Football and food. Food and football. The two work together in near-perfect harmony, and in the city of Detroit, we have one of the two pretty well figured out. The other… well, things are being worked on as we speak, as general manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell have built up plenty of excitement surrounding the Detroit Lions ahead of the 2022 season.
Anyway, back to the thing that Detroit already does very well: food.
Let’s start with the fact that Detroit is old—like founded-in-1701 old. And if you have ever taken a history class, chances are you are familiar with its meteoric rise in the years that followed the conclusion of World War II. Families from around the world flocked to Detroit for jobs and the promise of a better life. Like so many other northern cities during that period of time, The Motor City became a melting pot, which would eventually lead Detroit to where we are today—an elite food destination and one of the most diverse cities in the country.
No matter what you’re craving on game day, we have you covered. For someone like me who lives on the eastside of the city, a proper football menu begins with an early Saturday morning trip to Eastern Market—a historic commercial district on the eastside of the city that has been around since 1891.
Getting there early is the key, before the crowds begin to build up. Once there, you will have all of Detroit’s culinary delights at your fingertips, with over 225 vendors setting up shop under the sheds. You’ll find fresh produce from around the state, as well as from our friends over the border in Canada.
Make your way into Gabriel’s, a Mediterranean grocery store that offers everything from authentic hummus to specialty olive oil. While in there, debate the owner Mike over which olive oil is the best (he will tell you it’s Greek). After that, I like to walk over to Mr. Kabob so I can start my day with a chicken shawarma as I walk around. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Walk a little further down Market Street towards Gratiot, and be sure to stop in at DeVries & Co. Family-owned since 1887, the shop offers high-quality pasta, butter, eggs, and so much more. If pasta is on the menu, DeVries is a must.
Craving a coffee as you peruse the sheds? Stop in at Bea’s Detroit for a latte or a lemonade. Interested in an adult beverage? Eastern Market Brewing Company and Cutters Bar & Grill are both great options.
After you have made your way through the sheds, walk over to Gratiot Central Meat Market for all of your game day grilling needs. Whether you are looking for seafood, beef ribs, or a hard-to-find seasoning, chances are you will find what you are looking for. Before you leave, stop by 3 Dogs 1 Cat for a gift for the furry family member in your life.
Now that you have made the great call of going to Saturday market, your game day preparations have gotten way less stressful. And if you didn’t make it to the market, fear not — your Sunday options are plentiful.
Got a craving for Detroit-style pizza? Belle Isle Pizza, located near the intersection of Jefferson and Van Dyke, is my sleeper for best Detroit-style pizza in the city. If wings are your halftime snack of choice, then I suggest the famous Sweetwater Tavern, or They Say for drums and flats.
Did you stay out a little too late on Saturday night? Or maybe you are just a person of culture and love breakfast food? Look no further than Yellow Light in the historic Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood. Made-from-scratch cake donuts, biscuits and gravy, and the hot chicken with pickles are among my favorites. Tell Jeri that Morgan sent you.
Tacos? Head anywhere in Mexicantown for some of the best Mexican cuisine you have had in your life. Tacos Del Barrio and El Parian Taqueria are two of my personal favorites. Another hidden gem is Venezuelan cafe El Rey de las Arepas on McGraw Avenue. They open at 11 a.m. ET on Sundays, giving fans plenty of time to secure a few hearty sandwiches well before kickoff.
If I feel like my game-time meal needs extra juice, then a trip to Dearborn Heights is in order to see my dude, Ali, at Aljoom’s BBQ. As the self-proclaimed Halal BBQ king, Ali is more artist than chef. Everything I have ever tasted from Aljoom’s has been divine, but I highly recommend the Detroiter with a side of fries. Maybe a milkshake if you’re treating yourself.
And don’t even get me started on all of the options in Hamtramck, which is a smaller city tucked in the center of Detroit. Ali’s Pizza & Burgers, Polish Village Cafe, and The Balkan House are all excellent choices for a Sunday spent on the couch.
So whether you live on the westside, eastside, city or the suburbs — support your local businesses. Get to know the people working in them, learn more about the community that you call home. Your gameday experience will be better for it.
Eating a delicious meal on Sundays may not help the Lions on the field, but it definitely doesn’t hurt. Your stomach will thank you, and so will the small business that you chose to support.
Who knows? Maybe you will stumble into a “lucky” pre-game meal along the way.