Motor City Brewing Works has 10 pizzas, or you can create your own culinary ode to your valentine. (Robin Buckson / The Detroit News)
With just one day until Valentine’s Day, there’s not much use in trying to snag a reservation at one of the classic romantic restaurants around town.
Reservation bookings at a lot of these overtly romantic spots were filled well in advance. Oh, you might get on the waiting list at Café Cortina, Bella Piatti or Tre Monti, but it’s probably wiser to get creative and pick a restaurant where the romance quotient isn’t going to be a factor this weekend. Think outside of the heart-shaped box.
Here are a handful of places that may not be typical Valentine’s Day spots, but they can certainly deliver a good experience for those willing to forgo the candlelight-and-roses approach for something unexpected. They also may spark some ideas of your own for an offbeat Valentine’s destination.
22828 Woodward, Ferndale; (248) 850-8060.
The California-style, open-face tacos on soft tortillas, such as the al pastor made with brined pork rubbed with cumin, coriander, chilies and brown sugar and slow roasted, the guacamole and fruity house drinks are served in a big room with communal seating at picnic style tables, and there’s a festive feeling that doesn’t depend on the weather.
621 S. Opdyke, Auburn Hills; (248) 332-7744.
There's nothing like attacking a blue crab with a mallet and digging in at a paper-covered table; that is the claim to fame at this shellfish spot where there’s also a Louisiana spin that includes gumbo and crawfish pie.
Mercury Burger & Bar
2163 Michigan, Detroit; (313) 964-5000.
A vintage Corktown building overlooking Michigan Central Station is the setting for this unpretentious spot where the burgers and sweet potato fries are deliciously addictive.
Polish Village Café
2990 Yemans, Hamtramck; (313) 874-5726.
The décor is simple, the service matter-of-fact and the prices unbeatable for solid Polish home cooking typified by stuffed cabbage, pierogi, kielbasa and sauerkraut, all great winter fare.
1341 Springwells, Detroit; (313) 842-4857.
A classic Italian spot still in the old neighborhood where it started half a century ago. Pastas, veal dishes and pizza are handled with care and served in a muraled dining room.
Taste of China
27626 Middlebelt, Farmington Hills; (248) 474-8183.
Like many Chinese restaurants, this one offers menus in Chinese and English, to accommodate both Asian and non-Asian taste buds. Among many choices are tofu with ground pork and crispy duck, sesame chicken and cashew beef. The airy setting includes a large main dining room with double-covered tables and a second with round tables for family-style dining.
31632 John R, Madison Heights; (248) 597-4500.
In addition to the array of well-prepared sushi and sashimi, there’s a notable Hawaiian udon soup and seaweed salad at this tucked-away little spot in an obscure strip mall.
573 Monroe, Detroit; (313) 962-2100.
Classic barbecue from wood-smoked ribs and pulled pork to chicken is the theme in this two-story Greektown spot that is vintage on the exterior and contemporary within.
23838 Joy, Redford Township; (313) 532-2333.
The menu is simple and concise, with an emphasis on pho, the beef noodle soup of Vietnam, with just a few extras such as summer rolls, spring rolls and pork dishes. The strong, chicory-enhanced Vietnamese coffee is a plus, as is the friendly service by the Cong Nguyen family.
Motor City Brewing Works
470 W. Canfield, Detroit (313) 832-2700.
The menu offers 10 creative pizzas and a long list of ingredients for those who prefer to compose their own. For those who don’t want pizza, the chili, a blend of black, chili and kidney beans with red, green, poblano and jalapeno peppers, onion and garlic, is served in small bean pots hot from the brick oven. And it serves beer made right on the premises.