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Columns 2014

Best of Food 

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Best Steakhouse
NERO'S

Located inside Caesars Windsor, heading to Nero's is the perfect excuse for a mini vacay. Not to mention they have all the meat any steak lover could ever want. The menu begins with a 16oz. rib eye steak and then offers three sizes of filets. As if that weren't enough to feed your inner (civilized) carnivore, there's also a bone-in strip steak and a 22-oz. porterhouse. For the daintier among us, Nero's also serves lobster tails, crab, duck and more. Mouth watering steakhouse sides round out the classic and drool-worthy menu. Don't concern yourself with prices, you'll win it all back on the casino floor. After eating a meal as special as what you'll be served at Nero's, you can't help but be lucky.

Best Restaurant You Haven't
Been to Yet DA FRANCESCO'S

The Belcastro family prides themselves on their dedication to excellent service and authentic Italian dishes with a homemade touch. We know they're doing it right, because they've been in business more than 15 years and they're still going strong. Nestled in the heart of Shelby Township, you may have missed this true Italian taverna, but that's a mistake on your part. With seven different homemade pastas, including homemade gnocchi with palomino sauce in addition to an expansive menu of traditional chicken, veal, beef and seafood dishes, Da Francesco's must be added to your "must try" list.

Best Restaurant to Rediscover
D'AMATO'S

After taking the restaurant over in April 2013, Restauranteur Tony Praintio and Executive Chef Paul Jackman brought the Italian trattoria back to its roots and back to the classic Sicilian dishes Praintio's mother taught him growing up. Alongside their killer martini list, you'll find homemade, handpressed meatballs, penne with palomino sauce, chops, steaks, fresh pastas, chicken dishes and more. Take a date there on Tuesdays for a three course meal with a bottle of wine for only $50, or bring your lady there on a Friday for half off pastas and all entrees for ladies from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. If you think you know D'Amato's, you don't know this D'Amato's, so be sure to get in there and give it another go!

Best Restaurant to Be Seen at
MON JIN LAU

While the upscale Nu-Asian fare here is truly a treat (pro tip: Marco Polo lo mein, scallion pancakes, you're welcome) the happy hours and late night events are the true insider times to stop by. Yes, you could go to Birmingham for your hobnobbing and yes, there are plenty of hipster places downtown to go too. However, the hip in Detroit have known for years that regular stops at Mon Jin Lau, especially for Shanghai Wednesdays, must be in the rotation. Late nights, you can catch many of Detroit's elite including DJs, reporters, burlesque dancers and just the generally hot and hungry grabbing a bite on their way home, or on their way out.

Best Restaurant with Live Music
FISHBONE'S GREEKTOWN

Serving dinner until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Fishbone's always knows how to keep the good times rolling. However, on Fridays and Saturdays they turn up the volume by adding a live band to the bar in the atrium area near the walk over from the parking deck into the Greektown Casino. Start your night with live jams and kicking cocktails in this Greektown fixture. From here, it's easy to get around to any of your favorite downtown spots, that is, if you even feel like leaving.

Best Restaurant to Impress Visitors
THE RATTLESNAKE CLUB

Located in the historic Stroh's River Place building, The Rattlesnake Club opened its doors in 1988 and still sits today on the newly restored Riverwalk. Guests can look out over the Detroit River while sipping Michigan craft brews, artisan liquors or a wine from the expertly chosen list. Despite being a long-time Detroit institution, there's nothing outdated about the food or the experience. Start off with a charcuterie platter featuring duck confit terrine or a kale salad with Maytag bleu cheese and a smokey bacon dressing. For your entrée they offer more adventurous dishes such as pheasant or a mixed grill with rabbit sausage, or something more traditional like char-grilled steaks and seafood with delicious sides such as garlic spinach or bacon mac & cheese. There is something to please every palate at this beautifully decorated, fine dining establishment.

Best Tableside Service
BOODLE'S

Boodle's is what you would lovingly refer to as a "throwback" restaurant. What we mean is that it harkens back to a time when things were done just a little bit better, with a little more effort. All steak dinners came with two sides and * gasp * soup or salad with your meal. This also recalls the days of tableside services, when servers knew how to flambé, shell a lobster for you and filet a Dover sole. Boodle's still serves seven entrées tableside, including their famous Caesar salad for two, Steak Diane flambéd just before services and Chateau Briand or Rack of Lamb brought flaming to the table and served with all the trimmings. After you've stuffed yourself properly, you can continue the tableside theme with one of three cooked-to-order desserts such as cherries Jubilee, bananas Foster or crepes Suzette.

Best 24-Hour Restaurant
LEO'S

It's late, like really late and you're hungry. All of the other sit-down joints are closed, but you don't want fast food, you want sit-down food. You want chili cheese fries, ham and cheese omelet, Greek salad sit-down food. Nowhere and we do mean nowhere, offers the range of late night eats that your familiar friend Leo's offers. They have 50 locations across the metro Detroit area and while granted, not all of them are open 24 hours, the ones that are offer everything from chicken fingers and fries to a tuna salad melt, to a spaghetti dinner anytime you need it.

Best Bagel
NEW YORK BAGEL

It's Sunday morning and you wake up feeling a little fuzzy, well never fear because the yellow awning in Ferndale's got you covered. There is always a line out the door, but it moves fast and it's for a very good reason. The variety of cream cheeses are freshly whipped with flavors like veggie, chive, strawberry, smoked salmon, blueberry and more. The bagels are freshly baked all day and piping hot. Always very reasonably priced, these rings of yum are the perfect amount of soft versus chewy. You can also get fresh lox, tomatoes and sliced cheese to take home. If you don't feel like taking your bagels home, they'll toast one up for you or turn it into one of their many available sandwiches. They offer bagel sandwiches or traditional sandwiches and breakfast sandwiches as well as fresh squeezed and bottled juices.

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Best Restaurant for Romance
CAFÉ CORTINA

Located in Farmington Hills on the site of a former apple orchard, Café Cortina is not a normal Italian restaurant. Not only is the food unbelievably good, but the restaurant is stunningly beautiful. Perhaps you've never noticed, but Café Cortina is repeatedly voted most romantic restaurant or "best place to get engaged" in numerous publications. The inside is cozy and elegantly decorated, without being intimidating or uptight. If you're planning to ask a certain very special question, call far in advance and ask to be seated by the fireplace. Spring and summer are the times when Café Cortina really blossoms, as the patio also includes a lovely outdoor fireplace and gorgeous flowers. Café Cortina also grows much of their own produce and aromatic herbs, which fill the air with a special sort of ambiance as you sit underneath the flowering trees. A lovely destination any time of year, sipping a bottle of wine and eating expertly prepared Italian food next to a bowl full of sunflowers is a magical evening for any couple, no ring needed.

Best Bakery
PINWHEEL

This quirky and quaint spot shares space with the very yummy Red Hook coffee in fabulous Ferndale. Pinwheel makes dozens and dozens of different cookies and small cakes and pies daily. We've heard rave reviews of their shortbread and their oatmeal crème pies are the best we've ever tasted. Their daily offerings include a variety of homemade fruit and citrus tarts and bars, including lemon, key lime, brownies and dream bars. The bakers use specialty ingredients such as lavender and the coffee and tea from Red Hook in their creations. They create and make wedding and special occasion cakes of all varieties, but their real specialty are macaroons. Although they make them in small batches for sale during the day, they will customize any requests and are open to creating new flavors. We think these adorable little French cookies would make perfect shower or wedding favors. Or, you know, you could just eat them by the fistful.

Best Bang For Your Buck
LITTLE CAESARS

Two words. Okay, two words and a letter: Hot-N-Ready. Open since 1959, we've been eating Little Caesars Pizza since we were kids. We remember that pizza day in elementary school was exclusively Little Caesars and that Crazy Bread was crazy popular. There is nothing like watching a hockey game at the Joe with a Hat Trick pizza all gooey on your lap (why does it taste SO GOOD down at the Joe?) Yet, the tiny Roman with Laurel leaves for hair didn't revolutionize pizza until he introduced the five-dolla-make-you-holla-available-anytime special. You can now stop in to any location and get a cheese pizza, a pepperoni pizza, chicken wings, Crazy Bread and in some locations, for $3 more a deep dish pizza, instantaneously any time they are open. Anyone who has ever been seriously hungry after work, needed to feed a family on a budget or had a houseful of screaming 13-year-olds over for a slumber party knows how precious of a gift that is.

Best First Date Restaurant
LONDON CHOP HOUSE

The original London Chop House opened in Detroit in 1938 and while open was regarded as one of the best restaurants in the country until they closed in 1991. In 2012 Nico Gatzaros reopened the restaurant, preserving as many of the original details, or restoring them, as possible. The result is a resounding success and a very romantic environment. The deep red leather booths are original to the space and the red leather banquettes lining the bar are in the original style as well. Original menus and mementos such as matchbooks decorate the restaurant, many of which were donated by former patrons. If you want to treat your date to a piece of Detroit history, then original dishes such as the veal chop Oscar or the oysters Rockefeller are certain to impress.

Best Burger
MR.B'S ROYAL OAK

At a half pound per patty, with ten choices all under $10, it's a lot of mileage for your burger buck. There is a burger to please every personality on this menu. Are you a traditionalist? There's a burger for that – the classic. Like a mushroom Swiss burger? There's a burger for that – the mushroom Swiss burger. There's a garden burger, a buffalo burger and a turkey burger too. Don't like any of those? You can create your own burger with whatever toppings you want. There is literally no way to go wrong and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why B's is the best.

Best Bar Cuisine
CK DIGG'S

It may look like just a great neighborhood bar (and it is) but don't let that keep you from missing out on their a-list food. Pasta, pizza, soups, salad, grilled fish and steaks all appear on the comprehensive menu. Their huge beer list (including a giant list of local beers) rounds out the menu. CK Digg's will even host your baby or wedding shower. Expect friendly service during dinner and friendly bartenders for your late night catching up with pals, it's a great local hang out with way better than hang-out food.

Best BBQ Restaurant
BAD BRAD'S BBQ

With two locations to serve you, you can get your barbeque fix inland in Shelby Township, or if it's summertime and you've been out on the boat all day, you can fill your belly at their New Baltimore location. At either location, we hope you're hungry and we hope you like MEAT. Yes, there are the awesome appetizers, salads, sandwiches and burgers, but what you're really interested in comes with sauce, baby. Craft your meal from brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, pork sausage, smoked turkey, ribs and more with plenty of optional sides. If you want to do Bad Brad's the way we do, you'll get the Big Pig Gig. A full slab of ribs, five choices of meat and five large sides served family style for four or more people, it's your tastiest option and best value. You'll need extra wipies.

Best Breakfast
TOAST

With two locations to serve you, you simply will not find a better breakfast menu than this. Open for breakfast seven days a week, the menu starts with eight different omelets, plus a custom omelet and a classic two egg breakfast. They then move on to include four different kinds of French toast, several types of pancakes, three different eggs Benedict and at least eight additional specialty items. Add to that sides, specialty coffees and at the Birmingham location, cocktails and you can't find a spot in all of metro Detroit that can beat Toast for breakfast. Sure, there are plenty of places to get hash, but where else can you get pork belly hash, smothered in Sriracha Hollandaise and served with a dill-infused vodka Bloody Mary? Answer: Nowhere.

Best Burrito
ZUMBA

Let's establish something right off the bat, "burritos" from the fast food joint that rhymes with baco tell aren't really burritos. With a choice of grilled chicken, steak, red chile pork or Mexican chicken, the burritos at Zumba are so much more than just fast food, they're a complete fresh and healthy meal. Each burrito is served on a huge, fluffy flour tortilla and topped with heaping amounts of homemade stewed pinto beans or black beans and Mexican rice. You may then add all the toppings your little heart desires like gobs of cheese, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, pico, jalapenos and more. If you're really hungry, for only $1 more you can add sautéed onions and peppers and house made Ranchero sauce. The burrito ends up looking sort of like a small football, or a warm gnome pillow, filled with freshly made ingredients. Before you leave, be sure to stock up at the house made salsa bar with choices like pico de gallo and salsa verde.

Best Cajun
GATOR JAKES

One of the only places to get actual alligator bites (tastes just like chicken) and the best dang crawfish Etoufee we've ever tasted, Gator Jake's is a little bit of New Orleans in metro Detroit. Year round Mardi Gras specialties like Jambalaya and gumbo also grace the menu. If just a touch of ragin' Cajun is what you're looking for, try the Pasta Orleans with shrimp and crawfish in a Louisiana cream sauce or the Cajun chicken pasta with a blackened chicken breast over fettuccine noodles in a garlic Alfredo sauce. When the weather warms up, you can sit on the patio with your cocktails and gumbo and pretend you're in Nawlins with real gators swimming underneath you.

Best Caribbean
CARIBBEAN CITCHEN

Yes, it's spelled with a "c" and it's about as real as it gets. Located off McNichols and the John C Lodge Freeway, this is pretty much just a takeout place as they only have two small tables. Caribbean Citchen serves up Jamaican and other Caribbean specialties like jerk chicken, oxtails with gravy, snapper, kingfish, curried goat and cow foot. Yep, that's right, cow foot (don't knock things until you try them). Everything is served with peas and rice and an iceberg and cucumber salad. If you ask, you can get cabbage braised with plenty of black pepper instead. They also have broiled bananas and fried fish. The portions are hearty and the spice is right on. If you're looking for something that is the real deal, seek out this little gem and get a taste of the islands.

Best Chinese
WAH HOO

It's totally tiny and completely unexpected, but oh so welcome. Wah Hoo is an itty bitty spot across from the People Mover stop in the Financial District on Shelby in Detroit. Everything comes with a choice of soup or salad and everything tastes incredibly authentic. The menu includes things unavailable at other Chinese-to-go joints, like lobster spring rolls, spicy Shanghai calamari and a mixture of traditional Chinese, Thai and sushi entrées. They also offer brown rice in addition to the regular fried rice and white rice options. With several soups, salads and catering trays available, Wah Hoo is so much better than your usual greasy, run-of-the-mill Chinese take out spot.

Best Local Coffee House
GREAT LAKES COFFEE

We wish way back when we were all in college at Wayne State University, this little gem was just a hop, skip and jump from campus. First, the coffee is phenomenal. They only work with small batch, artisanal producers they admire and they serve creative brews, lovingly crafted. They are one of the only coffee houses in the city to offer cold brew coffee, on tap alongside artisanal beers such as Jolly Pumpkin, Short's, Petrus and Bell's. You must try the lavender latte. You just must. Although they started with only one location in Midtown, they've since opened two more, one in Bloomfield Hills and one in Lake Orion. All three serve beer, wine, craft cocktails and a rotating assortment of small plates.

Best Coney Island
NATIONAL CONEY ISLAND

Few things are as comforting at the end of a long night (or the morning after a long night) as the glowing shininess of a big National Coney Island. Not to mention that many of them serve beer in addition to their delicious Coney Island eats. We admit, sometimes what you need in this world to make all the grey cloudiness go away is a big plate of chili cheese fries. No one does those chili cheese fries better than National Coney Island. With locations all over the metro Detroit area, chances are good that you grew up with one nearby and you have many, many fond memories of hanging out there. It's always good to see a familiar face. Comfort, thy name is National.

Best Creperie
GOOD GIRLS GO TO PARIS

Cue, "La Vie En Rose". Now, commence drooling. There aren't many foods that can go either sweet or savory, it is an award unique to the crepe. While crepes look deceptively simple, making the perfect one is an art and a skill not to be taken lightly. A crepe is a type of very thin pancake, filled with any number of things and the girls at Good Girls know how to fill them up right. There are 45 different types of crepes on the regular menu and usually a couple of specials. All the crepes have "lady" names like Rachel, Sarah, Cora, Mary, Annette, etc. You could try the very traditional Jamie with ham, egg, swiss and onions, the more exotic Jeanette with Prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil and herbs de provence or you could satisfy your sweet tooth with the Melissa with lemon, ricotta cheese, lemon cookies and brown sugar. No matter what you order, you'll be in heaven.

Best Cupcakes
NOM NOM'S

This year, thanks to the Internet we all learned how many things we've been doing wrong our whole lives. Eating cupcakes is one of them. Apparently, we've been biting into the frosted goodness of cupcakes from the top when all along we were supposed to be cutting them in half and smooshing the frosting in between the two halves, making a frosting sandwich. We don't think it matters how you eat the cupcakes from Nom Nom's, seeing as these are not your average buy-em-by-the-dozen grocery store cupcakes. These babies are gourmet all the way. Special flavors like rocky road, snickerdoodle, and Samoa (like the Girl Scout Cookie) are not only piled high with frosting, but also filled with creamy fillings. No need to make cupcake sandwiches, these delightful mini-cakes are full of flavor in every bite.

Best Deli
MUDGIE'S

They don't have a traditional Reuben or a Turkey Reuben or a Dinty Moore or a regular roast beef sandwich on the menu. Before you start wondering who among you voted them Best Deli, believe us, they deserve it. There is plenty of Sy Ginsberg corned beef and pastrami to be found on the menu and tons of house made Thousand Island dressing and creamy coleslaw. Located in a historic Corktown building, Mudgie's just puts their own (delicious) spin on the classics, but offers much, much more in addition. The menu gets uber creative, while keeping deli must-haves such as tuna salad, chicken salad, an Italian sub and lots of sides and soups. Mudgie's always offers dinner specials as well and a killer brunch. Best of all? If you don't like what they've dreamed up, you can design your own sandwich from a list of choices that will make your head spin (deliciously).

Best Delivery
JIMMY JOHNS

Single people everywhere, read this carefully – whenever you come home from a night out and you have a pocket or purse full of singles, take them out and put them in a special place. Call this place your "Jimmy John's Fund". Whenever you are hungry and don't have any food in your place (read: always), go to your Jimmy John's Fund and all your problems will be solved. You can thank us later. Truthfully, you actually don't have to do that, because Jimmy John's will take a credit card over the phone. In fact, as long as you aren't one of those anxious types who thinks their identity is constantly at risk, Jimmy John's will save your credit card information so you don't even have to give it to them when you call in your order. They aren't lying when they say that they get places fast. As long as you live near one, and it's pretty hard not to live near one these days, it's ten minutes or less every time.

Best Diner
FLY TRAP

The Fly Trap calls themselves "A Finer Diner" and that they are. It's a tiny little place, nestled on Woodward in Ferndale and on the weekends, there may be a bit of a wait, but no matter, it's totally worth it. They have your usual diner-y stuff, omelets, hash, sandwiches and the like, but all of it is kicked up a notch with better ingredients and a-list preparation. If you like things sweet, try the gingerbread waffles.

Best Fast Food
MCDONALD'S

Billions and billions have been served for a reason. Almost every McDonald's is open 24 hours these days and no matter what the reason, sometimes it's just so comforting to see those two golden arches. And let's not forget those two all important words - McDonald's. Breakfast. We could eat our weight in Egg McMuffins (why won't they serve those 24 hours a day?!). Ever dipped a French fry in a Mickey D's chocolate shake? If you haven't, then my friend you have not yet lived.

Best Fondue
THE MELTING POT

The Melting Pot takes everything wonderful about cheese and meat and puts it literally at your fingertips. If you love cheese (and only heretics and very unfortunate lactose intolerants don't love cheese), then you will adore The Melting Pot. You can begin your adventure in dipping with five different pots of liquid gold goodness, including cheddar, Swiss, fiesta, a trio of Wisconsin cheeses or spinach artichoke, all of which come with artisan breads and veggies for dipping. For a small additional charge, up the ante and dip an array of gourmet meats in your cheese. Continue your meal with any number of their many combinations of steak, chicken, seafood, sausage, vegetarian or custom combinations in a choice of flavored bouillon or oil. Select an individual meal, or choose to share with the table in a four course experience, ending with a chocolate fondue with various fruits and cakes for dipping.

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Best Taco
IMPERIAL

Imperial brought the hip, SoCal vibe to Ferndale with communal seating, a beer list that goes way beyond Corona and taco truck tacos minus the truck. For a mere $2.50 per taco you can order as many of the seven different tacos as you like. They're served family style and all topped with onions and cilantro, with a side of lime wedges. Think you'll be getting ground beef and mushy chicken? Well, think again. How about a Carnitas with slow roasted pork and homemade salsa verde? Or try our favorite, the Papas Con Rajas with house made chorizo, potatoes and queso fresco. There's a vegetarian option also available and usually a specialty taco to boot. This is one taco truck you can always locate.

Best Food Challenge
CLANCY'S CHAMPION BURGER

Our own local Man vs. Food challenge located in the heart of Clinton Township, you too can be a star at Clancy's Irish Pub if you can beat the bet. Whatcha gotta do? Eat a five-pound burger and fries in 45 minutes. Doesn't sound so hard, right? Well, that burger consists of a two-and-a-half-pound patty, a pound of bacon and all the fixings (a fried egg, red onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo) as well as a pound of fries. So far, only four people have met the challenge. If you can do it, the burger is free and you get your photo on the website and the wall of fame forever. Let us know if and when you reign supreme.

Best Mac & Cheese
VINSETTA GARAGE

Mac & cheese is everywhere these days; it's literally the most popular girl in school. So, it was probably no easy thing choosing the best in town. However, Vinsetta Garage is also totally in the cool group and serving the classic Union Woodshop recipe, they know what they're doing. Starting with creamy béchamel sauce and penne pasta, they add in Vermont sharp cheddar cheese and Pinconning, seasoning until just right. Then, they top it with parmesan and a crunchy crust and bake it in the oven until golden bubbly. You can always add thick house cut ham if you want a little more of a salty bite. Save the Kraft for the kids, this mac & cheese is for grown ups only.

Best Specialty Catering
HOME COOKED CATERING

What's extra super special about this catering company is, you guessed it, the homeiness of the cooking. With a Polish-American twist, they make your little Polish-food-loving hearts flutter. You love your pierogies, you love your city chicken and you love your PIEROGIES! Home Cooked will cater any event, large or small and by the way, they sell the pierogies you love so much by frozen the dozen, just give them a call.

Best Food Truck
THE MAC SHACK

Their regular schedule at the moment has them on the Wayne State University campus and at the Royal Oak Farmer's Market on the reg, but come summer expect to see them out and about at many of the food truck rallies that are the "thing" in the warm weather months. Beyond their regular five cheese blend mac, they serve a Thai version with peanuts, lime, bean sprouts and Sriracha, a buffalo version with spicy chicken, green onions, blue cheese and buffalo sauce, a bacon-y version and a "Papa Smurf", full of mushrooms, parmesan cheese and caramelized onions. Don't forget to get an order of that genius invention known as deep fried macaroni balls.

Best Chicken
CHICKEN SHACK

We all need guilty pleasures once in a while. We know that every fitness magazine and doctor in the world is constantly telling us that we aren't supposed to be eating things like broasted chicken. But COME ON, you can't live life that way! Especially when there are places like Chicken Shack in our city. When a place has been making broasted chicken and potatoes for 57 years, you know they've got the recipe right. Each piece of fluffy, golden chicken from Chicken Shack is so deliciously perfect; to deny yourself it forever is like a life-long prison sentence. It's simply untenable. And for those times when you feel the need to be good, they have grilled and barbeque chicken too... maybe just get ONE piece of the broasted chicken, you were good this week.

Best Fish & Chips
TERRY'S TERRACE

At Terry's in Harrison Township, they take their fish and chips seriously. You can get it two ways and it comes battered and fried to order. Fluffy pieces of hand cut Atlantic white cod are served either dipped in a homemade Sam Adams beer batter and flash fried or breaded in Terry's own secret recipe and fried to order. All orders of their famous fish and chips are served with a mountain of fries and house made tartar sauce. You don't have to be a lake dweller to just love a great plate of a Michigan tradition.

Best Perch Dinner
PAT 'OBRIEN'S TAVERN

Fluffy and lightly breaded nuggets of whole, fresh caught lake perch fillets, pan fried until golden brown and served with lemon and the best house made tartar sauce you'll ever taste. These delightful Michigan staples come with your choice of side and have been the metro area's favorite for years. We recommend you get them with a baked potato and keep it classic with this time honored tradition.

Best Guacamole
LOS GALANES

If you haven't tried guacamole from Los Galanes, you sort of haven't really tried guacamole. We don't know what they do to it, or why it's so darn good, but the guacamole is truly different when it's from Los Galanes. You may not live near Southwest Detroit, but it's worth the trip to Los Galanes to grab some of this happiness in the form of green mush.

Best Gyro
KOUZINA

As Kouzina states right on their website, "It's all about the pita!" which is the first reason why their Gyros are so delish. The pita is homemade every day and it's soft, chewy and delicious. Another bonus is the option to get your Gyro on original pita, multigrain or gluten free pita bread, which are also made in house. The customization doesn't stop with the pita. These very fresh Gyros include a choice of freshly roasted meats, available in lamb, chicken or pork. The meats are roasted the traditional Greek way and are juicy and golden brown (no strange green mystery meat here). Gyros come with tomatoes and red onion, but you can add feta cheese (yes please!) and your choice of Tzatziki sauce, "zesty" sauce (a creamy, spicy sauce) or sweet tomato sauce. Why are these the best? Pretty obvious – fresh, fast and any way you want them.

Best Hidden Gem
NICK'S 22nd STREET STEAKHOUSE

We don't want to say that it's a local thing and they keep it a secret on purpose, but with a menu that doesn't mess around and just gets to the good stuff, everyone would go there if they knew about it. Nick's just knows how to please a crowd. Nick himself is still there constantly, greeting tables and making sure everyone is happy. The bread, served soft and warm with flavored butter is worth the trip on its own. Steaks are thick and generous, but there's always chops, ribs, flaky fried fish or frog legs and of course – their famous nightly prime rib. All the choices come with plenty of sides and optional add-ons (add frog legs!). Nick's is where you go when you want to feel taken care of.

Best Restaurant to Take Out-of-Town-Guests
SLOWS

First and foremost, Slows is famous, so that makes it a great place to take your tourists right off the bat. Having been featured in the NY Times and on the Food Network many times, it was one of the first restaurants to appear in the rejuvenation of Corktown. However, the real reason to go is that the food is amazing. Although barbeque joints continue to pop up around the city, Slows led the pack by first bringing us our mounds of brisket, baby back ribs and that crazy good mac & cheese. The beer list is great, the atmosphere is great and now the neighborhood is damn great. After dinner, take advantage of the many cool bars to hop around to in the area. After all, it's your patronage that will keep them going and more opening.

Best Ice Cream Shop
RAY'S

Started in 1958 by Ray and Bernice Stevens, Ray's Ice Cream is still located in the same location in Royal Oak. Maybe you've noticed a trend in that the longer a business has made it in our great metropolis, the more everyone seems to love it. That's certainly true for Ray's. Although Ray's makes more than 50 flavors, none of them are "gimmicky" and you can still get all the classics like rum raisin and mint chocolate chip. One thing that makes Ray's so exceptional is the use of high quality ingredients and no artificial preservatives. If you don't live near Royal Oak, no worries, you can purchase Ray's Ice Cream in most local grocery stores.

Best Cuban
VICENTE'S

Not only can you get a killer mojito or caipirinha, you can also sample several Cubano sandwiches and Cuban versions of paella alongside classic Cuban dishes like Ropa Vieja, which is a beef stew served with plantains. When you've satisfied your craving for Cuban fare (and there is a wealth of it), stay for salsa dancing every Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. until close. Worried about your salsa dancing skills? You shouldn't be, Vincente's has expert salsa instructors on hand to teach you the basics every week until you feel comfortable busting up the dance floor on your own. They also plan to introduce wine dinners in the near future. With all this entertainment under one roof, it's almost like a vacation to Cuba itself.

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Best New Restaurant
MARAIS

Located on Kerchval in Grosse Pointe, Marais is elegant, beautiful and provides a level of sophistication previously unfulfilled in our city. With a choice between an al a carte menu or a six course tasting menu, diners may decide how to customize their experience at Marais. Not only that, but the staff is also unmatched anywhere. With Master Sommelier Claudia Tyagi serving wine, Maitre d' Matthew Bricker beautifully overseeing the dining room and Chef/Owner David Gilber and his lovely wife Monica overseeing everything else, guests are well taken care of. The atmosphere is not pretensious and the food is the best you will taste this year. It is no surprise Marais came out as your choice for best new spot.

Best Hibachi
ICHIBAN

The only thing that's more fun than dinner out is dinner and a show. If you are looking for a date like the one they went on in The 40 Year Old Virgin (hopefully you aren't a 40 year old virgin), then hibachi is the way to go! For a very reasonable price, the expert chefs at Ichiban will flip lobster, steak, chicken and shrimp (or vegetarian items if you'd prefer) to your heart's delight on a flat top grill, while you and other diners get down to the serious business of relaxing. Ichiban had the whole "open kitchen" thing down to a science before anyone else even thought of it. And who can resist birthday parties at a hibachi grill? The chefs at Ichiban want to sing to you. Make the chefs at Ichiban happy.

Best Indian
PRIYA

Whether you go the all vegetarian route or you like a little lamb in your samosas, Priya in Troy has you covered. Once again, when it comes to ethnic cuisine often the places you chose have a tendency to be the places with greatest amount of authentic and traditional dishes. Priya delivers your desire with tons of south Indian specialty dishes, tandoor specials, lamb and chicken dishes. Not only can you get the usual suspects here, expect to find several soups each day, seven or eight kinds of Biriyani and a surprising variety of dosas– a special Indian crepe with various fillings and served with soup. For a mere $3.50 extra you can get the works added to any meal, meaning lentils, soup, yogurt and a crispy bread.

Best Irish
O'MARA'S

There are plenty of places around town that purport to be "Irish". You know the type - Irishy sounding name, plenty of green paint, but nary an Irish item on menu or a pint of Guinness to be found. O'Mara's is not that type of place. The inside looks like an actual public house, with plenty of knotty wood and thick, heavy tables. The menu is chock full of Irish (or at least Irish-esque) favorites. You can get pub scallops, Irish potato soup, shepherd's pie, Irish nachos, fish and chips and a Reuben. Let your Guinness warm up to room temp before you drink it, knock back a couple of shots of Jameson and we swear you won't be able to tell you aren't really in Ireland.

Best Italian
ANDIAMO

After redoing the restaurants about two years ago, the Andiamo family of restaurants look more spectacular than ever. The food is also just as committed to traditional Italian fare as it ever was. Andiamo restaurants are fixtures in Detroit, with the first one opening in Grosse Pointe many years ago and growing the nine metro Detroit locations today. Andiamo's makes their Italian specialties with pride and has for 23 years. Their menus feature homemade pastas and classic veal, chicken and steak dishes. You can also order classic Italian appetizers such as calamari, eggplant parmesan and their amazing sausage and peppers.

Best Japanese
CAFÉ SUSHI

If you're looking for something from the Far East, close by, then you needn't look any further than Café Sushi. Although their name suggests they serve... sushi, they have many more exciting offerings. Where else can you get a Bento Box? Or perhaps you're interested in Nabemono? Not even sure what that is? Nabemono is a Japanese style of tableside service. Choose from Shabu Shabu, which is a Japanese hot pot served with raw steak, vegetables and tofu (kind of like fondue) with noodles on the side, Kamonabe, a hot pot with duck or Sukiyaki, a tableside steak stir-fry. How do you say, "Sign us up" in Japanese?

Best Restaurant for Pasta
LUCIANO'S

There are 11 ways to say, "I love you" with pasta at Luciano's and all of them are in Italian. From the classic Spaghetti alla Napolatana with a traditional and full-bodied basil and garlic sauce to Luciano's own recipe for the Penne alla Luciano with special prosciutto, mushrooms, heavy cream and a touch of tomato, you really can't go wrong. There's the traditional like the linguine with clam sauce and the more decadent like the lobster ravioli. Each homemade pasta dish comes as a heaping portion that would fill any big Italian appetite, but because Luciano's loves so much they insist on giving you soup or salad and bread as well. Mama mia, that's nice!

Best Local Menu
GRAND TRUNK PUB

With a total commitment to the future of Detroit and the history of the building, the owners of Foran's Grand Trunk Pub are doing everything they can to preserve their location and present the best of Michigan on their menu. Located in the original Metropole Hotel, the hotel became a bar in 1935 after being granted one of the first liquor licenses in Detroit after the end of prohibition. Today, Foran's serves as many Michigan products as possible on their menu, including Calder Brother's Dairy, Avalon Breads, Better Made Potato Chips, Faygo Soda, Dearborn Brand meats, Sanders Fudge and well over 30 different Michigan brewed beers. Supporting Foran's is supporting Michigan, y'all, so just do it!

Best Mediterranean
GEMMAYZE

Munch on a plate of sumac encrusted tuna with a cucumber salad, or seared sea scallops with lemon basil greens with an artichoke salad on the side to start. Then, when you order your entrée, choose from lamb osso buco, kabobs, Mediterranean flatbreads and a host of other Mediterranean delicacies. While you dine, indulge in a martini or a glass of wine perhaps. Finish your meals with some Turkish coffee and a fruit sorbetto before heading upstairs to the lounge to dance the night away. Where can you have such an experience other than the Greek isles or Beirut, you ask? Gemmayze, located in downtown Royal Oak on Main Street. It's the closest you can get without buying a plane ticket.

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Best Tapas
THE SARDINE ROOM

Call it "small plates", call it "tapas", tomato-tomAAto. To us, the whole idea is about sharing several things with many friends, or just one special friend, or perhaps just eating a lot of different stuff by yourself. The Sardine Room once again ups the creative ante by telling suburbanites far and wide to eat more exciting food! Sharing a meal is one of the oldest and most honored traditions in existence for coming together and connecting with people. Sharing your actual food enhances the experience of the meal, because it enlivens the conversation. When your meal consists of things like porchetta sliders, rabbit paprikash, homemade gnocchi and tons of raw bar items, you have plenty to talk about. Start with some snacks, like a cheese board, Portuguese sardines and beef carpaccio. Then, choose from their delightful list of small plates and maybe mix in an entrée sized plate or a salad or two for fun. The cocktails also include premium ingredients and employ clever names. We love our mother, but we'll try a mother's ruin punch (no offense, mom).

Best Mexican
ROJO

They will immediately win your heart with their tableside guacamole. This scene-stealer is available in original, with seasonal fruit, with goat cheese and roasted corn (did someone say 'cheese'?) with bacon and blue cheese ('cheese'?) or with shrimp and starts off the meal with a pleasant, tummy-filling bang. From there, expect to find high-end Mexican treats. No greasy, unrecognizable melted cheese slop on a plate at Rojo. The food here is fresh and flavorful. Rojo serves creative Mexican fare that still embodies traditional Mexican preparation and cultural spirit. You will find Mayan and Incan style dishes as well as your comfort food favorites like enchiladas. However, homemade sauces and house blend cheeses are used to give every dish a special touch. Did someone say 'cheese'?

Best Middle Eastern
PITA CAFE

There are a lot of places in metro Detroit to get tabouli and other basic Middle Eastern cuisine, but if you want the whole list of traditional favorites, made the way your baba would, only Pita Café can provide it. Yes, they have the best Baba Ghannooj in the city, but you must try their Sojok, a spicy lamb and beef sausage and the Arayis, which is lamb, pinenuts and tahini sauce spread over pita bread and charbroiled. They're also the only place we know of with so many versions of Kibbie, the traditional cracked wheat which can be deliciously mixed with lentils, herbs, olive oil, lemon and spices or perhaps potatoes or even our favorite, finely ground raw lamb to create a delicate version of lamb tartar. It's the addition of these authentic recipes that makes Pita Café the absolute best.

Best Round Pizza
GREEN LANTERN

The original Green Lantern Lounge in Madison Heights has been there for what seems like forever, and what do we keep saying? If a business can go the distance over decades, there's probably a reason why. That's likely why you love Green Lantern's round pizza so much. Not too greasy, not too dry and with thick layers of cheese, Green Lantern is known for never being skimpy on the toppings. They're also known for their famous dough. Dough is key to a good pizza and although it's difficult to put your finger on exactly what makes Green Lantern's recipe so craveable, it crisps up just right, while maintaining the perfect amount of chewiness. They use that same dough (and cheese) in their Lantern Bread, a perfect accompaniment to an addictive local pie.

Best Shawarma
BUCHAREST GRILL

Being able to do something simple better than anyone else is a testament to your talent. Shawarma is a traditional Middle Eastern street food, beloved by those of Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent everywhere in the world. Pretty much all of them in metro Detroit agree that when it comes to Shawarma, unless it's in their mother's kitchens, Bucharest Grill does it best. Choose from beef, chicken, vegetarian or the Bucharest special all of which come on pita bread. The chicken and beef feature tomato, pickles, onions, garlic sauce and spices. The special includes chicken, cabbage, tomato, pickles, fries and garlic sauce. Even when fries come on your pita you can still get a side of fries for a mere two bucks.

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Best French Frie
s REPUBLICA

They're new, so you may not have been there yet, but you should go! Besides being some of the nicest people you'll ever meet, the owners truly care about their food and where it comes from. As is becoming a trend (a great trend) all of the food is sourced locally and when possible, from urban farms. The French fries are all hand cut and can be served plain or tossed in lemon, feta and oregano, in the tradition of the owner's Greek heritage. When served next to their amazing sandwiches on homemade bread, or as a side to their house made soups (the chili helped the owners fall in love!) you will understand why Republica is a food lovers sanctuary, sitting right in our own Berkley backyard.

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Best Stuffed Burger
JAY'S STUFFED BURGER

Perhaps you've never enjoyed the magic that is the stuffed burger. Famous in other cities, the stuffed cheeseburger is a relatively new concept in the D. If you're a longtime Food Network watcher, then maybe you know about the longstanding feud between Matt's Bar and 5/8 Club who both claim to have invented the "Jucy Lucy", a famous Minneapolis stuffed burger. We now have our own (feudless) stuffed burger restaurant and you should go as soon as possible. Open since 2012, Jay's serves up burgers stuffed with yes, cheese, but also macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, sautéed mushrooms and Greek fixings. Be sure to try the Detroiter, a burger actually stuffed with a bacon wrapped hot dog or the BCM, stuffed with bacon, cheddar and mushrooms. Fries, onion petals and milkshakes are also absolutely to die for and even the salads are worth a whirl. Just look at that photo!

Best Ambience
THE WHITNEY

Most people know that The Whitney restaurant was once a private home, but in case you're unfamiliar, here is a little background. Completed in 1894 for lumber millionaire David Whitney, the architect Gordon W. Lloyd designed the building. The South Dakota Jasper, a rare pink granite, gives the building its rose colored hue. The home, which is now a fine dining restaurant, features original Tiffany glass throughout and is adorned with original items from the Whitney's private collection. Although rewired for safety, Thomas Edison himself originally wired the house for electricity. It is also said that the third floor of the home, which now serves as the bar, is haunted. You may dine there, hold your wedding here, have a drink in the haunted bar or take a tour of the property. Whatever way you choose to enjoy the property, it's enchanting.

Best Pan-Asian
MON JIN LAU

Embrace the unity of all Asian cuisines at Mon Jin Lau. Serving excellent sushi, unique noodle dishes, upscale Chinese dishes and Nu-Asian cuisine, Mon Jin Lau continuously raises the bar for Asian fine dining. All dishes are artfully served in a creative manner, with just the right amount of tasteful artistry to not overpower the culinary essence of the dish. While many dishes are not specifically associated with one Asian culture, each embraces the spirit of the Orient in its flavor and presentation. The award-winning cuisine includes dishes influenced by Chinese, Korean, Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese culture and is completed by a Wine Spectator award-winning wine list.

Best Pancakes
MAE'S

Their buttermilk pancakes are fluffy and just like grandma's, but what we believe everyone is referring to are the Aebelskievers. If you've never tried them, then go next weekend and brave the line (there's always a line, just deal with it) for these unique and not so easy to make balls of yum. Sphere shaped Scandinavian pancakes are solid like a pancake, but fluffy, like a popover. Mae's are served with fresh whipped cream and your choice of strawberries or raspberries in syrup. Mae's claims you'll never eat regular pancakes again. You'll have to go try them and decide for yourself!

Best Deep Dish Pizza
BUDDY'S PIZZA

If we could, we would just write, "duh". They've been around forever and their original downtown location essentially created "Detroit" style pizza. Before other pizza chains started offering "eight-cornered" pizza, Buddy's had been serving the pizza they were imitating (but never duplicating) for decades. The perfectly crisp and brown square pizzas owe their amazingness to... a certain type of pan that Buddy's now has specially made for them. It's the truth (we have our sources). No matter what makes the pizzas so incredible, we're just glad they are still around and we hope they never, ever go away.

Best Gourmet Pizza
BIGALORA

You know a pizza menu is going to be fancier than usual when it's divided into red pizzas and white pizzas. Red pizzas come with your traditional tomato sauce and white pizzas do not have a tomato sauce, although they sometimes include olive oil. Bigalora currently offers three locations to try their gourmet offerings, but plans to expand in the near future. For now, you can head to Southfield, Ann Arbor or Royal Oak to sample pies with mushroom ragu, heirloom tomatoes, pancetta, fried eggs, duck, roasted veggies or even clams. You needn't stop at pizza when you go, Bigalora also offers charcuterie platters, large salads and interesting shareable appetizers. We suggest you get at least two pizzas and share.

Best Pizza Delivery
HUNGRY HOWIES

Not only is Hungry Howies a local business, but they use a local favorite personality in their commercials. Maybe some of you caught their Super Bowl spots the Sunday when the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos. What you may not have known is that PJ Jacokes, owner and instructor at Go! Comedy in Ferndale starred in those spots. Hungry Howies has been committed to the Detroit area for decades, which is only icing on the cake, since the real prize here is their bomb.com pizza. The thing everyone loves the most is the flavored crust. We don't want to go blowing anyone's mind here, but we hear you can order every flavor crust at once and that it's life changing. If your mind gets blown, it's not our fault.

Best Polish
POLONIA

You may like Anthony Bourdain. You may... not like Anthony Bourdain. Regardless of what you think of Anthony Bourdain, the guy does eat a lot and he loves Polonia as much as you do. Located in dear-to-our-hearts Hamtramck, Polonia represents the Polish population in that community. We don't know any other places you can still get homemade potato noodles (if you've never had a potato noodle, by all means, GO GET SOME). Polonia serves the homey comfort food everyone loves so much, without any of that "comfort food with a twist" jazz that's become so popular lately. Pierogies, stuffed cabbage, city chicken (hint: not chicken), dill pickle and beet soups all take their place on the homey menu. A good place to go any time of the year, Polonia is a great place to head while the weather is still bone chillingly cold.

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Best Seafood Restaurant
JOE MUER SEAFOOD

It's back! Truthfully, if you want a good seafood dinner, there really isn't anywhere else to go in the city. The original Joe Muer's opened in 1929 and after a lot of hard work the city again has a Joe Muer to enjoy. This is THE destination to go if you want Dover sole, Alaskan king crab legs or a whole Maine lobster. You can also get some updated classics, such as oven roasted Barramundi, or a creamy seafood Bouillabaisse with linguine noodles. We'd love to see someone get the whole roasted Branzino with lemon butter. Filleted tableside, it's especially nice to see classical service items on such a nice menu. Welcome back, Mr. Muer.

Best Spanish
LA FERIA

There are a few other places around town to get tapas (with more popping up all the time), but if a true taste of Spain is what you want, the place to go is La Feria. Co-owner and Executive Chef Pilar Hildago-Baron was born in Spain and makes all the food based on her family recipes. Each day features different specials and the menu includes classic tapas like patatas bravas and a torta. However, you'll be pleasantly surprised (and quite satisfied) if you try the lesser known dishes, such as the pisto manchego, a stewed vegetable medley with quail eggs or the sardinas asadas, grilled fresh sardines with grilled lemons and tarragon. Don't forget to try their house made sangria and savor one of their specially chosen Spanish wines. The owners recommend you enjoy their tapas in the true Spanish way and stop in for a cocktail and a few small plates as part of your larger plan for the evening. We recommend you go soon and go often.

Best Restaurant for Appetizers
CENTAUR

The entire menu consists of appetizer-style small plates for sharing, served on dramatic tower trays. All of the items are designed for sharing and range from the extremely high end to the extremely low key. You also cannot believe how many things there are to choose from! Between the sweet and savory, there are 28 different offerings available (give or take for availability and specials) to nosh. The most unbelievable thing is that you truly can enjoy them any time. The entire menu of appetizers, from mini Beef Wellingtons and Moroccan lamb chops to chocolate-covered strawberries are available seven days a week, from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. and most items are less than $10.

Best Quality for the Money
BIG BOY

You've been going since you were a kid. They have milkshakes, a salad bar and don't forget the doubledecker burger that started it all. There are many imitators but no one can duplicate the original Big Boy. Fortunately, there's no need to, since you can still get one all over metro Detroit for not that much dough. And who doesn't love the Strawberry Festival every year? Remember when you used to take photos next to the giant statue of Big Boy when you were a kid? Next time you stop in for that tasty burger, take a photo with your boy, just for old time's sake.

Best Sunday Brunch
CAFE MUSE

They started as a breakfast place, (remember when they used to be in the smaller spot?) but they were so popular they needed to move to a larger location soon after opening. It's easy to see why - their menu features so many creative items you can't get anywhere else, like vanilla bean waffles, crab meat mac and cheese and an egg scramble drizzled in truffle oil. Not to mention they were also named Best Bloody Mary in this same issue! With so many savory and sweet treats, there is bound to be something you'll love at this local Royal Oak favorite!

Best Coffee
STARBUCKS

Since there's one on every street corner and everywhere you turn, it's almost unavoidable. We're also pretty certain there's something addictive in those white paper cups. Try as hard as you might to dislike "big corporations", Starbucks treats their employees astoundingly well and they're environmentally and fiscally responsible. What else can we say besides... Gingerbread Latte?

Best Vegetarian
DETROIT VEGAN SOUL

The neighborhood alone could be enough to love Detroit Vegan Soul. Everyone loves The Villages, but we won't laud them for something so trendy. Instead, we think you chose them because they are a 100% plant based, dairy and lactose free restaurant, serving only organic ingredients and no genetically modified foods that are also... delicious! On the dinner menu you'll find spinach lasagna, brown mushroom gravy smothered tempeh and an okra stew bowl. Traditional soul food sides include mac and cheese (without the cheese), candied yams and smoked collard greens.

Best Soul Food Restaurant
BEANS AND CORNBREAD

Consistently voted "Best Soul Food" by metro Detroiters year after year, Beans and Cornbread is traditional soul food like Mamma would make it. Pork chops come fried, barbeque or smothered in red eye gravy. Get 'em with gravy and mashed potatoes and you'll feel loved, even if your Mamma lives four states away. The fried chicken comes with a choice of sides or with a big helping of waffles. And baby doll, you know they've got catfish, served fried up with your choice of two or three sides. Order your soul food of choice, but at RDW, we can't get enough shrimp and grits, with a big side of collard greens and some coleslaw. Every time we eat it, it's like Mamma made it just for us.

Best Tex-Mex
CANTINA DIABLO

Unlike Mex-Mex or Tex-Tex (otherwise known as Mexican and Texan), Tex-Mex food combines the best of big Texas eatin's, BBQ and south of the border favorites into a fusion of delicious under one roof. Cantina Diablo's offers several types of tacos, mango salsa, chipotle shrimp, shrimp brocheta and shrimp Diablo. You can get tableside guacamole made here as well and even a tableside-tossed fajita salad.

Best Smokehouse
LOCKHART'S BBQ

Despite "BBQ" being in the name, you'll find that most of the items on the menu at this local joint are actually smoked. The brisket, ham, pulled pork, chicken and sausage all come Hickory smoked at Lockhart's and sauce is optional. In fact, sauce is on the side, served on the tables. As soon as you walk in to the large space located on Third Street in Royal Oak, you can smell the smoke. Why, even the gumbo comes smoked here and the smokiness continues right down to the smoked salmon sandwich. Haven't had your fix of smokey items yet? Order the Quadruple Bypass, with one pound of smoked pulled pork, smoked bacon, smoked sausage, smoked ham and smoked provolone, if it don't satisfy your cravings, no amount of smokey treats will.

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Best Local Fast Food
MOO CLUCK MOO

The owners of this quickly expanding chain are both concerned about the environment and concerned about what they feed you. Moo Cluck Moo wants you to eat real food and enjoy what you're eating. All of the food served at Moo Cluck Moo is prepared fresh daily and nothing is ever frozen. They bake the bread each morning in house and all of the meat used is antibiotic and hormone free. In fact, you can read about all of the farms where they obtain their products right on their website and you will always be able to, no matter how large the company becomes. All of the milkshakes are made from Michigan-based Calder's Dairy and contain nothing more than chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ice cream and milk. Every day, Moo Cluck Moo proves that there is a better way to do fast food.

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Best Greek
SANTORINI

Santorini is the newest restaurant in Greektown and they singlehandedly revived the entire Greek dining experience for the neighborhood. This more upscale dining spot provides excellent value for the pricing and exceptionally high quality food and service. Traditional dishes such as saganaki and moussaka appear on the menu, but expect to find more gourmet versions of Greek favorites as well, such as hot spinach and feta appetizers wrapped in phyllo dough and drizzled in honey. Be sure to try the oktapodaki (a marinated and grilled octopus dish that everyone raves about) and their lamb specialties, such as the classic leg of lamb with green beans and their top-quality lamb chops. If you've been waiting eagerly for some fresh blood in Greektown, then Santorini is exactly what you've been waiting for.

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Best Brazilian Steakhouse
GAUCHO BRAZILIAN STEAKHOUSE

Brazilian steakhouses are amazing. If you've never been to one, make plans to visit Gaucho as soon as possible. We would say that the value is incredible, because it is, but that really isn't the point. The experience is nothing short of luxurious. You choose your sides yourself from the salad bar, which includes many hot and cold dishes such as salads, risottos, potatoes and cheeses. The Gauchos come around to you with the various cuts of expertly fire roasted meats. For one price, you will be offered lamb chops, rib eye steak, filet mignon, shrimp and chicken. Our insider tip is to eat as much of the Picanha as you possibly can. Oh! And don't forget to save room for the salad bar!

Best Ribs
OXFORD INN

Fall-off-the-bone-tender ribs with their famous sauce, these ribs are so good, when word hit the street that Oxford Inn might be changing into a country-western bar, citizens complained until the owners shelved the plans. Everyone loves those thick and meaty ribs, coated in the even thicker sauce. They've been doing them right for what seems like centuries, but has really only been decades and they serve 'em up thick cut fries (or the side of your choosing) and a huge steakhouse salad in a big stainless steel bowl. You'll want to lick the plate.

Best Reuben
DOOLEY'S

Dooley's is a favorite neighborhood with several locations in metro Detroit. Their Reuben is done right and by right we mean enormous. Thick cuts of corned beef, served on grilled rye bread with tons of Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. The corned beef is homemade every day by the cooks, because Dooley's wants to give each customer that something extra. It definitely shows. It takes a monster appetite to finish this Reuben, which is the way a Reuben should be. Tear into one with a Michigan craft beer and a side of fries and settle into Reuben heaven.

Best Salad
THE BIG SALAD

All Elaine wanted was a big salad. Was that so difficult? Why could no one understand what she was asking for? She just wanted, like, you know... a big salad. The name kind of says it all, this is where you go when you want a big salad. You can customize your bowl any way you want, but they offer 12 to choose from if you like things straight forward. Grab a classic like a wedge, Greek or Caesar, or get punchy with a California, Club or Alaskan King. Building your own means, well it means you're the boss and you can build your own. All of the chicken is hormone and antibiotic free, dressings are made in house and if you don't feel like a big salad they offer soups and wraps as well (but then why are you at a place called 'The Big Salad'?).

Best Sub Shop
JERSEY MIKE'S

Served up large on fresh made French bread, this relative newcomer to the D is fast becoming a local favorite. The menu includes all your regular favorites, such as Italian, tuna and turkey and each includes lettuce, tomato, vinegar, oil and onions. They'll gladly customize your sub any way you want it. In addition to the expected cold subs, Mike's includes hot subs, also served on fresh French bread. Hot and melty chicken parmesan and two different kinds of cheese steaks come with your choice of steak or chicken. Topping off this expanded menu are slightly healthier wraps. You can also make any sub a salad or a wrap for no extra charge. A welcome competitor in the sub sandwich marketplace, you spoke up and customization is king.

Best Slider
PUBLIC HOUSE

Priced at $3.75 per sandwich, all of the sandwiches at Public House are sliders. That said, there's no other place to get the variety of slider available at this Ferndale hot spot. The menu offers a lamb burger with feta and mint chutney, an awesome Banh Mi with three types of pork and a radish slaw, a fried chicken sammie with pimento cheese and pickles and of course a classic American burger. Those are only a few of the ten different mini sandwiches available on their regular menu, but for $3.75 each you can go ahead and get all ten with some drinks and other snacks to boot.

Best Sushi Chef
KENNY WOO at INYO

Beautiful and creative rolls, sashimi and nigri with unexpected presentations are the specialty of Chef Kenny Woo at Inyo. We've seen dishes come out served over fire and topped with caviar and there are more than 30 specialty rolls to choose from. However, Chef Woo really stands out as an Omakase chef. In Japan, to order your dinner Omakase means to leave it to the chef to choose what he would like to prepare and showcase for you. It is an honor to dine this way, sampling the best from the menu and what the chef feels is the highlight of the day. Chef Woo delights in presenting Omakase meals to both new and returning customers.

Best Thai
SALA THAI

If you've never been to Sala Thai in Eastern Market (or at their other two locations in Sterling Heights or Shelby Township) then you're really missing out on one of Detroit's special gems. Incredibly authentic dishes appear on the menu using their real Thai names. Unlike lesser Thai establishments, most dishes come with your choice of chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, squid, scallops or even duck as the protein. Really like your Thai food hot? Be careful what you wish for, Sala Thai isn't messing around when it comes to the heat. Their version of "hot" will satisfy even the hottest chili lover.

Best Dessert
ROCK CITY EATERY

This hot little spot in Hamtown gets lots of attention these days for chef Nikita Santches' amazing food, but the whole story started with his incredible pies. Unexpected flavor combinations, perfect crust and large helpings are the keys to Santches' pie success. His most popular flavors are salted caramel and apple, and butterscotch, bourbon and pecan. His repertoire is vast and he makes each pie from scratch, often growing or picking the ingredients himself. And Nik is... crazy passionate. He started Rock City Pies from nothing, literally nothing. He learned to cook working in a nursing home, making comfort food for old ladies, after which he started his own catering company. He wanted to sell food in the Rust Belt Market and at the time all they were allowed to sell was baked goods, so Rock City Pies was born. From there, he opened Rock City Eatery, again all on his own. The determination shows in his food; it's true what they say, you can actually taste the love he puts in these ewwy, gooey, rich and chewy pies.

Best Sushi
CRAVE

Crave's sushi menu is the best of Asian and Mediterranean fusion. No one offers anything like what they've been offering for years. With some of the finest and freshest fish available, Crave consistently obtains the highest quality ingredients on the market. They also put their own spin on sushi, by infusing it with Mediterranean flavors and creating new rolls. You won't find imitation krab at Crave, only king crab is used in their maki. Try a Las Vegas roll, with ahi tuna, salmon, yellowtail, red snapper, king crab and avocado, then flash fried and served with chili mayonnaise and a sweet drizzle. All of Crave's sushi creations are complimented by their premium drink menu. Of course, Crave offers the regular rolls you know and love, just with the best quality ingredients available.

Best Stir Fry
BD'S MONGOLIAN GRILL

The verdict is in and you love to customize things! Who can blame you? For $15.99 you can have unlimited trips up to the bar to make your own bowl of stir fried goodness, plus soup and salad and you get to listen to quirky stir fry cooks make jokes for free. It took us a while here at RDW to get the hang of Mongolian, we used to put too much of everything in our bowl and mess it up, but now that we're grown ups we can usually exercise restraint and sometimes we even follow the little recipe cards they provide.

Best Sunday Mimosas
UNION STREET

Boozy brunch is a time-honored tradition. You wake up, shake off last night's bad decisions and then go bite back the dog that bit you. One excellent (can we say eggscellent without getting slapped?) place to do this is Union Street, home of the bottomless mimosa. Not only can you get bottomless mimosas with fresh squeezed OJ here, but you can also get a flavored Bellini, which incorporates a flavored brandy float into your mimosa in seven different flavors.

Best Place to Eat at 3 A.M.
PLAKA CAFÉ

If you disagree with the voting for this category, go take a quick peek at Yelp to know everyone is right and you are wrong. This place is always packed at 3 a.m. and is widely known as the best after-hours place to get the mountain of hashbrowns you surely need if you're eating at 3 a.m. Located right in the heart of Greektown, if you can make it before 2 a.m. you can get in one last cocktail with your order. Or, if you find yourself stumbling in the next morning, you can choke down a little hair of the dog that bit you with your breakfast. This place has been everyone's favorite for years and is a tradition for many hungry bargoers.

Best Wine Selection (Restaurant)
CORK WINE PUB

The name says it all, Cork Wine Pub is the place to go drink wine with your dinner. While Cork does not have the largest wine selection, it is the most interesting. They offer 14 red wines by the glass, 12 white and seven sparkling, so that's nothing to scoff at. The glass pours are carefully chosen and go well beyond merlots and cabernets. Both glasses and bottles incorporate multiple price points, so both novice wine drinkers and experienced connoisseurs can enjoy vino within their comfort zone.

Best Bloody Mary
CAFÉ MUSE

We know that the McClure's Bloody Mary Mix is all the rage right now and Cafe Muse serves up a Bloody Mary using the super spicy mix with Valentine Vodka and a dill pickle spear. However, if you want their award winning homemade recipe, then ask for the house Bloody Mary. The mix starts with tomato juice, then adds green olive juice, lime juice, lime zest, hot sauce, worcestershire sauce and black pepper to create a perfectly balanced background for the Valentine Vodka. They dress their house Mary with onion, green olives and a roasted red pepper. | RDW

Previous Winners

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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