Back in 1986, former Detroit police officer Steve Radden opened a small deli that served Southern-style comfort food prepared by his mother and aunt. Demand for these home-cooked meals of smothered chicken, mac and cheese, and collard greens grew so popular that he eventually expanded to a second location downtown. At this spot, all of those same soulful dishes are served up in a cafeteria-style atmosphere, where the low-key decor and casual service let the food be the star of the show.
Under the culinary captainship of executive chef Erin Jeffers and chef/owner Dan Weiskopf, Olive's Restaurant & Bar treats diners to a seasonally changing menu that emphasizes local ingredients and dynamic flavor compositions. Invoke the power of the color deities with green goddess hummus ($9), or kick off a mouthy Mardi Gras with New Orleans fried green tomatoes, crusted with cornmeal and served with Creole shrimp remoulade ($10). Disarmingly named "whimpy burgers" ($9), a trio of two-ounce sliders gives taste buds beefy bear hugs with a combination of bacon, blue-cheese aioli, and onion jam, while pan-seared skate ($18) does a perfectly palatable triple axel on the tongue. A truncated lunch menu does away with the entrees but adds an enticing selection of sandwiches to meet daytime appetite demands.
Armed with an array of more than 20 fresh ingredients, the cheerful culinary wranglers at Moe's create scrumptious southwestern food for carnivores and vegetarians alike. After perusing the menu, grab tasty tortilla canvases and watch as your edibles are crafted into burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and nachos. Crunch on the free chips and salsa included with every meal, or kick crisps up a notch with selections such as the Overacheiver tacos bedecked with your choice of meat (grilled sirloin steak, chicken, ground beef, tofu, or pulled pork), beans, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream, and guacamole ($5.99). Hefty handhelds include eats such as the Joey Bag of Donuts—a burrito filled with a choice of meat along with beans, rice, shredded cheese, and pico de gallo ($6.49). The veggie-friendly Art Vandalay offers the same delectable insides without the meat.
At Bigg Burger, you won't find warmers keeping buns hot or freezers chilling meat into flavorless blocks. That's because each burger, breakfast sandwich, and side of fries is made with fresh ingredients that are delivered daily rather than retrieved from a time capsule. Chefs cut each crispy, salty french fry by hand, and grill up hearty burgers made only with certified Black Angus beef. Tasty sides include housemade chili and sweet, creamy milkshakes.
It all started with a single olive tree. The founder of Red Olive Restaurant was sailing down the coast of the Mediterranean with his father many years ago when they spotted it. Like a snowman on the beach, this tree stood out among its surroundings, and offered the two sailors the best olives they'd ever tasted.
Striving to set itself apart in similar fashion, Red Olive Restaurant presents diners with an extensive spread of flavors culled from around the globe—but especially those from Greece. At 10 locations around the Detroit metro area, visitors drop anchor near platters of grape leaves, kebabs, and a wide assortment of salads. They also dig into house specialties, such as moussaka, which features layers of eggplant, ground meat, and parmesan topped with bachamel sauce.
Grilled Greek grub stands out at Muses Taverna of Troy. The restaurant's chefs labor over the grill to create tender kabobs, pork souvlaki, and grilled octopus. But they don't stop with the flames; flavoring these meats is just as important to the cooks as properly searing them. They might simply add a dash of salt and pepper, or, they might marinate the meat in wine and impart zest with a spice rub.
The team's efforts in the art of grilling fall in line with the restaurant's name, a reference to the Nine Muses of Greek mythology, famous for inspiring mere mortals to create divine works of art. So, rather than composing a song, penning a poem, or screaming at a wall in front of an audience, the artists at the taverna conduct symphonies of flavor. These symphonies take the form of charbroiled lamb chops, savory pastisio, and flaming plates of saganaki cheese. When the chefs aren't busy working the grill the way a virtuoso plays a violin, they oversee ovens curing pans of eggplant moussaka or plates of broiled cod and salmon.