Saturday, February 9, 2013

Eastern Market and Reclaim Detroit

Food and Urban Kitchen Adventures

I love Eastern Market in Detroit and have come to see a few items we can purchase there as staples for groceries. This morning was a surprise impromptu trip because my husband had an ulterior motive which necessitated a trip to Detroit. Now the photos will make it look like we were there a long time but in reality it was about 30 minutes. Efficient shopping/tasting and then on to the main event.

Winter shopping at Eastern Market is a little bit different than Flower Day in the summer. You can see Bert's Marketplaces is still grilling BBQ outside but the line that spans for blocks in nonexistent. That is good BBQ if you are interested in some good smokey flavor and in the summer you can also enjoy karaoke as you sit down to chow. It's really an experience as you can see from this video. There is less traffic and easier parking once Christmas tree shopping is done and lots to still see and do as well as taste and eat and buy!

I think Eastern Market is fun for all the seasons. Yes, Flower Day in the Spring is a rejoicing event to welcome upcoming summer. I love buying pumpkins in the fall. Our family tradition is to pick out our Christmas tree and buy other assorted greens and wreaths in November. There is fresh seasonal produce all year and little shops, including antique stores to visit. I love Eastern Market.


El Guapo Grill - Food Truck
All of the vendors today had moved indoors and things had shifted but we found El Guapo so we could enjoy a little Mexican. El Guapo is the first food truck to grace the city of Detroit and has now brought upon a whole renaissance of food truck cuisine. You can find it around town, even in my hometown of Royal Oak, but it's still something I look forward to at Eastern Market. Today we enjoyed Aloha Mr. Hand (pork belly confit, pineapple salsa minus jalapenos), Braised Beef (with cheese, no salsa), Adobe Chicken (no salsa, can you tell husband likes meat and cheese only?), and Korean Beef (Caramelized Marinated Beef with Asian Slaw).  You can see from the photos these soft tacos are not very large but they pack a lot of flavor in their small package. Two of them are perfectly satisfying.

Soft Taco Superstars
During many food festivals and around town, El Guapo is busy. You can order quickly but you will be waiting for your fresh-made-to-order food. Today the lines were minimal and they didn't even have to call out numbers!

Mac and Cheese!

Mac Shack with Bacon
El Guapo has a sister food truck called The Mac Shack. It's a cute little pull trailer that looks kind of like a tiki hut with a thatch roof. It's a tiny little space but they have it down to be an efficient kitchen. My son is a big Mac and Cheese fan and the fact that you can add bacon only sweetens the deal.  Toppings are included in the flat price of $6.00 and he chose "The Bacon Made Me Do It' minus tomatoes and green onions. Yep, you guessed it, he just wanted bacon. Considering how our family often considers bacon as it's own food group, seasoning, main ingredient, complimentary flavor and dessert component, this is no surprise. I count down the days until Baconfest so I am not going to say a word.


Beef Pho with Oxtail
The  surprise for me today was that the Mac Shack was also featuring Pho. I had recently read about the wonders of Pho in Hour Magazine. Pho is a Vietnamese street dish with French origins, noodles in a broth with meat, with lots of options. Pho may be a reference to the  French dish pot-au-feau, meaning "beef stew". Apparently locally Madison Heights Michigan is a huge mecca for Pho is all its varieties. This version came with beef and for an extra nominal fee, oxtail. Sprouts, Thai basil, green onions and jalapenos come in the side as additions. It was delicious! A little bit spicy with a sweetness that was both hearty and light if that makes any sense. I think I will be making a little trip to nearby Madison Heights to see what other flavors we can find.


Who would think that you could get beignets out of a food truck?!!! At Eastern Market you can! Now, I have never been to New Orleans so I haven't had the originals but these are good. Think of a little fritter deep fried but lighter and more airy than a donut, sprinkled in loads of powdered sugar. For the complete experience you can also have chicory coffee or even a cafe au lait. My son bought the beignets with his own money. That should be a testament to their goodness.

Shopping for Good Stuff!

Zen Dressing and Fresh Kale
Okay so everything above is not exactly health food and surely loaded with calories and fat. So you will probably be surprised to know that I was on a mission to find kale. Kale? I know, you can't believe it but it's true. The local grocery stores, including Trader Joe's have not had Kale in weeks due to some frost in Arizona that killed kale and grapes and just devastated crops. I am happy to report that Easter Market vendors had plenty of kale although one guy did inform me this was a different variety than what they usually sell.

So why do I love kale? Well I love a very specific dressing that we also buy at Eastern Market with tahini in it that is used to make kale salad, which a vendor does sell besides the dressing, along with kale chips. There are two versions of the Zensational Dressing and I go with #2 that is a little sweeter and creamier. It's made by monks and students of the Detroit Zen Center so you know that you will feel more at peace after eating some. Kale salad consists of the kale leaves stripped of the bitter stems and then tossed with the dressing. See I do eat something healthy. I actually keep the dressing at work and bring in a bowl of kale for lunch and toss right before. I think I may have some tonight for dinner.

The Main Event Today 

Reclaim Detroit

Reclaim Detroit is a division of Focus HOPE in Detroit. Think a local Salvage Dogs. They reclaim parts of houses being torn down and you can buy lumber, hard wood floors, windows. . . you name it . . . for repurposing, carpentry or crafts, or for materials in rebuilding your own home. I am now the proud owner of a cutting board that is from end pieces of lumber from an old house in Detroit. 

Awesome Cutting Board

There are lots of reasons why these cutting boards are better, the are self healing because of the ends, keep your knives sharper longer, etc. I am going to go on record that I did not want this for any of those reasons. I wanted it because it was cool and had a history.

The Husband was originally going to surprise me with this for Valentine's Day but decided a tour of the facility was just as important as the gift. He was right! It was a delight to tour the warehouse and see all those remnants of history. I have all kinds of ideas swirling in my brain right now. I have plans!


  1. Fascinating, Debra. There's more to Eastern Market than Joey's Meat Cutters and Supino's Pizza.

  2. Hi Debra, I brought the dressing yesterday by happenstance. I did know if I would like it but decided to try it. The people at the store said they heard good things about it. I have the number #1 and I absolutely love it. I got mine from Natural Food Patch in Ferndale. By the way the have #1 & #2.

    1. I am so glad you liked it! Good stuff. Thank you for letting me know I can get it at Natural Food Patch. That's a short distance from here!