I think most of us can agree that 2017 sucked in many ways. Travel bans and immigration raids, harassment in Hollywood and in kitchens. Oof, and #45. For many, the seemingly non-stop heavy news has left us, well, emotionally taxed.
So what can we to do start 2018 off on the right track? While many of the ills of the political world are outside out our control, there’s one thing we can get a handle on — our health. As we ring in the New Year, here are 15 spots in Metro Detroit that will give you the diet-friendly boost you need to resist the patriarchy.
Tea has so many restorative qualities, from helping you boost your immune system, providing much-needed antioxidants to helping you ween off caffeine (if that’s a resolution of yours). At Eli Tea in Birmingham, founder Eli Majid uses his background in plant biology to blend some 50+ varieties of loose leaf teas.
When some of y’all think vegan, visions of meh piles of lettuce are sure to pop into your imagination. ElectricPlate Vegan Pop-Up founder Nurah Stanley wants to change that and features her famous veggie, non-dairy soft tacos at occasional popups around the Detroit area. Jan. 22, Stanley will share her secrets in a cooking demo and instruction, taking place at Clark Park. For more details, click here.
One of the more innovative all-vegan brick and mortar eateries in Detroit, Detroit Vegan Soul is another sure bet for plant-based dining, without intimidating flavors. The hearty okra stew, cornmeal battered “catfish” and the top-notch DVS burger will satisfy with a little less guilt. With locations in West Village and now Grandmont/Rosedale.
Whether you’re looking for a light bite (Goddess Greens salad), an generous noodle bowl (Forest Udon) or a balanced dish of healthy grains and protein (the smoked salmon rice bowl with avocado, micro shiso and sesame yuzu sauce), this popular, casual Corktown spot, headed by Michael Ransom, will have you covered.
5) GO Smoothies
Sometimes you just need help to remove the toxins from your system. For some, that means a nutrient-filled juice cleanse or protein-packed smoothie (instead of that greasy burger). If you were at a loss of where GO Smoothies in downtown has gone, don’t fret. They simply relocated to Harper Woods. Their 100 percent cold press juices in flavors like leafy green, beet and carrot are available in the shop by the single bottle or in “cleanse” kits.
Increasingly, halal meats are regarded as cleaner, more humane alternatives to big factory, industrially-processed proteins. With that in mind, Dearborn Meat Market has a variety of lean cuts, available for purchase to grill at home or to dine in-store. Shish tawook, kafta and kabob can all be grilled in the area toward the back and paired with a fresh serving of hummus, baba ghannouj, salads and roasted tomatoes and onions.
OK, fine, so you want a burger. It doesn’t make you a bad person, promise. If you just can’t shake the cravings for a juicy patty, Brome Modern Eatery (formerly called Brome Burgers) offers up a halal-friendly, more healthful choice in burgers. Beef is 100 percent grass-fed, the succulent chicken sammies are nice and lean and the big salads will allow you to sneak in a thick hand-spun shake on cheat day.
8) Go! Sy Thai
When Go! Sy Thai founders Cedric and Gowhnou Lee set out to reimagine their family’s flagship suburban Sy Thai restaurant within the Detroit city limits, they decided fast, casual and healthy was the way to go. With locations in Midtown and Capitol Park, fans flock to the spot for veggie-rich hot and sour tom yum soup, refreshing spring rolls and sharable curry noodles accompanied by your choice of protein or tofu. Oh, and they’re halal-friendly, too.
9) Tou + Mai
When a thirst-quenching treat is in order, or when you’re searching for some of those authentic Asian ingredients to complete your recipe, Tou & Mai, founders of Go! Sy Thai, is your go-to convenience store in Midtown. Boba teas, fresh fruit smoothies and even mangonadas (popular in Latino barrios) are all made to order. While you’re waiting, you can stock up on Southeast Asian specialty groceries… Perhaps for cooking up a healthy meal at home?
10) Le Petit Zinc
This jewel box-sized creperie in Corktown won hearts for years for its simple and light Parisian fare. The bistro closed in 2017, but fans can rest easy that it will return in a new Midtown location soon enough. Forget greasy fried eggs and bacon and spring for quiches, salads and savory vegetarian crepes.
11) Narrow Way Cafe
Fresh-baked goods from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and Avalon, such as samosa strudels and spinach feta brioches, plus fruit smoothies, strawberry limeade and stress-free vibes — all to go with your cup of joe in this new, chic Avenue of Fashion cafe.
For something a little more soothing during cold Detroit winters, lots of people make their way to Madison Heights to hit up the many pho shops. Thang Long is just one example of these beloved eateries. Take in that flavorful broth, teamed up with translucent rice noodles, lean strips of meat and garnishments like basil and bean sprouts — all making for a hearty, yet healthier meal in a bowl.
Seafood is a favorite for folks looking to lighten up their protein intake. Mariscos Salpicon is a barrio favorite in Southwest Detroit. Citrusy ceviche starters, generous goblets of tomatoey shrimp cocktails and picante platters of grilled fish will not only satisfy your seafood cravings, they’ll also cure that hangover.
Arab-style food is naturally more healthful than, say, your typical Coney diner. Fresh fattoush salads, crispy falafel and plentiful plates of skewered meats provide a balanced meal… Plus, portions are usually large enough to share or take home for days worth of leftovers. Hamido is just one of many Dearborn Lebanese gems.
15) M Cantina
Fresh-squeezed juices are a staple in many Mexican eateries, but at fairly recent arrival, M Cantina in Dearborn, the fruity elixir is taken to another level. Founder Junior Merino, who in a former life was a renowned NYC “mixologist,” takes his specialty booze-free juice cocktails seriously. Couple that with a plate of halal-friendly tacos and you’re set.
Obviously, these are but a few spots for the healthy-conscious diner. If you have a favorite that you think we should all know about please do share. Remember, this is for our health, so don’t be shy.
This article was made possible by the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund, a project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, that’s working to increase quality journalism and help better inform communities.
Author: Serena Maria Daniels
Serena Maria Daniels is the co-founder and head chingona of Tostada Magazine. She is an award-winning journalist based in Detroit and specializes on the intersection of food, identity, and culture.
Find her on Twitter and Instagram @serenamaria36!