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Food + Drink Restaurants + Chefs

Vegan Restaurants in Metro Detroit

October 4, 2021

Plant-based restaurants are popping up all across Metro Detroit. Here are 10 new(ish) ones to try

BY NICOLE FREHSEE MAZUR
ILLUSTRATION BY ROBBIE BIEDERMAN

In a city known for its soul food, pizza, and coney dogs, it may seem rather surprising that restaurants focusing on plant-based fare are cropping up across Detroit and the region like never before. But Detroiters are hungry for healthy eats: In 2019, Detroit snagged the No. 5 spot on PETA’s list of top 10 vegan-friendly cities in the U.S. (and Ann Arbor ranked among the top 10 small vegan-friendly cities in 2020).  It’s a reflection of a general trend toward cleaner eating — the number of vegans in America has jumped to somewhere around 9.7 million, up from less than 300,000 in 2004, according to data from research-tracking firm Ipsos. The plant-based retail market, too, has grown 27% in the last year.

“People are becoming more and more concerned about their health these days,” says Rebecca Gade Sawicki of Royal Oak, who created the vegan travel blog Veggies Abroad and has been tracking Detroit’s plant-based dining scene for the past decade-plus. Whether it’s a focus on cleaner eating or other initiatives that promote wellness (like making communities more walkable and increasing green space), “so much has changed here,” in the past few years, she says. “All in all the community has come together to make [Detroit] a healthier space overall for people to live and work in.”

While some plant-forward restaurants, like Ann Arbor’s Seva and Royal Oak’s Inn Season Café, have been around for decades, the past few years have seen new businesses emerging to meet this growing trend. Since 2018 alone, at least a dozen such spots have sprouted up in and around Detroit, offering everything from cheesecake made from cashews (like at Planthropie in Birmingham) to meatless takes on Big Macs and coney dogs (find both at Chili Mustard Onions in Detroit). Even Buddy’s makes a vegan version of its classic pizza with Daiya cheese. “It’s no longer a crazy request to ask, what can you make vegan?” Gade Sawicki says.

Local chefs, bakers, and entrepreneurs are clearly taking on that challenge — and changing widely held notions of vegan food in the process. Take Detroit Vegan Soul, which became Detroit’s first vegan soul-food restaurant when it opened in the West Village in 2012. “People see cornbread, collard greens, and black-eyed peas, and they’re like, ‘ that’s not vegan,’” Gade Sawicki says. But with some tweaks, they’re transformed into “miraculous things” that can fool even the staunchest meat eater. “People want to connect culturally to the foods they grew up on and that make them nostalgic,” she adds. Detroit chefs are “finding ways to recreate these things to be able to make those connections.”

  1. Inn Season Kitchen

    32867 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak
    (248) 850-8500
    innseasonkitchen.com

  2. Arantham

    3381 Rochester Rd, Troy
    (586) 871-0917
    aratham.com

  3. Planthropie

    135 Pierce St, Birmingham
    (248) 839-5640
    planthropie.com

  4. Nosh Pit

    304 N Main St, Royal Oak
    (313) 486-0777
    noshpitdetroit.com

  5. Sugar Buzz

    23131 Woodward Ave, Ferndale
    (248) 268-1355
    sugarbuzzveganbakery.com

  6. Spacecat V-stro

    255 W Nine Mile Rd, Ferndale
    (248) 268-3211
    spacecatvstro.com/menu

  7. Estella’s

    19120 Grand River Ave, Detroit
    (586) 646-8186
    estellascuisine.com

  8. Street Beet

    4626 3rd Ave, Detroit
    (313) 638-1480
    streetbeetdetroit.com

  9. Shimmy Shack

    1440 Sheldon Rd, Plymouth
    (734) 228-5990
    shimmyshack.com

  10. Unburger Grill

    22018 Michigan Ave, Dearborn
    (313) 633-0881
    unburgergrill.com

 

What are your favorite vegan restaurants in Metro Detroit? Drop us a comment below or tag us on social media!

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