You can say many things about Detroit’s Turkey Grill (8290 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, (313) 872-4624.) The food is amazing, with each bite packed with unrivaled flavor. The meat is tender; fried or baked to perfection. Artisanal and unique seasonings, marinades and rubs overtake your senses; packing a punch so powerful, Mayweather wouldn’t stand a chance.
You and your crew might debate which dish is best, but what you will agree on is Turkey Grill just might have the best turkey in all of Detroit. Plus, the prices will flat out shock you. George, the owner of this amazing eatery has kept prices at pretty much the same level since he opened the doors over 20 years ago. With small adjustments for the rising cost of food, customers can purchase a delicious breakfast at only $1.99 and a full course dinner for under $10.00. If you’re a penny-pinching foodie who does not want to sacrifice taste or quantity, this is your spot.
Turkey Grill, I must admit, is among one of the last places you would expect to find such unique and calculated flavors from a bird usually reserved for Thanksgiving. The bullet-proof glass windows and the questionable service from some of the ladies taking your order will have you wondering whether you’re in a restaurant or a pawn shop. Thankfully, none of that matters once you sink your teeth into the incredible, savory, tender, mouthwatering turkey served up at this family owned and operated restaurant.
My experience started with THE CLUBBY CHECKER ($11), a glorious sandwich constructed with turkey breast carved from the bone, crisp turkey bacon, American cheese, tomato, lettuce, dill, mayo and mustard (I added a strip of Turkey Pastrami and I suggest you do the same). Devoured in just four bites, the BEAST HAD BEEN RELEASED. Whenever I taste amazingness I lose all control. This standout sandwich could rival any artisanal New York deli. Adding the turkey pastrami propels the sandwich from good to great; and the welcomed saltiness of both the bacon and pastrami meshed beautifully with the mild and roasted flavor of freshly baked turkey breast.
Following the delicious sandwich, I turned to a mammoth TURKEY SUPREME SALAD ($11) that included turkey breast carved from the bone, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, four shredded cheeses on top of a generous portion of romaine lettuce topped off with their homemade ranch dressing. Heaps of freshly cut turkey breast tossed in a house made ranch-inspired dressing, with homemade croutons elevated this salad from lesser evolved salads in the area. You must be hungry to tackle this big girl, because it is massive. The picture below doesn’t even do it justice. One of my favorites for sure.
Next we move to the classic Turkey Wing Bites ($9), seasoned with a special Cajun homemade rub. You can try it with various flavors, but my favorites were the Cajun dry rub and the wet lemon pepper. In Miami, the Haitian community has a dish called Griot; chucks of marinated pork fried naked. The turkey wing bites reminded me of that dish in subtle ways. Folks don’t associate pork with turkey, but honestly, a perfectly fried piece of turkey resembles the flavor and taste of pork more than chicken. We know this in the African-American community because we often use turkey necks to replace pork in our collard greens and cabbage to enhance the flavor without the cholesterol and fat.
This brings me to my favorite thing at Turkey Grill, the Turkey Tails ($7). Just imagine if an oxtail and a turkey had a baby. That is exactly what these delicious creations taste like. I was so proud of George for creating this outstanding entrée for our gastronomic pleasure. Quite possibly the James Beard Award recipient in the waiting, these babies are saucy, flavorful, and so tender it feels sinful to eat them. I would get them with a side of grits; speaking of which, this place has some grits that are so damn good you may just lick the bowl when done. They are made in a creole fashion with chunks of turkey bacon and cheese throughout. Lord, Father God, you know I have tried to get my body right or the summer, but George is not being used by you to help me with this task. Please show him the way!
Well, my prayers were answered when we discovered their HEARTSMART POACHED WINGS ($11) two pieces of marinated turkey wings in spices, cloves and all natural flavoring served with a salad and a homemade roll. You may need to ask for additional salad if you’re watching your weight, because when your ass tastes that roll, you will turn into one of the zombies from the Walking Dead trying to get another one, and another. They are melt in your mouth good. Like Krispy Kreme for rolls. Just make sure you ask for it to be served hot. If you’re lucky enough to get them fresh out of the oven, make sure you are near a seat, because your knees will buckle. You could also request one of their sauces to have your naked and poached wings tossed in if you want to kick it up a notch.
A classic dish on the menu is their SMOKED OR BBQ TURKEY ($9), a huge smoked turkey leg, hickory smoked in special herbs and spices. The flavor reminds me of Carolinian BBQ. I was overwhelmed at the sheer size of this thing. You will not leave hungry if you order this. The flavor is through and through with a nice smoky exterior and a broth-like flavor when diving into the actual meat. Since I like living on the edge, I requested a side of the wet lemon pepper flavoring and dipped the leg right in there for a more decadent experience.
Finally, I was blessed to have tasted their homemade Banana Pudding. Straight up winning. Each spoonful was endorphin-releasing, joyful nostalgia of days standing next to my late Grandmother double boiling her pudding waiting for it to cool, then layering it with Vanilla Wafers and freshly chopped bananas that she harvested right from the backyard. How I miss her.
This is what Turkey Grill was for me. A nostalgic eatery with incredible food that transports you to a time where food was made with love. The locals MUST know about this eatery, although, unfortunately, some probably take it for granted. The food is exceptional and seems to improve each time I visit. I would recommend that on your next trip to Detroit, you give Turkey Grill a holler. You can reach them at (313) 872-4624.
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