This sense of pride runs deep into its roots. Some of these roots are connected to well-established restaurants that have past the test of time. Despite the ups and downs of the city, there are several restaurants that continue to thrive. In fact, some of these restaurants have existed for decades. So whether you’re visiting Motown for the first time or are simply curious about what restaurants have remained for generations, here are five of the best restaurants in Detroit that have been operating for decades.
1. Roma Cafe
If you’ve spent any time around Eastern Market, you’ve come across the Roma Cafe. This beauty of a restaurant has been around for over 125 years. While the restaurant has passed between five different owners, it remains one of the best Italian restaurants in the area. There’s just something about a classic, Italian restaurant. It’s well worth just going in to check out the decor and style of this Detroit restaurant staple.
Roma Cafe is not only one of the best rated Italian restaurants in all of Detroit, it’s also one of the oldest Italian restaurants in the city as well. Even though the restaurant has gone through five owners over the course of almost 130 years, the recipes have more or less remained the same. Much of what you eat when you visit will be the same recipes used back when your great great grandparents would have visited Roma’s Cafe.
Eastern Market is a favorite neighborhood of the city, thanks to the vibrant market that takes place during the weekend. It would be the perfect opportunity to stop by the community, visit the market and then grab some delicious Italian food.
2. Jacoby’s German Biergarten
This bar and restaurant are not only over 100 years old, it predates prohibition. The ability for such a joint to survive a time of banned alcohol is remarkable. It continues to offer a wide selection of tap and bottle beers (long before the current beer craze took over). Of course, you can’t have a great bar without great grub. The beer selection continually changes, but there are always a number of great beers on tap. Unlike some of the other, newer, trendy beer gardens now found in Detroit, you can still find an American lager on top. With the micro phase taking over, Jacoby’s wants to make sure you have the kind of beer you like.
So stop in and enjoy the deep fried snacks to go along with it. You’ll quickly discover why the bar and restaurant have been around for over 110 years.
3. American Coney Island
We had to bring these hot dog joints up. It’s not an article about Detroit restaurants without bringing up American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island. These side by side hot dog restaurants are constantly showcased on different travel shows and food shows, thanks to the beef between these two classic locations.
Of course, there’s no right or wrong answer for which dog you prefer. There is home who like the spicy flavor of the sauce at Lafayette, while there are others who prefer the more upbeat appeal of American Coney Island. If this is your first time to Detroit you have to check out these two joints. After all, it’s now been 100 years since opening its doors. And any hot dog joint that’s able to remain open for over 100 years is obviously doing something right.
4. Buddy’s Rendezvous
Speaking of Detroit restaurant classics, there’s a reason why many of the most famous and best tasting Detroit restaurants are also some of the longest running. Buddy’s is not as long-running as the other options, as it has not yet passed its 100-year mark yet. However, back in 1936, before the physical restaurant opened up, Buddy’s did offer both pizza and beer (which wasn’t exactly legal for the establishment to do at the time).
In 1946, Buddy’s first started to sell the famous, Detroit-style square pizza. Since then, it has become the official Detroit-style pizza. While similar to a Chicago deepish, the Detroit-style pizza uses less butter in the dough so it isn’t as dense. It also doesn’t use as much sauce and spreads the cheese out all the way to the edge (so there isn’t just open crust). Additionally, the pizza is made in a rectangular pan and not a circular pan. The combination of Buddy’s and the Coney Island hot dog locations stand as two of the most recognizable restaurants not only in the state but the entire country.
Mario’s is an Italian restaurant that continues to serve food just like you’d find it back in the old country. The restaurant doesn’t change its recipe in order to meet the changing food palettes of the climate. It knows what it is and what it is fantastic Italian food. In fact, it is known as a “supper club.” You’ll receive veggies and relish as soon as you sit down. Everything about it feels like you walked into an Italian grandmother’s home and she’s preparing you some of the best tasting (and smelling) food you could ever get.
If you’re interested in Italian that doesn’t alter itself but instead is how you would find it in the good old days when it opened in 1948 than you owe it to yourself to check out Mario’s Italian restaurant.
When a restaurant has lasted as long as these locations, it develops a strong, loyal following. Many adults bring their children, who eventually bring their own children. From local watering holes offering mostly bar food to well established, family restaurants, each and every one of these restaurants has an interesting story. So if you’re interested in checking out a location that has both history and quality, make sure to check out these five best restaurants in Detroit that have been operating for decades.