Spring is here, so it seemed like a perfect time for a fresh twist. So, instead of profiling just one restaurant, I'm offering a recipe for a delicious day out and about in Detroit.
The activities contained herein were done as a family of four: me, my wife and our 4-year old girl and a 2-year-old boy. We didn't plan this weekend per say, but we did intend to tour Detroit the only way I know how – with a focus on food. Your sequence may differ from ours, but the outcome will be the same!
Middle Eastern Food
We start our taste-bud tour at the Bucharest Grill. Inside the Park Bar, Bucharest serves up an iconic chicken shawarma sandwich. Layered with grilled chicken, French fries, cabbage, pickles, and plenty of garlic sauce, the Bucharest Shawarma is one of the finest sandwiches in metro Detroit.
Given my intense love of these sandwiches, I felt like my kids should experience their awesome deliciousness. Luckily, Bucharest is open for lunch. Truth be told, Bucharest isn't totally conducive to family dining, but you can grab a couple sandwiches, curly fries and some hummus as a carry out and set up for a picnic at Campus Martius Park.
Detroit Institute of Arts
Done with the sandwiches? Now that you all are resplendent of garlic, head over to the Detroit Institute of Arts to walk off that grilled chicken goodness. From what I was told, Sundays are the best day for families because there are a number of events and classes held throughout the day geared toward children.
We went on a Saturday, though, and there was still plenty to keep the kids busy. Aside from the art itself, there are a number of interactive displays throughout the museum. The Diego Rivera room even has iPads with a special app that offers insight about the murals in the room.
There is more than enough to occupy a couple kids for hours on any day in the DIA. Even if they're young children, the opportunities for engagement are so plentiful that we, as parents, are in for a richer overall experience if we're explaining the art to our kids.
Los Altos Taqueria
After spending a few hours at the DIA, your appetites will undoubtedly be back. Hop in the car and take a journey down to Southwest Detroit. When heading into Mexicantown, you may have the urge to turn into Xochimilco's parking lot. FIGHT THAT URGE. We're headed deeper into Southwest today.
Los Altos Taqueria is a true gem. This restaurant boasts some of the most flavorful traditional Mexican cuisine in the metro Detroit area. Please note that Los Altos is cash only – a minor inconvenience for the incredible value and food.
Upon being seated, you will be greeted with a platter of four house-made salsas and fresh tortilla chips. This is totally free and very easy to fill up on prior to your food arriving. However, you'll want to make sure to save room for a couple menu items. While there are kids' menu options on the menu, you'll soon see why that menu is extraneous.
The most expensive dish on Los Altos' menu is $18 and it is a platter that could feed six maybe eight people. The average meal at Los Altos will come in under $10, so the value of the kids' menu is lost at a place like this. When a menu is so chock of full of values, it lends itself to trying new things. For kids, try the torta, a Mexican sandwich with cheese and avocado with your choice of meat.
Families can share the platters, too. My go-to is the three meat with carnitas (fried pork), cabeza (beef head), and buche (pig stomach). Yes, I realize these meats are more exotic than most, but they're all quite tasty. In fact, buche tastes like the best bacon you've ever eaten. Also, you have a choice of beans: refried or charro. Refried, while velvety, are no match for the spicy, bacon laden charro beans.
The last stop on the adventure is a small spot down the street from Los Altos. Shelia's Bakery is known for Mexican sweets, most notably the tres leches cake. A super dense and wonderfully sweet cake, tres leches has three milks poured over it, which ensures moistness. Shelia's version is levels beyond anyone else's with its notes of caramel and perfectly textured cake.
There's also a wide selection of different cookies and other baked goods, as well. Essentially, if you have a sweet tooth, Shelia's will make sure it is satisfied. Kids love the baked goods set up because they get to pick and choose with tongs of their own or with mom or dad's help if the kid can't reach.
Once you've picked out your desserts, head back home since Shelia's is carryout only. Your adventure was not dangerous at all, but it was a full day of eating and art gazing. That tres leches and those cookies are going to taste pretty good once you're home.