From a community-oriented cafe to high-end tasting menus and everything in between, here are the restaurants to watch out for this year.
As Brian Allnutt reported last year, several innovative restaurants are putting Jefferson Chalmers in the dining spotlight. Opened in 2018, Norma G’s worked with nonprofit Jefferson East Inc., which identified dining and minority-owned businesses as two things residents wanted to see in the neighborhood.
Jefferson East Inc. also worked with Alma Kitchen, which is eyeing a spring opening in the historic Kresge Building on Jefferson Avenue at Lakewood Street. The fusion restaurant, owned and operated by catering veterans Gary Mui and Alicia Sanchez, will blend the owners’ Chinese-American and Mexican-American culinary traditions.
Also coming to the neighborhood this spring is Coriander Kitchen, a chef-farmer collaboration between Alison Heeres and Gwen Meyer. The pair recently wrapped up a successful crowdfunding campaign, raising upwards of $30,000 to renovate the vacant Fisherman's Marina for their farm-to-table restaurant and bar and a family-friendly outdoor patio space next to paddle company Detroit River Sports.
A semifinalist in last year Comerica Hatch Detroit competition, Jeffrey Lewis is gearing up to open Morningside Café in the next three months.
Lewis, a resident of Morningside, told Model D last year the café is an opportunity to provide his neighbors with a place to gather over a cup of coffee, tea, or smoothie.
"[Residents] have to travel over to the Grosse Pointes … or travel as far as downtown and Midtown to have a place to go get a quality cup of coffee or just to have a place where they can meet with friends and colleagues," Lewis told Model D in August. As a resident of the neighborhood, he remembers there were local businesses he could go to without leaving the neighborhood, and he wants to offer that experience through his cafe.
Morningside has seen a flurry of new business activity recently, including new restaurants Flamz Pizzeria and Detroit Pepper Company, which were included in our photo and audio tour of Warren Avenue last year.
Two high-profile restaurant concepts are slated to open on East Grand Boulevard this year.
Sandy Levine and Doug Hewitt, partners in the popular Chartreuse Kitchen and Cocktails in Midtown near the Detroit Institute of Arts, are collaborating again on the tasting menu restaurant and cocktail bar Freya and Dragonfly, Crain’s reported last year. Levine, owner of The Oakland craft cocktail bar in Ferndale, described the restaurant concept as “fine dining but for the 99 percent” to the Detroit Free Press.
Oak and Reel, a modern Italian and seafood restaurant, is also coming to Milwaukee Junction. According to a recent post on its Instagram page, it’s gearing up for a spring opening. Michigan native and chef Jared Gadbaw has been warming up for the restaurant’s debut, including a recent preview dinner at revolver in Hamtramck where he dished up risotto, fish, and panna cotta. Gadbaw worked for nearly 20 years in New York with stints at acclaimed restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park and Alto before deciding to come back home.
Initially located in West Village, Brix Wine and Charcuterie relocated to the Livernois and Seven Mile community where owner Mikiah Westbrooks is eyeing a spring reopening, according to a recent Facebook post. Brix was one of the 10 semifinalists in last year’s Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest.
As Model D Live6 project editor David Sands reported last year, Ernest Smith and his fiancée, Jevona Watson, are developing a new cluster of businesses on McNichols between Pennington and San Juan Streets and are hoping to open within the next three to four months. The new bar and restaurant is called Sips On Six — a name that alludes to both to Detroit Sip, which Watson owns, and the fact that McNichols is also known as Six Mile Road.
“The ambience will be similar to Detroit Sip,” Smith told Model D last year. Along with the other businesses, they are “trying to broaden the horizons of what can be over here,” says Smith. “We want to make sure we can give everything we can give, 110 percent, so the McNichols neighborhood can come back to life."