Made in Detroit. The Mac Cheese from Union Woodshop. Photo: Joe Vaughn

Think Motor City’s just corrupt mayors and crime rates? One of Detroit’s favorite chefs, Aaron Cozadd, makes a case for the city’s under-the-radar grub.

Detroit has a lot to thank Aaron Cozadd, the chef of restaurant Vinsetta Garage, for. In the outskirts of a city that’s shaking its bad rap, Cozadd breathed life into metro Detroit with killer chili-cheese dogs and burgers in one of the coolest restaurant set-ups in the city: a renovated auto garage. What feeds his spirit for the city? He gave us the low-down on where to dine, drink and visit while you’re in the big D.

 Try Michigan’s Mac & Cheese
Union Woodshop 
18 S Main St., Clarkston, MI 48346; (248) 625-5660

You think you know mac and cheese, but Union’s is unlike anything you’ve had before: It’s super creamy on the inside and made with Michigan’s own Pinconning Parmesan, sharp white cheddar, and a made-from-scratch béchamel sauce. When something that’s traditionally a side dish becomes entrée-worthy, that’s reinvention at its finest.

The Celeb Chef Crowd Pleaser
1128 Washington Blvd., Detroit, MI; (313) 961-2500

Michael Symon does an awesome job of making a menu that seems like it’s for other chefs – bone marrow, sweet breads, and beef heart – but at the same time, they have nice steaks and chops that are just simply grilled with some kind of house-picked item on it. There’s something for everyone there.

Eat Adventurously
Kitchen Hanzo 
6073 Haggerty Rd., West Bloomfield, MI; (248) 624-8666

As a chef, I tend to probably gravitate toward the odd, the things that I haven’t had before. So at Kitchen Hanzo it’d be the chicken gizzards in vinegar with long beans. I just thought it was so odd. I would have to get it every time. They’re fried and they’re crispy, yet they’re chewy and oddly cartilage-y, but in a satisfying way. Then the beans are very normal in comparison and the vinegar just kind of spikes it all. It’s this really interesting experience, and one that stayed with me because I’d never had anything like it.

Pay Respect to a Detroit Classic

Lafayette Coney Island
118 W Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI; (313) 964-8198

I always send people to Lafayette to get hot dogs. The same guys have been there for as long as I can remember. They stack these franks up their arm, like eight or nine high, and hand them out to you at the table. It’s amazing. I’ve been going there my whole life.

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