'Come Hungry, Leave Happy' Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market

10:13 PM

Come Hungry, Leave Happy Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes
After discovering Feet On The Street Tours last year, I couldn’t wait to reunite with resident Detroit expert, Linda Yellin, and her crew for more adventures around the Motor City. So, when Cyber Monday deals for Feet On The Street Tours showed up in my email inbox last holiday season, I may have forwarded the details to Brad as a little hint. ;-)

Thankfully, he got the message! One of my favorite Christmas presents was, no question, a voucher for the two of us to attend a "Come Hungry, Leave Happy" strolling brunch tour of the Eastern Market. Designed to provide a behind-the-scenes look at several Eastern Market eateries, the tour would teach us what the market offered beyond its ever-popular sheds and weekend vendors.

"Come Hungry, Leave Happy" Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes
Excited as I was, however, it took me the longest time to plan a date . . . until this fall. Just in time for clear skies and perfectly-cool weather, we booked reservations for a recent Saturday morning and set off to find out what magic we'd been missing when it came to the historical Eastern Market.

"Come Hungry, Leave Happy" Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes
Above: Colorful sweets galore at the Eastern Market's Rocky Peanut Company!

We began our morning at Rocky Peanut Company, a large candy and nut store that I'd somehow never stepped inside of. This old-fashioned place was so cute and had tons of sweets and Michigan-made snacks to choose from! Upon check-in, we were given some free samples and enjoyed a few minutes of browsing the store while waiting for the tour to begin. After a brief introduction from our guides and an overview of the store's history, we were split into two groups and led to one of two locations: Shed 2 or Gabriel Import Co (both groups would later meet up and swap places).

"Come Hungry, Leave Happy" Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes
Above: Hummus, pita, and feta from Gabriel Import Co. jump-started our strolling brunch tour.

Our group went straight to Gabriel Import Co., a small shop packed with authentic Mediterranean foods. Numerous varieties of olives, olive oils, breads, and more filled all available shelf space, and the best part was, we got to try a bunch of it! Tour participants were treated to several flavors of hummus, tzatziki sauce, three types of feta cheese, pita bread, and spinach pie. I could've stayed there all day filling up, but after 10 to 15 minutes, we wrapped up our visit and headed to the next stop.

"Come Hungry, Leave Happy" Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes
Located just steps from Gabriel Import Co., DeVries & Company is a large specialty food store that's served Detroiters since 1887. This place was another mind-blowing surprise for me (how have all these huge markets been hiding in [my] plain sight?). Inside, we found a meat market, cheese, Michigan-made products, and a lovely, little cheese and vinegar pairing station. We passed around dishes like cheesy potatoes, cheese with raspberries and balsamic, and a lovely balsamic-walnut-blue-cheese combination (I don't even like blue cheese and this was phenomenal)! The imported Italian vinegars came in a variety of flavors—Green Apple, Blueberry, Chocolate, Pecan Praline, and Cherry Bordeaux to name a few—and after trying several, I started to wonder how I'd ever lived without at least a few of these in my pantry at all times.

"Come Hungry, Leave Happy" Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes
Above: Bleu cheese with walnuts and imported balsamic vinegar

After they dragged (not literally) me out of DeVries, our tour guides swapped groups and led us toward Shed 2 to see which businesses had set up that morning. Passing by some outdoor tent vendors, we sampled grilled lamb burger, then found our way to the Aunt Nee's booth in Shed 2 for fresh guacamole (made exclusively in small batches for sale at the Eastern Market). I was also happy to see local favorites like Avalon International Breads and Detroit Institute of Bagels in attendance, but it took everything in my power to not eat alllllll the things. Pacing yourself is key, my friends.

"Come Hungry, Leave Happy" Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes
Above: Taking advantage of guacamole samples from Aunt Nee's!

And thank goodness for willpower! Next up was a sit-down lunch at the recently-expanded Supino Pizzeria, where we were treated to pepperoni and red, white, and green pies. Hot, fresh, and no line for those of us who were there before official open hours. Now, that's what I'm talkin' about.

"Come Hungry, Leave Happy" Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes
Above: Supino Pizzeria's Red, White, & Green Pizza (spinach, capers, roasted red peppers, mozzarella, and ricotta)

"Come Hungry, Leave Happy" Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes
I was totally expecting the tour to conclude after Supino, but surprise: we were only about halfway done! Our next stop was across the highway bridge at Gratiot Central Meat Market (I always thought this was an extension of the Eastern Market, but it's actually a separate entity). Inside, once I got over the shock of another huge building (the biggest place we'd visited yet!), I joined our group at Ronnie's Meats (butcher shop and food market). There, we listened to Ronnie's/Gratiot Central Market owner Tom Bedway tell the inspiring story of his dad, Ronnie, and how Ronnie's Meats started and evolved. We even got to meet Ronnie himself, who is challenged with Parkinson's but is still sharp as a tack and sweet as can be. Unfortunately, we were short on time and had to decline the free beverages Ronnie offered us, but I hope to be back soon to take him up on his generosity!

"Come Hungry, Leave Happy" Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes
Above: Germack Pistachio Company is the oldest pistachio roaster in the U.S.

We scooted back over to the Eastern Market and took a quick peek inside Germack, a coffee shop/nut shop hybrid where Brad and I frequently grab coffee when we're at the market. While noshing on some Motown Mix (my favorite), we learned that Germack was responsible for first bringing the pistachio nut to the United States. The company is also currently the official peanut supplier for the Detroit Tigers (coincidentally, the original supplier was neighboring Rocky Peanut Co.). Without any time to waste, we finished up our sweet snack and darted off to the last leg of our tour.

"Come Hungry, Leave Happy" Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes
We found ourselves at Bert's, a really cool entertainment complex that houses four clubs under one roof. The venue includes space for parties of up to 2000+ people and stays busy as a hot spot for weddings, family reunions, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, and blues concerts. There's also a restaurant with tasty soul food options and a colorful, mural-covered hallway that depicts Detroit history and legends from decades past. Want to spend a little time here? Drop in any night of the week for live entertainment or catch the outdoor BBQ with karaoke and dancing on Saturday mornings.

"Come Hungry, Leave Happy" Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes
Above: Colorful murals cover the walls inside Bert's Entertainment Complex

Our tour dismissed a little after 12:00 noon, about 2.5 hours after we'd officially started. Throughout the morning, our guides were respectfully aware of our time, and although we ran a little over, they gave us little heads-up reminders along the way in case we needed to cut out early. Since we didn't have immediate plans for the afternoon, Brad and I were fine with the slight time extension and even stayed a little longer to do some shopping and take a few mural photos. Overall, we found the amount of time spent on our tour to be a great value. After all, it was an entire morning's worth of entertainment, knowledge, and a full sit-down meal (on top of lots of snacking)!

Feet On The Street Tours: Details

- Cost: $29 per person
- Strolling Brunch Tour Length: Appx. 2.5 hours
-"Come Hungry, Leave Happy" is just one of many tours available from Feet On The Street Tours. Other options include mural tours, Detroit Riverfront Tours, and countless customizable Detroit experiences! Click here for more info.

Have you taken or are you interested in taking a Detroit tour? What would you want to learn more about?


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Come Hungry, Leave Happy Tour Showcases Best Of Detroit's Eastern Market | via Wading in Big Shoes

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