Though the chefs at Dan's Downtown Tavern adeptly craft pub classics such as pulled-pork sandwiches and award-winning chili, the core of their menu remains 25 custom burgers. Made with ground beef from Knights Market, the 1/3- and 1/4-pound patties arrive topped with traditional and unorthodox ingredients, from house-made beer-BBQ sauce to peanut butter. The Saline and Clinton bars brim with 36 and 19 different beers, respectively, and emptied taps decorate each tavern’s exposed brick walls.
Below rows of spigots, dartboards invite friendly competition and flat-screen TVs broadcast the latest sports. Patrons can also wander outside to the patio, where red and green umbrellas will protect them from the sun's rays and the moon’s ability to turn everything it shines on to cheese.
Fresh veggies, herbs, and spices combine to form the foundation of Tiger Bakery's magnificent Mediterranean marketplace. The deli-style menu reels in traditional tastes from across the Atlantic puddle, including several vegan-friendly options. Sample the cradle of civilization via the ladle of civilization with a small serving of fava bean salad or fatoosh ($4.95/lb.), or enlist the help of hommus ($3.95/lb.) or baba ghanooj ($4.95/lb.) to hush the gastronomic groans of a hungry stomach. Handcrafted fatayer pies ($1.79 each) are impeccably plumped with savory fillings such as spinach and cheese, samboosik, and the beef-and-tomato tastiness of sfiha, as are classic sandwiches like the falafel, tawook (chicken), and gyro ($3.59 each). Ensure that your every nook and cranny is nourished by rounding out your repast with mini breads ($1.79 each), various rice dishes ($4.95/lb.), or individual kababs fresh from the grill ($1.99 each).
You could argue that, as a self-proclaimed gastropub specializing in "burgers, bands, and bourbon," Bar 145 is not quite a cozy bar and not quite an upscale restaurant. Or, you could say that it offers the best of both worlds. The menu appeals to refined and socially responsible palates alike with local produce, cheese from Zingerman's Creamery in Ann Arbor, and all-natural, humanely raised beef from Niman Ranch. The line between fine dining and casual is further blurred when the waiter arrives at your table wearing red Chuck Taylor tennis shoes and holding a build-your-own burger atop, of all things, white china. Even the name Bar 145 is a hybrid: the first portion points to its hefty beer and bourbon reserves, and the 145 refers not to an address or the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a truffle french fry, but to the ideal temperature of a medium-rare burger.
The label-defying hot spot is also known for its live music, tuning up acoustic sets, dueling pianos, and full bands from Ohio and across the country six nights a week. Bar 145's musical roots run as deep as those of its chef, Robby Lucas, who once cooked dinner for Metallica after its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, according to the Toledo City Paper. The space itself leaves plenty of room for air-guitar solos at the 50-seat, oval-shaped bar on the outdoor patio.
Owner Joe Skaff is well aware that Star Bar and Grille is off the beaten path. He doesn't begrudge its hideaway status, however—it lends the venue an air of exclusive mystique and allows for the two criteria he demanded when planning the place: ample parking and an impressive patio. In the spring, diners can embark past a wall of glass to sit outdoors, snacking on inventive flavored-fare. Their tables might host servings of pulled-pork quesadillas, a seared-tuna salad, or the popular surf 'n' turf tacos: grilled shrimp and flank steak in separate tortillas, divided by yellow rice and black beans.
Inside, a parade of televisions and low-hanging lights glint above the sunken bar. The walls behind them sport contemporary art in the form of undulating red panels, matching the lava-like color of the lamps suspended over nearby booths. These illuminate the weekend crowds drawn by DJ Matt Lewis, who reverberates the space with music on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Weekdays, on the other hand, schedule a more relaxed scene of solo artists to supply dinner dates with catchy songs and one-man conga line performances. Star Bar’s ambiance is one of vibrant modernity, with inventive meals to match the crisp decor.