The Local Knowlege

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Places We Like: Vinsetta Garage in Detroit

By Matthew Rudy

Ruin-porn rubbernecking is a popular visitor's sport in Detroit, and there's plenty of burned out neighborhoods and abandoned factories to go around. But to get a more accurate composite view, take the time to visit some of the interesting new places growing in and around the Motor City. 

One of the most popular, Vinsetta Garage, trades on Detroit's long and noble tradesman legacy. Situated on Woodward Avenue, just outside the city limits in Berkley, it was the longest-running auto repair shop east of the Mississippi when its owner retired in 2010. A consortium of Metro Detroiters bought the building and converted it to a restaurant, preserving virtually all of the industrial deco charm (but less of the grease).  

The same doors that allowed entry to Ford Model T's, Duesenberg Model J's and split window Corvettes let you in for modernized retro-American food -- deep-fried cheese curds, burgers and build-your-own pizza. If you want one with American cheese, Michigan maple bacon and a fried egg (sunny side up), you can have it. 

From its curbside location, Vinsetta will still preside over the largest hot-rod gathering of its kind in the world -- the annual Woodward Dream Cruise -- in August, when more than 30,000 hot rods, muscle cars and good old-fashioned jalopies ease their way from Pontiac to Detroit on the first paved road in America. You'll just be able to drink a beer, eat a pizza and plug in your hybrid while you watch.  

If you're interested in swinging some clubs in the same historical tradition (and in the same neighborhood), the Donald Ross-designed Rackham Golf Course is two miles down Woodward, in Huntington Woods. The circa-1923 layout isn't in the same league as Ross' fancier neighbors Oakland Hills G.C. or Detroit G.C., but anybody can play it, and it's $18 for 18 holes. It was boxer Joe Louis' home course in the 1940s. 
 
 
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