Okay, I’m sure most you are are going “Did I just read that right? Is Rich reviewing 7-Eleven, the convenience store?” Indeed, I am. I’ve mentioned before that Hawaiian culture and Asian culinary traditions have influenced each other making a fairly distinct Hawaiian culinary tradition, but one of the more interesting things to me is that this culinary tradition is strong enough to influence chains imported from the mainland. Sure, that 7-Eleven you wander into in New Jersey is probably nearly identical to a 7-Eleven in, say, Southern California, that’s not quite the case in Hawaii. In Hawaii, 7-Eleven fully embraces Hawaiian cuisine, in that every single one on the island has, in addition to the standard 7-Eleven items (like Slurpee and chips), a substantial amount of counter space at the front dedicated to serving up a selection of Hawaiian items, with the notable items being Spam musubi (in several varieties) and Manapua (also in several flavors), pork hash, and several other island treats. Seriously, you can even check out their menu.
Where Offbeat Eats has been:
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.