When I was attending Portland State University in the late aughts, one of my fellow students took advantage of Detroit’s depressed housing market and purchased a rundown house, whose former glory was largely obscured by filth and shredded carpet. But, even with its busted windows and grimy walls, it was magnificent. My friend’s Facebook album dedicated to renovation was pure #goals, and I watched videos of her cleaning and sanding with avid jealousy.
She was living the dream (if, like me, you dream of home ownership) in Detroit. Unfortunately, because she was a student, she just couldn’t keep up with taxes and payments. The beautiful house was snatched away before it regained the stature it held in its prime.
Back then, I’d never been to Detroit, but I wanted to be there. I wanted to be part of the energy and the comeback. The awesome bars. The cool music venues. Luckily, I didn’t have to buy real estate to make that happen and neither do you. Even a single day in the city can be enough to charge your adventure batteries and give you a taste of both “the city that was” — back when that house was a brand new foundation for a family living in Motor City boomtimes — and the city that is — the one where that house is a refurbished foundation for a fresh life in a resurgent metropolis.
What follows is a breakdown for a full (seriously full) day in Detroit Rock City. Everything is pretty close to the center, to minimize struggles with public transportation and Uber. Take a look and be inspired to plan your own day of exploring!
Starting the day at nine feels a little like rushing to a job and that’s no good, so let’s ease into things at Ashe Supply Co. The café focuses on third wave brewing approaches, like siphon coffee, pourovers, and Chemex. But, they also do the classic espresso drinks that people have come to expect. They’ve only been open for a few years, but they’re quite popular in downtown and are super busy even on Sunday.
You’ll see why, when your drink cools and you can finally get a full mouthful without searing any delicate skin. If you aren’t a slave to your regular order, get a delicious café con miel (coffee with honey). They are a blend of rich, full-bodied coffee brightened by cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and honey and sweet, frothy milk. Pastries will tempt you because they are all from local bakeries and eating local is important (plus they look delish). But, brunch is the next stop, so stick with the coffee.