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In the heart of Detroit, a city that has woven its resilient spirit into the fabric of its people, I found an unexpected home away from Miami, FL. Eight years ago, I embarked on a journey to Detroit during the unforgiving winter months, drawn by the promise of exceptional food. Little did I know that this city would become a tapestry of experiences— from the exhilaration of torpedoing down a metal slide to organizing fundraisers for victims of gun violence and Baby Wynter Smith.
My Detroit chronicles have unfolded amidst food competitions, hosting the city’s largest Black food festival, encountering a sprint from a law-evading gentleman, and the warmth of newfound friendships. Despite its challenges, which city doesn’t have its share, Detroit has embraced me with open arms. Amidst it all, one constant remains—we’re here for the food!
Today, I extend heartfelt congratulations to the top 10 Black-owned restaurants in Detroit, a testament to the city’s ever-growing culinary landscape. Here’s to the diverse flavors, innovative chefs, and the communal spirit that defines Detroit’s remarkable food scene.
#1 Ima Izakaya
2100 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216
Immerse yourself in the culinary brilliance of Chef Mike Ransom’s creation, Ima Izakaya, a culinary gem not only in Detroit but across Michigan. Renowned for offering some of the finest ramen in the city, Ima Izakaya’s menu is a symphony of flavors, featuring udon, pho, soups, sushi, rice, snacks, sandwiches, craft beer, wine, and sake.
During my visits, I savored a delightful gin cocktail paired with must-try dishes—the karage chicken, ginger beef pho, and shrimp dumplings. The restaurant boasts a diverse menu, including grilled skewered meats, providing options for both indoor and outdoor dining. It quickly became a recurring favorite during my Detroit food tours, solidifying its place as a potential staple in the city’s culinary landscape.
#2 Sweet Potato Sensations
17337 Lahser Rd, Detroit, MI 48219
Explore culinary bliss at Sweet Potato Sensations, Detroit’s unique gem at 17337 Lahser Rd. This family-owned haven, a tribute to George Washington Carver’s legacy, crafts EVERYTHING from sweet potatoes. Indulge in the Daddy-O—a must-have with large sweet potato pancakes and house-spiced turkey sausage patties, an irresistible blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet potato flour.
The Black Eye Pea and Collard Green Soup, paired with Sweet Potato Cornbread, offers a divine experience with perfectly seasoned collards and black-eyed peas. For Wednesday’s special, savor J.T.’S SPECIAL—a Belgian Sweet Potato Waffle with 3 Whole Amish Chicken Wings—a delightful taste of nostalgia.
The warmth of family and community permeates the 30-year-old establishment, where owner Mrs. Cassandra Thomas and daughter Espy foster a sense of belonging. Beyond exceptional food, Sweet Potato Sensations serves as a small business incubator, collaborating with local Detroit businesses.
Dessert is a showstopper with the Lemon Chess Sweetie Pie inducing tears of joy. The sweet potato pie, with a homemade crust, rivals the best and is perfect for Thanksgiving. Everything is HOMEMADE, and you can taste the love in every bite. Plan ahead for holiday demand and experience exceptional service, art, and delectable pies at Sweet Potato Sensations—worthy of a flight to Detroit for Thanksgiving indulgence.
#3 Baobab Fare
6568 Woodward Ave Suite 100, Detroit, MI 48202
Phone: (313) 265-3093
Experience the culinary masterpiece crafted by husband-and-wife duo Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere, who graced Detroit with the flavors of their homeland, Burundi. This dynamic team not only brings the richness of African-Diasporic cuisine to the forefront but also embodies the essence of Black success, love, and family.
As a devoted foodie and advocate for supporting Black-owned establishments, I was thrilled to discover this gem that goes beyond exceptional cuisine. Mamba and Nijimbere’s establishment is a celebration of everything beautiful, from the vibrant decor to the warm hospitality and, most notably, the outstanding cuisine. The spacious interior is a visual delight, creating a welcoming atmosphere that complements the focus on large, shareable plates inspired by the diverse flavors of the African Diaspora—spanning African-Americans, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Hispanic influences.
#4 Moore Soul Food
3005 S Fort St, Detroit, MI 48217
Embark on a culinary journey to Moore Soul Food, a hidden gem that stands as a testament to Detroit’s rich Black food scene. Though the distance from our hotels had kept us at bay, the moment we arrived, the outstandingly delicious food proved every mile worth the trip. This mom-and-pop establishment is the kind you eagerly recommend to out-of-towners seeking the best of Detroit’s culinary offerings.
Moore Soul Food is more than just a restaurant; it’s an emblem of Detroit’s diverse and flavorful food culture, a strong contender for the city’s best. The mac and cheese, with its silky texture of buttery and salty goodness, sets the stage for a feast that includes earthy collard greens with a slight vinegary punch and cornbread dressing, turkey, and gravy that evoke the warmth of a Thanksgiving celebration.
Every dish tells a story of culinary expertise—the juicy and flavorful baked chicken, the irresistible candied yams with notes of brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and the tender fried fish with a crispy, flavorful coating that lingers on the palate. The BBQ jerk chicken wings, a game day treat, further solidify Moore Soul Food as one of the city’s culinary gems. Moore Soul Food is not just a restaurant; it’s an experience that defines the best of Detroit’s vibrant soulful landscape.
4830 Cass Ave Suite C, Detroit, MI 48201
Chef Mike Ransom’s brainchild has earned a remarkable ultra rating of 7 out of 5 from esteemed critics, including myself, Jon, and Mike. This vibrant eatery infuses a playful twist into Detroit classics, offering hot dogs and burgers with a delightful Asian flair. The standout Curry Burger, featuring a Halal beef patty adorned with curry slaw, pineapple chutney, pickled red onion, ginger, curry mayo, and scallion, left an indelible mark on our food tour. The interplay of umami flavors was a sensory delight, making it a must-try.
Noteworthy mentions include the Kali Dog, irresistible chicken wings, and health-conscious options like the delectable zucchini. Even desserts at SuperCrisp shine with freshness and warmth. Chef Mike Ransom’s track record, evident in the success of Ima, reinforces the unsurprising excellence of this establishment. Whether you’re a Detroit native or a visitor, SuperCrisp deserves a coveted spot on your dining list.
Supercrisp Hot Dog
#6 Generations Bistro Soul Food
2440 Seven Mile E, Detroit, MI 48234
Generations Soul Food Bistro Table
Generations Bistro Soul Food emerged as an unexpected treasure, discovered by Jon, my nephew and cameraman, simply by peering out the window. What awaited us was a culinary revelation—unforgettable fried catfish and chicken, paired with soulful and delectable sides. Despite a wait that tested our patience, the well-seasoned chicken boasted a delightful crunch and exceptionally tender meat, complemented by Detroit’s renowned catfish.
For aficionados of soul food, this space is a non-negotiable stop. If a visit to Moore’s isn’t feasible, Generations Bistro Soul Food stands as an equally impressive—if not superior—alternative in certain aspects. While Moore’s retains its charm, this takeout joint brings its own culinary fire to the scene.
#7 Shell Shock’d Tacos
418 W Willis St, Detroit, MI 48201
In a welcomed transition to brick and mortar, this establishment has become the epicenter of Detroit’s soulful Mexican fusion cuisine. Once inside, my inner indulgence took over, losing control over the delectable offerings. Among the city’s impressive Black-owned Mexican concepts, this spot leads the pack with its expansive menu.
From the unrivaled chicken crunch wrap to the Elote Mexican street corn, the flavors here transcend borders and could establish nations. Each dish, a testament to authentic Mexican taste infused with the soul of Black cooks, delivered a harmonious blend of moderately spicy yet not overwhelming sensations. The culinary journey ranged from fresh and light tacos to more substantial burritos and crunch wraps, all adorned with generous portions that satisfy both appetite and soul.
In this culinary haven, fresh herbs and vegetables shine, and the pricing aligns with the generosity of portions, leaving patrons full and content. Beyond its gastronomic prowess, the late-night hours ensure ample time to savor the experience. A visit to this establishment is a culinary voyage you don’t want to miss.
Shell Shock’d Taco Table
#8 Hygrade Deli
3640 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216
Since 1972, Hygrade Deli has stood as a southwest Detroit institution, now proudly Black-owned. Preserving its legacy, this deli continues to churn out classic, nostalgically delicious old-school recipes. I indulged in the equally impressive Reuben and chicken salad sandwiches—the former, a balanced masterpiece of Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and tender corned beef on rye. The chicken salad stole the spotlight with harmonious flavors on a perfect roll. And, succumbing to nostalgia, a classic grilled cheese transported me to childhood days of government cheese. Hygrade Deli is a symbol of classic Detroit cuisine, earning native approval for five decades—undeniably, those are some good sandwiches.
#9 Dexter’s Grill
13501 Allen Rd, Southgate, MI 48195
Discovering culinary delights slightly beyond Detroit’s borders, I stumbled upon Dexter’s Grill in Southgate, just a stone’s throw away from the city limits. Initially masked as a closed gas station, this hidden gem revealed itself as a haven for burger enthusiasts. The double cheeseburger, a symphony of textures and flavors, surpassed expectations, showcasing a perfectly seared chuck, fresh ingredients, and a buttery, char-kissed bun.
My skepticism about the surprisingly low prices was swiftly dispelled as the quality of the food exceeded all apprehensions. Dexter’s Grill defied the stereotype of cheap eats, delivering a value-laden burger that hit all the right notes. The fries accompanied the burger admirably, adding to the overall satisfaction.
Venturing into unconventional territory, the chicken wings at Dexter’s Grill were nothing short of extraordinary. From the divine lemon pepper to the flavorful buffalo, each wing exuded respect-worthy flavors, defying the randomness of its unassuming appearance. The wings, an obedient order of culinary excellence, left an indelible mark. In the midst of the bustling quest for the best service and food, Dexter’s Grill emerged as an unexpected joy. The divine burger and wings, paired with unbelievably reasonable prices, make it a spot worth exploring. Dial (734) 288-0504 to experience this hidden gem and share your thoughts on this unexpected culinary delight
#10 What’s The Dill
4088 W McNichols Rd, Detroit, MI 48221
Phone: (313) 646-9040
Discover the unexpected delight of pickle sandwiches at What’s The Dill, a standout in Detroit’s culinary scene. Following the Breadless experience, I ventured into the world of What The Dill and was pleasantly surprised by the unique offerings. The Tuna Popper, Big Dill Delight Sandwich, and Lil Luther Roll emerged as standout creations, showcasing a fusion of proteins, vegetables, cheeses, and sauces that elevate each bite.
Perfect for carb watchers, What’s The Dill presents a novel concept—deli sandwiches served on huge dill pickles. The curated sandwich options, including The Tuna Popper and Big Dill Delight, are a testament to thoughtful combinations that make perfect sense. The menu extends beyond sandwiches to include delicious, deviled eggs, adding to the quirky charm of this seemingly whacky novelty. Trust me, What’s The Dill is more than just a culinary experiment; it’s a taste sensation that will leave you hooked. Explore the intentional flavors and unexpected joy this pickle-centric haven brings to Detroit’s top-ten dining experiences.