Roma Caf? started out as a one-woman operation way back in 1888. The Marazza family ran a boarding house for Eastern Market farmers, and Mrs. Marazza would always serve a hot meal to anyone who stayed. Word of her cooking skills spread quickly throughout the Eastern Market area, and her various fans convinced her to open an official restaurant. In February of 1890, Roma Caf? was born.
Its continuing commitment to classic recipes is apparent from one glance at the menu, where housemade pastas share space with veal scaloppine and broiled lobster tails. Adventurous eaters will be drawn to dishes such as the sauteed sweetbreads and frog legs, and wine enthusiasts can browse an extensive list of reds, whites, and specials.
Although the baked lasagna and chicken parmigiana are certainly Old World staples, Roma Caf? hasn't become mired in tradition. Its third-generation owner, Janet Sossi Belcoure, takes regular trips to Italy that keep her up-to-date on culinary trends and the latest gossip on who's dating Michelangelo's David. The restaurant also offers an all-you-can-eat buffet on Monday nights, complete with appetizers, pasta dishes, and cannoli. If you stop by on the night of a Red Wings game, there's even a shuttle that will take you to the arena.
January 30, 2013 was a big milestone for the team at Cranker's Restaurant & Brewery. The date marked the release of their first-ever bourbon-barrel-aged beer, appropriately titled the Barrel #1 Bourbon Porter. But Cranker's taps were no strangers to innovative beer or the high-pitched squeals of happy pint glasses. The brewery had already racked up awards at the World Expo of Beer for their Professor IPA, Crankenstein Amber Lager, 5th Voyage Coconut Porter, and Honey Kolsch.
That last brew, the Honey Kolsch, is the beer of choice when ordering a basket of Cranker's fish and chips with homemade tartar sauce. Indeed, the bartenders and servers are always happy to make beer-pairing suggestions for their homey entrees. For Detroit-style coney dogs, for instance, they recommend their Bulldog Red Irish Ale. Or if diners show up early, they pour Oakenshield Stout to go with eggs, sausage, and other breakfast staples. They also have the perfect substitute should diners want a less potent beverage: a cool glass of homemade root beer, either served by itself or as a float.
At Shogun Japanese and Chinese Bistro, cooks amass an army of fresh ingredients to fire up on a griddle at diners’ tables. Here, shrimp, calamari, and sirloin morph into hibachi-style dinners as they sizzle in the heat and tumble through the air with the help of the chef’s spatula. Fresh fish and rice converge to form sushi such as the crispy roll #24, whose salmon and yellowtail flaunt a sauce as sweet and spicy as a valentine from a jalapeño pepper. The Chinese section of the menu brims with house specialties such as beef with stir-fried string beans and family-style meals of shrimp kow and almond chicken.
The grill masters at Airport Tavern and Steakhouse flame-kiss sizzling steaks and burgers, which pair well with craft beers in a laid-back pub setting. Diners can shake the rust off seldom-used jaw muscles with juicy cuts of tender filet mignon wrapped in bacon ($15.95) or 16-ounce porterhouses covered in grill marks ($15.95). Buns hug third-pound beef patties that travel mouthward in a variety of forms, from mushroom and swiss ($6.50) to olive burgers ($6.25). Mixing in cuisine from other cultures, the expert chef tops Greek-style pasta and meatballs with parmesan cheese, dollops of butter, and a sweet dusting of cinnamon ($9.95). Patrons can rinse palates or salad forks between flavorful bites with craft beers including Crooked Tree I.P.A. and Shock Top.
Originally founded in 1936 in Glendale, California, Big Boy’s flagship location initially bore the name Bob’s Pantry after owner Bob Wian. At a diner’s request, Bob piled two beef patties onto a bun to create the Classic Big Boy—an original double-decker hamburger that would become so popular that the small burger stand would eventually grow into a franchise of more than 100 U.S. locations. Legend has it that Bob named the creation after one of his most loyal customers: a 6-year-old boy in droopy overalls who would one day ascend to mascot stardom.
Though the menu has since expanded to include ham sandwiches, homestyle dinners, and breakfast, the eatery still serves its namesake burger stacked high with two patties, american cheese, shredded lettuce, and a special sauce. A large, overall-clad statue stands guard at every location, reminding patrons of the restaurant’s humble beginnings and that children will turn to stone should they not eat enough cheeseburgers.
Aspen Restaurant and Bar borrows the snow-capped ambience of a Colorado ski lodge and dishes out an eclectic menu full of fresh, inventive sea fare and turf-borne dishes. Start with an appetizer such as the calamari twigs, which are deep-fried and paired with frizzled onions ($9.99), or the hand-battered onion rings ($6.99), both edible ambassadors for the coming main course. Water-based entrees include the frog legs, prepared with lemon and tartar sauce ($14.99), and the deep-fried, piña-colada-sauce-dotted coconut shrimp ($15.99). Meatier meat dishes abound, such as a 6 oz. filet mignon, served over a potato pancake ($17.99), or the venison, wild boar, and vegetable combination known as the big game hunter ($15.99). Entrees come with a choice of two sides, including french fries, baked potato, and coleslaw; pastas come with one side. An abbreviated, appetizer-heavy bar menu is available for those who want a quick snack in between underwater bench-pressing competitions.