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When it comes to food, what’s good in your neighborhood? | Food news | Detroit


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Randiah Camille Green

Mati’s Deli is located just minutes from where the author recently moved.

Chowhound is a weekly column about trends in Detroit food culture. Advice: (email protected).

Walking distance: A reader recently commented on his hometown’s lack of food scene, lamenting the more cosmopolitan life he led in Chicagoland. From its city proper to the surrounding sprawling suburbs, these bustling neighborhoods were teeming with food businesses not far from its front door; in incarnations and concentrations that make our Motor City pale in comparison. Responding with a few thoughts and a question, I asked Mr. Hungry for Home what he hadfound to his liking since his move. Still new to our area, he admitted he hadn’t done much epicurean exploring so far, so I challenged him to go out and find places close to his new metro Detroit address which deserved to be noted. Let’s hope he does.

On my own home front, I recently did the same thing, having moved from Livonia to west Dearborn just a few weeks ago. When it comes to “small” proprietary food businesses, the prospects for success are greatly enhanced by the regular support of customers living or working within a 1.5 mile radius of these businesses. Now living a few blocks from a bunch of food stops lining a stretch of Monroe Street in my new neighborhood, I recently attended the talk about local restaurants and shopping I gave to the guy at Chicago.

On foot, I began to pace my way, heading toward an oasis of restaurants where Monroe Street meets Outer Drive. By foot, bike, or car, I’m only five minutes from Mati’s Deli, Monroe Bakery, Dearborn Farm Market, JJ’s Custard Co., and two anchored food trucks (Tio Juan’s and Nami Sushi). With the exception of Mati (about 400 meters up the street), they are all clustered together at the intersection.

At Mati’s (1842 Monroe St., 313-277-3253, matisdeli.com), chicken soup passes the legit deli test with a ball of matzo almost as big as the cup it comes in. The liverwurst is succulent sandwiched with sliced ​​onions between thick slices of Superior Bread (Livonia) rye and drizzled with Doc Brown’s Black Cherry pop. Be advised: Mati is not cheap. My half sandwich and soup combo with drink cost me almost twenty places. Yet the friendly, conversational service and quality of food creates a perception of value for me. The best delis take customers to a better place in quick service culture, and this place delivers that.

Click to enlarge Dearborn Farm Market is another business located near the author's new home.  -Robert Stempkowski

Robert Stempkowski

Dearborn Farm Market is another business located near the author’s new home.

Making the short trip from there to JJ’s Custard Company (2801 Monroe St., 313-274-1750, jjcustardco.com), I’m tempted by their sweet signatures: the total freshness, hot and cold, of “The Sweet Bun,” an ice cream or pressed cream donut sandwich all toasted on the outside, and family-sized frozen ice cream pies ($24) studded with all kinds of crumble toppings (Fruity Pebbles, Cookie Monster, Strawberry Shortcake, et al.). At award-winning JJ’s, the cream is light and creamy, and the presentations are colorful and creative.

As for Tio Juan’s food truck (2731 Monroe St., facebook.com/tiojuansdearborn), the elote (Mexican street corn, $4) makes me more homesick than usual for Arizona . In a cup rather than on the cob, this south-of-the-border staple is layered with parfait with crunchy corn, crumbled cotija (Mexican farmhouse cheese), mayonnaise and tajin. A small downside: add a little chopped coriander, please. With a concise five-item menu ($3.50 to $4 tacos, $7 to $9 quesadillas, $8 to $12 burritos, $10 to $12 nachos, corn), TJ’s doesn’t try to make too much, and that’s true for the Mexican street food vendor. tradition, that’s for sure. It’s simply Goodand meats are halal.

Across the street, but conceptually an ocean away, Nami makes very good sushi (2823 Monroe St., 734-558-4718, namisushi.co). So far, I’ve enjoyed a super fresh and flavorful spicy salmon roll, drizzled with garlic aioli and decorated with broccoli microgreens and shaved jalapeño, as well as some nibbled Asian charred corn cobbettes – Tomorokoshi – bathed in signature sauce and chili oil. The breadth of Nami’s menu is breathtaking for a place of its size and format, but from the rolls ($8 to $14) and bowls (around $17) to the nigiri/sashimi and crudo/hamachi ($10 to $20 and up), that’s it. release from this ambitious little Asian food truck.

Needing two thick pork chops and enough fresh baby bella mushrooms to smother them, I purchased these to my liking at the Dearborn Farm Market (2645 Monroe St., 313-278-3719, dearbornfarmmarket.com). On my first visit, I met Ted, the company’s resident butcher, and we struck up a conversation about the benefits of having an experienced, trained meat merchant to turn to for requests for protein cuts specific during special culinary occasions, who can also make informed recommendations on the proper handling and preparation of meats, poultry and seafood. Good luck getting this level of customer service from some retail grocers stocking still frozen, pre-packaged family packs of round steaks and chicken thighs for you to choose from. To hell with that. Tomorrow, in fact, I’m talking with Ted about a friend who buys and cuts a whole side of beef, because I know he’ll put me in touch.

Click to enlarge Scores during a recent walking tour of Nami, a sushi food truck.  -Robert Stempkowski

Robert Stempkowski

Scores during a recent walking tour of Nami, a sushi food truck.

Having returned to Dearborn as a resident for two weeks now, my new favorite restaurant has quickly become Monroe Bakery (2611 Monroe St., 313-561-5400, monroebakery.com). The first time I just came in to get some donuts. Since then, a handful of repeat visits have kept me coming back for a thoroughly charming, good ol’, warm and fuzzy vibe that perfectly illustrates what neighborhood food stores can add to the neighborhood feel of neighborhoods that we call home. Monroe Bakery gave me the pleasure and privilege of getting to know three perfectly charming ladies who man the customer service counter there with social grace and aplomb. They engaged me in pleasant, cordial conversation and gave in to my tendency to cut someone off when given the opportunity. Already, I stop in three or four times a week – spending maybe five dollars per visit – just to grab a quick bite and chat a little more.

And that’s all I’m saying here, folks. Discover the world where you live. Explore. Make a difference. Taste more of the sweet, simple food right outside your door. Support the people hanging their shingles just down your street. Make your world and theirs the same place, better. Amen.

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