Your Daily Detroit team spends a lot of time these days in
Midtown the Cass Corridor, which remains one of few neighborhoods in the city where it’s easy to walk to and from things. Specifically, bars. There are a lot of ’em here.
So we put together this handy (and admittedly subjective) guide to touring some of the finest drinking establishments in the once-seedy neighborhood au pied.
We go north to south and include a nice mix of old and new, swanky and, uh, authentically Cass Corridor.
Disclaimer: We don’t recommend you attempt this bar crawl all in one go, since there are a lot of bars listed. Think of it as something to do over a long weekend. We also selected bars that we have walked or biked to as a priority — Ed.
While it’s not exactly the oldest Cass Corridor establishment, it hews close to the spirit of the old neighborhood by doubling as an art gallery and event space, one with a menu that’s deep with creative and vegetarian-friendly fare. Its lack of pretension is one of its most endearing qualities. — s.g.
4620 Cass Ave, (313) 831-1400, casscafe.com.
This place is solid with the jukebox selection, some outdoor seating and wonderfully dark interior. It’s vibe is definitely neighborhood bar, but legions of Wayne State students over the years have called it their home bar for awhile. I love the old signage. They have a draft beer selection and are known for their good burgers. For years they were known for their bartender — the verbally colorful Charleen — but she retired last year. Still worth going. -j.s.
4476 Second Avenue, Detroit – Websites? Who needs a website? Or a Facebook page?
Castalia Cocktails (at Sfumato)
For a bar that will delight all of your senses, you can’t beat this garden-level establishment. It has another quality that I appreciate in that it serves double duty. During the day, it serves as the Sfumato fragrance shop. This definitely falls under “curated experience” as they pair all-natural scents with the drinks, but it’s worth every penny for a unique night out. -j.s.
3980 2nd Ave, Lower Level – Website https://www.castaliacocktails.com/
Motor City Brewing Works
It’s a tiny, cozy spot at the back of a parking lot with a horseshoe-shaped bar, tile mosaic all over the walls and an outdoor biergarten. Beer is brewed onsite and the brick-oven pizzas are dynamite. Plus, they make their own ciders, wine and non-alcoholic
sodas pops. — s.g.
470 W. Canfield, (313) 832-2700, motorcitybeer.com.
Traffic Jam & Snug
I don’t even know where to start with this place. With all the talk of craft beer lately, this is where it all started in Michigan. They’ve been hyper-local since before hyper-local was cool. Traffic Jam takes claim as the first brew pub in Michigan.
They’re also a bakery, a dairy a multi-level restaurant — and to top it off, literally, they have an urban garden on the roof. They have a larger space so it can handle bigger groups which is good. When it comes to drinks, it’s a place where you can expand your horizons with their house beers. On the food side, try their vegetarian spinach lasagna or Help Me Elvis, I’m In A Pickle!
511 West Canfield Street, Detroit – Website: http://www.trafficjamdetroit.com
If you’re a fan of sour beers (raises hand), go here: Jolly Pumpkin makes wonderful sours, which you can get fresh on tap. Because they’re part of a larger hospitality group, they also offer non-sour beers from North Peak Brewing, a full bar of spirits and a menu offering tasty pizzas, sandwiches, salads, burgers and more. You order at the counter and pick it up when it’s ready. — s.g.
441 Canfield #9, (313) 262-6115, website.
It’s big. It’s green. It has no windows. And it’s one of Detroit’s pantheon of old-school dive bars. It has pool table, drinks anyone can afford, parking and a mixed crowd of backgrounds and ages. If you want an idea of what the Comet or a variety of bars that used to be here that are now long gone, try this or Temple.
3736 Third Street, Detroit – Who needs the internet?
This place, a true Cass Corridor institution, is filled with Vietnam war memorabilia. It’s dark and dingy. There are big and very well-worn couches. The stage often hosts obscure punk rock bands. If that isn’t your bag, there’s a huge backyard with chairs, tables, water features and soft grass to tickle your toes. Jer describes it as “like a dog park for humans.” — s.g.
3930 Cass Ave., (313) 831-3830, Facebook.
My wife tells a story about hanging out at the Old Miami one night many years ago when word came from around the corner that had someone had just shot up the old bar on Selden. This was before legendary local character John Thompson bought the place, renovated it and relocated his drinking establishment into the building where his mother had once hooked. Nowadays, the place is owned by the Detroit Optimist Society peeps, and while we miss the ’70s soul- and funk-heavy jukebox, the Black Label 40s and Thompson’s sunny personality, it’s still a solid choice for a drink and crowd-pleasing bar food and boasts the classiest men’s room in the city. Open most days at 7 a.m. — s.g.
488 Selden, (313) 832-5646, honestjohnsdetroit.com
8 Degrees Plato
The lone holdout of a beer retailing mini-empire that launched in Ferndale, this craft beer store had the smart idea to build a bar in the rear of the store where customers could take a load off, admire the subway-tiled walls, sample some of the store’s impressive selection on tap and maybe even fill up a growler to take home. The tap menu is rotating and there are frequent tasting events. — s.g.
3409 Cass Ave., (313) 888-9972, 8degreesplato.com
They have awesome cheeseburger spring rolls. Now that I have your attention, there’s a ton more to this place. They do American-style chinese food with a twist. The casual dining room is date appropriate, a neat U-shaped bar (U-shaped and circular bars are something I’m always a fan of as they help you meet people), and a back patio. – j.s.
420 Peterboro, Detroit – Website http://www.thepeterboro.com/
Detroit Shipping Company
A little over a year after opening, this is one of the best spots in the city for seeing and being seen — and eating, with options including tacos, street Thai food, Caribbean fare and even Nepalese dumplings (they’re damn tasty). You’re gonna need something to soak up all that nosh and eye candy, so DSC offers two bars — one inside, the other in the outdoor courtyard, offering more limited hours. Both feature all the trimmings, though Randy, our audio engineer and food critic, prefers the latter for its cocktails and liquor selection. — s.g.
474 Peterboro, (313) 462-4973, Facebook
Founders Detroit Taproom
If you’re a fan of craft beer, then you know Founders, the Grand Rapids-based brewer that is the state’s second-largest craft brewing operation and the maker of many delicious beers. They opened the Detroit Taproom in late 2017 in a neighborhood where few ventured. Nowadays you can hang out at the long bar, one of the high-top tables or on the patio around one of the fire pits, tip a pint and marvel at how good your beer is and how the Cass Corridor is changing. — s.g.
456 Charlotte, (313) 335-3440, foundersbrewing.com/brewery/detroit.
The Temple Bar is one of those establishments I hope never dies. There’s a unique charm to this dive bar during the day and week, dance floor during weekend nights place that can’t be replicated without years of stories and a building that has a unqiue charm.
In fact, when the Comedy Central show Detroiters was on it was a regular haunt of the main characters. The drinks are affordable. The service is fast. And it’s a great way to either start or end your night. -j.s.
2906 Cass in Detroit – Facebook Page