Slows Bar B Q, DetroitIts economy may have backfired, but foodie hotspots are getting Detroit motoring again, says local Meghan McEwen.

Once famed for motors, Motown and Eminem, Detroit has more recently gained a reputation for bankruptcy and urban decay. But look beyond the empty buildings and there is an alternate Detroit appearing - one buoyed by the creative energy of an art- and culture-fuelled renaissance. In its wake, inventive restaurateurs are emerging to feed the hungry crowds who are flooding back to the city.

One neighbourhood that's booming is Corktown, a previously near-deserted stretch of Michigan Avenue in the shadow of the abandoned Michigan Central Station. Now it's bustling with the likes of craft-beer specialist Slows Bar B Q, coffee shop Astro, and new Italian restaurant Ottava Via. Other newcomers include Two James (, the first distillery to open in Detroit since before Prohibition, which sells a range of handcrafted vodka, gin, bourbon and whiskey. Order the bourbon-based Corktown Flip at its industrial-style bar. Gold Cash Gold, a restaurant opening this summer in a former pawn shop, shows how far the area is transforming.

New ventures are popping up across town, too. On the border of Eastern Market, the oldest outdoor farmers' market in the USA, Joel Peterson and Rebecca Mazzei have recently added a café to Trinosophes (, their art and music venue that opened last spring, serving warm doughnuts, Vietnamese-inspired lunches and weekend brunch prepared by guest chefs. 'We apply the same ethos to the food as we do to the music and art - we let whoever do whatever,' says Mazzei.

A few doors down, artist Greg Holm is putting the finishing touches on his renovated Art Deco space, soon to house a French-inspired restaurant, Frontera ( The menu will feature reimagined traditional dishes such as turtle soup with sherry and crème fraîche. Later this year, look out for Craftwork restaurant in West Village, and Midtown's Standard on Selden. Detroit's favourite mixologist Dave Kwiatkowski, who brought the craft cocktail hotspot Sugar House to Corktown two years ago, will also open Wright Company, a booze-focused downtown gastro-bistro.

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