Visit Southwest Detroit, or Curing Your I-75 Orange Barrel Fever

Cranes reach for the sky. Layers of dirt collect on the road from the wheels of heavy equipment. The hum and clang of construction fills the air. In the pit that was once Interstate 75, the cars are off the road and the big dig is on.


The words "Massive freeway closure" and "2-year construction project" are music to very few ears in Southwest Detroit, even if the result will be improved highways and byways.

Before you slam on the brakes to avoid the orange barrel fever that’s got a grip on the strip of I-75 from Rosa Parks Boulevard to Clark Street, think again, friends.

Normally, we at Model D would scold you for only visiting the area to suck down a pitcher of margaritas and scarf some cheese-laden gringo-ized Mex fare.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and we’ll check our Detroitist attitudes at the door. If a botana with extra sour cream is all that can get your sorry selves motivated to "Explore the Detour" and visit the Southwest corners of the D, then so be it.

Getting there

We’ve driven the detour, and we're here to say, it ain’t that bad.
Here's a link to the official routes and a handy dandy map, courtesy of WWJ.

So don't sweat it.

And because we really can't help ourselves, we'll  strongly encourage you to check out what else is on the menu in the detour-inflicted neighborhoods of Corktown, Mexicantown and Southwest Detroit. Some of our favorite picks are below.

Share your favorite detour-busting places to go in Southwest Detroit, and we’ll post a reader round-up in an upcoming issue. Send an e-mail to Please include your name and neighborhood, plus an e-mail address and phone number so we can contact you.

Why is it important to support Southwest in these trying times? You still want to eat bottomless baskets of tortilla chips in two years, don’t you?

So keep the dinero coming down Vernor, send bags of bucks down Bagley, and get out and about in these neighborhoods.

Here are some Southwest Detroit visiting tips, courtesy of Model D:


Everyone needs caffeine. Almost everyone needs WiFi. You will find both in ample supply at the Mercado’s new coffee shop, Café Con Leche. (Read more about it in this week's Development News.)

If you are asking “mer-what-o?” it’s the new building on Bagley on the East side of I-75 that, even on the coldest of winter’s days, pipes Latin music outside to greet visitors.

Café Con Leche is just a few minutes from downtown, has good quality Joe, lots of free parking, and nice comfy chairs. You want more? There are also a handful of gift shops and jewelry stores inside the Mercado. Still more? Owner Jordi Carbonell is probably the nicest guy you'll talk to all week. And you'll be helping a new biz get off the ground.

Foodies Welcome

You could argue all day as to where the best tamales are. Evie’s is great, and a classic. There's also Tamaleria Nuevo Leon, which also has been around for eons. Why not take the detour as a challenge to try them all? You’ve got two years.

We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again: Shop in Southwest Detroit for your groceries.

We tend to gush over Honey Bee Market on Bagley, but can you blame us? The housemade chips, guacamole and salsa get food bloggers happy, and we agree there’s an addictive chemical in them.

Note: If you are still making tacos with plain old ground beef and the little packet of mystery taco seasoning powder, do yourself a favor and sample the carnitas and carne asada at the meat counter. The chorizo is life-changing.

Corktown, Uncorked

Shamrocks will be in full effect this weekend for Corktown’s St. Patrick's Day celebration. The parade down Michigan Avenue is still on, as are the pre-parade parties, the post-parade parties, and the actual St. Patrick’s Day parties. The obvious choice for raising a glass is the Gaelic League, but one could, if one was so inclined, use this as an excuse to explore deeper into Corktown.

St. Pat's Day or not, the Baile Corcaigh on Bagley and Trumbull is as Irish as they get. The hearth around the fireplace is made with stones gathered from each of the counties of Ireland. We’ll have the shepherd’s pie and a Guinness please. And don’t get stingy with the homemade soda bread. Yum.

For the kiddies
A quick afternoon out with the kids: First, go to a new place, Mudgies, at the corner of Porter and Brooklyn. Get the kids a sugar fix and make the HotFudge Detroiters proud by ordering the Fudgie Mudgie (brownie baked in a waffle iron, topped with ice cream and Sanders hot fudge).

Second, buy the little ones some books next door at Ladel’s, a cute and independent book shop (yes, they still make those). Finally, tire 'em out at the playground across the street. Perfect.

How should metro Detroiters 'Explore the Detour'? Send us your ideas:


Mudgie's Hot Fudge Brownie with Ice Cream

Bagley Housing Art Gallery

Cafe Con Leche at the New Mercado

Honey Bee Market

Smiles at the Saint Patrick Day's Parade

Greg Mudge of Mudgie's

All Photographs Copyright Dave Krieger

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