Face it, this time of year merely looking out the window at all that snowy misery is enough to give us uncontrollable shivers. When temperatures dip well below freezing, our first inclination is to reach for something comforting to eat. It's not always the most healthy or easiest to prepare, but if it warms our belly, we usually consider it worth the inevitable extra layer of tummy we wind up with by spring.
When that insatiable appetite needs immediate relief, it's nice to know there are places to go that have comfort right on the menu. Here are 12 of some of the heartiest, soul-warming dishes to help get you through the winter.
Macaroni and cheese
Rock City Eatery, 4216 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-265-3729; rockcityeatery.com
Chef-owner Nikita Sanches is known to take risks with his cooking. One dish he's perfected is his incredibly rich mac 'n cheese. On top of the decadent cheesy sauce and noodles, it's served in a crispy, edible Parmesan cheese bowl. You may not finish it all in one sitting, but your dining partner will help you along, no problem.
Biscuits and gravy
Kelly's, 2403 Holbrook St., Hamtramck; 313-872-0387; facebook.com/kellys.hamtramck
When you need to rejuvenate from a hangover, or are just in the mood for home-style cooking, the new weekend brunch offerings at Kelly's Boboville Brunch are sure to hit the spot. In particular, the biscuits and gravy hit the spot. With fluffy, almost sweet biscuits and a hearty, sausage gravy, it's sure to warm your senses.
Michigan shrimp chowder
Chartreuse, 15 E. Kirby St., Detroit; 313-818-3915; chartreusekc.com
We're accustomed to seeing a bowl of chowder as a starter, not a main entree. At the inventive Chartreuse, chef Doug Hewitt turns that concept on its head and makes this giant Southern-inspired dish to-order. A seafood broth is loaded with shrimp and lobster, sweet potatoes, zucchini, bacon, and more.
Que Huong Restaurant, 30820 John R Rd., Madison Heights; 248-588-0998
This Vietnamese staple is in abundance in metro Detroit, in part because of the region's history as a destination for refugees some 40-plus years ago. Good thing, especially when it's chilly out. Among the many pho shops we're fond of is Que Huong, where the broth is loaded with flavor, and the meatballs? Oh-so-heartwarming. We also love that we can score a banh mi, a Vietnamese-style sandwich made with a crusty French bread that's packed with tasty meats and veggies.
Dangerously Delicious Pies, 2909 Biddle Ave., Wyandotte; 734-301-6320; dangerouspiesdetroit.com
Dangerously Delicious Pies has turned the traditional pie on its head with its variety of nourishing savory pies. Our favorite, the SMOG, is loaded with steak, mushrooms, onions, and Gruyere, you get a nice mix of salty, umami, creamy, and meaty — all packed inside a warm, flaky crust.
El Asador, 1312 Springwells St., Detroit; 313-297-2360; elasadordetroit.com
In the Springwells-Vernor neighborhood, diners are treated to menu plentiful in steaks, seafood, and familiar Mexican fare. For a creamy, yet spicy start, the brilliantly hued tortilla soup is a crowd favorite. Made with roasted tomatoes and guajillo and pasilla chilies, this soup comes garnished with tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, Chihuahua cheese, and broken tortilla chips, offering a nice blend of textures.
Chicken and Waffles
Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles, 19345 Livernois Ave., Detroit; 313-861-0229; kuzzoschickenandwaffles.com
Chicken and waffles have roots in 1930s Harlem and Southern cooking, but really gained popularity in the 1970s at the famous Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles. We're thankful that trend maintained traction and made its way here, because when it's cold outside, nothing beats that splendid mashup of savory, crispy fried chicken, and sweet and buttery waffles.
Premium seafood gumbo
Louisiana Creole Gumbo, 2051 Gratiot Ave., 13505 W. Seven Mile Rd., Detroit; 313-446-9639; detroitgumbo.com
Detroit was a natural destination for hundreds of thousands of African-Americans during the peak of the Great Migration. So naturally, Southern cuisine is deeply entrenched in our culture. One example, the winter-friendly Louisiana Creole Gumbo, which opened a second location late in 2016. When you're in need of a seafood-heavy pick-me-up, might we suggest the premium seafood gumbo, which comes with a generous helping of fresh-tasting extra-large sautéed shrimp, oysters, lump crab, and rice.
Russell Street Deli, 2465 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-2900; russellstreetdeli.com
Brace yourself for a crowd in this Eastern Market eatery. But don't worry, once you find a seat at the communal tables, you won't notice all the bustle. The soups, well, they're plenty of reason to sit down and savor at this cooler time of year. The rotating soup menu comes in veggie-friendly and hearty, meaty varieties.
Meat and potatoes
Mudgie's Deli, 300 Porter St., Detroit; 313-961-2000; mudgiesdeli.com
The ingenuity in sandwich-making put Mudgie's on the map, no doubt. But for a warm and hearty open-faced dinner experience, come by after dark for a meat and potatoes dinner. Your choice of roasted turkey, corned beef, roast beef brisket, or meatloaf — paired with smashed potatoes, veggies, dinner salad — all piled on top of a slice of bread.
Mish Mash soup
Steve's Deli, 6646 Telegraph Rd., Bloomfield Hills; 248-932-0800; stevesdeli.com
Fellow Metro Times writer Aaron Egan tips us off to this Jewish deli, which is famous for its Mish Mash soup. Each soothing bowl is filled with flavorful, salty chicken broth, thin egg noodles, rice, matzo balls, carrots, and traditional kreplach dumplings.
Caldo de pollo
Taqueria Nuestra Familia, 7620 Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-842-5668; taquerianuestrafamilia.wordpress.com
We know nothing beats abuela's caldo de pollo, but the therapeutic sopas that come from Nuestra Familia will certainly do in a pinch. The caldo de pollo is essentially a giant bowl of soup, packed with huge cuts of bone-in chicken, hearty chunks of veggies, a generous cob of corn, and are served with a side of beans and rice.