More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, metro Detroit’s food scene might be on the cusp of its first “normal” summer since 2019.
Against all odds, an explosion of new restaurants hit the area over the past year, bringing flavors from faraway destinations like Argentina, East Africa and Japan right to Michiganders’ doorsteps.
Whether you fancy an outdoor table overlooking a scenic waterfront, a refreshing pint of Michigan-made beer or a perfectly-grilled burger in your own backyard, our summer dining, cooking and brew guide has you covered.
Metro Detroit dining highlights
Baobab Fare, the East African eatery helmed by Burundi-born husband and wife duo Nadia Nijimbere and Hamissi Mamba, took first place honors in this year’s top 10 best new restaurants countdown. Other highlights include Barda, an Argentinian-inspired spot in Detroit’s Core City neighborhood, and farm-to-table concept Sylvan Table.
This unassuming sushi bar, which lies hidden in a nondescript strip mall in Clawson, earned the coveted title of Free Press Restaurant of the Year. Sourcing from sustainable fisheries from Alaska to Florida to Massachusetts and Washington, owner Hajime Sato has crafted a memorable menu of rolls, sashimi, nigiri and poké along with a variety of authentic Japanese side dishes.
One of the Rivertown District’s newest additions, this health-focused shop wraps its signature sammies in leafy greens such as kale, collards, turnip greens and Swiss chard instead of bread. The menu caters to a variety of special diets, including vegan, gluten-free, keto and Whole 30.
Four stellar newcomers to Detroit’s dining scene received delayed applause this year after COVID-19 dampened their opening celebrations in 2020 and 2021. Sample Cajun and Creole cuisine at Bellflower in Ypsilanti, enjoy a prix-fixe fine dining experience with a view at the Renaissance Center’s Highlands, grab fresh, authentic tacos at Southwest’s La Palapa del Parian, or indulge in seafood with an Italian flare at New Center’s Oak and Reel.
The popular Downtown Street Eats food truck program at Detroit’s Campus Martius Park returns for its 10th season this summer. A rotating lineup of more than 80 food trucks and carts will offer lunchtime options from 11 a.m. til 3 p.m. every Monday-Friday. The event is sponsored by the Downtown Detroit Partnership and runs through mid-October.
Summers in Michigan are too short and too precious to eat indoors. At metro Detroit spots like Coriander Kitchen and Farm, Mike’s on the Water and MacRay Harbor, patrons can enjoy an al fresco meal or cocktail with a waterfront view.
Michigan craft beer news
While it’s often passed up by beer snobs in favor of high-ABV juggernauts like IPAs, lager’s time to shine in the craft beer world might finally be upon us. Some Michigan-made favorites include Wolverine Premium Lager by Wolverine State Brewing Co., Brew Detroit’s Mexican-style Cerveza Delray and the slightly-hoppy Fritts Lager by Old Nation Brewery.
Grand Rapids-based Mitten Brewing Co.’s Triple Crown Brown won first place in the “English mild or bitter” category at this year’s Beer World Cup. Other Michigan breweries bringing home medals include Schaendorf Brewing Co., Brewery Vivant, Territorial Brewing Co., Urbanrest Brewing Co. and Dragonmead Microbrewery.
While Grand Rapids holds a special place in the hearts of most Michigan beer enthusiasts, the state is home to a number of fantastic brewing destinations. Mitten dwellers seeking a brew-centric getaway this summer should consider Mackinaw City, Marquette, Petoskey, Lower Lake Michigan or St. Clair Shores.
Summer-ready recipes, tips
The lemony dish calls for orzo, a small type of pasta that’s similar to the size, shape and texture of rice. Orzo is often enriched with vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium and B vitamins. In this recipe, the orzo absorbs a delicious lemon dressing. The longer it sits, the better it tastes.
This salad featuring grilled chicken, crunchy vegetables and a creamy sriracha dressing can be made ahead of time and packed for a picnic, potluck or workday lunch.
This new spin on deviled eggs swaps traditional mayonnaise for mashed avocado, making for a more healthful snack. Top them with paprika, as called for in the recipe, or experiment with other toppings like diced jalapeño peppers, sliced green onions or hot pepper rings.
Americans consume some 50 billion hamburgers a year. While grilling them seems like a simple task, we assure you there’s an art to it. Here are our tips to help you get them right every time.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Dining, cooking, beer in metro Detroit: Your 2022 summer guide