Give your stove a siesta. Instead, savor some of the chow at the best metro Detroit restaurants for families! No reservations. No “two for $25” chains. Just 26 casual spots that are truly nice restaurants in Detroit and Ann Arbor (some cheap, some not-so-cheap) where you can savor some mighty delicious dining.
And if you’ve got your own faves, let us know in the comments below! Meanwhile, enjoy these kid-friendly restaurants in Detroit and southeast Michigan!
• Garden City: 5726 Middlebelt Road, 734-266-1667
• Warren: 11557 E. 12 Mile Road, 586-578-0156
• Shelby Township: 13440 22 Mile Road, 586-323-4110
This homegrown pizza buffet has its eyes on franchise domination, but for now it’s mostly an Eastside little secret. It’s got video games, fun decor and – Holy Grail for parents who would like to talk to each other for a few blissful, uninterrupted minutes – a play area.
Bad Brad’s BBQ
• New Baltimore: 35611 Green St., 586-716-9977
• Shelby Township: 6525 23 Mile Road, 586-254-7010
This northern Macomb County BBQ joint is one of the top restaurants in metro Detroit thanks to some killer slow-cooked meats rivaling (and some say surpassing) some of the area’s most-lauded slabs (perhaps neck ‘n neck with Slows Bar BQ in Detroit?). Kids meals, like ribs and BBQ sandwiches, come with chips and a drink for only $4. But you could also get the child-friendly BBQ.
Curry on Crust Desi Pizza
• Address: 45490 Ford Road, Canton
• Phone: 734-354-8700
Wanna give the kids a taste of India? This hot ‘n tasty new spin on an Italian fave is your best bet. Its creative pies infuse Indian spices into eight savory sauces in three main categories: paneer (cheese), veggie or chicken – all super-fresh. Or create your own (extra garlic, ginger and chilies are free!). Small 10-inchers run $6.99-$7.99; large 14-inchers are $11.99-$13.99.
• Address: 31500 Plymouth Road, Livonia
• Phone: 734-427-4474
Once upon a time, when people talked about nice restaurants in Detroit, they talked about the chain of Daly Restaurants throughout western Wayne County – and even one little experiment in southern Macomb. But now, this Livonia location is the sole spot for Dalydogs and burgers slathered in famous Dalyburger Sauce. It’s cash-only, but you don’t need much. Find coupons on its website for some crazy cheap eats.
• Address: 8500 Capital St., Oak Park
• Phone: 248-541-9703
After more than 50 years of serving up sandwiches, Ernie Hassan has earned the right to get a bit surly from time-to-time. But no, sir. His sunny demeanor and sweet-nothings are legendary. So are the huge sandwiches, custom-made and piled high, costing $5 – tops. When it comes to kid-friendly restaurants in Detroit and southeast Michiga, we love ya back, baby!
• Address: 117 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor
• Phone: 734-761-2882
Featuring a unique take on Cuban street food built around fritas, aka burgers of all types, topped with everything from fried eggs to avocado and always shoestring fries, as well as batidos: milkshakes made with fresh fruit, crushed ice and sweetened condensed milk. So simple, so perfect a combo.
Gabriel’s Hoagie Shop
• Ypsilanti: 2585 E. Michigan Ave., 734-483-5846
• Westland: 1919 Wayne Road, 734-722-4224
Cheese steak lovers, rejoice. Since 1959, the bitty Ypsi location has served ’em up hot and fresh – and their hoagies still have the locals raving. Load it up with mushrooms, onions and chili pepper relish, if you please. The menu is little, but the service is lickety-split. And the tab is easily under $5. One of the best metro Detroit restaurants for budget-conscious families!
Hippo’s Hot Dogs
• Clinton Township: 35520 Groesbeck Highway, 586-790-2775
• Troy: 1648 Rochester Road, 248-524-9778
Yeah, yeah – we know that Detroit is all about the Coneys (which we left off this list – we’re not about to pick a fave in that hotly contested battle!), but this unassuming shop has been tempting taste buds for more than two decades with some of the best Chicago-style hot dogs in town. Give your kids a gastrological geography lesson by popping in to see how the Windy City does tube meat – topped with sport peppers, a pickle and tomatoes.
• Address: 38550 Van Dyke Ave., Sterling Heights
• Phone: 586-979-4460
We like Ike’s. At first, you think it’s your typical Greek-Middle Eastern-Coney-American family restaurant. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But Ike’s also serves Italian, and it does it all pretty well – and for a song. No matter what you order, get the garlic spread.
• Address: 15033 Kercheval Ave., Grosse Pointe
• Phone: 313-331-5776
Don’t let the name fool you. Lunch is indeed served here, but so is breakfast and even dinner, if you arrive by 8 on weekdays. No matter the meal, you’re in for a treat at one of the top restaurants in metro Detroit. The food is splendid (caramel pecan French toast and hot turkey sandwiches are our faves), but what makes this place a standout is ambiance. With its black-and-white striped awning, this corner restaurant is so quaint, you’ll swear you’re in some Frank Capra movie. (P.S. Cash only!)
• Address: 3372 Coolidge Highway, Berkley
• Phone: 248-545-4000
“Gas” and “station” – are there two words more incongruous to great grub? It conjures images of pork rinds and cellophane-wrapped egg salad sandwiches. But one gas station puts a pin in that prejudice. It’s the Sunoco at 12 Mile Road and Coolidge Highway, where Mr. Kabob serves one of the best chicken shawarma sandwiches (and other fine Mediterranean food) in the area. Have no fear in filling up your tank – and your tykes’ tummies.
• Address: 12918 Michigan Ave., Dearborn
• Phone: 313-582-8400
The mouthwatering Middle Eastern recipes – and even the iconic logo – were revived last year at the popular eatery’s original locale. Now run by a totally new crew, it’s brought back plenty of faves, from the marinated and charbroiled deboned chicken to that hot-baked pita bread and garlic dip.
• Address: 24060 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge
• Phone: 248-548-5355
Ever had Aebelskievers? The doughnut-like Scandinavian treat is just one of the quirky delights at this tiny retro gem. The diner hummed for 50 years as Anna’s Coffee Shoppe, tops among nice restaurants in Detroit. Revived as Mae’s in 2010, its new owners have restored its cozy charm, down to the turquoise vinyl seats. Its offbeat menu is a made-in-house/Michigan affair. Try the U.P.-classic butter burgers or Portland Special, featuring hand-breaded Cap’n Crunch chicken tenders.
• Address: 45 E. 14 Mile Road, Clawson
• Phone: 248-585-2314
It makes perfect sense, when you think about. After all, shouldn’t a fish market, whose business it is to sell fresh fish, serve some of the best sushi in the state?
Original Pancake House
• Birmingham: 33703 S. Woodward Ave., 248-642-5775
• Grosse Pointe Woods: 20273 Mack Ave., 313-884-4144
• Southfield: 19355 W. 10 Mile Road, 248-357-3399
Jose Zamudio, Metro Parent’s creative director and the prince of pancakes, deems these the sweetest stacks in southeast Michigan. Not too thin, not too thick and full of buttery flavor – they’re just about perfect when paired with real maple syrup. The omelettes are awesome, too. And kids will get a kick out of the Dutch Baby (part popover/part pancake).
Polish Village Cafe
• Address: 2990 Yemans St., Hamtramck
• Phone: 313-874-5726
For real-deal golabki (stuffed cabbage) and pierogi – those irresistible dumplings stuffed with sauerkraut, potatoes, cheese and other delights – this way-vintage, tucked-in-a-basement nook is a regional lure. Once a cellar beer garden, this snug spot serves what some proclaim the best dill pickle soup, period. First-timers, try the “A Taste of Poland” platter. And bring cash!
Q Cafe and Bakery
• Address: 30941 Dequindre Read, Madison Heights
• Phone: 248-588-9899
This spot is doubly qualified to be a Q contender. It didn’t have stiff competition (as if we’d pick Quizno’s), but still deserves its place. It’s a nifty niche where you can get Asian delights – from sweet to savory. Just nab a tray and take your pick from among the steam buns, sesame balls and sponge cakes. It’s a great chance to amp up your kids’ adventurous eating.
Rex’s House of Pancakes & Coney Grille
• Address: 35111 W. Michigan Ave., Wayne
• Phone: 734-728-2813
Full disclosure: Metro Parent associate editor Stacey Mourtos’s family owns this restaurant, so we’re a bit biased. But we’ll have it known that it was also called-out by one of our Facebook fans in an impromptu poll. And for good reason. Big Rex and his boys (Stacey’s brothers Johnny and Peter) make it their mission to serve a hearty mix of hot-off-the-grill food. You can’t go wrong with anything here, but the “eggceptional skillets” won our hearts.
• Ann Arbor: 314 E. Liberty St., 734-662-1111
• Detroit: 66 E. Forest St., 313-974-6661
We haven’t forgotten about you, vegetarian/vegan families! You too can enjoy kid-friendly restaurants in Detroit and savor one of the best metro Detroit restaurants for families! We saved a pretty competitive letter for this mecca of meatless eating. The Ann Arbor spot has been beloved for years, and now Detroit is genuflecting at its particular genius – tangy General Tso’s cauliflower, yam fries, all sorts of innovative sandwiches, a super Sunday brunch and quite the kids’ menu.
TV’s Deli and Diner
• Address: 2441 Fort St., Trenton
• Phone: 734-671-9005
Soup’s on – and it’s made from-scratch at this eatery that’s named not for the tube, but rather, its owners: Tracy Wipp and Victor Stroia. Chef Victor dishes up innovative, award-winning soups, including a top-prize-earning Reuben version. TV’s tricked-out gourmet apples are gotta-try treats, too. Did we mention kids eat free after 4 p.m. on Tuesdays?
• Address: 18 S. Main St., Clarkston
• Phone: 248-625-5660
No meal served on a metal tray ever tasted so fine. From the marvelous mac and cheese to the smoked chicken wings and ending with the sublime salted butterscotch pudding – the cuisine will rock your rug rat’s world. But it’s still got a casual, family-friendly vibe – similar to its sister restaurants, the nearby Clarkston Union and the newly opened Vinsetta Garage in Berkley.
Ventimiglia’s Italian Foods
• Address: 35197 Dodge Park, Sterling Heights
• Phone: 586-979-0828
Let’s be clear: This is no restaurant. There are no chairs, no tables, no place to eat. But what you will find is what many claim is the best Italian sub in Macomb County. Fresh meat and cheese piled on crusty rolls and topped with tangy Italian dressing. One bite and you’ll swear off Subway six-inchers forever – or at least when you visit Sterling Heights.
• Address: 22828 Woodward Ave., Ferndale
• Phone: 248-850-8060
This hip new haven serves up some of the finest “L.A. working-class,” street-style tacos in town. With an open, airy vibe (the long picnic table-style seating is choice for families), Imperial’s been luring foodies with its Mexi creations since May. Sample oodles of new flavors: These morsels are a mere $2.50 a pop. And parents: Don’t skip their creative cocktail list.
• Address: 3409 Bagley St., Detroit
• Phone: 313-843-0179
There are so many kid-friendly restaurants in Detroit that we decided to put the city in its own class (see sidebar below), but we made this one exception for our list (hey, X isn’t an easy letter to fill!). But good ol’ Xochi’s, as it’s affectionately called, fit the bill. Some argue there are a lot better choices in Mexicantown, and they may be right, but it’s still solid spot for salsa and chips for the fam.
YaYa’s Flame Broiled Chicken
• Address: 29110 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak
• Phone: 248-336-8892
YaYa’s singular southeast Michigan spot makes the cut for two key reasons. One is the chicken Caesar salad, topped with tender, flavorful chicken and to-die-for dressing. The other is the warm bread served with honey butter that you just know the kids will love.
• Address: 2501 Jackson Ave., Ann Arbor
• Phone: 734-663-3663
The deli is certifiably great, but the sit-down roadhouse kicks the family fun feeding up a notch with mini corn dogs, fried green tomatoes and a platter of mini burgers for your mini me’s.