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Omelette and Waffle Cafe (Plymouth, MI)

Every time we head out to visit the extended family in Michigan, one of our traditions is to take a morning and go out to lunch with Carol’s father, which usually means a chance to explore a different breakfast place in the western suburbs (for example, this is why we visited Bode’s a few years ago. Over the last several visits, I had noticed that one place in Plymouth was routinely getting fairly busy, including occasional lines out the door, and I decided that on my next visit, we’d take Carol’s father there: the Omelette and Waffle Cafe.

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Sora Japanese Cuisine (Detroit International Airport)

A continuing mission of mine here at Offbeat Eats is trying to help fellow travelers find good places to eat. As I’ve commented many times before, airport food is generally a dismal experience, and with a few rare exceptions (notable airports I’ve found that have multiple good options for food include Heathrow and San Francisco, for example), airport dining is best avoided, and if you find yourself needing a meal, you often pay through the nose for it. One particularly pleasant exception to this, however, lies in Detroit’s International Airport. Detroit is often the butt of jokes, and it often has earned that status, but for a city of its status, Detroit actually has a rather nice airport, particularly in their main McNamara terminal (home of the particularly cool colorful tunnel between concourses, which you can see here). There are a lot of restaurants here, of varying quality, but one thing stands out: primarily due to the large number of Japanese passengers passing through the airport, it sports multiple Japanese restaurants. One of these, Sora Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Bar, is one of my rare examples of “Good airport food”.

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Curry on Crust Desi Pizza (Canton, MI)

Over the 14 or so years I’ve been visiting Canton, MI, it has increasingly becoming a suburb that’s attracting a lot of immigrants, and as a result now has a pretty significant Middle Eastern and Indian population. Along with this, it has picked up a rather large number of restaurants and stores, with some of the most notable growth being in Indian food and groceries (see my 2011 review of Neehee’s, for example). So I’m used to going through strip malls in the area and seeing some new Indian eateries, and this time I was particularly intrigued by one of them: Curry on Crust, which serves "Desi-Style Pizza"

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Hamburgers (Dearborn, MI)

After a day driving around the Detroit neighborhoods and suburbs, including Corktown, New Center, Hamtramck, and Dearborn, we decided we wanted a light meal to tide us over for dinner. One place that caught my eye was an converted White Tower burger stand in Dearborn that was simply labeled “Hamburgers”. As I’ve discussed previously, the Detroit area is filled with all sorts of converted or knockoff White Castle of White Tower locations, most of which are still serving up burgers of some kind (usually sliders), although I’ve seen a few that were turned into Greek diners as well…

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Taqueria Lupitas (Detroit, MI)

An interesting aspect of Detroit that a lot of people overlook is the wide number of ethnic enclaves the area has. Some are fairly obvious, such as the semi-Polish Hamtramck, or the well-known Greektown. Others aren’t as familiar to out-of-towners, such as Dearborn (long-time home to a rather substantial Middle-Eastern population). And, indeed, one of the things that I like about Detroit is that it’s a good place to go for Mexican food. Where? Mexicantown! Yes, Detroit has a Mexican enclave! Nestled in next to the more famous Corktown neighborhood (former home of Tiger Stadium, and home for the hulking derelict of Michigan Central Station), Mexican Town is oddly shaped and hard to define. The main thoroughfares of Mexicantown are Bagley and Vernor, but the neighborhood itself is approximately bounded by the Fisher Freeway and Fort St on the South, Clark Park on the West, St Anne on the East, and the Michigan Central railyard on the north (feel free to argue this one, I’m interested in hearing other interpretations of the boundaries…). But Vernor and Bagley are where most of the food interest is. Among these streets are dozens of Mexican restaurants (most of them still vaguely authentic, albeit many of them also catering to the Chi-Chi’s crowd), tortilla factories (indeed, the smell of baking masa is one of the ways you can tell you are in Mexicantown), vibrant murals in Spanish, and more than a few Hispanic grocery stores. It’s certainly an interesting neighborhood to explore, with many good restaurants. One of these (but not the only one) is Taqueria Lupitas.

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The Telway (Madison Heights, MI)

One of the things I rather enjoy about the Detroit area is that the food scene still has a strong independent “slider” presence. Yeah, you know, sliders, those little hamburgers served on small greasy buns with the onions? Chances are, if you’ve had one recently, it was at White Castle (in the North) or Krystal (in the South). But in addition to these well known chains, there are still several places in the country (Hackensack, NJ, for example) where various independent operators and small chains are still churning out classic sliders, and doing it will a quality no longer seen at White Castle or Krystal. Detroit is one of these areas. Within the greater Detroit metro are are literally dozens of little slider shops, including Brayz (Hazel Park), Telway (Madison Heights and Detroit), Bates (Livonia and Farmington Hills), Bray’s (Westland), Greene’s (Farmington), Hunter House (Birmingham)… the list goes on. While I’ve long wished to do a “slider tour of Detroit” (ever since I did my review of Bates Hamburgers in Livonia way back in 2006), I haven’t yet been able to assemble the time and stomach space (and Costco-sized supply of antacid) that such a venture requires. But I have been trying to pick them off as opportunity allows, and a visit to the Detroit Zoo conveniently allowed us to duck over to adjacent Madison Heights to try Telway again…

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Toasted Oak (Novi, MI)

The morning after Carol’s sister Cathie’s wedding, she and her new husband George wanted to meet up for breakfast someplace in the Northwest Detroit metro area. Looking around at some of the options, one place that grabbed my eye was Toasted Oak in Novi, MI. A relative newcomer to the local scene, Toasted Oak opened in 2010. It’s one of the places that’s easily overlooked, since it’s actually part of the Renaissance Hotel in Novi, in the outer loop of the Twelve Oak’s Mall. Really, it’s in the sort of location that I usually pass over (I’ve had a lot of dismal brunches in hotels by malls, to be honest), but the place had a lot of good buzz, so I decided to give it a try. Especially since that positive buzz talked about their housemade sausages…

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Neehee’s Indian Vegetarian Street Food (Canton, MI)

You know, every time we go visit Carol’s family in Canton, MI, I always find that the western part of the metro areas has someplace interesting to try that I didn’t notice before. One time, it was the halal butcher shop called Mr. Goat (which I didn’t review, since it was just a butcher shop, and now it’s moved). Another time, I discovered that the little Japanese noodle shop, Matsu Chan, was actually really good. Another time, it was Bode’s Corned Beef House”. This time, it was a place in a strip mall on Ford Road called “Neehee’s Indian Vegetarian Street Food”. Well, we had been through enough, um, Midwestern cuisine that we were craving something a little spicy, and decided to give it a try…

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Leo’s Coney Island (Howell, MI)

As I briefly mentioned a few years ago in my review of George’s Coney Island, the phrase “Coney Island” means different things to different people. To someone in New York, it’s a neighborhood, best known for its amusement parks, beach, and boardwalk. In many places, it means a variant of the chili dog, usually one served up with a beanless and slightly sweet chili, diced onions, and mustard. To someone living in Southeast Michigan, however, it actually means a particular type of restaurant…This time, I checked out Leo’s Coney Island, which is actually one of the larger coney island chains in Michigan…

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The Raven Cafe (Port Huron, MI)

After a pleasant morning touring the various tourism sites of Port Huron, MI (the Edison Depot Museum, the Lightship Huron, and the Gratiot Lighthouse park, amongst others) we decided it was time for a late lunch. Luckily, just south of the Black River on Huron Street, the Raven Cafe sits in a rather old building (dating from approximately the time of the Civil War). Billing itself as the “cultural, musical and culinary Mecca in the heart of Port Huron”, it’s actually a very nicely appointed bar, one of those places where the people decorating it seem to have turned the “eclectic” knob to 11. But it’s got a very nice old wooden bar downstairs, some very nice loft seating upstairs, a small outdoor balcony, and an odd little indoor balcony only accessible via ladder from the entryway for band performances. It’s certainly got a little bit of charm. We grabbed a nice table outside where we could look over at the old lift bridge over the Black River as well as some of the boats docked on Quay Street…

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