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The 2010 Tastes of Detroit Food Tour at Expo Icrontic

The 2010 Tastes of Detroit Food Tour at Expo Icrontic

Since 2004, Icrontic has been a gateway into the Detroit area for many people. The annual Expo Icrontic (formerly Short-Media LAN) brings friends and community members together for a few days’ worth of fun and camaraderie. I have always been inordinately proud of our region’s culinary excellence, and have always felt that the Metro Detroit area is under-appreciated in this regard. Since 2006, I have organized the Tastes of Detroit Food Tour to help rectify this situation, and to act as a regional food ambassador for this large group of tourists.

At times, it may seem that Detroit doesn’t have much going for it, but one of the riches of this region is in its huge cross-section of global culture. Detroit is extremely ethnically diverse, and one of the many treasures resulting from this diversity is a spectacular rainbow of cuisine.

In 2006, we went on our first food tour. It consisted of visits to a few of my local favorites (one of which is sadly out of business now), and a special visit from the 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.

I’ll tell you, though—it gets harder and harder for me every year. Here are the specifications that I strive to adhere to:

  • 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:

Rob Updegrove's Bi Bim Bap from New Seoul Garden in 2007


  • 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

This year’s choices have been tricky. I’ve been wanting to cover cuisines that haven’t been represented yet on the food tour, and yet still matched the rest of my criteria. I was talking to my girlfriend the other day (a chef), and I had mentioned that I was sad that I had never taken anybody to a restaurant in my own hometown (Warren, where ICHQ is located) because I wasn’t sure there were any worthy restaurants. We got into a long discussion about possible venues, and came up with the final list for this year’s food tour, which include not one, but two Warren restaurants that I am proud of.

After the name of the restaurant, you’ll find the style of cuisine, followed by the city with links to maps and their website, whether or not the restaurant is vegan or vegetarian friendly, and the approximate price (without beverages or tip) that you can expect to pay for your meal

Without further ado, I present the choices for the 2010 Tastes of Detroit Food Tour:

Buddy’s Pizza

Thursday, June 24th, 5pm

(Detroit-style Pizza), Warren (map) (website) (Vegetarian friendly) ($15)

I’ve had many discussions about regional varieties of pizza. Most know that there is a distinct Chicago-style pizza and a distinct New York-style pizza. Fewer know that there is also a unique and distinct Detroit-style pizza, and Buddy’s is probably the place that invented it.

Detroit pizza is generally deep-dish, generally square, and is characterized by a crispy outer crust that is soft in the middle. Having actually worked at a Detroit-style pizzeria myself, I can tell you that one of the key elements is a heavy pan (usually cast-iron) coated with oil, cooked in a hot oven. This gives a “burned edges” character, and a slightly oily finish to the crust (yet not greasy!).

Buddy’s is not a chain, but some local chains have adopted the style and run with it, and a style was born.

The original Buddy’s is still open, in Detroit, but we’ll be going to the Warren location which is newer, larger, and much closer.

UPDATE: We will be pre-ordering for Buddy’s. Please visit their online menu, and know what you want the day before, as we will be collecting the orders on the 23rd via email.

Taqueria Mi Pueblo

Friday, June 25th, 5pm

(Mexican), Detroit (map) (website) (Vegetarian friendly) ($15)

Detroit has a large, vibrant, and proud Mexican community. From Mexican holiday celebrations, to architecture, to the treasure trove of authentic restaurants, there is something for everybody here.

During the food tour of 2008, I took the Icrontic community to Xochimilco, and it is my only food tour regret after all these years. I wanted to show everyone the wonderful Mexican Town region and have them go home and talk about how cool Detroit is. My plan backfired, as our trip was marred by massive construction headaches (since completed) and absolutely terrible service at Xochimilco. The manager was exceptionally rude, the staff was unpleasant, the food wasn’t great, the prices were high, and the whole experience made me look bad. I have since been looking for a way to apologize to the Icrontic foodies, and I am submitting this as my official apology.

Taqueria Mi Pueblo is off the beaten “tourist” path of the area normally considered by outsiders to be “Mexican Town”, yet it is still very firmly entrenched in the real Mexican Town of Detroit. The food here is authentic, having been here with Mexican friends who can attest to the “hey, this is like my mama’s caldo!” that I look for.

UPDATE: We will be pre-ordering for Mi Pueblo. Please visit their online menu, and know what you want the day before, as we will be collecting the orders on the 24th via email.


Saturday, June 26th, 5pm

(Indian), Troy (map) (website) (Vegetarian friendly) (Vegan friendly) ($20)

Six or so months ago, one of my all-time favorite Indian restaurants shut down (Passage to India). Not only was it one of my personal favorites, it was a tour favorite as well: After being introduced to it, many Icrontians went back “off the tour” in following years, and during other events, because they enjoyed it so much. I was on a first-name basis with the owner, because he always enjoyed having our huge group in his venue. I lamented ever finding a new Indian place that could replace Passage as my “go-to guy”.

Then I found Ashoka.

The first thing I noticed about Ashoka was that the place was full of customers; Indian customers. Anyone who knows a bit about Indian culture knows that most Indians are extremely picky about Indian restaurants, and generally won’t visit them unless they are absolutely the same as home cooking.

Ashoka lays before you a traditional Thali-style meal; a profusion of colors, scents, and textures in small bowls. In addition, there is an intriguingly-named “Chinese/Indian” section on the menu, where you will find a wonderful fusion of Asian flavors and styles. Regional specialties like minty lamb prepared in the Hyderabadi style are also prevalent. In addition, they have excellent versions of the dishes most Americans are probably familiar with: Tikka Masala, Vindaloo, Biryani, and more. Still, this is a place that encourages experimentation, because you are sure to discover something amazing.

UPDATE: Ashoka has been replaced with Red Hot & Blue. Ashoka’s Troy location could not accommodate us, and their Canton location is too far away from ICHQ for this event.

Red Hot & Blue

Saturday, June 26th, 5pm

(Memphis-style BBQ), Sterling Heights (map) (website) (Carnivores only) ($20)

While Red Hot & Blue does not technically qualify for the Food Tour (it’s a chain restaurant, after all), it has long been a group favorite for other (smaller) Icrontic events. The food is delicious, the service is great, the prices are right, and most importantly, they can accommodate 50 people on short notice. This is straight-up American BBQ. Ribs, in one of three styles (Dry rub, wet, or sweet), pulled pork and chicken, greens, sweet potatoes, and more. This is food my Arkansas-born Grandma loved and taught me to enjoy. Come hungry, because the portions are huge and beverages are served in pitchers.

Golden Harvest

Sunday, June 27th, Noon

(Chinese/Dim Sum), Warren (map) (website) (Carnivores Only) ($20)

Most Americans are familiar with “Chinese food”—but may not realize that what we consider Chinese food in this country is absolutely nothing like what everyday people eat in China. While certainly, many people enjoy an almond boneless chicken or a good old Mongolian beef every now and again, there are those of us who crave the real deal.

Golden Harvest is there for us.

Have you ever watched a Chinese movie and seen a traditional family-style meal? Everybody has a rice bowl, and small bowls of various meats and vegetables are placed at the center of the table. Everybody grabs chunks with their chopsticks and uses the chopsticks to scoop rice into their mouths from the bowl.

Put it this way: When you walk into Golden Harvest, it’s like walking into a Chinese movie. Families are gathered around large round tables while waitstaff wheel carts around with various steaming delicacies. This is real Chinese food.

It is called Dim Sum, and if you’ve never tried it, this is your chance.

You are seated at an empty table with a bowl, a plate, a teapot, and chopsticks. You patiently wait for the waitstaff to roll a cart by, and ask what you would like. You point as they open up the various baskets and bowls, and they will place a small bowl on your table while marking off what you buy on a small check.

This is for adventurous people: don’t expect your traditional favorites, and don’t expect a waitress who even speaks English. You may point and ask, “what is that?” and you will get a sheepish grin and “Not sure how to say..” There is a great deal of adventure involved in that the chef may finish something and send it out on the carts. There’s no rhyme or reason to it; things just appear. It’s incredible.

Picky eaters, vegans/vegetarians, or high maintenance whiners need not apply! If you’re up for an exquisite culinary adventure, this is the place for you. There are so many amazing things to try, from delicately sauteed baby octopi, barbecue pork-stuffed steam buns, to chicken feet. You will be blown away at the variety of foods presented to you.

My only hint is: Don’t gorge yourself all at once. Pace it slowly, enjoy, and relax—something incredible may be coming around soon, and you don’t want to be too full to enjoy it. As this is a dim sum restaurant, we will be going early (Dim Sum is served from 11am – 3pm only)


  1. drasnor
    drasnor Have you let them know we're coming yet?
  2. Winfrey
  3. ardichoke
    ardichoke /me drools a little.
  4. QCH
    QCH IN, IN, IN, IN. Or at least 3 of the 4 depending on the days.
  5. UPSLynx
    UPSLynx yesssssssssssssssss

    All that money I've saved for California? this is the REAL reason it is in my bank account.
  6. WagsFTW
    WagsFTW Have you decided on what/when?

    And they all sounds delicious! :)
  7. Zanthian
    Zanthian In. Love me the Food Tour.
  8. GnomeQueen
  9. mertesn
    mertesn In for all stops.
  10. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum I'm in for everything but the carnivore-only stop. ;)
  11. CB
    Picky eaters, vegans/vegetarians, or high maintenance whiners
    ...or people with food allergies.

    If I can't ask "Is there fish in this?" and get a straight answer, then I can't eat at a place like that (especially since "Seafood" is in the name of the place). As much as I'd like to try it, I'll stay back with the wimps and veggies. :)

    In for everything else.
  12. primesuspect
    primesuspect Yeah, they cook basically everything in fish sauce. I'd stay away.
  13. CrazyJoe
    CrazyJoe In for everything!! Yum!!
  14. pseudonym
    pseudonym I shall feast.... FEAST.
  15. Brett Sounds sweet. How do we get more info?
  16. boasist
    boasist above post was premature....sorry about that. Let me know how to join up. Great to meetup....new member here, any initiation i should worry about?
  17. Thrax
    Thrax Welcome to the party, boasist!

    The 2010 Tastes of Detroit Food Tour is one part of an annual event we run called the Expo Icrontic. You can go here to read the long version of what the event is about, but here's the short version:

    Do you like PC gaming? Console gaming? Trading card games? PC hardware? Golf? Fitness? Good food? Good beer? Smartphones? Four days of partying with the funniest/awesomest nerds on the Internet?

    If you said yes to any of the above, buy a ticket and come to our shindig. You'll have the time of your life, you'll feel like a member in a hot second, and there's no better/faster way to get involved in our community.
  18. BlackHawk
    boasist wrote:
    new member here, any initiation i should worry about?
    Allergic to tape adhesive? :ninja:
  19. Preacher
  20. RyanMM
  21. RyanMM
    RyanMM Frak, I just realized that Redcoat was from years gone by. Ah well. Nice selection this year. Next year you gotta hit the Fly Trap.
  22. Annes
    boasist wrote:
    ...any initiation i should worry about?

    Insert Annes here.
  23. RyanMM
    Annes wrote:
    Annes inserts here.

  24. Mt_Goat
  25. SpencerForHire
    SpencerForHire I see "Insert Annes here" and a Goat....
  26. primesuspect
    primesuspect Updated!

    Dates are posted, and we will be able to pre-order at both Buddy's and Mi Pueblo. This should save us a serious chunk of time and create a much smoother experience at those locations.
  27. GnomeQueen
    GnomeQueen Question: Will we be leaving for food at 5 or dining then?
  28. QCH
    QCH Usually leaving at 5:00.
  29. Tushon
    Tushon I'm in for this madness
  30. Myrmidon
    Myrmidon jes jes jes! Is ghhood idea, jes?
  31. ardichoke
    ardichoke I'm in for as many of the stops as I can
  32. Wattyz
    Wattyz Have to check work dates first. Hoping to be in! :)
  33. Bandrik
  34. UPSLynx
    UPSLynx I loved that campaign. Not as good as GET SOME NUTS, but still made me LOL
  35. primesuspect
    primesuspect Updated: Ashoka cancelled, replaced with Red Hot & Blue

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