Afternoon ladies and gentlemen, for all those attending I’d like to be among the first to welcome you to Detroit.
I’ve been attending Youmacon for the past 7 years, I’m an accountant, and I am one of the over-exuberant dancing men that regularly make a spectacle of themselves at the AMV Wars every year. I’m also a native to the Metro-Detroit area and a wellspring of knowledge regarding local history, politics, and awesome locations for visitors.
Purpose of this thread:
To give the entrepreneuring Con-goer a few ideas to draw from if they are feeling a little bit adventurous or have a genuine desire to see the Youmacon host city. There’s a lot of great places that often get overlooked because of the city’s less than sterling reputation that I think deserve a fair shot from travelers.
Believe it or not, Detroit was once considered the Paris of the West and was among one of the richest and most affluent cities in the world. While a lot of that knowledge has been lost to the rest of the country those of us that spend time there know how to find some of the old gems buried in the sand.General Tips:
• Detroit’s Not That Bad: I know that, generally speaking, if you have to explain yourself you’ve already lost but I stand by that statement. Downtown Detroit is about as safe as any other major city. The Police patrol Downtown regularly and the DPD office is right near the Ren-Cen.
• Travel in Groups: Kinda seems to contradict the first tip but like I said, Downtown is as safe as any other major city. However, Detroit has a rather confusing layout (thanks France) and it’s easy to get lost if you don’t know where you’re going. Stay in a group and ask store owners for directions, they are very helpful.
• Don’t give anything to Panhandlers: There is a church homeless shelter / soup kitchen a few blocks away on Jefferson (its St. Peter and Paul Jesuit if you want to know) as well as several more within close proximity. Giving them money, food
, or cigarettes will only draw more. I know several of them by name, some of them are nice people but they really and truly only want to buy drugs and alcohol.
• Maps are your Friend: Get a city map from a traveler center at either Cobo or the Ren Cen. Detroit is annoying to navigate because of numerous narrow or one-way streets that can be frustrating if you get turned around.
• Don’t Mess with the Busses: THEY WILL NOT STOP. Smart Bus drivers give absolutely zero damns about pedestrians. They know their job and they do it well, be safe and give busses the respect befitting a multi-ton vehicle with malicious intent.
• Buy a People Mover Pass: They offer passes for the People Mover at the Ren Cen for around $10 and it is totally, absolutely worth it. It will take you right from the Ren Cen to Cobo and to several other really nice places around the city without having to walk. It also connects to many of the major hotels in case you couldn’t land a spot in the Ren Cen Marriott.For Food:
The most important part of this in my opinion. The locations mentioned in this portion are great for all ages.
• Potbelly: Awesome subs, grinders, shakes, and soup with a wide variety of pop and juice drinks for a reasonable price. Has a nice view.
o Located in the Ren-Cen: You kinda have to look for it because it’s not in the food
court. Its on Level 1 in Tower 300
o Price range: About $6-$8 for sub and a drink
o Menu: http://www.potbelly.com/Food/OurMenu.as ... age=Salads
• Green Dot Stables: A personal favorite of mine that offers custom sliders (little burgers) and a variety of interesting sides. They offer a daily ‘Mystery Meat’ as a special slider that can be anything from Kangaroo to Octopus to Vegean curry. They also serve a great Mint Julep for those of you 21 and older. I recommend the PB&J slider, don’t judge me just yet, this is made warm craft peanut butter and a homemade chipotle raspberry jam (not hot just with a hint of kick to it).
o Located at: 2200 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48216
Driving distance (totally worth it)
o Price range: $3-$12 dollars depending on how many sliders you get.
o Menu: http://greendotstables.com/food-menu/
o Drink Menu: http://greendotstables.com/drink-menu/
o Side Note: Owned by a great young couple that take a lot of pride in their establishment.
• Anchor Bar: A well established hole in the wall that makes some fine burgers and fries for a good cheap meal. While burgers are good I recommend the artery clogging joy that is the Tachos, imagine nachos only with tater tots. It’s phenomenal. It’s just down the street from Cobo.
o Located at: 450 W Fort St, Detroit, MI 48226
o Price Range: $5-$10
o Menu: None online, this is an old school place with a jukebox and old nautical stuff everywhere.
• Cass Café: Located near Wayne State University and serves a lot of college students. They’ve got a great food
selection. I recommend the curry lentil burger, I’m no vegan but that’s a great sandwich at a great price.
o Located at: 4620 Cass Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201
o Price Range: $7-$12
o Menu: http://www.casscafe.com/rb.html
• American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island: YOU ARE IN DETROIT YOU MUST CONFORM. SO EAT A CONEY BEFORE I…sorry. But seriously, Detroit loves it’s Coney Island’s and American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island are two of the best. A Coney is a hotdog smothered in chili and onions and mustard. They serve other stuff but do yourself a favor and at least try it. Oh, and these two Coney Islands are right next to each other I prefer Lafayette but both are great.
o Located at: 118 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226
Right down the street from the Ren-Cen
o Price range: $4-$8
Seriously folks it’s cheaper and better than anything you’ll find in the food
Lafayette: http://www.allmenus.com/mi/detroit/2486 ... land/menu/
• Note: These are places I have been and can generally vouch for as good affordable places to eat that are close to the Ren-Cen. There are plenty of great places to eat so feel free to search and explore. I’ve heard great things about:
o Cliff Bells
o Slows Barbeque
o Vicente's Cuban CuisinePlaces to Visit:
These are either fun places to go or cultural locations in the City of Detroit that are worth seeing.
• Eastern Market: Historic Eastern Market is the largest open-air flower market in the US and one of the largest Farmer’s Markets. You can find some great fruit and vegetables as well as taking in some great local culture as local performers play in and around the market. There are many stores including a fantastic 2 story antique store that I go to regularly.
o Only open on Saturday mornings from 6am-1pm
Worth the early wake-up
o Theres a guy that sells homemade PIE, specifically a Chess Pie that was featured on the food
network. It’s like $6 for a pie.
o Located at: 2530 Market Street, Detroit, MI 48207
• The Guardian Building: One of the more beautiful skyscrapers in the city that is easily identified by the colorful tile work and Art-Deco architectural style. Built back in 1929. It really is a beautiful building and the inside is gorgeous with Aztec style tile work lining high arching ceilings and polished brass all over the place. There are a couple small stores inside the main lobby but it’s otherwise open to the public and totally free.
o 500 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226
• Kings Used Books Store: I cannot stress enough how absolutely amazing Kings Used Book store is. It’s a 5 story building full of old books, and I mean old. I’ve found handwritten books from Pre-printing press days in this place. Any topic you can imagine and you can find it in this sprawling labyrinth of knowledge. For a bibliophile such as myself the place is a dream come true.
o Located at: 901 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226
Long walk or short drive. Totally worth it.
o Business Hours: http://www.rarebooklink.com/cgi-bin/kin ... outus.html
Generally 9:30 – 5:30 M-Sat, closed on Sunday
• Detroit Institute of Art: What can I say about this place other than it’s one of the nation’s most beautiful collections. It has tons of artwork from all over the world and throughout time. I suggest picking your favorite place and era and sticking to it because it takes a long time to get through this place. This is a little bit heavy time-wise compared to the other attractions on this list, the only reason I put this on is in the off chance that you check in on Thursday and things are a little slow. Why not Art?
o Located at: 5200 Woodward Avenue Detroit, Michigan 48202
o Business Hours:
Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Fridays 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
You may not know it but Michigan has been quite active on the craft-brewery scene and has a number of great breweries located right in Detroit as well as some wonderful historic pubs and bars that are great for a pint or a cocktail for individuals 21 or over
. For the sake of everybody involved I’m only listing the ones within walking distance of the Ren-Cen and Cobo. So if you feel the need to unwind after a long day of Con and don’t want to pay $8 a glass for swill at the Ren-Cen bar take my advice and expand your horizens.
• Atwater Brewery: Atwater is one of the more prominent micro-breweries in the state (the others being Bells, Founders, among others) and their main location is a great bar/restaurant that can be easily reached by walking about a half-mile down the river walk right next to the Ren-Cen.
o Price: $9-$20, about what you pay at Ren-Cen bar for beer but you get more of it, it’s a heck of a lot better, and the wait staff is much nicer.
o Location: 237 Joseph Campau Avenue Detroit, MI 48207
• Anchor Bar: Great cheap beer and cocktails at a reasonable price. See above for location and price. Beers run about $2 drafts and $3 bottles. Last time I went there they had Founders craft beer for $4 a bottle but it’s seasonal so don’t quote me on that.
• Grand Trunk PubAt the Con:
Frankly I suggest getting in as much as you possibly can and prioritizing as soon as the hard schedule comes out. My personal favorites are MST4k AMV Wars (for aforementioned dancing reasons) but there’s a heck of a lot that even I haven’t seen. Last year the highlight of the con for me was stumbling into a viewing of Japanese Spider Man.
If you have any questions about other establishments in the area feel free to ask. I might not respond really quickly as I don’t check this terribly often but I will get back to you eventually. Enjoy the Con and enjoy the City of Detroit.