This is not the apocalypse Hollywood promised us. Instead of wastelands and flesh-craving zombie hordes, we have endless waves of grant and loan applications, an overwhelmed unemployment system, and a food supply chain that is still struggling to keep up. Through this, no industry has been hit harder than the local restaurant industry. America’s restaurants employee more people than any entity, other than the federal government.
No one can question the resiliency and toughness of restaurant workers. At its best, food service is still a thankless task with endless hours of work that extracts a painful physical and emotional toll. Restaurant workers are driven by passion and a desire to share happiness through food. But with dine-in operations currently suspended, many restaurateurs, chefs, servers, and staff have been forced to work even harder while radically adapting their business models. If these restaurants shutter, our economy may never be the same.
Quite simply, Detroit’s food industry is fighting to keep the lights on.
Right now, Detroit’s restaurants need your help and support — and a lot of us can use a break from the huge blocks of frozen ground beef in our freezers. Fine dining establishments formerly focused on multi-course tasting menus are offering meal kits brought out to your car for curbside pick-up. Some restaurants have even been able to offer take out provisions ranging from proteins and product to beer and wine to toilet paper and gloves.
Here are more than a dozen of the best local restaurants in the Detroit area currently serving up meals via curbside or delivery. If you can, order directly from your local restaurant, leave a big tip, and even buy a gift card to enjoy in person someday down the road. Bon Appetit!
Magnet & Takoi
Key Dishes: Half Roast Chicken, Ramen Kit, Vegan Massaman Curry
Chef Brad Greenhill quickly became an outspoken voice for the challenges facing restaurants through this crisis. He has been thoughtful about what the future of the industry looks like and also how to best serve the community’s current needs. Not surprising as he is someone who hustled in food trucks and pop-ups for years before opening Takoi, and then had to reinvent the restaurant when a fire burned out a significant portion of the space. As such, chef Brad and his team have created the Curbside Market, which offers a selection of dishes from both of his award-winning restaurants, Takoi and Magnet. Here they offer heat and serve versions of favorite dishes like their fire-grilled half chicken, palm sugar-glazed ribs, and chef Brad’s always flavorful vegetarian dishes (as well as offering take home beer, wine and cider)!
4870 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
32203 John R Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071
Key Dishes: Spicy Tori Ramen, Curry Yaki Udon
Finally! After suspending operations briefly while Ima worked out how to balance three locations through a pandemic, Ima is back to offering delivery (DoorDash) and curbside pickup. Talk about a much needed cause for celebration. Over the last few years, Ima and chef/owner Mike Ransom have won the 2019 Free Press Restaurant of the Year and have become a constant mainstay on Eater’s Top 38. With the Madison Heights and Midtown Detroit locations back open, Ima has multiple options for brothy, soul-healing ramen and udon bowls, like their incredible Spicy Tori Ramen. Ima also offers a vegetarian selection of dishes that are always thoughtful and layered with flavor. However, only the Midtown Detroit location offers delivery of their newly launched and wonderful Spicy Chicken Sandwiches.
600 Vester St, Ferndale, MI 48220
Key Dishes: Filet O’ Fish Sandwich, Lobster Roll, Provisions
Ferndale’s Voyager gained national attention when it was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Restaurants of the Year in 2018. The charming Ferndale restaurant is known for fresh, delicious, and thoughtfully prepared seafood dishes. Since the shelter in place order began, Voyager has refined the menu to best suit curbside and delivery order. Not only can you get a perfectly crispy fried whitefish dinner, but they are also now offering provisions and grocery items such as fish, scallops, bread, local produce, and smartly-selected beer and wine.
8044 Kercheval Ave, Detroit, MI 48214
Key Dishes: Butcher Shop Box, Dumpling Kit, Bao Burger Kit
In a very short time span, Marrow has won awards ranging from being named one of Eater’s best new restaurants in 2019, making the Free Press’ best new restaurant list also in 2019, and chef Sarah Welsh being named a James Beard semi-finalist. This hybrid restaurant/butcher shop is known for more than just perfect cuts of meat, with dishes like house-made dumpling and bao on the meun. To fit the needs of the current times, Marrow is offering delivery and curbside pickup, featuring a wide selection of raw goods from their locally sourced butcher shop. They’ve also created takeout home meal kits for dishes like shrimp & grits, curry, and more. A wide selection of wines curated by owner Ping Ho (The Royce) is also available.
Chartreuse Kitchen and Cocktails
15 E. Kirby St., Suite D, Detroit, MI 48202
Key Dishes: Ready to Grill Spare Ribs, Phylo-Wrapped Salmon, Ocean Box
Since opening in 2015, this harmonious collaboration between Sandy Levine (The Oakland) and chef Doug Hewitt has been awarded locally (Free Press Restaurant of the Year 2016) and nationally (Wine Enthusiast, Food Network, Yelp). After taking a short break to plot their future, Chartreuse has reopened for Thursday-Saturday curbside pickup featuring a rotating menu of heat and serve options (like lobster & shrimp chowder, ribs, and sausage) as well as meal kits like their Ocean Box and Grill Box. A selection of beer and wine, curated by Sandy himself, is also available.
Beyond Juicery & Eatery
Key Items: Fresh Fruit & Produce Boxes, Kids Smoothie Kit, Juice Lovers Box
Beyond Juicery & Eatery has been one of the fastest growing businesses in the Detroit area. With 14 locations in Detroit and…beyond, they have built a homegrown smoothie empire. This reach has helped Beyond in their pivot to a curbside business. They are an excellent go to for fresh produce and fruit — or for those of us who have survived quarantine by subsisting on pizza and Cheez-Its and now are in desperate need of a juice cleanse.
310 E Maple Rd, Birmingham, MI 48009
Key Dishes: Tagliatelle Bolognese, Caviar Service, Home Pasta Kits
When Birmingham’s decadent eatery, Pernoi, opened in 2019, it was conceived as a collaboration between award winning chef’s Takashi Yagihashi (Tribute, Slurping Turtle) and Luciano Del Signore (Bacco, Bigalora). However, just as our times are changing now, so did the concept of Pernoi, with chef Takashi departing before the end of the year. Chef Luciano took over control of the kitchen, and Pernoi made Freep’s Best New Restaurants of 2020 list. The restaurant has shifted even more to meet the demands of the shelter in place order and is offering opulent options for when you must have caviar service while in sweatpants. Pernoi also offers a selection of the ludicrously delicious pasta dishes chef Luciano is known for, as well as house-made gelato and at-home pasta kits.
1701 Trumbull Ave, Detroit, MI 48216
Key Items: Farmers Box, Daily Bread, Seafood, Beer & Wine
Since opening in 2019, the uber-Instagrammable Folk has become a Corktown favorite for simple, delicious and well prepared fare and even made the Free Press’s list of Best New Restaurants. Post COVID-19, Folk has shifted their focus to a curbside market with an excellent selection of locally sourced meats, locally farmed items, artisan goods, seafood, pantry items, and beer and wine.
Key Dishes: Pasties, Detroit-style pizza, Beer & Cider
Ferndale Project started as the experimental extension of Eastern Market Brewing and has quickly grown into something else entirely. After Axle Brewing shut down their beautiful taproom located on Livernois, Eastern Market Brewing agreed to take it over and created a space with a reconceptualized menu, coffee bar, and well-crafted beers and ciders. Unfortunately, their doors had only been open for a little over a month when COVID-19 hit. Ferndale Project was able to quickly pivot and has become a staple in the area, offering hearty pasties, thick Detroit-style pizza, and an excellent selection of dark, sour, and hoppy beers.
47 Watson St, Detroit, MI 48201
Key Items: Prime Rib For 2, Burger Kit, Cocktail Mixers
In the time before, when we were governed by passing hours on a clock, Grey Ghost’s late night burger & beer special was the go-to item for foodies and insomniacs alike. Now, the steakhouse, which has been named on every best of list, locally and nationally, is offering a scaled-down version of their menu featuring prime rib for two, cocktail mixers, and a burger kit. Late night consumption is optional.
1429 Gratiot Ave #109, Detroit, MI 48207 (in Gratiot Central Market)
Key Dishes: Holy Gouda Pierogi, O.G. Vegetarian Pierogi
Longtime pop-up favorite Pietrzyk Pierogi finally found their brick & mortar home in Detroit’s Gratiot Central Market in 2019. As owner Erica Pietrzyk is no stranger to hustling and improvising, she quickly adapted her model and is now offering boxes and meal kits. While Pietrzyk prides herself on the family and traditional recipes, her unique offerings like the rich and cheesy Holy Gouda pierogi should not be missed.
23825 John R Rd, Hazel Park, MI 48030
Key Dishes: Doug’s Burger, Whole Roast Chicken Kit, Nonna’s Meatballs
Chef/owner James Rigato and his brainchild have won just about every accolade possible from Restaurant of the Year, multiple James Beard semi-finalist nominations, to appearing on Top Chef. Mabel Bray has always reflected the chef, featuring a menu that he changed and updated daily. Mabel Gray’s transition to curbside features Doug’s Burger (from Doug’s Delight, an ice cream shop located across the street from Mabel Gray that is also owned by Rigatto), soups, and home kits featuring locally-sourced proteins. While the Hazel Park destination is largely known for chef James’ food, do not miss out on the excellent selection of baked goods from chef Kristina Conger or the always well-curated beer and wine list.
Treat Dreams Dessert Emporium
22965 Woodward Ave, Ferndale, MI 48220
Key Items: artisan ice creams and cookies
One cannot survive on savory alone. In 2019, the quirky Ferndale ice cream shop, Treat Dreams, merged with D’Vine Cookies and the Emporium was born. The menu still has favorites like scoops of Cookie Monster ice cream and also features build your own ice cream cookies, oversized and stuffed cookies, pie, brownies, and more.
22939 Woodward Ave, Ferndale, MI 48220
Key Items: Pollo La Brassa, Arroz Con Pollo
Ferndale’s family owned Culantro is one of the few Peruvian restaurants in metro Detroit. Since opening in 2018, they have quickly become known for their whole, Peruvian style rotisserie chickens (Pollo La Brassa) which is served with a variety of tangy and spicy sauces and can be ordered by the piece or as a whole bird. Stews, black beans and rice, and fresh juices are not just delicious, but also foods that transport very well without losing any flavor. Consider it the perfect last-minute dinner for your hungry family.
1312 Springwells, Detroit, MI 48209
Key Items: Ribeye Steak con Rajas, Cazuela de Mariscos
The mission of El Asador has always been to serve fresh, elevated Mexican cuisine. Through the current crisis, they have remained open for carryout with the full menu intact. You can still order gourmet lobster tacos for lunch, and their signature grilled ribeye with roast poblano (Ribeye Steak con Rajas), or a rich seafood stew (Cazuela de Mariscos) for dinner.
Flowers of Vietnam
4440 Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48209
Key Items: Full Vietnamese Spiced Fried Chicken Basket, Family Dinner for Two
With an appearance alongside the great and very much missed Anthony Bourdain on Parts Unknown, and subsequent awards both local (Free Press’s Best New Restaurants 2017) and national (GQ Best Restaurants in America), chef George Azar has become one of the most outspoken voices in Detroit’s growing restaurant community. His restaurant, Flowers of Vietnam, is currently open for curbside service on Thursday-Sunday, and the menu has been reworked to focus on family style and meals for two or more. In these times, one cannot think of many things more comforting than a bucket of fried chicken dusted with Vietnamese seasoning and served alongside warm house biscuits and whipped palm sugar butter.
Main image: Via Voyager Ferndale Facebook
William Branch is a chef, co-founder of Corridor Sausage and husband to Detour founder Ashley Woods Branch.