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Stateside Podcast: 2023 in food

Photo by Lyndsay Green; Collage by Rachel Ishikawa

The Detroit food scene is abuzz, and this year did not disappoint. We’ve seen chefs in the area pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the city – from the proliferation of Yemeni coffee houses to the rise of Instagram-ready restaurants.

Stateside spoke with Detroit Free Press food critic and James Beard award winner Lyndsay Green about some of the new and noteworthy restaurants and trends of 2023.

Rooftop ambiance at the IO lounge at the Godfrey Hotel in downtown Detroit.
Lyndsay Green
Rooftop ambiance at the IO lounge at the Godfrey Hotel in downtown Detroit.

Hotel restaurants

Green said that one outcome of downtown Detroit development is the rise of a particular kind of eatery: hotel restaurants. But this isn’t your ho-hum continental breakfast buffet, and you don’t need to book a room to get a table.

La Suprême, a Parisian-inspired brasserie at the Book Tower, Cibo Detroit, modern Mediterranean restaurant in the Cambria Hotel Detroit, and IO, a rooftop lounge at the Godfrey Hotel, are standouts for Green.

Back to the basics

While some food innovations have a propensity towards novelty, there are others that seek a more timeless kind of delight. Innovations that scale back the menu, and focus on simple foods made deliciously.

For Green, Coeur, located in downtown Ferndale, focuses on simple foods made deliciously.
Lyndsay Green
For Green, Coeur, located in downtown Ferndale, focuses on simple foods made deliciously.

For Green, two restaurants master this niche. Alpino is inspired by regional dishes from the Alps and Coeur, located in downtown Ferndale, is a new American fine dining spot.

“I think what they're doing feels so simple that it's refreshing and it's really nice to see a restaurant that really is just focusing on simple ingredients, simple dishes, but that are really, really delicious,” Green said. “It kind of just reminds you that you don't have to do too much to have a really great meal.”

Melding cuisines

Green said that some people may expect a certain kind of fare when dining at a Dearborn Middle Eastern restaurant; orders like shawarma, herbaceous salads, and falafel. But Green pointed towards two Dearborn restaurants that are melding Middle Eastern flavors into other cuisines.

Tiliani, is an upscale Italian restaurant located in downtown Dearborn and Aliz Seafood House, which has locations in Dearborn and Sterling Heights, features European and Mediterranean-inspired dishes.

Insta-forward flavors

For some restaurants, ambiance is a second thought, and for others, it’s the entire concept. In the Instagram age, Detroit has welcomed a few new restaurants, like Mad Nice and Zuzu, that prioritize aesthetics, which isn’t to say the food isn’t noteworthy too. (Green was partial to the pizza and salads at Mad Nice.)

“When we talk about ambiance and experience, I do think that Detroit deserves places like that where people can feel special,” Green said. “[Mad Nice is] a place where you might want to celebrate a birthday. It's a place where you would take friends.”

But Green noted that these kinds of restaurants should also consider their impact on the neighborhoods they’re located in.

“I am excited to see restaurants like these come in because they bring a lot of excitement to the city,” Green said. “But you just got to also think about the context of what's around those restaurants, how they're affecting people in those neighborhoods, and thinking about price points. You know, it's like, what does it say when you're paying certain prices for certain dishes in neighborhoods where the income level is not necessarily very high.”

Yemeni coffee houses

Another favorite this year was the proliferation of Yemeni cafes. Particularly Green said that she’s excited to see more Yemeni coffee shops opening up outside of Dearborn.

Her favorite place to grab a cup is Qahwah House, which offers premium, organic coffee imported from Yemen, and has several locations throughout Dearborn, Westland, and Canton.

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Mercedes Mejia is a producer and director of <i>Stateside</i>.
Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.