With its vast expanses of land, and an abundance of liquor stores that don’t serve fresh produce or other healthy options, Detroit has oft been criticized as a food desert in recent years. However, driving around the city, I’ve found that it’s not.
And numbers don’t lie. Think tank Data Driven Detroit has verified as of June 2014, there are 76 full-line Detroit grocery stores. Detroit is 142.9 sq. miles. You can look at it like a grocery store every two miles. That does not sound like a food desert to me. I hope this list will open your eyes to a few of Detroit’s interesting food resources. These grocery stores and their willingness to be different are keeping the neighborhood dream alive. These stores capture Detroit’s signature coolness and vibrancy. Without further ado, here is a list of our favorite places to buy produce.
1. Parker Street Market
1814 Parker St. Detroit MI 48214
This is where you will find the best of Detroit’s food scene all in one crisp and intimate place. Very Michigan. Very now. Chocolates from Bonbonbon, raw juices from DROUGHT, sandwiches from Rose’s Fine Foods, the prestigious list goes on. Their stuff is so cool and so local, the potatoes used in Detroit Friends Lemon Pepper Potato Chips are grown two miles away. It is common for local entrepreneurs to walk into the store asking David Kirby, the owner, to carry their stuff. That is what happened to Detroit’s Labrosse Farm. Their Heirloom Tomato Ketchup was on the shelves the next day. They don’t stock produce yet, but they will once their 700 sq. ft. expansion is complete. That means more artisan hyper-local products for us!
2. Honeybee Market
2443 Bagley Ave Detroit, MI 48216
Shopping at Honeybee is in experience as soon as you step out of the car. Upbeat Mexican music trumpets as you enter. People dine on the outdoor patio seating. You can see grand Michigan Central Station towering in the horizon. As soon as you enter, heaps of tortilla chips and bowls of guacamole and salsa sitting on ice wait to be sampled. This is the place for exotic Mexican produce like yucca, cactus and chayote. Everything is so uniquely Mexican, and they show it proudly. The deli counter is the most exciting part of the store, where you can find offal soaking in jars of brine, and buy fresh hot specials of the day for a nice lunch.
3. Goodwells Natural Foods Market
418 W Willis St, Detroit, MI 48201
Goodwells is more than a grocery store. It is a destination. It is next door to Avalon Bakery, which is another Detroit must-visit. At any given time, you will find chess players competing outside and musicians performing inside. The real star of the show is their tiny kitchen where they produce the most wholesome and delicious $4 pocket sandwiches (everybody loves the Avocado Delight) and Latin-inspired street food. The grocery section is sparse, but very specialized towards organic health foods. If you take the time to look, you can walk away with random treasures like organic gummy bears.
4. Peaches & Greens Produce Market.
8838 Third Street, Detroit, Michigan 48202
This market is truly a hidden gem, as it’s located between streets littered with abandoned buildings. It exists as a symbol of Detroit’s earnest fight against urban blight. Peaches & Greens’s was created by Central Detroit Christian to give inner-city residents a safe and nutritious diet, so feel extra proud of shopping here. They even have a food truck that makes stops in Boston-Edison, New Center, and Midtown. The store itself is growing into its own. They have the space and a lot of potential.
5. Whole Foods Detroit
We’ve got to include Whole Foods, because it was the first major grocery store to bring high quality fresh produce to a gorgeous setting in the heart of downtown. It faced some backlash regarding it’s nickname “Whole Paycheck,” but it surpassed the criticism, and is consistently packed with no signs of slowing down. Its selection cannot be beat, and even though its prices are lower than other Whole Foods because of Detroit’s current financial status, it is still a Whole Foods. The food is great, the ambiance is pleasing and the people really know their stuff.
Bonus: Chene Street Grocers
5200 Chene St, Detroit, MI 48211
Chene Street Grocers will debut on Detroit’s near east side, which does have sparser grocery store options than other areas of the city. The owner is Vanessa Cronor, a cook at Rose’s Fine Foods, the Detroit restaurant known for its progressive and delicious meals. Now imagine a grocery store version of Rose’s Fine Foods complete with fresh local produce and a flower garden. Do you see why we’re excited? Construction is underway. They are redoing the upstairs of the building where the owners will live. When that is finished, construction will begin downstairs, on the store. The opening date is estimated for sometime in August.