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Detroit Chowhounds - a confession (long)


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Detroit Chowhounds - a confession (long)

cappy | Feb 20, 2004 08:51 AM

This my first visit to this board. I have reviewed and contributed a bit for several years to the Chowhound boards for NYC, Chicago, and SF. I find valuable information about chowhoundish eats and recommendations about fine dining on all of those boards. But, I was born and raised in Detroit, and consider myself an original Detroit Chowhound. I had the fortune to be able to dine at the finer places, including Larco's, Lelli's, Kelly's, Cadieux Cafe, Clam Shop, Red Devil, Rocky's, and the late, great emporium of the finest seafood (and bean relish!) Joe Muer's, when these places were in the city and operated by the Mr. & Mrs. I moved to Kalamazoo in 1979, and still have family and friends in the area, but none of them live in Detroit.

I have always been proud of having been born and raised in Detroit. I travel back to the city every two to three weeks to pick up product for my store. When it was open, I made a point to eat at Joe Muer's every time I had the chance when in the area. In fact, I once negotiated with a client that I would do his work on several conditions, one being that each time I had to come to the area for business, he would buy dinner at Muer's. In fact, my love affair with Joe Muer's is now part of my problem - I never went to the new restaurants in our out of the city to discover what is out there in fine dining and chow places. All that is left of Muer's is the rusting steel splash guard on Gratiot that used to protect those waiting out the door to get a table at the old entrance.

My routine trip takes me to the inner city (or belly of the beast as I call it) to an area generally bordered by Gratiot, McNichols and 1-96. I must say that this is one of the most depressed and depressing areas I ever encounter. It seems as if the central core of Detroit has died. I visit Chicago almost as often as Detroit, and I am unable to explain the absolutely astounding differences between these two cities. I know the explanations are cultural, political and racial, and far beyond the purpose of this board. My point is that I mourn the loss of the City of Detroit. I want to find places to eat that demonstrate a vitality and life in the city. I have not found any - I have given up. I am sure that if I travelled to Novi and Troy and RO and Birmingham and Rochester I would find fine places to nibble and drink and chow, but they are most likely just like all the other suburban mall-like places, just like Corner Bakery in Chicago or Panera Bread or .... Fine places, but lacking in character and soul. My best example of this is a place like Chili's, with all the "old" stuff on the walls which is just for looks.

I have never even considered looking at this board before, inasmuch as I have concluded that there is no hope of finding information about chowhoundish places in Detroit. But yesterday it dawned on me that I could be wrong - that there may be like-minded people in the Detroit area that can show me the error of my thinking. Where are the places for great chowhoundish food in the city? I like all kinds of stuff, Greek (I know about Greektown, but are there particular places there that are really better than the others?), Lebanese, soul food, delis, and any other chow food. One place I keep eyeballing is Louisiana Gumbo on Gratiot across the street from where Muer's used to be. Anybody know anything about this place? I am certainly willing to discover places outside of the central city, including Dearborn for arabic food, so I am not asking only for information about downtown places. But it would be nice to know about places close to where I am doing my business or on the 1-94, 1-96 or Lodge to 275.

I hope to hear from you, and I will contribute all I can to give you all ideas for great chow in the Detroit area. Thanks for any information you provide.

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