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Lifestyle Guides

Bars & Cafes

Chazzano Coffee Roasters

Imperial

Valentine Distillery

Morning, noon or night, here are some of the best places to hang out in metro Detroit, whether you need a coffee and some quality laptop time or are looking to strike up a conversation with the friendly locals over a pint.
 
Coffeehouses & Cafes
 
Commonwealth (Birmingham)
Free Wi-Fi
Exquisitely-sourced beans roasted in-house paired with menu offerings for breakfast, brunch and lunch made from scratch from locally-sourced ingredients in a beautifully-designed space make this one of the best spots to hang out in downtown Birmingham. The demographic ranges from young professionals setting up a makeshift office for the day to Birmingham housewives meeting for lunch, and the staff is passionately dedicated to their careful sourcing and artisan craft.
 
The Red Hook (Ferndale)
Free Wi-Fi
With a small, cheery storefront in downtown Ferndale, the Red Hook serves Stumptown coffees and is also home to Pinwheel Bakery, which serves an assortment of sweet and savory baked goods daily made with products from local producers like Guernsey Farms.
 
Chazzano Coffee Roasters (Ferndale)
Free Wi-Fi
Chazzano Coffee Roasters was one of the first artisan coffee roasters to emerge in the Detroit area, and owner/roaster Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo is one of the foremost authorities on coffee roasting in the area. As much an educator as a roaster, Frank is happy to host your coffee cupping party and explain the different flavor profiles of coffee (twice the number of wine), or you can just stop into the stylish café for a French press cup or a bag of beans to go.
 
Goldfish Tea (Royal Oak)
Free Wi-Fi
The owners of Goldfish Tea spent several years living in Beijing, where they fell in love with traditional Chinese loose-leaf teas and tea service. They brought that love back to the States with them and opened Goldfish Tea, which sells dozens of varieties of black, white, green, Oolong, flower, and other teas served in traditional tea service. They also serve salads and sandwiches and sell several tea accessories and other items imported from China.
 
Bean & Leaf Café (Royal Oak)
Free Wi-Fi
Stop by Bean & Leaf Café in Royal Oak or Rochester for lattes, espressos, teas, baked goods, as well as regular rotating exhibits of photography from local artists hanging on the walls.
 
Plymouth Coffee Bean (Plymouth)
Free Wi-Fi
The Plymouth Coffee Bean is the quintessential coffeehouse hearkening back to the comfy café hangouts popularized in the '90s. Different rooms in a beautiful home on Penniman Avenue with plenty of comfortable seating throughout where you can study, read, do work, or meet with friends make this the kind of no-frills community-centered coffeehouse that Generation Starbucks lost sight of. Housemade soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts, many vegan-friendly, as well as made-to-order crepes and smoothies make this more than just a coffeeshop, plus there are open mic nights and live music scheduled every week.
 
Urban Bean Co. (downtown Detroit)
Free WiFi
The newly-reopened Urban Bean Co. in Capitol Park goes for designer appeal with a citrus-soaked modernist aesthetic straight out of the pages of Dwell (in fact, there is a magazine rack inside filled with back issues of Dwell). They serve coffees from local roasters Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co. and snacks from local bakeries like Pinwheel Bakery and Dutch Girl Donuts. They're also open until 9 p.m. on weekdays, and have plenty of seating and a DJ booth on the second floor.
 
The Roasting Plant (downtown Detroit)
Free WiFi
The recently-opened Roasting Plant located inside the First National Building next to Campus Martius Park provides the kind of high-quality caffeinated experience on the go that downtown workers desire thanks to their high-tech Javabot system that grinds and brews your made-to-order coffee, from bean to cup, in 60 seconds.
 
Astro Coffee (Corktown)
No WiFi but you can usually catch a nearby signal 
You're in high hipster territory in Corktown, and nowhere is that more evident than at Astro Coffee. There's limited seating and no WiFi, but they make a mean flat white and the homemade baked goods and egg sandwiches are worth the usually long wait.
 
Trinosophes (Eastern Market)
Free WiFi
Located on the edge of Eastern Market, Trinosophes is a three-in-one coffeehouse, art gallery, and live performance space that brings in high caliber musicians and artists thanks to owners Joel Peterson, a well-known and respected musician and event producer, and Rebecca Mazzei, Deputy Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. A second location of People's Records Detroit will soon be opening next door.
 
The Best of Both Worlds
 
Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company (Midtown)
Free WiFi
Great Lakes is in a category of its own because it's in a class by itself. Both a coffeehouse and a bar, you can enjoy an expertly-made pour-over before moving on to one of their quirky sour beers or all-natural wines from small family farms (and for those moments when you want a beer but still need coffee, order the 50/50 – which is exactly that). They've also got a great selection of coffee-infused craft cocktails and small plates for noshing which range from cheese and charcuterie to raw vegan dishes.
 
Bars
 
Clubhouse BFD (Rochester)
Named one of the country's 100 best beer bars by DRAFT Magazine earlier this year, Clubhouse BFD in Rochester Hills is a pretty big…er, deal. (Actually, the "BFD" stands for "Beer Food Drink" – ostensibly). Elevated bar food in an atmosphere that looks like man cave (complete with vintage baseball memorabilia and giant Jenga), Clubhouse BFD has over 40 taps and another 200+ by the bottle with the most extensive selection of rare breed beers that you'll find anywhere in Michigan, and that's saying a lot. Many of those also happen to be high ABV beers, so it helps that there's a relatively cheap hotel right next door just in case.
 
Imperial (Ferndale)
A honky-tonk rockabilly bar that looks L.A. but screams Detroit, Imperial in Ferndale is one of the best places around to just, you know, hang out. They've got a decent selection of imported and craft beers and plenty of bourbon, whiskey, and tequila to make this a decidedly discriminating beer-and-shot bar. They also have craft cocktails made with their own house infusions and fresh juices, and a small but mighty menu of tacos, tortas, and hot dogs overseen by Executive Chef Brennan Calnin, who makes it all in-house right down to the salsa.
 
One-Eyed Betty's (Ferndale)
Ferndale's sassy beer bar has over 40 taps and 150 beers by the bottle in an ever-evolving lineup that ranges from Michigan craft to imported Belgian sours and trippels. They also stock over 50 different whiskeys and run a different $3 whiskey special every single day. Plus there's pinball, a totally friendly Ferndalien vibe, and an excellent menu of pub fare with brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
 
The Oakland (Ferndale)
There are craft cocktail bars, and then there is the Oakland. The Oakland in Ferndale is a dramatic space (so very, very dark) with some of the absolute best cocktails you will find anywhere in the state. The handsomely-presented cocktail menu is arranged by your spirit of choice – bourbon? gin perhaps? – and these potent pleasures will catch up with you quickly. They use top-shelf everything in their cocktail wizardry, and for something a little extra special, ask for the "secret" menu – the cocktails are pricier and even more exceptional. In the summer, head out back to their tiki-inspired bar and patio Honi Honi.
 
Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. (Warren)
One of the most popular breweries in Michigan hardly even distributes (though there are plans in the works for that to soon change). Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. in Warren is known for their experimental strong ales and their huge limited release parties held every winter and summer solstice, but even on just a regular Tuesday this place is packed with beer-lovers from all over metro Detroit who enjoy the casual, laid-back atmosphere and some of the best beer made in Michigan.
 
Valentine Distillery (Ferndale)
In addition to their signature multi-time award-winning vodka, Valentine also now makes their own gin and whiskey, all of which are available inside the impressive tasting room, all constructed from reclaimed materials and built by own and distiller Rifino Valentine. Enjoy one of their hand-crafted cocktails made using all fresh, seasonal ingredients as well as locally-made products (like brine from McClure's Pickles for their Detroit Dirty).
 
Dick O'Dow's (Birmingham)
It's an Irish bar that serves Irish beer and Irish whiskeys in a space completely constructed out of materials salvaged from old Irish churches and barns, with Irish and Irish-inspired cuisine to go with it. Dick O'Dow's is easily the most comfortable and accommodating place in Birmingham. They also have live Irish music on weekends.
 
Sardine Room (Plymouth)
The Sardine Room is a game-changer in Plymouth, and has become a destination dining location for folks all over metro Detroit. Come for the oysters and yeah, stay for the oysters (and other raw bar items and small plates and osso buco and the Fire Burger), and since you're here, also partake of their excellent craft beer and cocktail menus and their extensive selection of apertifs, digestifs, and Scotch Scotch Scotchy Scotch. Scotch.
 
Red Crown (Grosse Pointe Park)
Red Crown just recently opened in Grosse Pointe Park, but the bar and restaurant, located in a former Standard Oil gas station, is already a huge hit with the locals who have long been lacking in this sort of upscale-casual dining option that is in line with current culinary trends (in this case, house-smoked meats and elevated Southern comfort food). They also excel in their craft cocktail program, with a large selection of classic cocktails and house originals made from fresh-squeezed fruits and seasonal ingredients, and there's always a $5 PBR and Jameson's special for happy hour. In the summer, check out their glorious patio.
 
Green Dot Stables (Corktown)
Located in a slightly far-flung location on the outskirts of Corktown, jokingly referred to as "Corktown Shores," Green Dot Stables has a horse racing theme (a holdover from previous owners) serving a variety of gourmet sliders (including a weekly "mystery meat"), craft beer and cocktails. Their menu is also vegetarian- and vegan-friendly, and the best part of all is that nothing on the menu (including the beer and cocktails) is more than $3. 
 
Foran's Grand Trunk Pub (downtown Detroit)
Before the local craft beer movement really became a widespread phenomenon, there was Foran's Grand Trunk Pub. The first bar in Detroit to change over all their taps to local craft beer (they might still be the only bar featuring a 100% local tap list) with a selection of 170 bottled craft beers (100 of those from Michigan) and absolutely no Budweiser, Foran's also has a killer happy hour, daily specials and can also sell beer and wine to go. Plus they've got some of the best bar food in the city, including their weekend brunch on Saturdays AND Sundays.
 
Slows BAR BQ (Corktown)
Slows is arguable the most famous restaurant in Detroit, and because of that the wait for a table can sometimes be ridiculously long. Here's a hint: eat somewhere else (even Slows To Go in Midtown), then head over here to sidle up to the bar and enjoy their fantastic selection of craft and imported beers. While it would be a stretch to say that Slows is underrated in anything, their phenomenal beer selection deserves its time in the spotlight.
 
The Majestic (Midtown)
It's a bar, a bowling alley, a gastropub/gallery, a pizzeria, a concert venue, another concert venue, and a rooftop deck all in one massive complex that takes up almost a full city block. Known for bringing in offbeat touring national acts, the Majestic is high hipster central and the epicenter of Midtown's iconoclastic culture scene.
 
Café D'Mongo's (downtown Detroit)
Perhaps now better-known as the place where Ryan Gosling goes when he's in town (he and owner Larry Mongo have a bro-bond), Café D'Mongo's is unquestionably one of the most unique spaces in Detroit. Serving up soul food and live music in a space that has been described as "Liberace's living room," D'Mongo's should be on every Detroiter's bucket list. Word of warning: it's only open Fridays and Saturdays and gets crowded quickly, even when Ryan Gosling isn't there.
 
Rodin (Midtown)
A super-sexy space that pays homage to vintage French chic, the high ceilings and blood-red drapes add dramatic flair to the minimalist industrial aesthetic. The menu is a contemporary play on French cuisine, and the cocktails are all French-inspired. The walls are adorned with works from local artists (available for purchase) and they bring in some excellent local jazz, electronic and Latin fusion bands and an acoustic guitarist for Sunday brunch.
 
The Sugar House (Corktown)
A pre-Prohibition-themed cocktail bar (and one of the 100 best bars in the country, per Playboy), the Sugar House is known for their seasonal hand-crafted cocktails and excellent whiskey and bourbon selection. Enjoy a bowl of punch on the patio in the summer, or come in for a winter warmer when it's cold outside.
 
Cliff Bell's (downtown Detroit)
Cliff Bell's is Detroit's premiere jazz club located in a fully-restored Albert Kahn-designed building with a wholly vintage art deco design, like stepping into a 1930s jazz club – which is, in fact, what it once was. They bring in a wide variety of local and national talent covering everything from jazz and blues to Brazilian classical guitar, Detroit techno, even burlesque performances. They also have an excellent happy hour and food menu, including Sunday brunch. 

For more information and stories about cities in Oakland County, check out Oakland County Prosper
 
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