Metro Detroit overflows with so much top-rate cuisine these days that it can be difficult to choose which restaurant to visit, let alone which dish to order. So we decided to seek a little expert advice. We asked seven of Metro Detroit's top chefs to pick their favorite dish from a metro-area restaurant (other than their own, of course).
The results range from some of the area's most buzzed-about destination restaurants to a little-known food truck, with cuisines running the gamut from Coney to casonsei (don't worry, we'll explain later). Enjoy the clear mutual appreciation society that exists among Metro Detroit chefs, and then get out and try some of their favorite eats. We'll see you there.
Mabel Gray, Hazel Park
"I can't limit my answer to just one dish. We have better food options now than ever before. But when I have friends in town I show them a proper Coney at Lafayette, late-night burger at Grey Ghost, anything at the new Yum Village, and Loui's Pizza."
James Rigato. Photo by Doug Coombe.
Hazel, Ravines, and Downtown, Birmingham
"De-boned chicken from Pita Cafe in Oak Park is my all-time favorite meal. It is my desert island meal, my birthday meal (you get it). It is perfectly tender, perfectly seasoned, and comes with the perfect rice and toum. I tend to order it with all dark meat, because dark meat is my favorite. I also tend to order it with another couple of dishes, but it stands up just fine on its own. It is even good cold the next day!"
Emmele Herrold. Photo by Doug Coombe.
Bangkok 96, Dearborn
"This is a pasta dish from my favorite restaurant, Selden Standard, and is called sweet corn casonsei with lobster, chili, and basil. I love that place because I grew up in Paris. The foods they served (at Selden Standard) were very good and remind me of when I lived in France. They also serve seasonal, locally sourced, new American cuisine."
Genevieve Vang. Photo by Doug Coombe.
Great Lakes Culinary Center, Southfield
"If I had to pick a favorite it would be the ribs at Takoi. I love them because, first, they’re just delicious! Second, I love the complexity of the dish. The sweet fish sauce glaze that’s on those smokey, crunchy ribs is amazing! I love the tart apple salad that tops the ribs! It’s just a great dish that I’ve had far too many times to count!"
Reva Constantine. Photo by Doug Coombe.
"I love the sliders at Hunter House. Being just a block or two from Adachi makes it so convenient to grab a couple sliders when we're busy and hungry. Just like all great dishes, they're consistent and fresh-tasting and I know they're using quality ingredients. As a new member of the Birmingham community I see why everyone has a lifetime love affair with Hunter House."
Lloyd Roberts. Photo by Doug Coombe.
"Larb from Bangkok 96 street food. It’s not on the menu anymore but if Genevieve is working she’ll make it for you if you ask nicely. This version is from northern Thailand, and is a sour, spicy, salty salad that’s served cold with lettuce to eat as a wrap. It’s a dish that can be challenging to Western tastes, which is maybe why she took it off the menu, but it is absolutely delicious. Ask for extra spicy."
"A favorite meal in Detroit is Takoi. We have a standing order there of their Naem Khao Tod and Laap Gai. We like those two dishes so much we sort of combined the two to make our 'wedge' salad at Voyager. We make soured shrimp and a sauce with the traditional ingredients used in those dishes. We top it with crisp Carolina Gold rice, garlic, Thai basil, and mint.
Another favorite, and likely not brought up often is El Rodeo on Vernor Hwy. in Southwest Detroit. They've been there since 1983. The service is always great. We always order way too much. The standout is their homemade tortillas. They are so thick and amazing. More people should know about this place!"
Patrick Dunn is the managing editor of Concentrate and a regular contributor to Metromode.
Justin Tootla & Jennifer Jackson. Photo by Doug Coombe.