Patio season is fully upon us in Detroit and with that comes a myriad lists and heatmaps of where you should be spending your sun soaked days and nights.
The problem with most of these is that they simply opt for a geographical map or perhaps simply a list of places randomly selected from the vast metro Detroit region.
What they don’t do is get to the heart of why someone chooses where to spend their time during this joyous season. In my estimation, it really boils down to four distinct factors when deciding where to go and the prevailing of those ultimately dictates your choice.
So I’ve decided to save you the time and trouble by personally “researching” just about every patio in the city of Detroit (no spots from the burbs) and give you lowdown on where to spend your time and money based on what you really want out of your patio experience.
Soak up the Sun:
WXYZ Bar at The Aloft Hotel– Easily Detroit’s best hotel bar this spot also provides ample sunshine because of its westward facing location away from downtowns high-rise buildings. You’ll catch sunshine late into the evening and once it cools down there are comfy couches and a fire pit to keep you cozy.
Motor City Wine- Very few umbrellas to be found on the patio out here, which is good news if you’re a patio sun seeker. This is also your spot if you want to “turn up” a little bit as it is low -key legendary for day parties.
Ottava Via- Aside from having fantastic food, Ottava Via boasts one of the best patio setups in the city complete with a full size boccie ball court free from any awnings or sunshine impediments.
Volt Bar at The Renaissance Center- Likely not an obvious choice, Volt is located on the second floor of the Ren Cen and serves as the Hotel Bar for the Marriott. What you may not be aware of is that it also has a huge patio space that offers Instagram worthy vistas of downtown while keeping its distance from the shadows of those very skyscrapers.
Drink on the Cheap:
Northern Lights Lounge– Whether its starting your day off with cheap carafes of strong mimosas or ending it with happy hour specials starting at a couple bucks for beer and cocktails this place has you covered in the wallet department. My advice is to stick around for the nightly entertainment, even if it’s usually indoors.
Third Street- Not ideal for sunshine as the patio here is mostly covered but perfect for those looking to booze on a budget. Pretty much any drink here wont set you back more than $5 and the pours are always generous.
Z’s Villa- With an expansive patio that includes sand volleyball courts Z’s is definitely a place to lose yourself for a few hours in the afternoon sun. After splitting a few pitchers of beer and some of their famous pizza with your friends, your bellies will be full and your wallets won’t be empty.
Camino Real- Tucked away on Central Avenue in Southwest in Detroit, this spot offers a huge drink menu at a tiny price. There is a happy hour from 2:00-5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday but you really won’t need it as almost all beer and mixed drinks are priced under $5 all the time.
Townhouse- Among the masses of scurrying Quicken employees; tourists and big shots are the main groups to spot from your perch here. Smack dab in the center of the action you’ll also want to keep an eye on the door as you never know what local celebrity or corporate titan is liable to walk in.
Queens- Downtown’s unofficial “neighborhood bar” there’s almost always a good crowd of regulars and business folk casually hanging out the very approachable patio that juts out toward the intersection of Grand River and Farmer giving you great views of all the action.
Pappy’s- Let’s be honest, Pappys isn’t going to win any “Best Bar” awards or wow you with crazy cocktails but what it will do is put you right in the thick of things on the always bustling Monroe Street in Greektown. There’s perhaps a no greater concentration of characters, tourists, and rowdy sports fans than outside Pappy’s on a weekend night.
Old Miami- Sometimes when it comes to people watching it’s more about the people inside the establishment than on the street and at nowhere else is that more apparent than the venerable and eclectic Old Miami. Literally a cavalcade of hipsters, hippies, bikers, musicians and all manner of oddballs descend upon the sprawling backyard throughout the day and into the night. No exaggeration is needed to say this is a place than an entire Saturday can be spent at without ever becoming dull.
Mercury Burger Bar- Fantastic beer selection and a myriad delicious burger choices make Mercury a go-to for getting you grub on. Add to that some pretty amazing tots and hot dog selections and you’ve got the best place in Corktown to fill your breadbasket while catching some rays. We’ve previously mentioned it for their excellent burgers.
Seva- What some might call a hidden gem, Seva is tucked away just off Woodward in Midtown but the real treat is behind the building on the ample patio space. Seva is a vegetarian establishment but you certainly don’t have to be one to enjoy their specialties like their Tempeh Burger, Pad Thai, and Mac & Cheese as well as a fantastic cocktail menu.
La Dolce Vita- Up on Woodward Avenue just north of Six mile (don’t call it McNichols, despite what the street sign says), this place has a patio tucked away quietly between two buildings. Brunch is solid here.
Grand Trunk- While I could easily mention their Rueben or Shepard’s Pie and leave it at that, this place has one of the most consistently great brunch menus in the city. To top it off their mimosa and Bloody Mary deals are super affordable and the patio on Woodward doubles as a great people watching spot.
Traffic Jam- A midtown stalwart from all the back to the 1960s this place is Detroit’s original locally sourced restaurant. They make everything from the bread, cheese, and ice cream all the way to beer and tea in house and will serve you any and all of these offerings outside on their prime location patio in the heart of Midtowns growing commercial corridor.
Devon’s Detroit is a column that posts most Thursdays. Previous articles here.