I’ve heard from a few Redskins fans who are planning to make the roadtrip to Detroit this weekend, and it occurred to me that I know absolutely nothing about Detroit. I don’t know any landmarks, don’t know if there are any local foods, don’t know what the city is like at all. What little I know comes from seeing 8 Mile years ago, but I remember nothing at all from it besides Eminem throwing up on himself. Anyway, living in Baltimore while watching The Wire taught me a valuable lesson about the futility of using popular entertainment as a city guide, so I figured a better approach was in order.
With that in mind, I asked a few of the guys on the roster who have Michigan ties what fans should do with one single weekend night in Detroit.
Todd Collins seemed unsure. “There’s the casino, if you like to gamble, I guess,” he said. “Probably some kind of Henry Ford site you could tour.” Devin Thomas had no such hesitation. “Go to the casino — you can’t go wrong,” he said. “The only way you go wrong is if you lose your money.”
This seemed to me like a fairly major way to go wrong, so when Chris Wilson started in with the same answer, I asked him what people should do if they didn’t want to go to the casino, or before the casino, or afterward. “Robert Porcher’s got a nice spot called Seldom Blues, if you want to eat. You’d also probably want to go down to the Waterfront.”
Well, do you have a personal favorite place to eat in Detroit? “Oh!” he said, suddenly enthusiastic. “You gotta go Southern Fires. It’s a soul food restaurant, but it’s, like, the best. Most of the time, you go to soul food joints … you don’t know if you’re gonna have a stomachache the next day or what. But this place, they really prepare the food well, it’s not just a bunch of grease, you know? It’s real, and really good.”
Jon Jansen also had a specific food suggestion. “I would go down to Lafeyette street,” he said. “There’s a place down there called Lafayette Coney Island, and I’d get myself a coney dog. Apparently there’s some sort of ongoing conflict between Lafayette Coney Island and the neighboring American Coney Island, but Jansen came down firmly on the side of Lafayette.
All of which is much more instructive than the Eminem film, although without the excellent theme song.