It’s that time of year again...the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) has arrived! Cars, cars, and more cars, and with all of those cars (and trucks, large amounts people, and TONS of walking), comes the need for some grub and chill-time. Don’t know where to go? We’ve put together a list of “hot-spots” where you can take a mini getaway if you’re coming in from out of town or if you live in the area, all available to you in the Motor City.
The “Jefferson” District (as we’re calling it) is the closest hub near Cobo Center. But just because it’s close, doesn’t mean that there isn’t delicious food, drinks, and down-time to be had. Here is what we suggest.
Foundation Hotel nominated best hotel upscale from Boutique Design in 2017, the hotel has a beautiful restaurant attached to it, The Apparatus Room, featuring the incredible cuisine from Michelin-starred Chef, Thomas Lents. With a 5-star rating on Open Table, you really can’t beat this for classy getaway with beautiful hotel during or after the show, and yes, they have brunch, too.
Crowne Plaza Hotel is a classic, just a few steps away from Cobo Center so you don’t need to worry about getting to the auto show when everyone (and their mother) is driving downtown on Jefferson Avenue. If you’re all about convenience and ease, this is definitely the choice for you for lodging, especially since it’ so cold in the D during this time of year.
For drinks after the show with your significant other, clients, or coworkers, comes Buhl Bar: a cozy, masculine mid-century inspired speakeasy right in the heart of downtown and just a few blocks away from Cobo. The bartender, Rick, makes the perfect Negroni, and the atmosphere helps you unwind after staring at cars all day.
The “Grand Boulevard” District (our nickname) is a little bit of a hike via foot, but a quick uber ride to your destination. Located just north west of Cobo Center, here are our suggestions on where to lodge, eat, and play.
Republic Tavern is top on this list for a number of reasons. Their elevated, seasonal, nose-to-tail pub food pairs perfectly with craft beer, wine and brown spirits in a hip, rustic-chic space. Top off your meal with a shot of Fernet-Branca digestif (an industry drink of choice) after a long day at the show and call it a successful night.
A few blocks south of Republic Tavern, you can stay at the Double Tree Hotel to recoup for the evening. If you’re feeling eager for your New Year’s Resolutions, they even have a fitness center for you to use before heading out for the day. A win-win if you’re looking to partake in some serious dining during the car spectacle.
Hunting for a sports bar? Bookie’s is the place for you. This two story bar is right on Cass Ave., just south of I-75S and has the staple “bar food and beer” combo to get you through the day. It’s also the perfect place for bigger groups and for the routier type, if you’re looking for some fun nightlife with a crowd!
For the morning after (lunch/brunch), Parks & Rec diner is a must, and has a very diet(allergen)-conscious menu. Most of the items are gluten-free (or able to be) or tailored toward vegetarian and vegan diners, so everyone can enjoy a delicious brunch. This place is best for 2-3 tops or dining at the bar, and it’s quaint AF.
If you’re scoping out the familiarly iconic Detroit experience, Greektown has it all. From Wahlburger’s and Five-Guys to Pegasus Tavernas and Fishbone’s, there’s a little fun for everyone packed in this district. Here are our unique suggestions.
For lodging, the Hilton Garden-Inn is a no-brainer. Right on the corner of Gratiot Ave. and Brush St., you have access to a fitness center and a pool to lay low in-between NAIAS visits, and it’s right down the street from Cobo. A top pick in our opinion for quality, leaving you with higher quantity of time due to its ideal location to explore the city.
Jacoby’s (an establishment that’s been in business for over 100 years) is full of history, authentic German food, and beer. From Weiner Schnitzel to Kartorfellpuffer (potato pancakes), they know comfort food and do it well. Dining on the lighter side? They have a couple of delicious salads to choose from, like the classic Cobb or Michigan salads.
The best place to kick back with a whiskey, a burger and addicting shoestring french fries (or some sweet potato tots) is Checker Bar. Their kitchen is open late and their staff is always looking for a good time. Bring a couple of friends, have some laughs (and some shots), and you’re good to go!
For cocktails, we recommend The Keep, located on the same block as Checker Bar on the corner of Randolph St. and E. Congress Ave. Chill vibe, great location and their craft cocktails are on point with Happy Hour specials during the week. They make a solid Old Fashioned and a well-balanced can of beer…(joking, but seriously). Give this place a visit if you can.
From nail salons to cocktail bars, Capitol Park has it all. We recommend staying around here if you’re ready to have a little afternoon or evening to yourself full of shopping and “me” time. Here’s what we have lined up.
For a light lunch, Eatori is the perfect oasis for a midday break. Open from 8am-12am, they specialize in prepared foods & specialty groceries, plus a bar for cocktails & global bites. We suggest getting some prepared food to take with you while drinking some wine at the bar before going onto the next venture on your itinerary.
Feeling like getting pampered? Treat yourself to a perfect manicure at women-owned The Ten Nail Bar, right next store to Eatori. You can even keep your buzz going, because they offer complimentary champagne with any service and have the friendliest staff to go along with it.
Post mani-pedi, it’s time to shop. Bird Bee (boutique clothing), City Bark (pet store), or even Detroit Bikes (actual bicycles made in Detroit) are the perfect stores to explore and take your mind off of cars for a minute. Best thing? They are all right next to each other. Grab some coffee at Dessert Oasis Coffee in-between shops to get the energy flowing.
Happy Hour (from 4:30-6:30pm Monday-Friday) at Michael Symon’s Roast provides an outstanding meal at a steal. From their ½ off bar menu you can choose from Chicken Liver Polenta to Rosemary Fries, with house wines (red, white, and rose) at $5/glass. If you’re not feeling the ½ off Happy Hour Menu, you can always order from the dinner menu; the bone marrow is a fan favorite and their wine selection is superb.
If you’re lucky enough to get in, check out Bad Luck Bar. Located behind The Albert Apartments (in “The Alley”) you will have a cocktail experience unlike any other. The definition of high-end, approachable, exquisitely crafted cocktails.
For Capitol Park lodging, we recommend the Westin Book Cadillac. This stunningly historic building brings a classy and luxurious vibe into your lodging experience. Valet is in full-swing and there’s even a Starbuck’s Coffee on the ground floor for your coffee addiction needs.
Feel like staying downtown? We don’t blame you. From Campus Martius Park to Hart Plaza, there is so much to see! Below are our top picks for places to lodge and dine.
The ALoft Hotel, located in The David Whitney Building on the corner of Woodward Ave. and Park Ave., focuses on forward-thinking technology specializing in modern living and their interiors are guaranteed to impress. The Qline is also right there, making getting downtown a breeze!
Hudson Cafe is right on Woodward Ave. near the new Under Armour (another good choice for a daily shopping break, as well as Lululmeon and Nike). They are known for their lunches and brunches with huge serving sizes. The lines to dine in can get long, but their Red Velvet Pancakes are a must. They even offer a large gluten-free menu as well which is a plus to those who need it.
Detroit seems to have a love for alley bars, and Standby is another one of them. Owner Joe Robinson has it down when it comes to the chique nightlife vibe with amazing food and a stellar cocktail program. We recommend the “Snake In The Grass” to start off the night. After that, head over to The Skip (also in “The Belt”) to try some fun drinks and dancing. We recommend “The Skip G&T” for starts.
Punch Bowl Social is the perfect place to have fun with large groups. They offer dinner, brunch and entertainment from bowling to karaoke. Parking is easy in the Z-Lot around the corner, so you don’t have to worry about street parking, which, let’s all agree, is pretty awesome.
Wright & Co. (located above John Varvatos) is another successful establishment in Dave. K’s restaurant group. The restaurant, focused on New American food, has a gorgeous view and a stellar beverage/food program to go along with it. Their nachos and shrimp are out of this world, and the interior design is one-of-a-kind. This restaurant is more of a socially romantic spot and the perfect place to bring your date after the show, and it’s Qline accessible on top of it.
Taking the Qline in itself can be an adventure, and if you’re willing, Brush Park/Midtown has a lot to offer in terms of shopping and dining that is a straight shot from downtown. These are the places we recommend.
Cars and coffee go together like bread and butter, right? We think so. Hop on the Qline to visit one of Detroit’s newest and most unique coffee shops, New Order Coffee. Located on Woodward Ave. and Watson St., this special shop’s goal is to delight and energize you, and they currently are introducing the Heartbreaker Mocha where M&M mocha meets a cute heart shaped mallow - the perfect autoshow pick-me-up.
Canfield Shopping District is an array of shops and restaurants and they are all too good to choose just one. For shopping we are all about Shinola, Third Man Records, City Bird, Nest , Hugh, Wills Leather Goods, and Filson. For grub, check out Jolly Pumpkin (even President Obama has dined here), Motor City Brewing Works, or Sy Thai for a quick bite to-go. If you have more time, walk along the beautiful cobblestone streets of West Canfield to get some fresh air in-between Cobo Center visits.
Great Lakes Coffee is a great pit-stop for coffee or booze. Located on the corner of Alexandrine Ave. and Woodward Ave., this is one of Detroit’s first coffee shops in the area focusing on brewing. They have some delicious snacks, pour-overs and lattes, such as the Sexy Mexican Latte.
If you want to stay a little away from downtown, we recommend lodging at the Inn on Ferry Street. Being one of the oldest neighborhoods of Detroit, the inn is tucked away in the Art Center district behind the Detroit Institute of Arts. It’s the perfect place to stay for the history aficionados in this gorgeous, Victorian-style stone building.
For a night out, Grey Ghost is top on our list. This hip steakhouse has some of the best dishes and cocktails in the city. Other than meat, they have some delicious vegetarian options on the lighter side. A late-night menu emerged last year as well as and brunch on the weekends.
Last but definitely not least, is Corktown. One of Detroit’s oldest communities, Corktown is the home of the old Tigers Stadium, but is now home to so many amazing restaurants and bars. Check out these places that we think you should try during Auto Week.
The new and improved Trumbull and Porter Hotel is a great choice for lodging. Connected to the hotel is also home to the new Red Dunn Kitchen. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and feature seasonal American menu reminiscent of tried and true classic French technique with an innovative, contemporary flair.
Lady of The House has made waves in Detroit. Opening last fall, Chef Kate Williams has proven that comfort food is not at all outdated and should be celebrated and refined. Focusing on traditional Irish dinner cuisine, Lady of The House brings a nostalgic touch to a newly renovated space. Not only does Lady create memorable food, but they also make their own gin and have a spectacular Gin Martini on the menu. And ladies, don’t forget to visit Ryan Gosling in the powder room on your way out.
To us, brunch in Corktown means a trip to Brooklyn Street Local, consisting of local, fresh and mouth-watering food with daily specials and house-made scones. They also have mushroom gravy poutine which is to die for. If you end up having to wait, they give you coffee for your troubles. What more can you ask for?
For a quick, delicious, and painless lunch before visiting Cobo, check out Mercury Bar on the corner of 14th Ave. and Michigan Ave. Not only are they known for their burgers and hot dogs, but they have some kick-ass boozed up milkshakes to get the day started on the right foot, especially when you’re checking out expensive cars.
For an impeccable nightcap at Detroit’s pioneering cocktail bar, Sugar House is a must. The energy is high and the bartenders are many, making it an entertaining show for regulars and first-timers. This is an impressive place to take clients or a date post-Cobo, since they are open in the evenings. The EFK and the Blue Blazer are their staples, and the smell of hickory smoke will entice you to stay and enjoy the company you keep.
Well, that’s a wrap! We hope you are able to navigate the NAIAS with the only way Detroiters know how, which is to eat, drink and play.
Candice Simons, j'adore Detroit