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Photo: Devon O'Reilly

One of the biggest issues plaguing both Joe Louis Arena and The Palace of Auburn Hills was the lack of quality options for eating and boozing before and after games.

The Palace had well-documented struggles with this issue and the old Joe Louis Arena, while located in downtown Detroit, was nestled in a veritable concrete fortress of freeway ramps and parking structures.

Those issues are a thing of the past with the opening of The District Detroit and its crown jewel, Little Caesars Arena. The area now counts at least a half-dozen bars and restaurants in a few blocks.

With an interesting mix of old standbys and new offerings, this area is becoming a destination on game days and off nights alike.

After visiting each one, what else is there to do then but rank these establishments on a completely arbitrary scale based on my own preferences? Here we go — and feel free to tell me how you’d order them in the comments.

6. District Market Detroit

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District Market Detroit is fully capable food court offering a variety of food and beverage options including coffee, beer, and desserts. As with its District siblings it has TVs to watch the game and easy access right into the arena. The problem is it has little else in terms of charm or uniqueness. District Market is simply “there,” which sometimes is all you need.

5. Kid Rock’s Made In Detroit

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The atmosphere recalls a Hard Rock Café, if the only musician who ever existed was Kid Rock. I promise I didn’t set out to drop the self-proclaimed “pimp of the nation” to number five on this list, and if you enjoy the man and his music this may be your favorite spot of the bunch. However, evaluating this place objectively, it is decidedly the priciest, whether that be $11 beers or $16 sandwiches. You’ll basically be paying “stadium pricing” for any offering here. There’s a bonus for fans of the Kid — I hear he frequents the establishment and has even been known to play a few impromptu songs for the crowd lucky enough to be there.

4. Temple Bar

Temple Bar Detroit

The longest tenured bar in the area, Temple is THE best place to get cheap drinks and mingle with true locals to the area, most of whom will openly curse the Ilitches and lament the gentrification taking place in their old stomping grounds. Temple is a true dive bar that’s affectionate appeal comes in the interesting conversation and eclectic individuals you’ll meet there.

3. Harry’s Detroit

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Harry’s is absolutely a “District Bar” whether they want the moniker or not. Nestled right in the heart of the shining gleaming new offerings, Harry’s has undergone a subtler transformation recently, painting the entire structure black. Inside is the same casual, no frills atmosphere and offerings they have always had. Nothing special to speak of but it is not the $8 Bud Lights and $18 pizzas as some the other new neighbors, which for many old-school patrons is more than enough incentive to go here.

2. Sports & Social Detroit

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A quintessential “sports bar” this place has the requisite massive TV’s playing multiple games at a time, a decent menu selection of game day favorites, and a great outdoor bar that becomes a lively spot for drinks and conversation on the weekends and event days. The only downside here is a limited cocktail menu and poor wine selection, but hey if you’re coming here, it should be for the big game and a tall glass of beer.

1. Mike’s Pizza Bar

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The eponymously named flagship of The Districts offerings, Mike’s Pizza takes the number on spot on this list because of a more than respectable cocktail and beer menu, and hand tossed pizzas that easily outdo the Hot ‘n Readys that made the Ilitch family a household name.

Mike’s also has a fantastic indoor/outdoor bar area when the weather is reasonable and ample big screen televisions to catch the action going on both inside the stadium and around sports world. To top it off, there’s also live music offerings most weekends just make sure to check their active Facebook page for updates on who’s playing and when.