Tag Archives: detroit

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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Greenwich Time (Detroit, MI)

I’ll go ahead and open up with what’s not a commonly-voiced opinion: I love Detroit. I actually do. While it has done quite a few things in its history to earn its stereotype of a post-industrial pit of squalor, with drug dealers, bad neighborhoods, crumbling buildings, and a lousy NFL. However, I’ve always found that when I’ve taken the time to actually know Detroit, it’s actually a city with a lot of heart. It has some stunningly great architecture. Great museums. Beautiful parks. And while many people have left, a lot of the ones still there are fiercely loyal to their city and not yet ready to give up. It’s really a city that has a lot to offer, and is much, much better than it’s general reputation (although the Lions do indeed suck). It also has quite a few good places to eat and drink…

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Cafe Habana (Royal Oak, MI)

While visiting Carol’s relatives in Michigan, we decided to meet up with my college friend Ben up in Royal Oak. He recommended Cafe Habana, which is one of the older Cuban places in Royal Oak (with other locations in Ann Arbor and Traverse City). Cafe Habana has quite the nice Cuban-decorated interior, with a heavy emphasis on the chandeliers and Cuban-themed travel posted. However, the menu is less Cuban than “Latin American”, with Tacos Pastors and Beef Chimichurri alongside the Ropa Vieja and Cuban Sandwiches. Don’t get me wrong, I like Argentinian food and Mexican food, but they are both very, very different in their ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques. Indeed, a major strike against Cafe Habana is that they’ve gone and reinforced the “Cuban food must be like Mexican food since they both speak Spanish” stereotype that I’m all too familiar with. Sorry, that’s been a long-standing gripe of mine. I’ll get off my soapbox…

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