Once inside Barrio Tacos and Tequila, one is immediately struck by the smoky blues and warm blooms of color that fill the space. Frosted panes of azure glass line one side of the restaurant, and vibrant murals overtake the other walls—the ones that aren't stacked with shelves of tequila bottles, anyway. Orange lights from above branch into glowing tendrils, studding the navy ceiling with miniature suns and illuminating the mortar and pestle on each table. These points of color are akin to the sparks of flavor inside the menu: pleasantly surprising and, in the words of the Detroit News, "bright and well-balanced."
Executive chef Ryan Porter is the brain behind Barrio’s inventive recipes. As a teenager, Ryan cooked for his family every night, honing the creativity that would lead him through American-, Asian-, Italian-, and finally Mexican-themed kitchens. Today, he looks in all cardinal directions for culinary inspiration, fashioning platters in the style of Oaxaca and Acapulco, among other regions. He stuffs tortillas with nine types of taco fillings, including housemade chorizo. On the side, scoops of chili-dusted sweet corn transport guests to Mexico without forcing them to throw out the giant bottle of shampoo they keep hidden under their shirt.
Picture a pub so packed with soccer fans that the ones lucky enough to have seats at the big, wooden bar can barely cheer without thwacking the people on all sides of them, and you’ll have some idea of what Dick O’ Dow's was like during the last World Cup. While such sporting events of such importance come only once every four years, the pub manages to maintain the fun-loving—and authentically Irish—atmosphere day in and out, in particular by enlisting live musical acts to perform as guests gulp pints of Guinness and solemnly discuss the latest Fun Street Journal. Even the party room suggests Old-World Ireland, with its stone fireplace, climbing ivy, and color palette of rich reds and browns. Here and in the main bar area, visitors feed on a full menu of traditional Irish fare, such as shepherd’s pie, irish stew, chicken pot pie, and bangers 'n' mash.
Voted best karaoke bar by Hour Detroit magazine three years in a row, Royal Kubo complements amateur entertainment with an extensive menu of Filipino fare and liquid libations. Appetizers and entrees such as lumpia shanghai, topping meat eggrolls with sweet-and-sour pepper sauce ($8.95), and pansit guisado, a mix of bihun rice noodles, pork, chicken, and shrimp ($10.95) please palates. Diners can also sink sharpened mouth knives on yakitori chicken, marinated in teriyaki sauce and served alongside garlic-fried rice ($9.95), or dive into kalderata baka, beef tenderloin swimming among veggies in a tomato-sauce sea ($10.95). Halo-Halo, a colorful concoction of shaved ice, leche flan, tropical fruit, and ice cream allays post-dinner doldrums ($5). On warmer days, diners can enjoy meals on Royal Kubo’s wood-sheltered patio or enjoy a cocktail of courage at the bar, lined with hanging beveled glass lamps, before taking the karaoke stage for a rousing rap rendition of “Greensleeves.”
Dooley's Tavern is a sports bar with all the charm of an Irish pub. If you think it doesn't get any better than that, well, it does. There are three Dooley's locations throughout Detroit, meaning the chance to savor a Guinness or a locally brewed Michigan beer is never far away.
But this pub is about more than the pints. The food menu stands on its own with crispy thin-crust pizzas, half-pound burgers, and a wide selection of iconic Irish cuisine. Try the fish and chips or the corned beef sandwich, the latter a layered combination of toasted bread, Grobbel's corned beef, and swiss cheese. Dooley's claims it's the largest of its kind in the world; sadly, the sandwich is always eaten just before an official measurement can be taken.
Anecdotes about Wellington Chophouse vary greatly, depending on the person you ask. Gastronomes probably will talk about thick, hefty steaks, plates of succulent beef wellington, and cold mugs of English beers, while sports fans will most likely excitedly describe its 17 flat-screen televisions. Party lovers will regale listeners with tales of their nightly karaoke and DJ dance parties, while music buffs will speak of a stage that hosts live music from local musicians and sung recitations of the weekly specials from waiters who lost a bet. No matter what camp patrons fall into, they'll find something to appreciate at the elegant, wood-paneled eatery.
Cousins Elias Hajjar and Nicholas Aubrey take yearly trips back to Lebanon to visit their family, but they can eat authentic Lebanese cuisine without leaving the confines of their own restaurant. With Gemmayze, which is named after a bohemian neighborhood in Beirut, they "wanted to create not only a menu that exemplified what's happening in Beirut and Lebanon right now, but we wanted to re-create the atmosphere,” Hajjar said in a Detroit Metromix article. “So the colors on the walls and ceiling are light and very clean and refreshing, and the menu reflects that as well.”
Inside the multi-level dining room, dangling lights twist like a strand of DNA above tables topped with shareable plates of hummus, grape leaves, and kibbe nayee—minced raw meat with bulgur and spices. Each dish is made from scratch using recipes that date back generations. Nearby, decorative palm tree appliqués cling to windows and a large brushed metal frame displays a variety of vintage forks, which can only be wielded by the rightful ruler of England. After dinner, patrons can move into the lounge and perch atop comfy ottomans and banquettes swaddled in rich fabrics while sipping wine or a cocktail.