Warrendale's Understated Cool

Detroit’s Warrendale neighborhood is a far-West Side peninsula. It runs from Greenfield east to the city limits and from Joy Road south to the city limits — surrounded on two sides by Dearborn and by Dearborn Heights on the third.

For those native to the East Side, if you were to follow Warren Avenue west, you’d eventually hit Dearborn. And if you kept on going west, you’d leave Dearborn and be in Warrendale.

What you’d find is a working-class neighborhood that’s never quit, and an enclave that’s home to a few things that you simply can’t find anywhere else in the city — with recreation, restaurants and corner bars that offer an unpretentious, authentic neighborhood vibe that’s undeniably cool.

A little history

This area used to a separate city, the Village of Warrendale to be exact, until its residents decided to be annexed by the City of Detroit in the early 1900s so they could take advantage of Detroit’s water system.

Warrendale is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in southeastern Michigan. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 34 percent of Warrendale’s residents are white and 31 percent are African-American, with the remainder being a mix of Arab, Asian, Hispanic and Native American.

The neighborhood itself is predominately made-up of single-family homes, the majority of which were built in 1940s. There are, however, still some home left from that were constructed in at the dawn of the 20th century, which help add to the historic character of Warrendale.

Detroit’s biggest playground

Warrendale has plenty of room to play. It is home to Rouge Park — 1,181 acres of parkland. It is almost twice the size of Belle Isle, which makes this the largest park in Detroit and one of the largest city-owned parks in the United States.

The park has become a draw for mountain-bikers. Until the new Michigan Mountain Biking Association trail was put in, the closest dedicated mountain biking trail was in Novi. The trail follows the western edge of the Rouge River from Tireman north to Joy Road. There are paved paths for biking, too.

Not into biking? Rouge Park also has:
• 14 regulation size baseball diamonds;
• six basketball courts;
• 18 holes of golf on a public golf course;
• 11 outdoor tennis courts;
• three outdoor Olympic-sized swimming pools;
• a soccer field;
• 2 miles of fitness trails;
• 26,000 feet of waterfront frontage;
• more than 200 picnic tables;
• a nature study area;
• and a dozen playgrounds for the kids.

Last month, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick proposed alleviating a portion of Detroit’s budget problems by allowing developers to build new houses along the Rouge Park Golf Course. Besides generating cash for the city, this would enable those who love recreation in Detroit to literally live right in the middle of it all.

Come as you are

Warrendale has always had a relaxed, come-as-you-are feel to it. The neighborhood’s feel and attitude permeates its nightlife.

O’Halloran’s Tipperary Pub
, on the southbound Southfield Freeway service drive, has been an institution in Warrendale since 1969. It was honored as both “Best Reason to Order a Pint” by the Detroit Free Press and “Best Teensy Irish Bar” by the Detroit News. The bar also features an acoustic open mike night every Wednesday from 8 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. Live Irish music is also a staple at O’Halloran’s Tipperary Pub. Established artists like Terry Murphy and Bruno’s Brawlers make regular appearances before its patrons.

For those visitors who prefer less eating and more drinking, Warrendale has numerous options to keep your liver saturated. Chick’s Bar (18550 W. Warren Ave, 313.441.6055) has been proudly serving in Warrendale for decades and there’s always some kind of a game on their televisions. The Hurry Inn Tavern (19430 W. Warren Ave., 313.593.0162) and the Warrendale Bar (17621 W. Warren Ave., 313.584.4662) each provide thirsty customers with libations and a down-home atmosphere.

Along W. Warren Avenue, visitors also will find a wide variety of ethnic dining opportunities.

The Family Bakery (17032 W. Warren Ave. 313.982.0022) is a small restaurant that is well known for its fast, friendly service and great Middle Eastern cuisine.

Papa Joe's Family Restaurant & Buffet (19305 W. Warren Ave., 313.271.0959) is the newest addition to quality dining in the Warrendale neighborhood. They feature everything from pizza to burgers, with a buffet available for lunch and dinner. 

Steve’s Three Brothers (17620 W. Warren Ave., 313.271.1227) features first-rate Polish food. When a pair of reporters from the (Pittsburgh) Post-Gazette were in town for Super Bowl XL, they ate at Steve’s Three Brothers and referred to the kielbasa, pierogies and eggs as “the greatest breakfast of our lives.”

The addition of Arab immigrants to Warrendale has brought with it the emergence of small, ethic markets that provide shoppers with foods that they simply can’t get a regular grocery store. Some places to check out: New Iraq Bakery & Grocery (17015 W. Warren Ave., 313.581.7970) and the Holy Land Market (19619 W. Warren Ave., 313.271.0706).

Looking ahead

Warrendale got a boost from the NFL, thanks to Super Bowl XL. While the game’s action went on downtown, the neighborhood was tapped to be the future home of the NFL’s new Youth Education Town.

When it is completed in May 2007, the Youth Education Town will bring a 30,000 square foot youth center to Warrendale. This will be the largest such NFL center in the nation. The youth center will be operated by the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan. Programs will be offered to school-aged children and will focus on character and leadership development; education and leadership development; health and life skills; the arts and sports, as well as fitness and recreation.

The Warrendale Community Organization is hoping to leverage the NFL’s Youth Education Town into even more development.  The group has applied to be designated a Cool City by the Granholm administration. This would give them priority status for 178 different community and business development programs that are offered by the State of Michigan.

As they hope for an official state decree, Warrendale residents already know what makes this neighborhood cool — it’s unique sense of place, laid-back vibe, expansive green spaces and one-of-kind places.


Rouge River at Detroit's Rouge Park

Classic Warrendale Homes

Detroit Aero Modelers Club at Rouge Park

O'Halloran's Tipperary Pub

The Family Bakery

John Nagen Monument in Front of Brennan Pools, built for the 1936 US Olympic Swimming and Diving Trials

All Photographs Copyright Dave Krieger

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