So You're Trying to Eat In Downtown Detroit

Greetings North Champs Attendees,

I’ve lived in Detroit for almost a year and a half now, and thought I could provide some recommendations for places to eat downtown during the Championship Event: North Edition.

The following options are within a 10-15 minute walk of the venue, and I’ve also provided approximate price points for lunch service. Please keep in mind that many of the multiple thousands of employees of companies like Quicken Loans and DTE frequent these locations, so getting where you want to eat before 11:45 or after 1:30 or so will help you avoid long lines or waits.

  • Maru Sushi ( $10-$15) - A great sushi spot that has a two roll lunch combo from 11-2:30
  • Carnival Fresh Mex (<$10) - Mexican basics at a great price with a wide variety of salsa options
  • American and Lafayette Coney Islands (<$10) - These two establishments are right next door to each other, offering similar fare in a diner-type setting; coney dogs, burgers, and fries, with American also offering Gyros
  • Bellacino’s Pizza and Grinders (<$10) - Located inside the 1001 Woodward building; solid pizza and hot, baked subs with a wide variety of meat and topping options
  • Freshii (~$10) - Also inside 1001 Woodward, they offer a variety of healthier options like salads, soups, and smoothies
  • Campus Martius Food Trucks (<$10) - A wide variety of food trucks set up in Campus Martius Park on weekdays
  • Orchid Thai (~$10) - My favorite Thai place around; dinner portions of their curry dishes are enough for me to have leftovers for lunch the next day with an extra pint of rice
  • Sy Thai To Go (~$10) - Think Chipotle for thai food; not as good as Orchid Thai but probably a bit faster (located next to City Bark pet store, can’t seem to find it on google maps)
  • Slices (<$10) - Pizza by the slice
  • Shake Shack (~$10) - The first Michigan location of the New York burger chain, there’s also one in Troy for you folks staying in the suburbs
  • Chickpea in the D (<$10) - Walk-up window serving meat and veggie wraps, they also offer smoothies but I’m not a fan personally
  • La Pecora Nera ($10-$15) - Fresh breads, veggies, and hand carved meats make for one of the best sandwiches you’ll ever have in my opinion; not the fastest or largest place, but if you’re looking for a real gem slightly off the beaten path (but still in a very safe area) you can’t go wrong

Some other options downtown include Cottage Inn Pizza, Dominos Pizza, Jimmy John’s, Buffalo Wild Wings (in my experience their service is less than stellar), Which Wich?, and the food court in the GM Renaissance Center (about a 15 minute walk along the river from Cobo) which has several other major chains. There are also restaurants in Greektown, which is just south of Ford Field, but I figured more people would be looking for things conveniently located relative to Cobo. If you’re going to be around on Sunday morning, then let me add that most places in Detroit also do brunch extraordinarily well.

I hope you all enjoy your time in my adopted city, and check out some of the truly great and special dining options available.

If you have more specific questions, or other recommendations, feel free to chime in below or shoot me a PM!

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Cool list! The first thought that came through my head when reading was: Would any of these places have trouble getting an entire team (or even multiple teams) worth of orders done in a timely manner? Obviously same places are faster than others, could you go back through and give a speed metric maybe?

The only true “sit-down” restaurants on my list are Maru Sushi and Orchid Thai, though I only ever order takeout from Orchid Thai and my order (typically for two people) is almost always ready by the time I make the 10 minute walk from my apartment.

The rest of the options on the list are mostly counter service with varying amounts of seating available, and like I mentioned, they’re used to seeing a lot of people over the course of lunch. None should really take more than 10-15 minutes max per individual order. If you’re going to be eating with a large group, there is a fair amount of seating at the 1001 Woodward building across from the restaurants mentioned above. It’s more or less a small food court on the ground floor of the building. American Coney also has a decent amount of space. Other than that, finding seating in the restaurants will be a roll of the dice dependent mostly on the time of day.

On the bright side it seems like temperatures in Michigan are finally on the upswing, and there are lots of outdoor spaces, especially around Campus Martius, with seating and picnic tables and such available. So cross your fingers for good weather!

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Ok, we are excited that it is the FIRST time we have qualified to attend The Championship in Detroit this year. However, we are completely at a loss with not knowing the ins and outs.

Does anyone know about food/drink policies? Will we be able to bring in water? I assume probably no food. But, don’t know.

If anyone can help, that would be great.

Thank You
Team 5234

Check out the A-Z Guide.

http://info.firstinspires.org/2018-detroit-a-z-guide

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Thank you, I have already downloaded and printed this. While it states a link to food/drink for FORD field, it doesn’t clearly state anything about Cobo Center.

At the GM world headquarters, The Renesaicence center, aka RenCen, they have a food court. Walkable from Cobo.

http://gmrencen.com/dining/ --> click on food court. It geared for lunch, the other restaurants are open for dinner.

Thank you all so much for this! We just qualified at Ontario District Champs and are making our plans now. As someone who loves good food, I can’t wait to check out some of these options. :smiley:

Detroit put together a list of local businesses that will offer discounts to first teams, https://first-robotics.visitdetroit.com/deals/ a lot of them are restaurants

For a sit down lunch or dinner for a team (say 20-30) In the downtown area (call a day ahead) try: they either have specific large rooms or can put a bunch of tables together)
Maru Sushi
Detroit Beer Company
Calexico
Bobcat Bonnie’s
Ottava Via
Slows BBQ
Brass Rail
Grand Trunk (get the upstairs)
Atwater Brewing
Andrews on the Corner
Hopcat

These are the ones that come to mind I’ll add to the list as they come to me😊

If you have the transportation and are looking for restaurants for groups, Corktown and Mexicantown are probably better bets than most places immediately downtown. In addition to Bobcat Bonnie’s and Slow’s, McShane’s Pub in Corktown has a decent amount of space. Most of the Mexican restaurants I’ve been to in Mexicantown could also accommodate larger groups.

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I would also like to find an answer to this, I don’t see any mention of it in the A-Z Guide.

I think it’s obligatory that everyone tries a coney at least once.

I miss having coneys. Have to get a brick of the sauce sent down again.

Brian

I second this. You can’t say you went to Detroit and did not have a Coney Dog.

The best places are American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island. It’s tradition to try both places, and then pick a favorite.

https://opportunitydetroit.com/blog/coney-showdown-american-vs-lafayette/

One more important resource I forgot to include: coffee!

There are a couple Starbucks and Tim Hortons locations around the downtown area, but two other local places I’d recommend are Ashe Supply Co. (great selection of local baked goods), and The Roasting Plant. Roasting Plant is a little more expensive, but if you’re a fan of unnecessary complication/a mechanical systems nerd (maybe all of you?) then you’ll love that their coffee beans are stored around the perimiter of the store and then transported via vacuum tubes (think drive thru bank style) to the grinder at the counter.

Great Lakes Coffee Roasting company has a location in Midtown, and though over never been to their store, their coffee is top notch and served at various restaurants around the city.

Urban Bean Co. and Dessert Oasis Coffee roasters are also downtown, but have received mixed reviews from people I know (aka myself and my significant other), but Dessert Oasis does have pretty good cheesecake!

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Necromancing a thread for personal advice.

Lots of great looking restaurants on the list. If native Detroiters had to pick one or two for a nice sit-down meal for two (lunch or dinner), what would be at the top of your list? What’s on the must-not-miss list (beyond Coney Dog)?

Hey @gerthworm, I sent you a PM. If anyone is looking for restaurant recommendations that aren’t necessarily for a quick lunch and might be for a small group instead of a team, feel free to shoot me a message! I’ve been in the downtown area a little over 2 years now, and have had a ton of great food.

I am planning on posting an updated list this year. There have been several new places opening (or new-to-me places I’ve tried) over the last year that would probably work well for those seeking lunch or team dinners.

If anyone tried any of these last year, what were your favorites? Any spots you might have stumbled upon that I missed?

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Will they be doing the food trucks again? That was actually a lot of fun and probably the best option for quickly trying out a variety of fare (if you timed it right - otherwise the line ups could get a little crazy). I had some really tasty fish and chips, BBQ, fried chicken, missed a chance to try what looked like a tasty shakshuka, and my standout was the crispy Brussels sprouts, which were so amazing that I actually ran back to the truck, emptied all the change from my pockets and dumped it in their tip jar. (To be fair, we were about to drive back to Canada and I have little use for American change… :smile: )

Breakfast options weren’t awesome as we just had your standard 2-star hotel breakfast fare (hard boiled eggs, yogurt, stale Walmart muffins, and you get to fight all your students for the waffle maker) so I developed a pattern of waiting until our team was settled into the stands and then running out to one of the food trucks to grab breakfast. Way better than the options inside Cobo and cheaper too.

When do most restaurants / stores close

I haven’t seen an official notice go out outlining the special events and such that they had last year yet (some details from last year), but the food trucks are typically out every weekday, weather-permitting, during the spring/summer anyway.

It’s going to depend on the restaurant, but the majority probably close between 8-10, with some closing earlier, but there are some late-night options too, notably pizza spots and the coney islands.