Let’s say you’re new to Detroit or are visiting for the first time. You’re vegetarian or vegan, and you’re wondering where to eat.
Well, fear not: Like a trusted old friend, A Healthier Michigan has gotcha covered.
Vegetarian cuisine has come a long way over the years, with vegetarian eateries and cafes — helped in part by the raw food movement — popping up more often and credible meatless dishes now common at restaurants of all stripes. The genre has long moved past its image of being bland “health food” peddled by unwashed hippies, and it’s no longer difficult to find things like veggie burgers or soy milk at the grocery store.
So here’s our Detroit restaurant guide, vegetarian and vegan style:
- Inn Season Café, Royal Oak — I include Inn Season, a longtime meatless outpost, on my list of overall favorite restaurants, and you should too. That’s partly because Inn Season offers incomparably fresh ingredients, sourcing from local farms in season (sorry) and using uncommon ingredients like sunflower sprouts and ancho chile. But the real reason to go is the kitchen’s relentless creativity and deft combination of flavors. So you get fragrant stir-fries, like one with fresh ginger and toasted cashews, enchiladas with sautéed onion and green olives, and inventive specials and soups, with every entrée a well-rounded repast that leaves you satisfied. As anyone who’s called the restaurant and listened to the lengthy pre-recorded list of specials knows, just about everything comes in vegan or soy- or gluten-free options.
- Seva, Ann Arbor, Detroit — This venerable institution is nearing 40 years of doing business, a charming wood-paneled, plant-filled room harkening to Ann Arbor’s freewheeling heyday (it opened a second location behind an art gallery in Midtown Detroit last year). Seva has good food to match, with a menu divided among salads, sandwiches, entrees like spinach enchiladas and a cilantro-peanut stir fry, brunch and homemade desserts. There are gluten-free breads, plenty of options for vegan diners, and a bar that makes creative use of raw juices, like a ginger julep, which mixes bourbon with a shot of freshly juiced ginger root.
- The Sprout House, Grosse Pointe Park — This small but quaint storefront churns out a wonderful variety of hearty, homemade soups that change daily and freshly made sandwiches, wraps and side salads, all of them tasty and nutritious. The Sprout House also sells a limited amount of fresh organic produce and raw juices. You can eat inside at one of a select few tables, or outside in summer, and there are plenty of vegan options.
- Avalon International Breads, Detroit — Avalon bakes some of the dreamiest artisanal breads this side of Zingerman’s Bakehouse (from whom they purchased one of their bread ovens), only with 100 percent organic flour. And their bustling Midtown bakery-slash-coffee bar puts them to good use, with selections like focaccia pizzas, a tempeh Reuben and a classic PB&J on crusty wheat bread to go with yummy pastries (including vegan versions), cookies and coffee.
- Various Middle Eastern restaurants — No, I didn’t get lazy, it’s just that Southeast Michigan has a bajillion Middle Eastern eateries, which are nearly always a good fit for vegetarians and vegans. Hello, lentil soup? Baba ghanoush? Tabbouli? Some of my favorites: Jerusalem Garden in Ann Arbor, home of possibly the nation’s best falafel sandwich (many former A2 townies and University of Michigan grads I know who’ve sampled them far and wide concur); Grape Leaves in Troy, Southfield and Oak Park; Pita Café, Oak Park; Anita’s Kitchen, Ferndale.
What’s your favorite place to eat meatless around Detroit?
Photo by LotusxVx