Cheers: Your guide to dinner during Blowout music fest

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Annual music festival Metro Times Blowout returns this week for its 18th year. While the nature of the festival continues to evolve — venues, cities and dates have changed in the last few years — it remains one of the cornerstone events of the independent music scene.

With hundreds of live acts performing in three cities over four days (the event kicked off Wednesday), music fans are likely to get hungry while absorbing all this talent. Luckily, many of the venues participating in this year’s festival serve food, or are within walking distance from places worth a visit.

If you go see one-man-band Scotty Karate at the New Dodge Lounge in Hamtramck Thursday night, swing in to the Motor City Sports Bar a few blocks down for one of the best burgers in Detroit. They make them to order with a thick patty and crisp, cold toppings (lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle) between a sizable sesame seed bun. It’s so big that you won’t need any sides, but the criss-cross seasoned fries and cevapi (Balkan kebab) are also good choices.

Also in Hamtramck, if you pop into Paychecks to hear some jams (they’ve got fuzz duo Junglefowl Friday night), skip down to Hamtramck’s newest restaurant, Ali Baba Shish Kabob, which will be open until 11 p.m. with a full Middle Eastern menu, plus smoothies and raw juice.

Cass Corridor bar Jumbo’s will have rootsy rock ’n’ roll Friday and Saturday. Within walking distance, you can try for fine dining at Selden Standard (a four minute walk), but reservations are often hard to come by on weekends. For a more casual dining experience, hoof it to the new Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery for some craft sour beer and truffle fries with rosemary aioli. The nearby Majestic Cafe also has a full menu until midnight, and the adjacent Sgt. Pepperoni’s is open even later with pizza, salads and sandwiches.

This year, PJ’s Lager House has been invited into the Blowout fray. This Corktown spot has a full bar menu served until midnight nightly. A Miller High Life or Pabst Blue Ribbon would pair well with their deep-fried pickles, or try some local craft brew with the vegetarian burrito.

The downtown Ferndale wing of the Blowout has the most options for munchies, because of the high concentration of restaurants and bars in the Woodward and Nine Mile area. The newest spot is Zeke’s, which has live music Thursday-Saturday nights as part of the festival. The regular barbecue menu ends at 9:30, before the music begins, but a late-night menu — with deep-fried grilled cheese, pulled pork taquito and a pork belly BLT — becomes available around 10:15 p.m.

The Woodward Avenue Brewers, which kicks things off early Friday with American Mars at 8 p.m., will have its regular menu, which includes late-night options like pizza and calzones.

Deliciously brief

■Fatburger Detroit reopened this week at 4501 Woodward after closing earlier this year. This location, which serves burgers from size small to XXXL, is under new ownership.

■People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has named Metro Detroit food truck Shimmy Shack as one of the top five food trucks in the country. The cute seafoam green truck is 100 percent vegan. Look for the Shimmy Shack this weekend at the Palmer Park Art fair in Detroit.

Food and beverage events

Dining Out for Life in Metro Detroit: Participating local restaurants — Bella Piatti, Brady’s Tavern, Christine’s Cuisine, Local Kitchen & Bar, Mudgie’s Deli, Seva (Detroit), Priya Indian Cuisine, Sweet Lorraine’s (Southfield) and the Bird and the Bread — will donate a portion of sales to the Michigan AIDS Coalition on Thursday.

Detroit Restaurant Week: Enjoy three-course dinners for $30 at 17 Detroit establishments, including 24Grille, Angelina Italian Bistro, Andiamo Detroit Riverfront, Cuisine, Da Edoardo Foxtown Grille, Detroit Seafood Market, Fountain Bistro, Grille Midtown, La Dolce Vita, Ottava Via, PRISM (in Greektown Casino), Roast, Roma Cafe, Santorini Estiatorio, Top of the Pontch, the Whitney and Wolfgang Punk Pizzeria and Cucina. Promotion runs Friday through May 10. Visit for menus and reservations.

The 8th annual Michigan Cask Ale Festival at Ashley’s Beer and Grill: The largest cask-conditioned craft beer event in the state. Sample from more than 30 breweries across the country. 2-6 p.m. May 9. $45 (includes 12 drink tokens). 7525 Wayne, Westland. (734) 525-1667.

Tequila Tasting at Grosse Pointe War Memorial: Wine and spirits expert Michael Schafer teaches this class on all things tequila, plus samples and snacks. 7-9 p.m. May 15. $48. 32 Lake Shore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms. (313) 332-4074.

11th Annual Wine Stroll in Royal Oak: Sample wine and food from 18 of downtown Royal Oak restaurants and venues. Proceeds benefit Boys and Girls Clubs of Oakland and Macomb Counties. Noon-5 p.m. May 16. $40 in advance, $50 day of. Downtown Royal Oak.

Founders Fest 2015 in Downtown Grand Rapids: A celebration of craft beer and music with Dirty Dozen Brass Band and more. 3-11 p.m. June 20. Tickets on sale Friday at

Melody Baetens