The first week of September is a special one in the hearts of many Americans and, in recent years, it has become even more special. The start of the NFL regular season used to mean enduring another subpar effort from the Lions. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the Lions have improved drastically over the past few seasons. So much, in fact, that Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford graced the cover of Sports Illustrated's NFL preview issue.
Since the Lions have upped their game, it only makes sense that our tailgating should improve, too. If our football team is going to be top notch, then the food we serve before (and even after) every home game should be as well. Last year we armed you with some can't-fail recipes, so this year we want to offer some alternatives. Let some of Detroit's markets and restaurants help with your tailgate party. Minimal prep and big flavors will leave more time for drinking Michigan craft beer and enjoying your friends.
Since they open at 8 a.m. on Sundays, Honeybee La Colmena makes a perfect first stop prior to tailgating. You'll notice a huge display upon walking through the doors. The house-made salsa, guacamole and pico de gallo is some of the best around. Their house-fried chips are incredible, too. Five steps into to your tailgate party shopping excursion and you're doing really well. But don't stop there!
Honeybee also has an extensive hot food counter, a place where you can buy burritos, tacos and more to bring with you. Basically, you can purchase an entire Mexican feast and be the hero of Sunday afternoon, up until Megatron pulls down 3 TD passes and 250 yards receiving. Oh, and don't forget the beer! Honeybee has a huge selection of Mexican and domestic beers. Double-oh, if you are interested in grilling, Honeybee's meat counter is pretty fantastic with lots of high quality cuts along with pre-marinated selections that make grilling that much simpler.
Is a taco bar too much work? Maybe someone in your party doesn't like carnitas (the horror!)? Almost everyone loves pizza. It just so happens that Detroit's original deep-dish pizza has a location in Detroit. Although they open at 1 p.m. on Sundays, Buddy's Pizza does offer "half-baked" pizzas for pick up on Saturday. Consider grabbing a couple of half-bakeds and throw them on the grill at your next tailgate.
Alternatively, you could always visit Buddy's after the game. Their Conant location has a bocce ball court, which is perfect for post-game shenanigans. If you're not already full from the food at Ford Field, you'll want to order one of Buddy's new Great Lakes Collection pizzas. I am particularly fond of the Lake Erie, which is topped with Motor City cheese blend, red onion, roasted red peppers, salami, mild pepper rings and tomato basil sauce.
Both Buddy's and Honeybee are not within walking distance of Ford Field. For food a little closer to the stadium, check out Golden Fleece. In the heart of Greektown on Monroe Street, Golden Fleece serves up some serious straight off the spit gyros. There's something really special about watching the cook slice the succulent blend of lamb, beef and spices straight off the spit. Pile it into a warm pita and top with onions, tomatoes and tzatziki and you're in business. Bring a dozen of these beauties to the tailgate and folks will flock to you.
Speaking of pita sandwiches, we would be remiss if we did not mention Bucharest Grill. Inside of the Park Bar and definitely within walking distance of Ford Field, Bucharest serves up one of Detroit's most well known and tastiest sandwiches. The Bucharest Shawarma is a food of gods. Pita bread is filled with hot-off-the-grill chicken, French fries, cabbage, tomatoes, pickles and garlic sauce. There's nothing delicate about this sandwich. It's serious food for serious people.
If you ask me, a six-pack of shawarmas is about as good as a six-pack of almost any beer you could bring to a tailgate. Be warned though: the power of the garlic sauce makes it nearly impossible for close talking, so if you have an uncomfortable friend who likes to get in your face after Jason Hanson kicks an extra point, eat a shawarma and he'll regret that decision immediately.
Some tailgating purists may call foul on this list of foods. Maybe a true tailgate party requires cooking, but honestly, who cares? These places are close to Ford Field and have been serving up awesome food for a long time. Nothing against your Uncle Jimbo's Ball Park Franks, but sometimes a little variety is in order.
The NFL regular season is under way, so get your tailgating plans in order. Don't concern yourself with grilling this and cooking that. No, head over to Bucharest for shawarmas, Golden Fleece for gyros, Buddy's for Pizza and Honeybee for everything else. If that's not a recipe for the best tailgate party ever, we don't know what is. | RDW