Within sight of the Ambassador Bridge and a few miles east of the Cobo Center, one may not expect to find an authentic Mexican taco shop. But wander into Detroit’s Mexicantown and you’ll find plenty of great food delights, from taco shops and restaurants to bakeries and grocery stores.
Located in and around Bagley and 23rd streets, Mexicantown has been enjoying a steady buildup since 1989, when the Mexicantown Community Development Corporation began organizing local citizens and business owners to revitalize the area.
Happily, the core of the area’s rebirth seems centered around food. There are several good sit-down restaurants like Evie’s Tamales (3454 Bagley St., 313-843-5056) and Xochimilco (3409 Bagley St., 313-843-0179) where you’ll find a traditional meal of enchiladas or tamales with rice and beans.
But our family’s favorite is Taqueria Lupita (3443 Bagley St., 313-843-1105). Taquerias, or taco shops, are to Mexico what burger joints are to Americans. They’re a laidback place where you go for a quick, reasonably-priced bite to eat. Expect fresh-made chips, salsa and guacamole on your table to munch before ordering. Tacos are a dollar; two will fill most adults; three will leave you waddling home.
For a true Mexican flavor, skip chicken and beef and try Al Pastor, marinated pork tacos. Tacos are served on soft white corn tortillas with chopped cilantro and onion. Try a refreshing beverage such as Agua de Tamarindo (fruit drink) or Horchata (a cool, soothing rice drink). For the less adventurous, there’s always lemonade or pop.
After your meal, take a stroll north down Bagley to La Gloria Bakery (3345 Bagley St., 313-842-5722) for something sweet. Like any neighborhood bakery you’d find in Mexico, La Gloria’s is self-serve. When you come in the door, grab a tray and tongs and select from cookies, pastries, mini-cakes and doughnuts from cases around the store. The macaroons are not to be missed, but my children always go for the oversized cookies.
If you want to take a little bit of Mexico home with you, stop by the Honey Bee/La Colemna Market (2243 Bagley St., 313-237-0295) to pick up groceries. Honey Bee expanded from a small neighborhood grocery to a large, supermercado in 2006. Here, you’ll find handmade corn and flour tortillas and an assortment of specialty cheeses and meats. I pick up something new each time, which is how my family became hooked on queso fresco (fresh, crumbly cheese) and wafer cookies in fun flavors like mango and dulce de leche (find these in the cookie aisle).
We make lunch in Mexicantown a regular treat for our kids after any event downtown. Science center, art museum – you name it, the kids know the trip will include a stop for authentic tacos.