Metro Times: Michigan Avenue Turnaround Is Tasty, Lively And Cozy

Motor City Wine draw a grand opening crowd last August. (Facebook photo/Cokko Swain)

What a difference a decade makes -- pretty much in everything, and specifically along Michigan Avenue near downtown, the focus of Metro Times' latest cover story.

Managing editor Michael Jackman decided "it’s the perfect time to see what’s happening along this historic thoroughfare." He sets the scene with a look back 10 years:  

The graying strip in the shadow of Michigan Central Station was a textbook case of urban disinvestment, with vacant storefronts clad in ancient iron wicker. On some days, you could have fired buckshot down the road with no casualties. And if you wanted something to eat, one of your main choices was White Castle.

Brooklyn Street Local's falafel sandwich with pickled vegetable and coconut tahini sauce. (Facebook photo)

The turning point, as enshrined endlessly by writers from near and far, came in 2005 with the debut of Slows Bar-B-Q.

For an update on those who followed, Jackman does a dining-drinking tour of the avenue with Evan Bradish of Ottava Via restaurant, one of the newbies.

These are among their stops and the writer's comments:

  • Detroit Institute of Bagels: "All the food is done with a bit of extra class, from the big sandwiches down to the cucumber-infused water. The bagels themselves have a nice crispy rind, and aren’t the poofy jumbo-sized carb-bombs you find in stores. . . . Owner Ben Newman, 30, didn’t go to culinary school. He studied urban planning, deciding to put his money where his mouth was. . . . True to the neighborhood ethos, he lives just a few blocks away, and has for more than three years."
  • Brooklyn Street Local: "We order a chicken-and-pesto sandwich and, naturally, a bowl of poutine, for which the joint is somewhat famous. . . . Deveri Gifford, 32. Deveri and her husband, Jason Yates, opened the joint in May 2012. The couple emigrated to Corktown from Toronto, taking up residence on Leverette Street two years ago, and turning this former coney island into a smart little café. . . . The menu’s choices are a little more playful than standard diner fare."
  • Motor City Wine: "Husband-and-wife team Melissa and David Armin-Parcells only moved their wine bar, shop and music venue from downtown to Corktown last year, into the former Express Bar. . . . They landed smack in the middle of a neighborhood they love, and they’re making the most of it, aiming to provide a peerless gathering place. Come springtime, their outdoor courtyard should have lovers of wine and music gathered around their outdoor fire."

Motor City Wine sells bottles for takeout or uncorking there. (Facebook photo/Cokko Swain)

Other business described at the link below are Mercury Burger Bar, Ottava Via, PJ's Lager House and Astro Coffee.

And the influx appears sure to keep rolling, Jackman predicts:

We’ve heard scuttlebutt on who’s opening what when, including the new Bucharest Grill in the old Great Wall Chinese joint, the deli named Rubbed in a former nail salon, a new bar called UFO Factory down by the old taxi garage. We even hear a new microbrewery is in the works. 

-- Alan Stamm

Read more:  Metro Times

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