Another space changing the landscape is Corktown Studios, an artist collective established in 2012 a bit off the beaten path from the main Michigan Avenue strip. It’s a two-story house that now includes nine resident artists, all working in various mediums. The space does eight gallery shows per year, with public openings and by-request visits, and also hosts concerts.
Alisyn Malek, a founding member of the collective, chose the location for its quiet but also its proximity to Corktown’s business district. They’ve done collaborations with specific events with other businesses; when the Two James Distillery opened, their artists provided the artwork hanging on its walls. Malek foresees some activity and construction, such as a restaurant, coming over to their area, which would provide the studio with more visitors. “Once we know there will be more traffic in the area, we’ll have more gallery hours,” she says, showing how local business can sustain and invigorate local culture.
That spirit is evident in every aspect of Corktown’s continued revitalization, as the neighborhood seeks to be defined less by the lack of Tiger Stadium than by its robust independent culture.
More Spots to Visit
If you’re only staying in Corktown briefly, it won’t be possible to eat everywhere that’s worthy of your calorie consumption. There’s no harm in trying, though, so here are some of the locals’ picks for must-hit spots. Choose wisely.
Astro Coffee is the neighborhood’s requisite craft coffee destination, but it also offers excellent pastries, sandwiches, and salads for your breakfast and lunch hankerings. Don’t miss the pourover coffee from a variety of American roasters (including the local Anthology Coffee), and definitely take a picture of the flower mural on its back wall.
Detroit City Bagels is where Eldorado General Store owner Erin Gavle loves to get a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich to start the day.
Ottava Via, housed in a former bank, is a beautiful space for eating an Italian meal, including pizzas.
Gold Cash Gold is a sleek, modern restaurant that takes its cocktail program as seriously as its food, which is gorgeously plated and often locally sourced.
St. Cece’s is the spot for a bite of the hearty, pub variety (as well as a boozy brunch). Nearby you could also check out UFO Factory, a bar and music venue that’s home to a selfie-friendly bathroom and Laika Dog, which offers over-the-top veg and non-veg hot dogs. For brunch, they make waffle dogs.
Slows Bar BQ is the place that started it all for Corktown’s revitalization, and in the spirit of inclusion, you can even go here as a vegetarian, as their menu includes textured vegetable protein.
Across the street from Slows is Mercury Burger Bar, a contemporary diner-type spot with a ton of outdoor seating. Nearby is Rubbed, a sandwich and charcuterie spot with a funky vibe. Between stops at these, check out Detroit Artifactry for all your souvenir and trinket needs.