight step below some of the stuff I've had in Chicago, but still very very good. They didn't have any bits of pineapple that I could tell, which was a little disappointing. They cook the grilled chicken in a charcoal grill in a shack out in the parking lot. It has a nice spicy rub and the skin gets nice and crispy. I did a more complete write-up with pics on my blog:

http://greatlakesbetterfood.blogspot....

Tony

Aug 22, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Upper Peninsula Road Trip

Thanks for the tips! We are planniing on camping at Twelvemile Beach, which is one of the campgrounds in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park area. We haven't finalized those plans yet (they don't take reservations), is Muskallonge a better area than the sites inside the Pictured Rocks lakeshore park?

Aug 20, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Carnival (Mexican) Market’s food counter in Pontiac, MI

yea, Cemitas has their tacos arabes meat on the spit. You can find al pastor on the spit at other places around Chicago as well. The way I've always seen is it is layers of pork, marinated in the al pastor marinade, with layers of onion and then a hunk of pineapple on top, which is sliced onto the taco after they've sliced the pork/onion. Here is a pic:

http://image.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/6865/6865,1132596691,1/stock-photo-authentic-nightscene-slow-roast-vertical-spit-al-pastor-of-a-ham-leg-jamon-in-mexico-focus-744213.jpg

I have found one place in Detroit that has it - Taqueria El Rey - their homepage has an awesome logo with the taco king himself standing guard next to the spit-roasted pastor, I need to get here ASAP:

http://taqueria-elrey.com/home.htm

Aug 17, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Help please with Road Trip: Milwaukee-Chicago-Toledo-Cleveland-Columbus (long)

Gotcha. I assumed you were getting italian beef at Al's, in which case you could get your chicago dog fill at Franks-n-Dawgs along with some other more interesting gourmet sausage/brat creations that you aren't going to find at a chain like Portillos. Portillos does have its fans so I won't talk you out of it too much.

Xoco is amazing, I love the torta ahogada (torta made with carnitas, black beans, pickled onions served in a fiery hot chile de arbol broth). You should definitely try to go, even if you go to Frontera as well. It's more of a lunch spot, so it might not be that crowded later, not sure how late it's open though.

I hear you on the taquerias in SF, but I will just point out that Cemitas Puebla is unique in that it serves a version of tacos that is fairly unique to the Puebla area, where there is a large Lebanese population. The tacos are served on a hybrid flour tortilla/pita and the 'arabes' meat is cooked shwarma-style, with slices of marinated pork and onions cooked on a vertical roasting spit. The tacos arabes are probably my death row meal so I am biased, but if you find yourself out on the westside, it is worth a stop.

Aug 16, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Carnival (Mexican) Market’s food counter in Pontiac, MI

is their al pastor cooked in the traditional method of roasting on a vertical, rotating spit (like a greek gyro meat for example)? I have not yet found real a pastor cooked like that since moving back to Michigan from Chicago. I am in dire need of some spit-roasted al pastor.

Tony

Aug 16, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Help please with Road Trip: Milwaukee-Chicago-Toledo-Cleveland-Columbus (long)

Your Chicago list looks decent given the short amount of time. Personally, I am a big fan of the abundant taco joints in the area, so I would strongly encourage a trip to Cemitas Puebla for their 'cemita' sandwiches and tacos arabes. Also, I would sub out Portillo's with Franks-n-Dawgs. Not sure what you are looking for at Portillo's, but Frank-n-Dawgs has Chicago dogs along with several more creative sausage/dog gourmet creations.

At Tony Packo's in Toledo, you want to get the Packo's original hungarian sausage with the chili. It would be a big letdown coming from a place like Franks-n-Dawgs though.

Tony

Aug 15, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Upper Peninsula Road Trip

Good point. Speaking of pasties, where should I go? I was thinking about stopping at either Suzie's or Bessies in St. Ignace as soon as I cross the bridge.

Aug 15, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Upper Peninsula Road Trip

I am doing a UP road trip in a couple weeks and thought I'd respond to this thread instead of starting a new one. We are doing Tahquamenon Falls and Pictured Rocks and will be camping in the parks. Our route will take us through St. Ignace, Paradise, Grand Marais and Munising.

Here are a few stops I've read about and am curious to hear if anyone has any other recommendations, I'd say we tend to prefer the casual hole-in-the-wall, unique type of places vs upscale restaurants.

Brown Fisheries - Paradise

Tahqaumenon Falls Brewery - Tahquamenon

West Bay Diner - Grand Marais

Muldoon's Pasties - Munising

Brownstone Inn - Au Train

Clyde's Drive-In - St. Ignace

Thanks,
Tony

Aug 14, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

First time to Detroit, one afternoon

I think your best bet is to grab some food in Corktown and then head downtown to walk around a bit and grab a drink. You could stroll through Greektown (in the downtown area), you could probably spend a couple hours there alone.

Aug 08, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

BBQ in Lansing????

Nice find, thanks for the writeup, I hadn't heard about that place. I did recently discover some good bbq in Lansing as well at Meat BBQ in Old Town. I had the pulled pork and chopped brisket - both nice and smoky with a solid bark. Juicy enough to not need any of the sauces - they had four housemade varieties, including one made with Michigan cherries. I was really, really impressed with Meat, I highly recommend it if you're looking for another bbq spot in Lansing. I have a more complete write-up of it and a few other bbq spots I've found in mid-Michigan.

http://greatlakesbetterfood.blogspot....

Aug 05, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Coney Island Sauce-DTW

If that's the best option that's available, then that's what I'm looking for. Does pretty ubiquitous mean that you can find it at most grocery stores in the area? I don't live in the Detroit metro area, so I might have to have someone make a store run for me and I'm trying to figure out where to send him.

Aug 03, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Michigan shrimp

There is a shrimp farm in Okemos (suburb east of Lansing), that is likely where they are sourcing them from.

http://shrimpfarmmarket.com/

Aug 02, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Coney Island Sauce-DTW

I wanted to revive this thread to see if anyone has any more recent experiences on finding coney sauce in the area. Any chance anyone has found a source for coney sauce in the Ann Arbor area?

What about the Detroit area? I've seen other references online that Cattleman's in Eastern Market may carry some version of it.

Aug 02, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Vegetarian and or Localvore Recommendations in Northern Mi

I think veggie pasties are fairly popular:

http://www.mackinawpastie.com/menu.phtml

Jul 17, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Vegetarian and or Localvore Recommendations in Northern Mi

I gotcha, I didn't realize you were familiar with the area. I was just saying you might feel a little trapped on the island after two nights - you could always do one night on the island and one night in Mackinaw City, that is no additional driving. Anwyway, the trip will be a blast. You could always load up on food at places like Symon's in Petoskey and snack on that while on Mackinac.

Also, be sure to get pasties on the mainland in Mackinaw City.

Jul 17, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Vegetarian and or Localvore Recommendations in Northern Mi

Unfortunately, I think your assessment of Mackinac Island might be accurate. Mackinac Island is indeed very touristy, but it is somewhat kitschy - not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but you should know what you're going into if you've never been before. I don't think you're going to find a whole lot in the way of interesting food that someone who's into seasonal cooking/locavore/craft beer is going to like.

Having said that, the one place that comes to mind is The Woods (though I've never been). It is set back in the woods and supposed to be a nice setting, though the picture of the dining room looks like it's of the hotel in The Shining.

http://www.grandhotel.com/dining/woods

Honestly, 2 nights on Mackinac Island sounds like it might be overkill for you based on what you've said in this thread. I have a feeling you might like the vibe of the Petoskey/Charlevoix area a bit better based on what you seem to be into.

Here is a writeup I did on the Charlevoix and Elk Rapids area (a little further southwest from Charlevoix) to give you a little bit more flavor of that area:

http://greatlakesbetterfood.blogspot....

Jul 17, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Vegetarian and or Localvore Recommendations in Northern Mi

One recemmendation I have is to check out Symon's General Store in Petoskey. It's not a restaurant (though I believe you can dine-in in the wine celler in the basement), but has tons of local goodies - cheese, chips, salsas, sauces, craft beer, and of course the huge basement wine cellar. It's a must visit in Petoskey I'd say. They also have two restaurants associated with the store, but I'm not sure how veg-friendly they'd be. http://lakeandhoward.com/SGS_INC/Symons_General_Store.html

You may also like Roast & Toast for breakfast/brunch. http://www.roastandtoast.com/

Mitchell Street Pub is somewhat of a locals, dive bar type of place, but you could bring a kid there no problem. It is quintissential northern MI in my opinion. They will have a decent craft beer selection as well. How familiar are you with the craft beer/wine selection in MI? Short's Brewery is located about 40 miles south of Petoskey in Bellaire and they make really good stuff.

You say 2 nights in Mackinac - is that Mackinac Island or Mackinaw City?

Jul 16, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Red Rock BBQ (Ypsilanti)

out of Blue Tractor, Red Rock, and Satchel's, I'd say Satchel's is the clear leader of the pack based on my experiences. That's admittedly not a very high bar, but I'd gladly go back to Satchel's over the other two.

Jul 11, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Red Rock BBQ (Ypsilanti)

I also thought Red Rock was fairly mediocre. The interior is fairly well done, it would be a nice place to go to have some beers and have some snacks, but not somewhere I'd go if I'm in the mood for bbq.

The brisket was dry and fairly tough, probably due to the fact that they aren't turning it over very quickly. That is the rub when it comes to brisket - it dries out so quickly.

The pulled pork was better, fairly smoky and some nominal bits of bark (why is so hard for bbq places up here to include some bark in the pulled pork?!). I liked the eastern carolina vinegar sauce, but the meat was tender enough to where it didn't need much sauce.

They were out of burnt ends when I went there, which was a major disappointment.

All in all though, I am still in search of a good bbq place in the area. I thought Satchel's ribs were very good, but their pulled pork lacked any signs of smoke or bark. I still need to make it to Ron's Roadside and Boogie Woogie up in Pinckney.

Jul 11, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

I'm heading up 31 towards Charlevoix - any good spots along the way?

I am back from my trip up north. We ended up going to Pearl's in Elk Rapids (twice!), Friske Orchards on 31 north of Elk Rapids, the Dairy Grille in Charlevoix and Chicken-N-Stuff in East Jordan for some broasted chicken. Pearl's was really excellent, I was surprised at how good it was. Between both of the visits, I had crawfish etoufee, jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish cakes, catfish po'boy and New Orleans BBQ shrimp. All were winners. I have a more complete write-up with pics on my blog:

http://greatlakesbetterfood.blogspot....

Jul 11, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Are Burgers getting more expensive or am I just seeing things?

I wrote a more lengthy response to this question on another thread, which is now locked, but I wanted to post in here in case any were interest: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/855854#7427156

Also, NPR has a great article that provides a lot of data about beef consumption and the costs that go into raising cattle. It's not directly related to cost, but you can clearly see how the price a lot of the components of raising beef would have gone up recently.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012...

Jun 28, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in General Topics

I'm heading up 31 towards Charlevoix - any good spots along the way?

ahh, good point, I see the confusion. I am taking 131 north out of Cadillac and will meet up with 31 just east of Traverse City and follow 31 the rest of the way up towards Charlevoix. I haven't been up that way since I was a kid and I thought it was 31 coming out of Cadillac, not 131.

Jun 27, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Is it just me or are burgers getting expensive?

I think it's a broader question than just beef. But it can probably all be explained by simple supply and demand factors. First, one of the big costs in the meat industry is transportation - it costs a lot to ship that meat all over the place. With rising oil prices and higher gas prices, those costs are going to be reflected in the price of beef and other foods. Secondly, the price of corn has significantly increased over the past few years as demand has increased due to the use of corn in alternative energy fuels (i.e. ethanol). Corn is used in every part of our food system from feed for cattle to high fructose corn syrup - so that'll drive up prices as well. Finally, I'd bet that beef consumption is up in developing countries (i.e. Brazil, China) - it's a pretty well established fact that as people become richer, they eat more meat. I would bet that US exports of beef are up and this additional demand has led to increases in prices.

Finally, a lot of restaurants are making an effort to source their meat from a more sustainable source or a perceived healthier option like grass fed. All of these things are going to lead to an increase in prices. I view it more as a stratification of the market - if you want your cheap burger, go to McDonalds or your local bar that serves up previously frozen patties. If you want a fresh ground/local/no hormones/grass fed burger, there are now more options for you than there were previously.

Jun 27, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in General Topics

I'm heading up 31 towards Charlevoix - any good spots along the way?

I'll be driving up to Charlevoix from the Cadillac area and looking for some hole in the wall type of places that'll make for a good pitstop. We'll be passing through Elk Rapids, Kewadin, etc going up along the east side of the East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay. One spot I'm definitely checking out is Pearl's in Elk Rapids for cajun/creole food. Other possible pit-stops are Mr. Foisie's Pasties in Cadillac, Friske Orchards north of Torch Lake, and Don's Drive-In towards Traverse City. I'll report back next week after my trip.

Jun 25, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Detroit Cheap Eats Food Tour--need suggestions and advice...

minor detail, but Arcadia is from Battle Creek.

Another AA brewery that is doing good stuff is Wolverine State Brewing on Stadium. Unlike most craft beer places, they do lagers and not ales. They only have two of their beers available for distribution (lager & dark lager I think) but the have lots of beers on tap at their tap room. Good trivia on Monday & Wednesday nights as well. It is not too far from Pilar's Tamales (place I mentioned earlier), and since Wolverine doesn't cook their own food, they allow you to bring stuff in, so I'd get some stuff from Pilar's to go and take it to Wolverine.

Jun 25, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Detroit Cheap Eats Food Tour--need suggestions and advice...

I have another Ann Arbor thought. I finally made it to the Elks Lodge last night. They recently opened up their kitchen to the public on Thursday-Saturday nights and host live jazz in their rec room in the basement. The chefs that run the kitchen have worked previously at Eve, Frita Batidos and Gandy Dancer. The menu is straight soul food and changes somewhat regularly: ribs, buttermilk fried chicken, fried catfish, collard greens, black-eyed peas, mac-n-cheese, etc. And it's cheap eats too - $10 for an entree + 2 sides + cornbread w/honey butter. I did a more thorough recap at my blog:

http://greatlakesbetterfood.blogspot....

If you can make it to AA on a Thurs, Fri, or Sat - you could hit up Blimpy Burger for "breakfast" when they open, go to Pilar's for an afternoon snack, and then finish it off with the Elks Lodge at night for soul food and jazz. Actually, I might have to do that myself next weekend.

Jun 24, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Detroit Cheap Eats Food Tour--need suggestions and advice...

Your Ann Arbor selections are fine, although I would dump Cottage Inn. It's not bad, but nothing unique and you'll have better experiences at the Detroit-style pizza places others have mentioned.

If you are looking for another spot in AA, I would suggest Pilar's Tamales out on Liberty, just west of Stadium Blvd. It's run by a El Salvadorean woman. Awesome tamales and pupusas. The watermelon drink and fried plantains (maduros) round off an excellent cheap eats meal.

Another spot in the area that might be worth checking out is the Wurst Bar in Ypsi. They are doing elevated/gourmet sausages, burgers (though I haven't had any yet), and also have a good craft beer list and lots of whiskeys.

If you do end up going to Zingerman's Deli, you should swing by Kerrytown Plaza across the street and hit up Monahan's Seafood inside there. It's solid seafood counter that also has a menu of seafood sandwiches and other specials. I did a writeup of it here:

http://greatlakesbetterfood.blogspot....

Jun 22, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes

Why aren't we talking about Biercamp in A2? [Ann Arbor, MI]

Right - as a standard procedure, one should order sauce on the side at any bbq joint north of the mason-dixon line. I hate to be a bbq snob like that (actually, that's a lie, I'm totally fine with being a bbq snob) but we need to start changing bbq behavior up here. I think the tide is changing though, there have been plenty of new bbq spots popping up across the midwest that are doing bbq the right way - low and slow over real hardwood and served with something other than KC-style sweet bbq sauce.

As far as the bun, I am admittedly holding Biercamp to a high standard since I think they're totally capable of producing an A+ pulled pork sandwich. And just like pizza can't be outstanding without a great crust, a pulled pork sandwich won't be excellent if the bun is a bit of an afterthought.

Jun 06, 2012
GreatLakesBetterFood in Great Lakes