Sure, you’ve heard of Greektown.You might have even played the slots at the casino, had dinner at the New Parthenon Restaurant or grabbed a piece of baklava at the Astoria Pastry Shop (there’s a branch on Main Street in downtown Royal Oak, by the way).
However, there’s a much more original neighborhood, still unaffected by Detroit’s behemoth casinos, just a couple of miles away.It’s a place where you can get authentic Mexican food right here in Michigan, normally not known to be a bastion for real food from South of the Border.This neighborhood is Detroit’s Mexicantown.
The main reason to come to Mexicantown is to eat! (There are also some clubs, supermarkets stocking a large selection of foods and ingredients from Latin America, and some bars.)The heart of the restaurant district in Mexicantown is near the corner of Bagley Street and 24th Street.There are over a dozen restaurants along this stretch, along with a tortilla factory, bakeries, and a convenience store that reminds me more of a town I lived in when I worked in Nicaragua than Southeast Michigan because of its large stock of Spanish language soap opera reviews and snacks from Mexico.
While Xochimilco Restaurant (3409 Bagley St., 313.843.0179) is a longtime favorite of many suburban gringos, I find that the food there is merely a good version of “American” Mexican food.My favorite spot for “real” Mexican food is Taqueria Lupita (3443 Bagley Ave., 313.843.1105).The staff there is super friendly and will greet you with warm tortilla chips and about five different kinds of salsas, including a smooth green avocado sauce (not thick like a guacamole) that is to die for.Lupitas has a large, easy to figure out menu of Mexican favorites such as tacos and fajitas as well as soups and other entrees you may not have heard of.If you’re hungry, I highly recommend their three-meat combo (try the tasty but salty chorizo sausage and the tender pork carnitas) with beans and rice with corn tortillas.You’ll leave stuffed, the beans and rice are just like they are in Mexico, and, incredibly, it will cost you only seven bucks!
No matter how full you are, save some room (or buy a treat for later) and stop by La Gloria Bakery (3345 Bagley Ave., 313.842.5722), just a block up the street from Lupitas.They have both Latin American favorites such as churros (deep fried dough twists) and tres leche cake (three milks – very sweet ultra moist cake) as well as brownies, cookies, and other pastries.Yum!
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