Within sight of the Ambassador Bridge and a few miles southwest of Detroit’s Cobo Center, you’ll find a haven of authentic Mexican fare.
Wandering into Mexicantown, also known as Southwest Detroit, promises families 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.
And, happily, the core of the area’s rebirth has been centered around food!
Read on for a snapshot of some of the family food in Mexicantown. Add this hot spot to your next Detroit day trip with the kids.
And let us know your favorite Mexicantown spot in the comments.
There are several good sit-down restaurants. Try like Evie’s Tamales (3454 Bagley St., 313-843-5056), Xochimilco (3409 Bagley St., 313-843-0179), Los Altos (7056 W. Vernor Highway, 313-841-3109) and Armando’s (4242 Vernor Highway, 313-554-0666).
Across the board, you’ll find a traditional favorites like enchiladas, tortas (Mexican sandwiches) and burritos.
For something different, try the high-end El Barzon (3710 Junction St., 313-894-2070), a fusion restaurant that blends the spicy sensibility of Mexican cuisine with the techniques and dishes of Italian favorites.
Our family’s favorite eatery is Taqueria Lupitas (3443 Bagley St., 313-843-1105). Taquerias, or taco shops, are to Mexico what burger joints are to Americans. They’re a no-frills, laidback place where you go for a quick, reasonably priced bite to eat.
Expect fresh-made chips and a variety of salsa on your table to munch before ordering. Tacos are inexpensive – two will fill most adults; three will leave you waddling home.
Make sure to order an assortment of tacos – like crisped steak carne asada, marinated pork al pastor and even lengua, or beef tongue. Tacos are served traditional style on soft white corn tortillas with chopped cilantro and onion.
Try a refreshing beverage such as aguas de frutas (fresh fruit drinks) 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) or Mexicantown Bakery (4300 W. Vernor Highway, 313-554-001) for something sweet.
Like any neighborhood bakery you’d find in Mexico, these are 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. La Gloria’s 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 Colmena 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).
Make a day of it
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.