The best place to dine, before or after the theater:
Alban’s Bottle and Basket, 35064 Woodward, Birmingham. 248-258-5788. Alban’s is a deli, a fine wine shop and an upscale restaurant. So Albans’ can accommodate you whether you want a quick carry out or a relaxed, delicious dinner on the way to the show.
Arbor Brewing Company, 114 E. Washington, Ann Arbor. 734-213-1393. http://www.arborbrewing.com. Located right in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor, their award-winning beer attracts a fun crowd, and the food is wonderful. It’s a comfortable place to meet friends, flirt with a new date, or get a quick bite before rushing off to the theater. If you want to relax and hang out for a while, there are games and TVs to keep you occupied while you enjoy your burger and brew.
aut Bar, 315 Braun Ct., Ann Arbor, 734-994-3677. http://www.autbar.com. Right in the center of the Ann Arbor, aut Bar is home base to the LGBT community. The upstairs bar gets hopping every evening and the downstairs restaurant expands in the summers to a wide seating area outside in the adjacent courtyard. The food is consistently good, and many of the menu selections have a Mexican flair, reflecting the culinary background of chef/owner Martin Contrerras. It’s right next door to Common Language, Ann Arbor’s LGBT bookstore, also owned by Contrerras and his partner, Keith Orr.
Big Rock Chop House, 245 S. Eton, Birmingham. 248-647-7774. http://www.bigrockchophouse.com. The motif is chic hunting lodge, and the clientele is young, fast paced and upscale. Their menu is filled with power dishes, all of which are done to perfection. They have their own brewery and a huge bar where people meet and deals are made. Smokers will love the second floor cigar bar.
Brady’s Tavern, 31231 Southfield Rd., Beverly Hills. 248-642-6422. This is a great place to unwind after work. They have one of the best burgers in the area, a wide selection of salads, and the TV’s all around the dining area remind you that it’s almost like home. This place is made for comfort and camaraderie, and is a convenient place to hook up with friends before going out on the town.
Cady’s Grill, 36 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti. 734-483-2800. http://www.cadysgrill.com. This fine restaurant located in the Depot Town part of old Ypsilanti can be fancy or familiar, depending on what you’re looking for. The decor is noveau hip mixed with hunting lodge comfort, and the service is friendly and unpretentious, a pleasant surprise given their excellent and fine dining menu.
Carl’s Chop House, 3020 Grand River, Detroit. 313-833-0700. http://www.carlschophouse.com. Since the 1930s, Carl’s has been the area’s premier steak and chop restaurant. It is perfectly situated to cater to the pre-theater crowd and has great food and an old-style character. It’s casual dress to keep up with the times.
Caucus Club Restaurant, 645 Griswold, Ste. 414, Detroit. 313-965-4970. Walking into this classic downtown power broker house has the feel of old Detroit, but the food is up to date, excellent and affordable. Everyone is welcome, for lunch or dinner, and aside from the standard steaks, chops and classic food, The Caucus Club has one of the best burgers around and the Caesar salad is perfect.
Coach Insignia, Top of the Renaissance Center, Detroit. 313-567-2622. http://www.mattprenticerg.com. On a clear day you can see all the way to Pontiac from this spectacular restaurant that sits on the 72nd floor of the Renaissance Center, atop GM’s world headquarters. It’s steak house fare, with the quality you’ve come to expect from a Matt Prentice operation. It would top off any great theater night to sip cocktails and catch a bite high above the Motor City.
Como’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, 22812 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. 248-548-5005. Known for its fantastic pizza, Como’s has been a meet and greet place for the LGBT community for decades. Everyone and anyone is welcome, the patio is busy and fun all summer. After softball, after the bar, before the theater, Como’s is a great place to meet and eat.
Fandangles, G-6429 W. Pierson Rd., Flushing. 810-659-2700. Located near Flint, Fandangles is not only the best restaurant for 30 miles in any direction, it is also a fascinating art gallery. Owners Tom and Steven have created a fine dining oasis in a romantic atmosphere, surprising since it appears to be located in an unremarkable strip mall. The regular menu is tantalizing, but it is in the specials that the chefs’ talents shine. Check out their extensive wine selection too.
Fiddleheads, 4313 W. Thirteen Mile Rd., Royal Oak. 248-288-3744. Colette Farris and her family opened the restaurant in the space that for years housed Ann Sayles Dining Room, and it is a quiet and peaceful setting. It is moderately priced and includes an eclectic collection of Italian, seafood and Asian-influenced entrees. The service is excellent, and the food is served in straightforward, attractive and clean presentations.
Fishbones Rythym Kitchen Cafe, 400 Monroe, Detroit. 313-965-4600; 29244 Northwester Hwy., Southfield. 248-351-2925; 23722 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores. 586-498-3000.http://www.fishbonesusa.com. Fishbones has earned its reputation for great fresh fish entrees. Its Cajun-style decor reflects the spicy menu, but there is a wide selection of cooking styles. There is even a lot to choose from for the non-seafood fan. The seafood is the specialty here, and the atmosphere is fun and happening.
Mackinnon’s Restaurant, 126 E. Main St., Northville. 248-348-1991. http://www.mackinnonsrestaurant.com. For meat lovers there is no place in greater Detroit like MacKinnons. Their wide selection of beef includes American Kobe and extra-lean Piedmontese. Or you can order Bison, pork, and specials often include other wild game. They have an impressive wine list. This is perfect for pre-theater dining, or for a leisurely dinner for that special occasion.
Michigan Star Clipper Dinner Train, 840 N. Pontiac Trail, Walled Lake. 248-960-9440. www.rail-road.com.
Now under new management, you can experience a five-course dinner, live entertainment, and a rail journey through Oakland County. The Star Clipper is the oldest dinner train in the United States, and offers groups and couples the chance to take a step back in time. It’s perfect for train enthusiasts and provides an unusual dining experience that will be remembered for years.
Shiraz, 30100 Telegraph Rd., Bingham Farms. 248-645-5289. http://www.mattprenticerg.com. This “grown-up” restaurant is for the sophisticated diner. The menu features steak and ribs, yet expands to Asian-inspired choices and the wine selections would please the most discerning connoisseur. This is the crown jewel in the Matt Prentice restaurant tiara, and deserves all the raves it gets.
Oslo, 1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit. 313-963-8044. http://www.osloworld.com. Sushi lovers have a haven at Oslo. It is very cool, with chilled wines, excellent sushi and a trendy clientele that give it that special, glamorous feel. It’s not very expensive either, so you can go before or after a show – or both!
Pallas Restaurant & Lounge, 27909 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills. 248-553-9013. If Asian food is what you crave, do yourself a favor and get to Pallas. This is the best restaurant of its kind in the whole metropolitan area. The decor and service are top-notch, and it is conveniently located right off I696 in Farmington. It’s a quick drive to downtown Detroit or Ann Arbor.
Shield’s Pizza, 5702 E. Twelve Rd., Warren. 586-558-4444. http://www.shieldspizza.com. When you’re in the mood for pizza, why not get it from someone who supports the LGBT community. Call ahead for pick up, or stop in the restaurant. Their salads are outstanding as well.
Starving Artist Restaurant Inc., 212 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale. 248-545-5650. Randy Shallow and Brad Johnson have created an intimate oasis in downtown Ferndale. Artwork on the walls provide and ever-changing ambience, and they have earned a reputation for high quality, reasonably priced dining. This is a wonderful place for a quiet, special occasion, or to catch a great dinner before the theater.
Sweet Lorraine’s Deli & Cafe, 29101 Greenfield, Southfield. 248-559-7311. Also in Livonia, 17100 N. Laurel Park Dr. in the Marriott, 734-953-7480; and 333 E. Jefferson in Detroit, 313-223-3933. http://www.sweetlorraines.com. Excellent and consistent, Sweet Lorraine’s has an eclectic menu, wonderful specials and a delightfully fun atmosphere. The desserts are spectacular – great for after theater snacks or before the show dinner.
The Majestic Cafe’, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit. 313-833-9700. http://www.majesticdetroit.com. The Majestic theater center is a city block of fun, with one restaurant, one pizzeria, two live music venues, five bars, ten billiard tables and sixteen bowling lanes. The nightly specials in the restaurant offer unique interpretations of familiar dishes for more adventurous diners, and the standard menu has reliable favorites. It is a popular pre-theater dinner venue, and is open after the shows for a late night bite, or a quick ten frames.
Traffic Jam & Snug, 511 W. Canfield, Detroit. 313-831-9470. http://www.traffic-jam.com. A comfy, cozy, cool place to catch a bite before the theater or after the show. They also have a large beer selection from their own microbrewery, and they are famous for their in-house bakery and dairy.
Twingo’s, 4710 Cass, Detroit. 313-832-2959. Local restaurateur John Lopez reopened Twingo’s this summer, just in time for the new theater season. It is better than ever, with consistent quality and a delightful feel in the heart of Detroit’s theater district.
Via Nove, 344 West Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale. 248-336-9936. http://www.vianoverestaurant.com. Elegant and delicious, Via Nove is an exciting addition to the exploding downtown Ferndale scene. They specialize in southern Italian Cuisine, and the presentation is wonderful. Check out the live music on the weekends, and the intimate nooks for a quiet dinner with that special someone. This is one of best first date places you can find.
Zingerman’s Delicatessen, 422 Detroit St., Ann Arbor. 734-834-1581. http://www.zingermans.com. This is definitely one of the best delicatessens in the world. Fancy meats and cheese from around the planet and huge sandwiches to die for, it’s a delight to all the senses.