When in Detroit, do as Detroiters do and go eat and drink somewhere cool. Each of these bars showcase Detroit well in different ways. Some are new, some are in buildings that were vacant for years, and others are mainstays. We’re not going to send you to out to the ‘burbs like Birmingham or Grosse Pointe, because the fun can be had within walking distance of Cobo Center. If it’s too cold, or if your dogs are barking, you can grab a ride on the People Mover for .75 cents (click here for a People Mover map) or grab an Uber or Lyft to any of the locations for about $5.
Here we go with your pre- or post-North American International Auto Show bar list, in no particular order…
Wright & Company
Just a couple of years ago, the space Wright & Company now occupies was a cold, vacant expanse where if you had a drink there it was with a bottle of Five O’Clock and a pigeon. Now, step into this establishment on Woodward it has amongst the most stylish, “middle of the city” of the views in Detroit as the windows look upon the interesting facades of other buildings and down Woodward. Remember when looking for it that it’s on the second floor and the entrance is at the back. Try one of their well-appointed cocktails such as the Corpse Reviver #2 or sample something off their menu which is mostly tapas (or small plates) style.
1500 Woodward in Detroit – Get off at the Broadway People Mover Station.
In real estate there’s a saying … “Location, Location, Location.” What stands out about this bar/restaurant isn’t just the inside but the outside. There’s a covered, heated patio and you’ll be right next to the skaters and the tree that’s still up in Campus Martius Park. Walk over to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monument in the park. It’s been there since 1867. It’s seen practically everything in this city.
800 Woodward, Detroit in Campus Martius Park – Get off at the Cadillac Square People Mover Station and cut through the lobby of the Compuware Building (headquarters of Quicken Loans) to get there.
WXYZ Bar at the David Whitney Building
This bar is inside one of the best looking architectural lobbies in Detroit, if not the Midwest, that was just recently a cold ruin. Although it’s basically a brand new place, the service has been great every time we have visited and they offer a limited menu as well. You’d think the modern décor might clash, but it works well as a contrast.
1 Park Avenue, Detroit – Since the Grand Circus People Mover station is currently closed for rehab, step off at Broadway, walk up Broadway, and turn left on Witherell.
Because it’s Tommy’s. That sounds simple, but here’s a little explanation. They have an underground hiding stop in the basement, good prices on drinks, the staff is friendly, and you’re going to have a good time in their pub sports room in the back. It has an eclectic and fun crowd.
Just walk down Congress Street from Cobo to get here, it’s at 624 3rd Street, Detroit.
The Motor Bar
In the restored book Book Cadillac Westin Hotel, built in 1924, it’s easy to forget that it was an empty hulk from 1984 until 2008. Recovered after 20 plus years of abandonment it’s one of Detroit’s best hotels and swankiest residences, and even if you don’t have the ducats to live large upstairs you can enjoy a cocktail under multi-story windows. Also notable in the building downstairs are Michael Symon’s Roast (Happy Hour there is the pro tip) and the 24 Grille (get the Philly Steak Flat Bread).
1114 Washington Boulevard, Detroit. – Hop off at the Michigan station for that one.
This isn’t a “Dime Store” in the tradition of a five-and-dime, but so called as it’s in what was called the “Dime Building” (now Chrysler House). A newer addition to the Detroit scene, it’s great for a drink, great for food … but they’re not open super late (close at 10 p.m. during the week, 3 p.m. on weekends … Brunch anyone?) so make it one of your first stops. Pictured is a mac and cheese with bacon that’s on-point here and the cocktails well poured.
719 Griswold, Detroit – There’s not a People Mover great station choice for this one, but Cadillac Square or Financial District will get you there with a little walk.
History, history, history. This place has been in existence in multiple locations over many decades and it’s the nexus of the Detroit reporter and media drinking scene, as well as a must-stop for Red Wings games. The history and photos on the wall is like stepping back into time, and every photo has a story.
450 W. Fort Street, Detroit – Hop off at the Fort-Cass Station, it’s on the same block.