I Heart Detroit. Part I.

Hello everyone! I just got back from a fun-filled weekend in Detroit. The significant other had to attend a convention and so we made a little vacation (staycation?) out of it. I thought I’d share some photos I took of some of my favorite places I frequent in this great big ol’ city. There are many more places to talk about than what I show here (hence the title of this blog post as Part I), but there’s no way to visit them all in one weekend.

The Westin Book Cadillac in downtown Detroit is a lovely luxury hotel and I admit I took a little pleasure in pretending I was “Little Miss Fancy Pants.” It was fun. We got a reduced rate, thanks to the convention, so we gladly took advantage of it to stay here. I love looking at architecture (Detroit, by the way, has SO many old, beautiful buildings) and this hotel was recently fully restored to its Italian Renaissance style of 1924. I think this building, inside and out, is gorgeous. And I love the 3 flags representing the U.S., Canada, and Michigan flying in the wind together.

Oh Avalon. YUM! Every time I come to Detroit I have to stop here in Midtown for tea, a loaf of bread, and a cookie. This women-owned company uses 100% organic flour and whatever local ingredients they can get their hands on. I buy their bread regularly (they distribute it locally) but there’s nothing like going straight to the source and buying the bread right there, freshly sliced. My favorite is the Dexter Davison Rye – it has caraway seeds on top. It’s not cheap (the large loaves are $7), but the quality makes it well worth it in my opinion. I could easily sit in here much of the day, watching people coming in and out, drinking tea, and breathing in the wonderful smells of bakery. The atmosphere is wonderfully cozy.

When this 40-story skyscraper was finished in 1929, it was first known as The Union Trust Building. But because of the Stock Market Crash, investors who believed in the building took it over from the Union Trust Company (a banking group) and it became The Union Guardian Building, and then simply The Guardian Building. A cool thing to know about this building is that it was designed and built completely by Michigan architects and contractors. The design of this striking building is incredibly unique with its bright colors and is described as “Mayan Revival Art Deco.” The Guardian Building represents the people of Michigan who believed in the success of Detroit and like the people of Detroit today, it still stands proudly. The Guardian Building is as beautiful as ever and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. And rightly so.

Open since 1917, Lafayette Coney Island is a must for many who visit Detroit. I love the retro look, the diner atmosphere, and the fact that it’s really no different than when it opened. The funny fact about this place is that two Greek brothers who owned the place got in an argument shortly after their restaurant opened and so it split into two restaurants that sit side by side (the other is called American Coney Island). I am not sure which one was the original, but most people I know are partial to Lafayette. And going by looks, I’d pick Lafayette too. I do not eat gyros or coney dogs (hot dogs topped with chili), but I maintain an appreciation for this historic novelty restaurant. Plus, what’s cool is that both coney islands are still owned by the same family that opened them.

One thing I really enjoy about Detroit is all the art on the abandoned houses. There are many. This particular house sits in Corktown, near the old train station (one of the most famous and most beautiful dilapidated buildings in Detroit). This mural I consider to be very faithful, as it reads “The Dream is Now” and on the left in smaller letters (hard to see here), “If We Fight Together Our City Will Rise.” There is much hope and pride here in Detroit, and you can feel it all around when you’re here. It’s a precious feeling.

Another favorite food place of mine with incredible atmosphere. And soooooooooo tasty! We didn’t know until this morning that the Cork Town Race was today followed by the St. Patrick’s Parade. I am not sure why it’s a week before St. Patrick’s Day, but it was a gorgeous day for a parade – sunny and warm. It was packed all around Slows and all down Michigan Avenue so we didn’t know what to expect with wait time for food (side note: Slows wait times are often 2 hours! This shows how great their food is!).  Slows is obviously huge on the meat, but they source local and responsibly-raised meat.  And they do have some great vegetarian options too, much to my delight. I get The Genius sandwich, which is a barbecued seitan sandwich topped with cole slaw and pickles. Today, because of the parade, they were serving just a few different items and it was standing room only. But The Genius was just as delicious as it always is.

This is another beautiful piece of art work on another abandoned building near the train station in Corktown. I find it so captivating (I actually gasped when I first saw it). I just love the contrast of black and white. I wish I knew the story behind it. If anyone does, let me know.

Best,

H

PS. All photos taken by me using my iPhone. Check out Westin, Avalon, Guardian, and Slows.

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