Folks, we are nearly two weeks into the month of August, and with that fact comes certain implications, primary of which is the end of summer. You’ve listened to “I Can’t Feel My Face” countless times (everyone has), on repeat, ignited red and blue explosions in the sky over our nation’s birthday, and have even gotten some popcorn stuck in your teeth at the local theatre. Now it’s almost time to turn our attention to glorious autumn. This season ushers in a bountiful harvest of cornhole, hot cider and whiskey, and Will Ferrell in “Old School” style debates on just when Tom Brady will take his first snaps from under center. Fall is its own talisman, and it should be welcomed warmly like a bratwurst from Gillette Stadium. But not before one more send off for summer 2015, and there’s no time like the present to plan a weekend getaway. This is not one you want to waste, you want to pick a place oozing with fun, adventure, and pizza, the type of place that would make Ferris Beuller jealous. How about Detroit?
For those of you who have kept up with my previous work, you’ll know that I am exceedingly proud to call myself a native of Farmington Hills, Michigan, a suburb about thirty minutes away from the skyline you see in the image above. With my experience growing up in Michigan and having Detroit sports embedded in my DNA comes perspective, a perspective that goes against the popular belief that Detroit is place better left as a punch line to a open mic standup routine, as opposed to a staggeringly accessible city with the culture and spirit to go right alongside other great American cities.
That’s the what, now here’s the why; if you’ve never been to Detroit it can be hard to know where to start, but my advice is to come hungry. Detroit is home to some world class dining options, with the recent tech industry boom in the city, with more and more offices moving downtown, a culinary renaissance has occurred to satiate the desires of businessmen and interns alike.
The first place you need to stop on your food tour is Buddy’s Pizza, to acquaint yourself with “Detroit-style” pizza. Yes that’s a thing, and yes it’s kind of becoming a big deal in states across the country such as Texas, which features “Pizzeria 313”. Imagine if you will taking a huge brownie pan and filling it with pizza dough, loading on all of your favorite toppings and baking the cheese right up to the edge for savory goodness in every morsel, you’d have Buddy’s Pizza. After that, save room for what has become a legendary post Lions/Tigers game destination: American and Lafayette Coney Islands. Don’t think New York here, think amazing because with Vienna natural casing franks covered in spicy chili, mustard, and onions, that’s what a hot dog from there is.
If it feels like this article is misplaced from the Food Network or Travel Channel, it’s not. This is one of the many aspects of what makes Detroit great, I mean we still have to talk about the museums, which you should attend after watching Victor Martinez hit for the cycle inside the friendly confines of Comerica Park. Diego Riverra is a world-famous mural artist whose original work is on display in four venues across the globe. One of them is at the Detroit Institute of Art. The city has a beating heart as strong as the vehicles, and as unflinching as a late-game touchdown drive by Connor Cook and the Michigan State Spartans, and Riverra’s mural captures that attitude.
I don’t know what narrative of Detroit you’re familiar with, but it probably involves a corrupt population with corrupt police led by a corrupt mayor, and you’d be right in a way, but like the modern classic Michael Bay film Transformers, (which was shot in Detroit), there is more than meets the eye. It would be disingenuous not to say that much of the good the city is experiencing these days is a direct result of the success of our sports teams. As you’re explicitly aware, sports have the magical ability to give people hope, to make peoa homeple believe that each day it’s worth the time, energy, and sacrifice to make a stand for your cause. Despite the fact the last time the Red Sox met the Tigers in the playoffs, Big Papi hit a home run in every at bat, the Tigers meteoric rise to elite status from 2006 on, breathed life into what was quickly becoming forgotten city.
So autumn is coming, and that’s far from a bad thing. During your time in the city, once you exit off of “The Lodge” freeway, you’ll find that we are all after the same thing, a good time. So before we go for the fall, let’s witness the rise of Detroit.