What happens when a Flint boy falls in love with a Detroit girl? A Flint food fest of epic proportions!Call them “holes in the wall” if you want, but I love small, unique, family-owned restaurants. This is where you’ll find meals made from highly-guarded secret recipes that provide a true treat for the taste buds. My penchant has certainly been nurtured right here in Flint and the surrounding areas, as we have a rich variety of traditional and delicious dishes you can’t find anywhere else. While courting my future wife, Rosemary, I was happy to introduce her to some top-notch Vehicle City cuisine and I’m happy to report that she was rather impressed with what my hometown is cooking.
Being a Polish girl from Detroit, Rosie’s hotdog of choice is Kowalski, naturally. That said, I’m proud to have introduced her to a food that’s synonymous with Flint itself: the Koegel’s frank. Her first one was topped with the tantalizingly tangy red sauce that’s made the Flushing A so famous. Not wanting to get my Flint Card revoked, I also introduced our famous Coney – with its mounds of seasoned ground beef, mustard and onions (and a side of fries with gravy). We now reside in Novi, but a visit to my parents’ Flint home isn’t complete without a hot dog run … though I still miss the A&W drive-in on Clio Road
Hot dogs are great, but there’s more to the list of Flint foodstuffs. Knowing we have a bounty of burgers, I introduced her to what many of us Flint foodies consider to be the holiest of holy: the almighty “Torch Burger” of The Torch Bar & Grill fame. And since I once worked at the Linden Road location of the uniquely-Flint burger chain, I felt obliged to treat my beloved to a Kewpie with olives from Halo Burger. After all, seven days without it can make one weak! Needless to say, both of these “bedrock burgers” rated high on Rosie Ribner’s taste-o-meter.
For a change of pace, we recently enjoyed a meal at Pesto’s Food With a Flair. Around the corner from My City Magazine headquarters, it was the perfect little romantic lunch break with my lovely lady, and she was pleasantly surprised with her Muffaletta. Foregoing my usual favorite – the meaty Pesto Slammer – I enjoyed the sirloin meatballs with spaghetti; the portion was both delicious and generous, and I actually had to ask for a to-go box. (A rare occurrence, indeed!)
To be fair, the highway from Flint to Detroit goes both ways and so does the enjoyment of truly local cuisine. I have to say that the Torch Burger has its equal in the Real Bar Burger, the flagship sandwich at Mason’s Bar & Grill in Livonia. Thick, juicy and served on a warm, sesame seed or onion bun, each one comes on a wooden tray loaded with onion, pickles, relish, tomatoes and all the rest of the expected fixings. If you’re passing through Metro Detroit and have time for a quick stop, give Mason’s a try … Better yet, give us a call and we’ll meet you there!
When it comes to pizza in the “D,” Gracie See is the place to be. Seriously! With a mini-jukebox at each booth, this place is a throwback to family pizza joints of the 70s and the food is nothing short of amazing. Whatever your favorite toppings are, try adding garlic to the list – the folks at Gracie See will add fresh garlic shaved right off the clove. It’s amazing!
Bringing this back home, our tour of local Flint cuisine is far from over. Rosie and I plan to visit more Flint-area culinary institutions starting with the deli at Oliver T’s, where I know a delicious Cathy’s Real Italian is waiting for me! After that, we’ll likely stop by Italia Gardens for some ribs, pasta and salad. I’m also thinking that we don’t want Krystal Joe’s Diner on Fenton Road to remain “Flint’s best-kept secret” for long.
As you can see, our future restaurant excursions are set to be a culinary tour de force that’s as Made in Michigan as it is tasty. If you don’t have current plans to hit up any of the area’s exclusive eateries, perhaps this will inspire you to do so. We’ll be happy to save you a seat! ♦