While the return of Dearborn Restaurant Week is reason enough to celebrate, this year’s event is an especially exciting one for Noah Saleh. Born and raised in Dearborn, Saleh has a great affection for his hometown and takes pride in the contributions he’s made here. His restaurant, Noah’s Smokehouse
, quickly established itself as a go-to destination in the city’s ever-expanding dining scene since it first opened in 2019. That was all threatened in November 2022 when a kitchen fire promptly closed his restaurant, and perhaps for good.
Noah's Smokehouse is located at 940 Monroe St. in downtown Dearborn.
But for Noah, the last thing he wanted to do was see his restaurant stay permanently closed. This place – the restaurant, downtown, the city itself – means too much to him and, as he quickly found out, means a lot to the community, too. And when he had his moments of doubt, it was the community that lifted him up and encouraged him to keep going.
“The minute we had the fire, I got tons of messages and direct phone calls from businesses and customers checking in on us, and that really hit home for me. It really made me feel like this is a true community that supports and helps each other out,” Saleh says.
“Throughout this whole process, we've had people keep asking us, Hey, when are you guys reopening? Every time I felt like, you know, maybe reopening wasn't for us, someone would send us a message. It was like a sign from God: Hey, this is
for us. We just kept pushing and going through our repairs and we came back stronger than ever. This past weekend, we were sold out for two days, Saturday and Sunday, where there wasn't an empty seat in the place. That's gotta count for something.”
Noah’s Smokehouse reopened on Wednesday, March 1, and just in time for Dearborn Restaurant Week. The annual event organizes dozens of the city’s restaurants for a ten-day showcase of Dearborn’s dining scene. Each restaurant offers specials as part of a prix fixe menu with different pricing tiers, allowing diners the chance to try new restaurants in a city that seems to celebrate the grand opening of a new restaurant every other week. The last day for Dearborn Restaurant Week is Sunday, March 12.
At Noah’s, diners can select a $15 option that offers a choice of smoked brisket, smoked lamb, or their Kickin’ Chicken, with two sides and a drink; or a $25 option that offers the choice of two burgers or sandwiches, along with a side and drink. Noah’s Smokehouse offers Texas-style barbecue with a Dearborn twist, with halal ingredients and Middle Eastern flair. There aren’t many cities where you can order a Texas-style smoked brisket with a side of smoked samosas.
[Related: Read “As Dearborn Restaurant Week approaches, these new restaurants are ready to impress” on Metromode
“It's a great event, especially for the restaurants and for people that are not familiar with the newer restaurants that may have been opening,” Saleh says. “It gives people an opportunity to, first of all, save a little money. And second of all, to try out different cuisines and different restaurants. It’s a chance for restaurants to showcase what they're all about.”
An event like Restaurant Week is perfectly suited for a place like Dearborn, which has seen a wave of new restaurants opening in both east and west downtown, and the city at large, these past few years. Just ask Moe Hider, who opened a Famous Hamburger
location in west downtown Dearborn in 2014. Moe's father opened the first location in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1970.
Famous Hamburger is located at 22207 Michigan Ave. in downtown Dearborn.
“When we opened the store in 2014, there weren’t many options here. We were still getting out of the recession, and it just wasn't a prime time for opening a restaurant. But going forward, a lot of people started opening their restaurants here,” Hider says. “Downtown Dearborn became kind of like a food court, because you come here and one day you want Thai food, one day you want a burger, one day you want Middle Eastern food. It’s all here.”
Hider compares Dearborn’s dining scene to the World Showcase attraction at Disney’s Epcot Center in Florida. You can travel the world in 80 days, or just visit Dearborn and have your pick of international cuisine. That also means a lot of competition for the city’s restauranteurs – but that’s a good thing, Hider says.
“It's awesome to have all these cuisines around us, and we love the competition. Competition is something that keeps us going everyday,” he says. “Competition is fierce here in Dearborn, and everybody here does a hell of a job running the show. And we respect every one of them. We work with a lot of our competition. We try and do events together, we promote each other. At the end of the day, if your neighbor is doing good, you're doing good, as well.”
That’s an attitude that meshes well with the spirit of Dearborn Restaurant Week, and the city itself. With the restaurant already well-established, Famous Hamburger still benefits from the new customers that the event brings to the city. And Hider is more than happy to make sure that people are getting their money’s worth.
“We actually tell the staff that this is our time to shine here. We are getting customers from all around Wayne County and sometimes all around the state, but we want to focus on the people of Dearborn, too,” Hider says. “After Covid, I think it's time for people to come back out to restaurants, enjoy their time, have fun, and just really indulge in some great burgers – and enjoy what Dearborn has to offer. This is the time to really take advantage of these offerings and try some great food.”
Visit Dearborn Restaurant Week online to learn more about this year's event.