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.
An instructor of the Argentine tango, James Valentino moves gracefully, his feet instinctively hitting the floor in time with the music that fills the ballroom. As the owner and founder of City Style Tango, Valentino imparts his grace to dancers of all experience levels during private and group lessons, sharing the secrets of the tango as well as other dancing styles such as swing, salsa, and the fox trot. Beyond the classes for adults or children, James encourages his pupils to show off their skills during student showcases or venture together to local clubs to dance amid the real world's oil-slicked floors.
Attendees of Maple Theater's classic film series, Secret Cinema, only know one thing when they enter the 300-seat auditorium: whether that night's feature was made before or after 1967. Otherwise, every selection is kept tightly under wraps by the series curator and the elves who run the projectors. The rest of the theater's lineup, however, is no secret. Throughout the week, Maple Theater specializes in the latest releases from the world of independent cinema, and features live music every weekend.
After the show, unwind in the theater's bar and WiFi lounge, where 12 taps offer local brews amid elegant drapes and chandelier strands. The bar pairs those pours?plus wines and cocktails?with original American tapas, as well as pretzel bread, veggie spring rolls, and waffle fries. Over at the Great Lakes coffee bar, meanwhile, vintage cameras and projectors surround visitors who stop in for their morning caffeine dose.
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.