Detroit, first day

We arrived in the late afternoon, dropped our bags and made our way out into the city.  We had just enough time to walk a little and check out a few stops before dinner.

We wanted to stay at the Foundation Hotel but it was sold out months in advance.  We stayed at the Siren instead which just opened.  From what we learned, there are more boutique hotels coming to downtown Detroit in particularly a big one from Shinola.

There is a street in the neighborhood called the  Cass Corridor with a few stores around the corner from dinner.  Our first stop was Third Man Records, founded by Jack White of the White Stripes.  I read about the record press, the new concept of record store but I found the store incredibly disappointing.  The store felt like a tourist destination more than a place for the people in Detroit to shop for vinyl.

We walked next door to the flagship Shinola store.  The company was founded in 2011 making a conscious choice to put the roots in Detroit.  The store is large, airy and each product has its own spot from the watches to the bikes to the turntables.  Very similar to the store I saw in Minneapolis a few years back.  We also walked across the street to Nest, a home goods shop and City Bird, a Detroit themed shop with supposedly local art and goods.

At this point, I was not excited about any of these stores.  They all felt tourist-driven and if I closed my eyes I could be in Nashville, Minneapolis or Charleston.  I was hoping for more authentic places.  Could the Americanization of stores already kill Detroit?

We walked around the neighborhood and over to Selden Standard for dinner.  Every person I spoke with about Detroit pointed me to Selden Standard.  Many say that they could eat there a few times  week.  I get it.  The restaurant has a fantastic vibe.  Sprawling, architecturally modern yet mellow.  The kitchen is tucked behind the bar the wood-fired oven sits for all to see.  The menu is sourced from local farmers and beers from local brewers including craft cocktails.

We shared everything.  Shaved veggies with capers, Parmesan and lemon dressing.  Simple, crisp and delicious.

Roasted marinated beets over mashed avocados with a shot of spice with sticks of crisp kohlrabi and pumpkins seeds on top.  An inspiring summer dish.

Grilled scallops with a pineapple jalapeno relish.

Lemon pasta with shrimp and espellete, a French red chili pepper.

Oysters too.

The restaurant is an absolute must go to and we actually considered coming back the next evening.  We walked around downtown Detroit near our hotel after dinner.  The Tigers were playing, almost across the street.  The stadium sits right in the middle of the city making events quite easy if you are there.

We also walked down Woodward, a wide street, where lots of construction is happening such as the Shinola Hotel.  The stores here are new brands from Warby Parker to Lululemon to Nike, Under Armour and Bonobos.  I get it as these stores are draws for the city particularly from the people in the suburbs to come but how does a developer create innovative retail experiences that are unique to the city?

Went to back looking forward to a day of seeing other parts of the 137 square mile landscape as downtown is only a mere 7.5 miles of that.   I want to see more water towers like this that are keeping the past.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Really liking this tour of a place I haven’t been in decades.Lit water tower is cool, don’t know of any such in NY.Thanks for the tour!

    1. Gotham Gal

      You should go!

      1. cz

        Going there this weekend for a family wedding! Any other suggestions on where to visit would be great! Did you get to see any art while you were there? thank you for this great recap : )

        1. Gotham Gal

          My post today…soon to happen, will have my favorite food spots.The DIA art is the best spot.

          1. cz

            perfect suggestions ! Thank you!!

  2. jason wright

    Perhaps Canada should consider annexing Detroit. I’m confident it could do a better job at reviving its fortunes.

  3. Sarah Krasley

    They just renovated a bath house from the 1930’s. I haven’t gone in, but it’s supposed to be really beautiful: . The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn is totally insane. My head exploded. The man collected buildings! Cool ones like the Dymaxion House and Menlo Park, but wow.

    1. Gotham Gal


  4. Julie Lerner

    Request: can you do the 48-hour tour of Pittsburgh, or have you been there already? It is on my shortlist, and I am a big fan of your restaurant recommendations! Miznon, by the way, best falafel I have ever had.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Will put it on the list!