Best place to see art
Detroit Institute of Arts
5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900
The Annie Leibovitz: American Music photography show is the hot ticket right now, but with more than 60,000 pieces in its collection, the fifth-largest fine arts museum in the United States has plenty of art to suit every taste. A major renovation project has been completed, and reinstallation is under way; the museum should be up to full speed by early 2007.
Best place to see a mainstream film
250 N. Old Woodward, Birmingham; 248-644-FILM
This is cineplex in style: Twelve screens, flashy decor, cushy gel seats and booming sound systems.
Best place to see an independent film
Royal Oak Main Art
118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111
The Main Art’s multiple screens, consistently excellent film selections and central location are just a few reasons for the theater’s longstanding success.
Best place to see live theater
2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-983-6011
When we think about this incredibly ornate former movie palace as a venue these days, it’s usually for concerts, but it’s also a wonderful place to see Broadway-style spectaculars like the upcoming staging of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.
Best place to hear poetry
40 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-399-3946
The longtime boho hangout recently expanded, doubling the space and dividing café and performance areas. Poets are welcome for open mic, 8-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, with Thursday nights the hottest.
Best Belle Isle attraction
Located on the island’s west end, the massive fountain — constructed of white marble and featuring 109 water outlets shaped as human heads, dolphins, lions, turtles and animal horns — was completed in 1925. The $500,000 to build it came from James Scott, described by the Friends of Belle Isle as an “eccentric gambler and controversial socialite.” Thanks, Jim.
Best Belle Isle attraction to bring back
Supporters are still meeting, and you can join up at belleisleaquarium.com. But let’s face it, for all its charm and educational value, this was less an aquarium in the contemporary sense and more a museum preserving what they were in 1904, when it opened.
Best suburban park, best walking trail
2240 W. Buno Road, Milford
With 4,481 wooded and hilly acres surrounding gorgeous Kent Lake, there’s much to love about this place and much to do — from golf (there’s an 18-hole course) to canoeing to picnicking to biking and cross-country skiing and much more. For you cyclists and walkers, there’s a paved, 8-mile trail (with a few steep hills to get that heart pumping) around the lake.
Best place to fish
Lake St. Clair
Our readers nailed it — according to the U.S. government, Lake St. Clair accounts for “a third of the entire Great Lakes sport fishing catch each year.” Perch, largemouth and smallmouth bass, muskies, walleye and sturgeon are all here — as is mercury, so pay attention to the advisories telling you how much is safe to eat.
Best fitness course
4300 Main Park Rd., Shelby Twp.
This is the place, health freaks: Run or walk your way through three different-length trails featuring 20 exercise stations.
Best sledding hill
Hines Park Northville Township
Here’s the snow scoop: The Cass Benton Area of Hines Park, just off of Hines Drive, is the place to slide when the white stuff falls.
Best skate park
Campus Martius Downtown Detroit
The roundabout setup and many obstacles can be irresistible to street skaters in search of the perfect ollie, but we believe fans of winter ice skating tipped the vote here.
Best other place to skateboard
Hart Plaza Downtown Detroit
And in the heat of summer you can zip through the spray of the Isamu Noguchi-designed fountain. Just don’t let the cops catch ya.
Best indoor rock-climbing
34 Rapid St., Pontiac; 248-334-3904
Walls up to 55 feet in a 13,500-square-foot space, motorized climbing walls (like treadmills) and bouldering caves. Rock on. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist that.)
Best beach for swimming, Best beach for people-watching
Metro Beach Harrison Township
There’s 1,000 feet of white sand beach here along Lake St. Clair. But after heavy rains, E. coli can be a problem, so you might want to consider the Olympic-size pool and its water slide when you actually want to swim. As for the people-watching, this park is the picture of diversity, so that’s always good.
Best place for a first date
8450 W. 10 Mile Rd., Royal Oak; 248-398-0903
Sure the birds do it and the bees do it, but it’s the monkeys in the trees that really show us how a good first date can end up.
Best place to cruise
Dream Cruise. Enough said.
Best place for public sex, best place to smoke weed
Don’t worry. Cops never read this paper, right?
Best place to spot a celebrity
Why hide in the bushes across from the Townsend Hotel valet when you can relax amid the Eurotrash decor of the adjacent Corner lounge? Celebs love its dim lighting.
Best place to see ostentatious displays of wealth
Bentleys are so 2006. When you’re fronting on Old Woodward, it should be while fully reclined in the back of your Maybach 62.
Best mall for people-watching
2800 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy
The atmosphere’s great, and there’s lots of places to kick back and have a coffee or a soda, but most of all it’s all those good-looking folks dressed in the latest cool fashions that make this the premier place in the metro area to do some people-watchin’.
Best casino for people-watching
555 E. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit
At 75,000 square feet, with more than 2,300 slots and 80 gaming tables, there’s no lack of action, which means plenty of people to ogle at all hours of the day and night.
Best local TV newscast
With such anchors as Carmen Harlan (see below), Devin Scillian and Ruth Spencer, and reporters like former Freep investigative ace M.L. Elrick, this is a deck stacked with aces.
Best hot local TV newscaster
If you don’t already know why Carmen’s the newscaster our readers have an eye for, tune your set to Channel 4 and it will become readily apparent.
Best local TV show other than a newscast
Flashpoint, WDIV/Channel 4
For folks who take their news seriously, this show hosted by Devin Scillian (10 a.m. Sundays) is the one to watch, with high-profile guests and informed panelists. Intelligent TV — who would have guessed?
Best local radio music show
Liz Copeland, WDET/101.9 FM
Copeland’s late-night show is the one for insomniacs with an ear for great music. She delivers a mix of electronic and indie music that’s definitely worth staying up for.
Best local radio talk show, Best local radio talk personality
Drew & Mike, WRIF/101.1 FM
So indelibly linked together in our readers’ minds they’re considered a single personality, the bad boys of Detroit radio are raunchy to the bone(r), joyfully lampooning (or tampooning, as the case may be) anyone on the planet unlucky enough to get caught in their cross(pubic)hairs. Enjoy it, bitches.
Best local radio news
The antithesis of Drew & Mike, this is serious news for serious people. Listen here and you’ll know what’s up at home and around the world.
Best local character/public personality
He made matching a fedora with a tank top and crinkled can of Coors Light look like something all rich guys should try. If that’s not an American Badass move, we don’t know what is.
Best shameless powerbroker
When he’s out of the news, we do wonder what he’s up to. Don’t you?
The billionaire racing legend helped us stage a world-class Super Bowl, then followed up by leading the effort to bring the Grand Prix auto race back to Detroit and, as chairman of the nonprofit Downtown Detroit Partnership, spearheaded efforts to privately fund cleaning crews to scour the central city. Mayor Penske?
Best aftereffect of the Super Bowl
We’re usually passing out blame. Here, it’s credit. Paging Mr. Penske.
Best politician, best Michigan gubernatorial candidate for ’06
Gov. Jennifer Granholm
Best at governing, or just best out on the campaign trail getting people to support her? Or is it that the comparison to right-wing challenger Dick DeVos that makes her look so damn good.
Best local non-politician to seek office
Now on the Detroit City Council, even without the Vandellas. But next time she’ll have to run on her record as well as her records.
Best Detroit mayoral candidate for ’09
Anybody by Kwame
It’s a long three years in front of us. …
Best Oakland County Exec candidate for ’08
L. Brooks Patterson
The power of incumbency. And of being Brooks. And if he has a few too many now and then, no biggie as long as he gets the job done, right?
Best reason to vote
It can’t happen if you don’t make it happen.
Best Detroit Tiger
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez
It could be the name. But its more likely the fact that the Tiger’s catcher was the pivot point in this team’s stunning turnaround.
Best Detroit Red Wing, best pro athlete
And he’s not even playing anymore. Ah, the Stevie-love.
Best Detroit Piston
No. 1 is No. 1. Now, if he can just lead the Pistons back to the point where they can make the same claim
Best Detroit Lion
Size, speed, strength, sticky fingers. How long will he last here?
Best ass on a local pro athlete
It’s not just a fine backside the Detroit Shock forward possesses. She got game too.
Best sports moment 2006 (so far)
Tigers making playoffs
Patience pays. Hope springs eternal. Bless us, boys.
Best next big thing
Tigers in the World Series
This year or next? By the time you read this, we should know the answer, at least as far as this year goes.
Best trends to avoid
Unless you’re Audrey Hepburn-esque.
Best local Web site
Brilliant choice, dear readers, brilliant choice.
Best local pop culture blog
Girl in the D girl-in-the-d.blogspot.com
With posts about “new developments, unique events, history, culture, and people and organizations making a mark on the Motor City,” she’s the D’s best promoter. But no picture?!
Best local political blog
John Bennett serves up a no-holds-barred mix of insider scoops and trenchant commentary. A must-read for those into Detroit politics and government.
Best local music blog
Still the best clearinghouse for announcements, links and rumors related to local music. The updates might be more sporadic, but that’s only because MCR is still being run for the love of it.
Best wi-fi hot spot
They have 50 locations in Michigan, 47 with wi-fi. Just don’t drip cream cheese on the keyboard.
Best Michigan vacation spot
Beyond the cherries: the lake, the dunes, revitalized downtown, arts community, Michael Moore’s film festival.
Best Ontario vacation spot
Theater, restaurants, shopping, vibrant waterfront — and its only four hours away.
Best local music festival
TasteFest New Center, Detroit
A great tradition of tasty tunes and tons of tastes all tuned up. We can hardly wait for July to roll around.
Best metro Detroit building
500 Griswold Ave., Detroit
Called a “cathedral of finance” after it opened in 1929, adorned with brilliantly colored terra cotta and glazed tile, this is one of the most gorgeous art deco skyscrapers to be found anywhere.
Best building renovation
Book Cadillac Hotel
Michigan Avenue and Washington Boulevard
Better late than never. The best of Detroit design. And penthouses selling for a million bucks a pop. Wow!
Best-looking new condos
The Ellington — Detroit Woodward and Mack avenues
As we noted to in our recent cover story on the nearby Museum of Contemporary Art, Woodward from the Cultural Center south to the Ellington and the Max could really take off.
Best up-and-coming neighborhood
Located in the shadows of Tiger Stadium, the fact that Detroit’s oldest neighborhood is thought by our readers to be an up-and-comer speaks to the city’s hopeful potential.
Best abandoned building, best historical building to save
Michigan Central Station
Our readers seem to be affirming that this grand giant — much like Detroit itself — still holds the promise of rebirth despite the grip of decay.
Best argument for regional mass transit
Sure they’re going down a tad now — just before the election, hmmmm — but that doesn’t change the hard facts that the prices will always be unreliable and our gasoholic society-style is unsustainable.
Michigan Avenue by Tiger Stadium
Readers weren’t pointing to a specific pothole, but to a bumpity-bump stretch of old brick road dotted with asphalt patches. Another indignity for the old ball field.
Best fucked-up traffic route
The Mixing Bowl, 696 & Telegraph
Motoring monstrosities like this are further arguments for mass transit.
Best local college or university
Wayne State University
We think voters are telling us they like WSU’s push to make the campus seem like more of a community and not just the school for commuters.
Best job to work while you’re in college
Because you can overhear thousands of pickup lines being auditioned — and figure out which ones work.
Best thing to keep people from leaving Detroit
Except for the people who keep leaving daily, that is.
Best fiction book set in Detroit
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Fans of Eugenides are in luck. He’ll make a presentation titled “‘All Swirl and Hubbub’: Jeffrey Eugenides and Detroit,” on Sunday, October 29, at 4 p.m. in the Madame Cadillac Building at the Marygrove campus in Detroit. Visit marygrove.edu.
Best nonfiction book set in Detroit
Tie: The Purple Gang: Organized Crime in Detroit 1910-1945 by Paul R. Kavieff
Origins of the Urban Crisis by Thomas Sugrue
The Detroit Almanac edited by Peter Gavrilovich and Bill McGraw
We’re tempted to say the almanac has everything, but since it’s missing an index we’re not sure. Sugrue’s 1996 book should have provoked a national discussion on urban policy — and it’s never too late. Kavieff reminds us that the Detroit of yore was neither pretty nor all peaceful.
Best reason to cross the border to Windsor
As you may remember, Windsor got into the casino business before Detroit did, and shows no signs of getting out.
Best thing to do with Metro Times other than read it
A gallery of Motor City celebs, including Dennis Archer, Niagara, Geoffrey Fieger and poet Semaj make some other suggestions at www.metrotimes.com/20years.asp.
Best place to pick up Metro Times
And if you need help, e-mail your city and zip code to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll provide you with locations where you can find us every Wednesday.
Best thing about MT’s website
Restaurant Reviews/Listings metrotimes.com
When you’re looking for good eats, this is the cyberplace to go first.
Best reason to read Metro Times
Because you don’t want the good times to stop once the dessert course is done. MT: We’re always ready to tell our readers where to go.
Best reason not to read Metro Times
We never claimed “Kinky? Wanna get spanked? CyberSex, BDSM …” was for every reader.
The glories of capitalism
Best Thrift Store
114 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-542-6661
Beating all the world’s Value Worlds, Royal Oak’s Salvation Army is where the second-hand goods are, be it a hand-stitched tablecloth or a vintage velvet couch.
Best Place to Buy Art
Ann Arbor Street Art Fair
Ann Arbor; 734-994-5260
Founded in 1960, the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair features a list of 175 artists showing and selling their work.
Best Flea Market
Gibraltar Trade Center
237 N. River Rd., Mt. Clemens; 586-465-6440;
Eureka Rd. & 1-75 (Exit 36), Taylor; 734-287-2000
Antiques and cell phones — and even antique cell phones — can be found at southeast Michigan’s weekend public markets.
Best Pawn Shop
Zeidman’s Loan Office
2669 Gratiot Ave., Detroit; 313-567-7170
Zeidman’s says you can pawn up to $1 million worth of stuff. Get rid of musical instruments, stereos, hunting equipment, power tools, boat titles and more, here. Or buy them.
Best Antique Store
409 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit; 313-963-6255
From furniture to tribal art to toys, textiles and costumes — the kind you should not wear on Halloween — you know where to go for blue-chip art and antiques.
Best Place for New Furniture
41640 Ford Rd., Canton; 734-981-6300
Oprah’s shining star, interior decorator Nate Berkus, will tell you to buy a bureau at Crate and Barrel, but metro Detroiters are crazy about Canton’s new Ikea store with its 311,000 square feet of furniture and other goodies designed with sleek Swedish lines.
Best Vintage Clothing Store
234 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-398-4816
Beautiful broaches! Swingin’ ’60s shift dresses! Aisles of A-line skirts for the 1950s housewife in you or yours! Mother Fletcher’s is the mother of all wearable vintage.
Best Hip-Hop Clothing Store
Mr. Alan’s, various locations; mralans.com
More than anything, the store’s Web site is worth a visit. Only once you’ve watched the intro (and laughed yourself silly) can you appreciate that Mr. Alan’s is one of Michigan’s largest retailers in urban sportswear and shoes.
Best Local/Independent Clothier for Men
5708 Woodward, Detroit; 313-875-9280
Unleash your inner Keith Richards at Showtime Clothing, which specializes in affordable rock star glam.
Best Local/Independent Clothier for Women
323 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-548-2980
Shop for punk and funky fun at Incognito, carrying trendy attire for scenesters and wannabes alike.
Best Shoe Store
Unleash your inner Imelda; DSW sells thousands of discounted designer shoes fit for the true footwear connoisseur.
Best Beauty Supply Store
Sally’s Beauty Supply
With products ranging from industrial-strength hair curlers to extended-family-pack lip gloss, Sally’s Beauty Supply is godsend for the pennywise but vain.
Best Hair Salon
London Calling Salon
27380 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-778-6379
Feeling blue? Get the hair to match at London Calling, a trendy east-side salon specializing in exotic dying, styling and makeup application.
Best Place to Get a Massage, Best Place to Pamper Yourself (For Men)
Essential Massage Therapy
22939 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-547-5428
Unwind entirely at Essential Massage Therapy, which provides a variety of de-stressing massage options, including Swedish massages, prenatal and couples massages, reflexology and Reiki.
Best Place to Pamper Yourself (For Women)
2850 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-816-7502
Exfoliations, quenchers, scrubs and rubs and refreshers — you can be Queen for a Day as Nordstrom Spa peddles its various tempting outlets for self-indulgence.
Best Place to Buy Lingerie
Either the air is filled with pheromones, or the overwhelming pinkness serves as a subliminal mind-control agent. One way or another, people keep flocking back to Victoria’s Secret to purchase this classy, albeit pricy, lingerie.
Best Adult Novelty Store
Tie: Lover’s Lane; Priscilla’s
With enough kink to satisfy the curious, both Lover’s Lane and Priscilla’s offer racy negligees, (strip) clubbing attire and fetish accoutrements aplenty.
Best Tattoo Shop
You needn’t opt for convention here: Detailed artistry replaces over-inked sloppiness at Eternal Tattoo, improving the aesthetic and allowing for more flexibility in design choice. So, for the love of god, no more butterflies or dolphins, people.
Best Body Piercing Shop
Is your most fervent desire to become a human kabob? The piercers at Eternal Tattoo can also handle more subtle jobs.
Best Smoke Shop
BDT Pipe & Tobacco
21640 John R, Hazel Park; 248-542-6110
Remember, kids, these smoking devices are meant for use with tobacco only. Yeah, sure they are ...
Best Head Shop
25940 Michigan Ave., Inkster; 313-561-7969
Long a way station for heads, hippies and novelty-seekers, the helpful folks here will help you light up in style. Remember, kids, they’re called “water pipes,” not bongs.
Best Health Food Store and Best Place to Buy Organic Food
Gone are the days of underground organic co-ops: Whole Foods has built an empire out of healthy eating — selling pesticide-free produce, nutritional supplements, and tofu, tofu, tofu galore.
Best Independent Bookstore
John King Books
901 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit; 313-961-0622 and 22524 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-9050
The Ferndale store has its charms and a great selection, but it’s dwarfed by the original store with volumes on the four stories of the old Advance Glove factory. Founder John King — Detroit’s steward of the written word — dwells above his more than 1 million used and rare books like a dragon sleeps atop its hoard, ensuring that our literary treasures are never lost.
Best Comic Book Selection
Green Brain Comics
13210 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-582-9444
Recently Green Brain sold a boxed set of small comic books inspired by 19th-century Slovenian beehive art. To quote Stan Lee, “’Nuff said.”
Best Video Selection
122 S. Main St., Clawson; 248-280-2836
Their tagline alone — “We have the movies they don’t want you to see” — is reason enough to support the punks.
Best Video Game Selection
Gaming geeks needn’t look any further, as this is a one-stop shop to purchase or trade new and used computer and videogames.
Best Adult Bookstore
16541 Woodward Ave., Highland Park; 313-869-9477
“Nobody reads anymore!” complained an employee at Uptown Books, which, in lieu of the racy novels of yesteryear, now mostly stocks magazines, DVDs and adult novelties.
Best Skate Shop
Modern Skate & Surf
29862 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-545-5700
44275 12 Mile Rd., Novi; 248-735-4443
Add a few killer tricks to your repertoire with the quality gear and skating tips at either of Modern Skate & Surf’s locations.
Best Bike Shop
Back Alley Bikes
3535 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-879-5073
This Cass Corridor community shop encourages cyclists, young and old, to stop on by to fix up their wheels, to volunteer to fix up others’ wheels or to just find out what the heck a derailleur is.
Best Health Club
Life Time Fitness various locations
With B-ball courts and rock climbing caverns, water parks and waterslides, shaping up is a sport rather than chore.
Best record store, Best Local/Independent Record Store and Best Record Store for Vinyl
27360 Gratiot Avenue, Roseville; 586-775-1550
262 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-336-TIME
The salad days of Detroit techno may have wilted, but the chief embassy for its export remains southeast Michigan’s favorite place to pick up 12-inch grooved discs.
Best Place for Audio Visual Equipment
Best Buy various locations
It may be a soulless big box superstore, but they sure do have nice stuff at low prices!
Best local attorney
19390 W. 10 Mile Rd., Southfield; 248-355-5555
More than a lawyer, the older brother of that dude from the Knack spins media circus courtroom successes into the kind of fame that Sam Bernstein-style commercials could never buy.
Real Estate One
Making the buying and selling business a whole lot easier, Real Estate One is the largest residential broker around.
Best Mortgage Broker
It’s where the reps are hip young guys and gals who know about metro Detroit and how to get you living good in it. Now what can we do about David Hall’s voice?
Best wireless provider
Verizon doesn’t leave Detroiters hanging on the line, our voters say.
Best Michigan-made product
Fun fact: Some of their beverages go back 99 years and are based on cake frosting recipes.
Best Place to Buy a Motorcycle
Biker Bob’s Motown Harley Davidson
14100 Telegraph Rd., Taylor; 734-947-4647
Don’t learn to ride unless you’re ready to look good flyin’.
Best Place to Customize Your Car
25180 Van Born, Dearborn Heights; 313-216-8483
Expert Auto Accents
25536 John R Rd, Madison Heights; 248- 582-4000
Detroit Custom Concepts
37640 Mound Rd, Sterling Heights; 586-978-9455
Mickey Shorr various locations
Street Legal Customs
27754 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-545-3700
It’s a tie between these shops for pimping your ride, including Detroit Custom Concepts, owned by Detroit Pistons guard Lindsey Hunter.
2800 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-643-6360
It’s where to go if you’re looking for Gucci, Louis Vuitton and more. (And the best mall food court, say our resident foodies.)
Best non-mall shopping area
Our area’s largest outdoor food court also has some great one-of-a-kind shops. Whether you’re looking to furnish your new $400,000 loft or just need to satisfy your leather fetish, Royal Oak gets the nod from readers.
Best way to blow $100
Go out to bar
Some people say that smiles make friends. This phrase makes even more: “Drinks are on me.”
Best way to blow $1,000
But should you stretch it out on the penny slots or bet it all at once?
Best new restaurant (last two years)
Slows Bar BQ
2138 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-962-9828
From its eye-catching design to its slow-roasted food, this new eatery has given the 1880s structure it occupies a new lease on life.
Best restaurant to dine under $15
National Coney Island Various locations
With locations ranging from Mack and Moross to Metro Airport, National’s far-flung constellation of coneys must be doing something right.
Best restaurant to dine under $50
Sweet Lorraine’s Various locations
For more than a decade, metro Detroiters have been grateful to count on the moderately priced pleasure of Lorraine Platman’s casual but sophisticated cuisine.
Best restaurant to break the bank
The Whitney 4421 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-5700
Because nothing says opulence like dining in the historic 52-room mansion of a lumber baron.
Best local chef
Detroit native Nottage, executive chef at Seldom Blues and Sweet Georgia Brown, has enjoyed 15 years as the culinary commander of Frank Taylor’s eating empire for good reason.
Best restaurant to dine with kids
Red Robin Various locations
Not only do the kids get crayons, balloons and a go-cup, but there’s also that catchy radio jingle.
Best Coney Island
Lafayette 118 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit; 313-964-8198
They yell your orders loud and clear at downtown Detroit’s coney cornerstone, and our readers spoke clear as a bell — no competitor even came close.
Best after-hours eatery (non-coney)
Ram’s Horn Various locations
Edging out Denny’s and White Castle for the top spot, this diner-style eatery seems to have a home in our readers’ hearts. God help us.
410 S. Washington St., Royal Oak; 248-591-LILY
Dine on our fine finned friends while soaking in a sophisticated environment that features massive aquariums.
Best Mexican cuisine
3409 Bagley St., Detroit; 313-843-0179
This popular Mexicantown eatery often has a dining crowd filling its three rooms downstairs spilling over onto the second floor, drawn by its large portions and inexpensive menu.
Best Spanish or other Latin cuisine
Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine
1250 Library St., Detroit; 313-962-8800
Vicente Vazquez’s restaurant has brought Cuban fare to downtown Detroit, serving such traditional dishes as bistec de palomilla and the shredded beef dish ropa vieja, as well as some hot Latin licks and hoofin’.
Best Italian cuisine
Andiamo Various locations
With 10 restaurants ranging from Dearborn to Bloomfield Twp. to the Andiamo Lakefront Bistro in St. Clair Shores, finding your Italian food is as easy as uno, due, tre.
Best Greek cuisine
558 Monroe St., Detroit; 313-964-6800
Named for the mythological creature, this Greek eatery is enshrined in local lore a prime place to watch waiters flick their Bics and cry, “Opa!”
Best African cuisine
545 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-547-6699;
221 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; 734-998-4746
Whether it’s because you get to eat with your hands, scooping up colorful food with inerja flatbread, or because of the kind, attentive service, Blue Nile is a perennial winner.
Best Caribbean cuisine
Bahama Breeze Various locations
From the people who brought you Red Lobster and Olive Garden comes this trade winds-themed, alcohol-oriented crowd-pleaser.
Best Chinese cuisine
PF Chang’s Various locations
With locations in Northville, at the Somerset Collection in Troy, and even out Lansing way, Chang’s accepts both reservations and walk-ins for lunch and dinner, but for busy dining nights it’s best to make reservations a day or two in advance.
Best Thai cuisine
Sala Thai Various locations
The expanding Sala Thai empire now includes a repurposed Detroit firehouse and the original storefront on Lafayette.
Best Indian cuisine
36600 Grand River Ave., Farmington Hills; 248-615-7700
Featuring southern Indian fare found nowhere else in Michigan, Priya is sure to please the palates of herbivores and carnivores equally.
Best Middle Eastern cuisine
Though wordsmiths snicker when the La Shish Web site touts the chain as “the pre-imminent provider” of Middle Eastern fare, we know our readers go for the eminence of the plates, not the prose.
1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-963-0300
This newcomer to the downtown scene edged out Little Tree and Noble Fish for the sushi title, though the lively late-night dance scene probably helped.
23144 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-398-0444
From weekday egg-fests to more regular fare, this Woodward Avenue spot draws a youngish crowd that comes back week after week.
Best brunch buffet
Tie: Fishbone’s/Sweet Lorraine’s
The lavish spread at Fishbone’s stacked up perfectly against Lorraine’s inspired buffet choices in what must be the tastiest draw ever.
Best all-around buffet, best buffet in a casino
Motor City Casino
2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 877-777-0711
From its humble beginnings as a Wonder Bread factory, this edifice has come a long way, now housing the buffet readers like best.
Morton’s of Chicago
1 Towne Square, Southfield; 248-354-6006;
888 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-404-9845
The steakophiles over at Morton’s know their stuff, serving only the best cuts of prime-quality meat, even giving diners a tableside gander before broiling.
Best soul food
Beans & Cornbread
29508 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield; 248-208-1680
This busy, colorful dining spot features bright artwork, a bustling open kitchen and upscale soul food with a fresh twist.
Slows Bar BQ
2138 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-962-9828
More than just a hip new destination, our readers really enjoy the animal protein served up by former No. VI Chophouse chef de cuisine Brian Perrone. His other big hits include macaroni and cheese, and his flavorful sauces.
31542 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-549-0300
The Redcoat comes out on top year after year, with its list of 20 add-ons, from burnt onions to olives to smoked Gouda, and five types of bread, including grilled rye or pumpernickel. A distant but strong second: Miller’s Bar in Dearborn.
Best vegetarian cuisine
Inn Season Café
500 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-547-7916
Metro Detroit’s standout vegetarian eatery has gotten better with age, using fine, organic ingredients to create vegetarian haute cuisine.
Best bargain pizza
Little Caesar’s Various locations
Say what you will about the Ilitch family, but if you wanted to say something about their pizza, our readers have its back.
Best neighborhood pizza
Jet’s Various locations
Like their mustachioed, jet-pack-wearing mascot, this chain really gets around, with scores of locations statewide.
Best gourmet pizza
Pizza Papalis Various locations
Detroit’s answer to Chicago’s deep-dish pizza has taken pizza to new heights — as well as deeper depths.
Bread Basket Various locations
It’s no small achievement to edge out Zingerman’s for best deli; our readers gave Bread Basket the nod — and the nosh.
Avalon International Breads
422 W. Willis St., Detroit; 313-832-0008
Opening an artisanal bread shop in inner-city Detroit was a gamble, but Avalon’s quality made it a sure thing.
541 Monroe St., Detroit; 313-963-9603;
320 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-582-9220
They opened the Monroe Street store in 1971 and have since made a big impression, even boxing and twining their classic confections.
Gelato Roma Various locations
Gelato, that dairy-free Italian treat, packs a lot of flavor into a scoop, and Gelato Roma has carved out a sweet spot all its own in that niche.
Best ice cream/yogurt shop
Coldstone Creamery Various locations
Billed as the fastest-growing ice cream franchise in the country, scoophounds can expect premium ice cream, frozen yogurt and Italian sorbet made fresh daily.
Best juice bar
Tasi Juice Bar
204 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-336-9043
For three years, Tasi has been making fresh, organic juices and smoothies on-site, enhanced with your choice of fat-burning, immunity-boosting, muscle-building additives, with, perhaps, a wrap, salad or soup as well.
Best independent coffeehouse
240 W 9 Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-399-3946
Playing host to readings and live music, Xhedos can be either a place to rock out or relax, depending on what’s happening.
Spend the night
Best new nightspot (last two years), Best bar for under 30s, Best bar for over 30s, Best nightspot to pick up a guy, Best nightspot to pick up a girl, Best nightspot to pick up both or other, Best multi-culti nightspot
546 E. Larned, Detroit; 313-962-1800
Whatever you like to call your niche, chances are pretty good that the Buzz Bar either already has it covered or has plans to give a weekly night to the dude who started it. Coming soon — Red Wine Wet Banana Night.
Best horny nightclub crowd
Royal Oak 208 W. Fifth Ave., Royal Oak; 248-543-6911
Where every relationship begins with an eager “What’s Up?” only to end in a bitter MySpace deletion.
Best oldies-heavy jukebox, Best contemporary jukebox, Best dive bar
309 S. Center St., Royal Oak; 248-545-2235
Gus’s juke has seen a million bar fights, and it’s rocked them all.
Best after-hours spot
1846 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-1742
Shirts are a liability.
Best gay bar
928 W McNichols Rd., Detroit; 313-863-3934
Shirts are a liability.
Best lesbian bar
1641 Middlebelt Rd., Detroit; 734-729-8980
Shirts are a liability.
Best place to dress like a star
201 Hamilton Row, Birmingham; 248-258-3005
No, the South Beach ain’t gonna work. But you look fabulous anyway.
Best place to dress like a groupie, Best scenester bar, Best live-music venue, Best club to hear rock
4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700
A vending machine in the basement hawks skinny jeans and white belts.
Best bar for conversation
4620 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-1400
The epicenter of the burgeoning Cass Corridor word jazz revival.
Best city dance club
400 Bagley St., Detroit; 313-962-2300
Aunt Higbie wondered what that haunting bump was coming from beneath her room at Leland House.
Best suburban dance club
1815 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-589-3344
This “best-of” favorite wins every year, mostly because ’80s music never seems to go out of style. Coming soon: 1880s music night!
Best all-ages music venue
(Tie) DTE Energy Music Theatre
7774 Sashabaw Rd., Clarkston; 248-645-6666.
St. Andrew’s Hall
431 E. Congress St., Detroit; 313-961-8137
DTE and St. Andrew’s couldn’t be more different. But, hey, at least someone’s still doing it for the kids.
Best club to hear hip hop
431 E. Congress St., Detroit; 313-961-8137
It’s host for the Detroit Hip-Hop Awards. Isn’t that enough of a validation?
Best club to hear local acoustic artists
240 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-399-3946
Anybody here see my old friend Abraham? Can you tell me where he’s gone?
Best club to hear blues
100 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-543-4300
Blues music the way it was intended to be heard. (By white people from the suburbs).
Best club to hear jazz
Baker’s Keyboard Lounge
20510 Livernois Ave., Detroit; 313-345-6300
There are piano keys on the bar. That’s enough.
Best club to hear electronic music
1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-963-0300
Sources familiar with the situation believe this subterranean Detroit club is actually a wormhole to Cologne, Germany.
(Tie) Comet Bar
128 Henry St., Detroit; 313-964-1508
10215 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck; 313-871-1966
Karaoke is karaoke until that moment when some testosterone-enhanced homophobe tackles “Karma Chameleon” and the place comes to pieces. No borders left unchecked at these bars on these nights.
Best comedy club
Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle
269 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-542-9900
Strident guffaws and booze-through-nostril chortles are as common as beer guts at a Tigers game at this longtime venue for local and touring comics. And Wednesday is the soon-to-be giant open-mic night!
Best upscale strip club
11300 E. Eight Mile Rd., Detroit; 313-527-6969
The club’s most upscale feature? It’s phone number: 6969, dude, 6969.
Best dive strip club
The Booby Trap
141 W. Eight Mile Road, Detroit; 313-366-9030
It’s mighty hard to drive past this joint without, uh, tittering — or at least wondering about the domination theme in the club’s name. Semantics aside, the Trap’s comfy atmosphere is lighthearted, and the scenery rather divine.
Best pool hall
Snooker’s (various locations)
Give us Paul Newman’s hustle, not that Scientology dude Tom what’s-his-name. Or give us at least another frothy pitcher of beer and rousing game of pocket pool! Either way, we’re covered in the smooth milieu of Snooker’s.
Best bowling alley
4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700
Where you can bowl to soul, punk rock, R&B, Motown and REO Speedwagon! Listen closely and you might get lucky enough to hear the ghostly echo of a mad-fisted Jack White.
Best casino, Best casino slots
555 E. Lafayette Ave., Detroit; 1-888-771-4386
It looks like Vegas, smells like Vegas and even sounds like Vegas. It might even be Vegas if not for the eternal busloads from Ohio of blue- and gray-hairs.
Best casino for high-stakes poker
Motor City Casino
2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 877-777-0711
Those big-money poker nerds on TV? The ones in generic ballcaps and sunglasses, like they’re about to rob a party store? They play here.
Best happy hour for food spread
Whitney Garden Party
4421 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-5700
Old-time lumber baron David Whitney no doubt rolls in his grave at the thought of the Doll Faces whipping up the racket in his old garden.
Best happy hour for drinks
24 Seconds Bar & Grill
3071 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-336-0024
There are so many flat screen TVs in this place, there’s probably one broadcasting an image of your girlfriend taking a shower. Why go home?
Best bar on the waterfront
24420 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-771-4455
What began as nothing more than a package of franks, some sandy hot dog buns, a rusty hibachi and a dream …
Best place to get a martini
Goodnight Gracie (various locations)
Coincidentally, also the best place to remember with a morning-after headache.
Best place to get an exotic drink
19600 Haggerty Rd., Livonia; 734-542-0891 (and other locations)
Nothing says exotic in Livonia like this place. Stir it up!
Best nightspot for non-drinkers
Starbuck’s (various locations)
Where the great American novel is written and deleted daily.
Best nightspot for non-smokers
Karras Bros. Tavern
225 Joseph Campau, Detroit; 313-259-2767
The stodgy old beer and lumber baron ghosts who haunted this historic Indian Village building drifted off in a huff when they were told they could no longer smoke their spectral cigars.
Best beer selection in a bar
3087 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-547-3331
Where beer guys come to commiserate. Women are more than welcome, too; please stop by! Please …
Best wine selection in a bar
417 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-544-6256
Weirdly, if you order a beer in the elegant environs of Vinotecca, they serve you a 22 oz. can of Natural Ice. Don’t they?
Best beer selection in a store
(Tie) Merchant’s; 21034 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods; 313-417-0400
Holiday Market; 1203 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-541-1414
If there’s one thing our readers will never agree on, it’s where to buy booze.
Best wine selection in a store
21034 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods; 313-417-0400
Unless that booze is wine, in which case Merchant’s is apparently the spot.
Best local beer
It’s often brother against brother come Thanksgiving, when the last stores of this seasonal summer brew start to run dry.
Grey Goose Vodka
Best energy drink
Liquid crank sex!
Liquid hippie sex!