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Tastes of Detroit Food Tour 2012

Tastes of Detroit Food Tour 2012


If there’s one thing we love doing at Expo Icrontic, it’s eating. I mean, of course, after playing games… maybe. Probably not.

The Tastes of Detroit Food Tour is a long-standing tradition. From the beginning, my 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:


  • Raj Mahal (Indian), Sterling Heights
  • Josephine Crepes (French), Ferndale
  • Thang Long (Vietnamese), Madison Heights
  • Pi’s Thai (Thai), Hazel Park


  • Passage to India (Indian), Berkley
  • New Seoul Garden (Korean), Southfield
  • Red Coat Tavern (British), Royal Oak
  • Thang Long (Vietnamese), Madison Heights


  • Xochimilco (Mexican), Detroit
  • Sala Thai Eastern Market (Thai), Detroit
  • Hu Hot Mongolian Grill (Mongolian-style), Fraser
  • Original Pancake House (American), Grosse Pointe


  • Shilla (Korean), Troy
  • Anita’s Kitchen (Lebanese), Troy
  • Passage to India (Indian), Berkley
  • Polonia (Polish), Hamtramck
  • Tivoli’s (Italian), Utica


  • Buddy’s Pizza(Detroit-style Pizza), Warren
  • Taqueria Mi Pueblo (Mexican), Detroit
  • Red Hot & Blue (BBQ), Sterling Heights
  • Golden Harvest(Dim Sum), Warren


  • Bostaan (Middle Eastern), Warren
  • Noble Fish(Sushi), Clawson
  • Lazybones Smokehouse (BBQ), Roseville

Since the logistics of moving 50+ people around the metro Detroit area have always been kind of a pain, we started a new trend last year that worked out well: catered food. This year we plan on doing it again, bringing catered food in for a couple of the busiest days. This frees up a significant amount of time on the already-packed Expo calendar for other events, plus it keeps everyone in the same place which helps with the events after dinner time.

To simplify, well, every single part of this, each of these destinations is cash only. For catered events, we will pre-collect the fees. Attendees will get more information on logistics as we get closer to Expo.

Without further ado, the destinations:

Cafe_Sushi_LogoCafe Sushi

This year we’ll be starting off with one of the locals’ new favorite sushi bars, Cafe Sushi in Troy, Michigan. Cafe Sushi is a large, inviting place that serves up some tremendously artistic and delicious sushi dishes, including some unique pieces that I’ve not seen at most other places. Eric Ryder and Robert Hallock will tell you all about the Philly Tempura roll, but the real wonder here is the Marlin; served on a cube of sushi rice rather than a roll, served on a slice of lemon with a drizzle of ponzu on the plate; the tastes of salt, sweet, and citrus all mingle into perfection. No matter what your taste in sushi, you’ll find something to enjoy here; and if sushi isn’t your speed, they also have Japanese entrees that will sate even the most vanilla eaters out there.

Tamaleria-Nuevo-LeonTamaleria Nuevo Leon

One of our catered events will be a bit different from the usual fare. What we’ll be doing is ordering hundreds of 100%, from-scratch, hand-made tamales from Tamaleria Nuevo Leon, one of Detroit’s hidden gems. It’s not really a restaurant as much as it is a Mexican woman’s kitchen that you can walk up to and order from. Literally, it’s basically a house. We’ll be ordering a significant selection of all of their homemade tamales, and tamales only. For those who aren’t familiar, a tamale is a hand-rolled baked corn husk filled with masa (a corn meal filling) and some other stuff. There are pork, beef, chicken, bean, cheese, and even dessert tamales made with raisins and cinnamon. They’re small, handheld, greasy, and tremendously delicious. This event will be prix fixe.

Amar-Pizza-logoAmar Pizza

In the middle of Detroit (seriously, it’s surrounded by Detroit on all four sides) is a strange little town called Hamtramck. Hamtramck is the single most ethnically diverse city in Michigan. It’s a blast. Because of all the mingling of cultures, you get some pretty weird cuisine. One of the coolest new places to pop up is a Bengali pizza place called Amar Pizza. Yes, you read that right… Bengali pizza. There’s really no precedent for this, so I’ll just let some of the specialty pizzas speak for themselves: Tandoori pizza, naga pepper sauce, a ghost pepper pizza (one of the hottest peppers in the world, and trust me on this, it’s a pretty damned spicy pizza and the real deal), and more. Of course they have your standard topping list as well and if you’re super boring you can still get a really good “normal” pizza here, but you’re missing out. And just in case you’re Muslim, the food here is halal. What we’ll be doing is ordering a variety of pizzas for sampling; including the famed Ghost Pepper pizza.

Bonus Day: Choose Your Own Brunch-venture

Sunday is generally more of a casual tear-down, clean-up, pack-up, get ready to go home day for Expo Icrontic. A tradition in the past has been to either go to yet another Food Tour destination or to revisit an old favorite. The Food Tour choices are always difficult for me because there are many places in Detroit that I would love to introduce people to but that cannot accommodate our group size. To solve that dilemma, this year for Sunday I’m going to suggest a list of three brunch destinations that are all really, really good. All three are on Woodward Avenue, within blocks of each other, and are pretty quickly accessible to Tracey’s Cafe by expressway.

The three brunch destinations are Mae’s, Toast of Ferndale, and The Fly Trap. Each of them have spectacular brunch menus. Each of them have some compelling menu items that are a must-try. Each of them will satisfy you while at the same time leaving you yearning for what you may have missed at the others. Each place, on a typical summer Sunday, will have about a 30-60 minute wait to get in. I highly recommend small groups of four at a time. If you go in with “Table for 10, please” you may be waiting quite some time.

That’s it for the 2012 Food Tour destinations. I stand by each of these places and know you’ll find something to love at every one of them.

Expo Icrontic 2012 tickets are available now!




  1. Thrax
    Thrax There are some really great picks this year, Brian! Can't wait. :D
  2. Zanthian
    Zanthian Mmmm. Thanks for organizing this Brian! Sounds great.
  3. sharkydart
    sharkydart Looking forward to the food!
  4. WagsFTW
    WagsFTW These look like incredible picks! May have to check some of these places out sometime. :)
  5. PirateNinja
    PirateNinja I'm super exciting, thank you for putting this all together for us. It's amazing what one gets out of their expo ticket.
  6. fatcat
    fatcat looks good.

    next year needs pig roast
  7. GnomeQueen
  8. cola
    cola Ghost pepper pizza:

    Challenge accepted.
  9. MAGIC
  10. boasist
    boasist Good list, as a note for you all. Cliff Bells has a nice brunch, and live music. Might be a stretch though, distance wise.
  11. Linc
    Linc For days, Brian and Nicole were trying to remember the awesome place we'd been to that they decided needed to be on the food tour. Finally Brian said something to the effect of "I give up, what other places should we try?" to which I said "Well, Cafe Sushi is-" and they're both like "That was it!" ;D
  12. HumerusMeg
    HumerusMeg I second @Magic, will eat is right! :D sounds yummmmy
  13. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum I can't wait to feel what happens the morning after the ghost pepper pizza.
  14. fatcat
    I can't wait to feel what happens the morning after the ghost pepper pizza.
    counter with alcohol, enter coma
  15. midga
    Bengali pizza
  16. DogDragon
    DogDragon I'll be trying the ghost pepper pizza with @cola and anyone else. I mean it can't kill me lol can it? well we have to go sometime lol

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