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For the ninth year running, I'm super excited to announce the annual Tastes of Detroit food tour at Expo Icrontic.
Here's the skinny:
The Tastes of Detroit Food Tour is a long-standing tradition. From the beginning, the goal has been to introduce out-of-towners to the unique, wonderful, diverse, and excellent food landscape here in the Detroit area. The Metro Detroit area is lovely in that we have a vast array of ethnicities and styles represented, and do not suffer heavily from the “national chain restaurant syndrome” that plagues much of this fine country (Macomb Township, Sterling Heights, Novi, Canton, and Troy are excluded from this statement).
In 2006, we went on our first food tour. It consisted of visits to a few of my local favorites (two of which are sadly out of business now), and a special visit from the former staff at Pi’s Thai in Hazel Park, where we were given a few gallons of soup for a hungry crowd (since the restaurant was too small to accommodate us). Since then, the Food Tour has been the single most requested and participated-in event at the Expo Icrontic. We routinely fill restaurants and spend hundreds of dollars at local businesses, all in the name of good eats.
As always, it gets harder and harder every year to find new places to accommodate our stringent requirements:
The restaurant must be unique. It’s safe to say that if a restaurant has a “corporate office” somewhere, we’ll probably never go there.
The restaurant must have some compelling theme or specialty that makes it truly a step above the normal establishment. This can be service, a menu item, decor, price, character, etc.
The restaurant must able to at least try to introduce people to something they’ve never had before.
The restaurant must be able to accommodate 50 or more people at once, as this is the average size of our group.
I try to accomplish these goals without any repeats, although tour favorites have made re-appearances throughout the years. Here’s the historical list of places we’ve covered so far:
As the years have gone on we discovered that bringing food TO people is much more efficient than bringing everyone to the food, so in the tradition of the last few years this year we will be catering even more in from some Detroit favorites. Without further ado:
LAFAYETTE CONEY ISLAND
If people know one single restaurant in the entire city of Detroit, it's probably this. Lafayette Coney Island is famous in the literal as well as figurative sense. The story of the rivalry between this and its competitor directly next door, American Coney Island, is the stuff of urban legend and folklore. Nobody knows the truth but everybody knows the truth. Regardless, any true Detroiter knows that Lafayette is better and American isn't worth discussing, so we're getting Lafayette catered in. To give you a sense of the scope and scale of this endeavor, I called and asked how much advance notice they needed for several hundred coneys. He said, "Eh, give me about an hour advance notice".
This place has one thing and one thing only. When you go here you don't "order", you just bark out a quantity along with your preference: "Three" means three hot dogs with chili, onions, and mustard. "Three heavy" means extra chili. "Three no onion", and so on. Your food arrives in about a minute if not less. Unfortunately, we won't be visiting the actual restaurant (which is 80% of the charm) but we will be getting coneys brought to ICHQ. If you don't like or won't eat hot dogs, chili, mustard, and onions, then opt out of this one. Three is a good meal for a normal person; four if you're a slob. We're not doing options (scrape off your own onions) or anything else; just taking a quantity count at the beginning of the day. (Catered)
PUPUSERÍA Y RESTAURANTE SALVADOREÑO
Southwest Detroit is known as "Mexicantown" but there are also a lot of South and Central American immigrants as well.. Unfortunately the restaurant scene doesn't always reflect this, but there are a precious handful of places to get Latin American food and this is one of the best. If you're not familiar, Pupusas are palm-sized corn cakes that are stuffed with various things; anything from beans with loroco flowers and peppers to a large variety of meats. The variety is amazing and that means there's something here for everyone, from vegan gluten free hippies to meatboys and beefgirls. A good meal will be three pupusas (your choice; we'll have a signup a couple of days before), and beans and rice. (Catered)
Batch Brewing is a new brewery that just opened in Corktown. It will be the final stop in the bike tour and for logistics, will also be the food tour destination on that day. Lincoln says the food is good. I haven't been there so I have nothing flowery to say about it
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