Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sweetwater Tavern is a Detroit classic in historic Bricktown

With excellent food, a casual but upscale-leaning atmosphere, and one of the coolest bar names in Detroit, there's no denying Sweetwater Tavern's rank in the downtown Detroit bar scene.

But no matter what else they do right, Sweetwater's first impression will always be its most memorable. The little sliver of a building lives in Detroit's Bricktown Historic District, seemingly cut off from whatever it was once connected to, left to stand alone at the corner of Brush and Congress with nearby skyscrapers towering around it.

The aging three-story, red-brick building with the kind of detailed trim work that architects stopped using years ago almost seems like a model, particularly with the enormously shiny Ren Cen behind it.

The bar and grill inside, popular with both the lunch crowd and the after-work drinks gang, is a beautifully finished room, somewhat surprisingly given the gruffness of the exterior. The burgers are great, rumor has it the onion rings are too, and I still put the name "Sweetwater" right up there with Detroit's best. But visit the place one time and tell me you aren't most intrigued by the little brick building that still stands as evidence of a neighborhood that once was, a neighborhood that's long gone.