A restaurant’s name often forms an expectation of the quality of food and service before you ever set foot in the establishment. Perfectly seared aged steaks, mom & pop diner classics, or fresh from the sea sushi should instantly come to mind when you read the sign. So, when I heard we were having lunch at a pizza bar, I didn’t give it much thought. “Bar” preceded by any food type usually means halfway decent food, cheap beer, and loud crowds. When I’m in downtown, I expect nothing less than classic Detroit style deep dish and wasn’t expecting that from a mere pizza bar. Luckily, I was in for a refreshing surprise on this day.
Disclosure: Thanks to Visit Detroit CVB and Mike’s Pizza Bar for lunch.
While taking in all the details on a tour of the amazing new Little Caesar’s Arena I noticed the manhole covers emblazoned with the names of past local sports stars from the Red Wings and Pistons. Near one of the entrances, I came across the most important: Mike Ilitch. He wasn’t a sports star, but the entrepreneur who started the Little Caesar’s empire back in the 1950s has poured in massive support for our city through the years and was owner of both the Tigers and Red Wings. While I was standing there it hit me: Mike’s Pizza Bar honors this Detroit icon. Suddenly, I was looking forward to lunch.
Nestled into the southwest corner of Little Caesar’s Area, Mike’s Pizza Bar is open to both the area crowds and Woodward Avenue. On the inside, the décor has a classic upscale downtown feel with plenty of white subway tile and wood, but still fits the familiar layout of a sports bar. Booths, high tops, and bars offer a variety of seating options; all with great views of TVs covering a myriad of sports. It was a beautiful day, so we were able to enjoy the outdoor patio. Despite being close to Woodward and I-75 just below, it wasn’t noisy and offered a great view of the skyscrapers and Comerica Park.
Satisfied with the surroundings, my attention turned towards the food. My group ordered several different pizzas and a few appetizers to sample. The bruschetta was fresh and full of flavor. The round pizzas were good with quality toppings, but what I was looking forward to was the deep dish. Would it hold up to Mike’s name? I dove right in for a corner piece and was more than happy with the crunch of the crust and flavorful gooey cheese. Mike’s served up some classic Detroit style flavor that I’d come back for in a heartbeat.
The rest of the menu is rounded out with a few salads and sandwiches. I noticed everything had a very Italian/pizza theme, so if that’s not your groove there aren’t many options. I didn’t get to try the wraps or sandwiches, so that will have to be in the plans for my next visit. Pizza is definitely where it’s at here and there is also a good selection of beers on tap. Watch for specials at their watching parties.
Mike’s Pizza Bar is set up so areas can be easily sectioned off for private parties. The outdoor patio and long bar are prime sports in warmer weather when you can catch a glimpse of the game, chat with friends, and be wrapped up in the city life around you.
Mike’s is open year round and hosts several game and draft parties. Be sure to check the Little Caesar’s Area schedule before planning a visit to gauge the crowds. The location is perfect for lunch, dinner, or a drink downtown whether you’re attending an area event, wandering downtown, or heading to a Tiger’s game. Visit the Mike’s Pizza Bar website for hours and menu.