Unearthing Detroit:
Hamtramck Theatre District

by
Elizabeth Isakson

 


(When John Jeffire, winner of our POE-try contest, asked us what to do and where to go in Hamtramck, we asked contributor Elizabeth Isakson to provide the 411 on 48211 (and 48212!) Look for more such features as we continue unearthing a great american city, one story at a time.)

Hamtramck is a small, eclectic city with a distinct personality that deserves to be explored. The Planet Ant Theater is a well known Hamtramck venue hosting plays and films produced by local actors, directors and play writes-and is currently featuring Usher, John Sousanis' interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe's Fall of the House of Usher.

The city of Hamtramck is only 2.2 square miles in size (making it easy to park and walk to multiple locations) and offers a variety of shops, restaurants and bars worth perusing before or after the show. Here are some highlights of the once-Polish borough's cuisine and nightlife for an evening out at the theatre, Hamtramck style.

Cuisine:

Once a predominately Polish neighborhood, Hamtramck is a unique town in its large population of immigrants from numerous countries, religions and traditions. Whatever cuisine you're curious about- Bosnian to Bangladeshi- chances are you can find it in Hamtramck.

Polish Village Café is probably the restaurant most frequented by tourists to Hamtramck looking for an experience in Polish dining. The quaint building on Yemans street boasts a large menu (featuring pierogis, of course), warm atmosphere, and friendly servers in beautiful "traditional" Polish garb. The restaurant itself is worth taking the time to look at, even if you are only stopping in for some bison grass vodka.

Ghandi is a mid-priced, higher-scale Indian food restaurant with a great buffet and cocktails on Conant Street. While Hamtramck hosts many restaurants with Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine that are more than satisfactory, Ghandi's atmosphere is a bit more polished and features large booths reminiscent of the 1940s at the front of the establishment.

And if you're taking in a Sunday matinee at Planet Ant, the brunch at Sidestreet Deli (formerly Salvador Deli) should not be missed. The local hang, also on Yemans, features a sizeable and eclectic brunch menu on weekends, a modest sandwich selection, good coffee, wi-fi internet and waitresses who will tell you anything you ever wanted to know about Hamtramck (that is, when they're not busy).

Other restaurants worth sampling on Joseph Campau include Thai Bangkok, Yemeni Café, and Maine Street Diner.

After the Show Snacks:

If all of that black-box theatre worked up an appetite, Shahi Tandori on the corner of Holbrook and Conant is great for late-nite Indian comfort food and is open until 11pm. The Clock diner, a veritable Hamtramck landmark on Joseph Campau, is our 24 hour greasy spoon with bottomless coffee, saganaki, and plenty of local color.

After the Show Drinks:

The place to catch up with all the local actors, directors, writers, costumers, musicians and anyone else in theater is 7 Brothers Bar on Joseph Campau. The self-proclaimed "First Home to All the Arts" is lined with headshots of local talent and wall-papered with theatre bills, posters, and memorabilia from the Planet Ant, Second City Theater and The Purple Rose Theatre. It's probably a safe bet that you'll be joined by the cast of the play you've just seen, and perhaps bear witness to a soliloquy or two after a few rounds of Blatz.

Hamtramck has been rumored to have more bars per capita than anywhere in the Midwest. Without that being confirmed or denied, it's fair to say that there is a watering-hole to fit any mood on practically every corner. The Belmont, Smalls, Paychecks Lounge and The Painted Lady offer rock n roll shows most nights of the week. Night clubs such as White Star, Diesel, Exile, and 88 Lounge offer mostly euro-style dancing and D.J.s on weekends. Local "beer-and-shot" hangs are available in Adams Corner, Whiskey in the Jar, Baker's Streetcar and the blues club The Attic, just to name a few.

 

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