While Detroit has now earned the notorious distinction of being the largest municipality ever to file bankruptcy in U.S. history, over the years its food, arts and cultural scene has been thriving. Business owners and community members have been hard at work trying to push for a rebirth of the Rust Belt town, and as a result has created a city filled with unique cultural and culinary treasures. Here are 10 great reasons to visit Detroit --and not to write it off:
1. Eastern Market
The largest historic public market in the U.S. is located just outside of downtown Detroit. While Eastern Market draws in crowds of over 45,000 every Saturday, there’s a lot more to this market than just the produce vendors and flower peddlers. Make sure you come to the market hungry, as it’s also home to Supino Pizzeria, a neo-Italian pizzeria that uses ingredients from local producers and has been featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”. “Mad Men's” Christina Hendricks (the sultry Joan Holloway), recently in town for a film shoot, also called it the best she has ever had. Next door to Supino is Russell Street Deli, a vegetarian and vegan-friendly breakfast and lunch spot where everything is made from scratch. Eastern Market is home to several locally-famous corned beef producers, and Russell Street is probably best known for its house-cooked Sy Ginsberg corned beef.
Lately Eastern Market's reach has gone beyond that of a local food hub. Art galleries, independent boutiques, maker spaces, and old-fashioned letterpress shops (two of them) have been springing up in the market over the last few years. Check out Inner State Gallery, which has been spearheading a public mural movement throughout Detroit and are currently focused on Eastern Market, their new home. Be sure to also check out the Red Bull House of Art, Signal-Return, Salt & Cedar, and Detroit Mercantile Co.
Detroit is big on its by-the-bootstraps innovation, and nowhere is that more evident than in Corktown—one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Without any kind of corporate investment, Corktown has managed to transform itself from an area people once merely drove through to get to the old Tigers Stadium to a destination unto itself. Slows BAR BQ has been an anchor business on Michigan Avenue, and co-owner Phil Cooley has received quite a bit of press for this game-changing barbecue and craft beer bar – which helped spur further development along the corridor, including pre-Prohibition-themed craft cocktail bar Sugar House and artisan hipster coffee joint Astro Coffee. But he’s won kudos also for his work in launching Ponyride, a collaborative workspace providing affordable office and studio space to socially-conscious entrepreneurs and artists who all have the good of the greater Detroit community in mind. While you're at Ponyride, get a pour-over from Anthology Coffee, a local roaster that uses exquisitely sourced beans and serves probably the best cup of coffee in Michigan.
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