It’s not unusual to document food adventures and post about them online. But Jewell Dziendziel found a way to carve out her own space in the crowded food internet with a blog and a podcast.
She started The Bite Tonight blog in 2017 at the urging of a friend. “In the beginning, it was me just trying to figure out what direction I wanted to take it in,” says Dziendziel, who works as an account specialist in supply chain management by day. “I was still eating meat when I started The Bite Tonight and actually focused on unique foods (think rabbit tortellini from Grey Ghost or squid ink pasta from Selden Standard).”
About a year or so after that, she stopped eating meat. “I like to cook at home, and trimming chicken breast started to gross me out,” Dziendziel says. “I also found myself unintentionally not eating meat. A week would go by, and I realized I hadn’t eaten any meat, so I thought it would be a good time to give a vegetarian diet a go.”
In 2020, she started the Vegetarian Detroit podcast with the idea to do interviews with Detroit chefs from a vegetarian perspective. She was wrapping up recording when the pandemic hit. At that point, she felt it wasn’t appropriate to do a podcast promoting dining out when restaurants were shut down and faced an uncertain future. So, she began sharing
their stories about how they were navigating the pandemic.
Since then, she has highlighted chefs, restaurateurs, and good-food advocates’ perseverance during what are quite possibly the most challenging times yet for the industry, from Ederique Goudia, co-owner of Gabriel Hall and co-creator of Taste the Diaspora, and Goudia’s collaborator Raphael Wright, who’s opening Neighborhood Grocery in Jefferson Chalmers, to Patrice Brown of Eastern Market and Darraugh Collins of Food Rescue U.S.’ Detroit chapter.
Dziendziel says the local food scene has grown “from where it was five, three, even one year ago.”
“Detroit is a very tight-knit community, and the chefs and food entrepreneurs help each other out,” she says. “We saw a lot of that during the pandemic, but even before, you see a lot of chefs collaborating and working together to build what the food scene is today.”
Jewell Dziendziel’s Go-To List
“Takoi has always been one of my favorites. It’s an experience — good vibes, awesome patio, and great craft cocktails. The food is amazing, simple, with bold flavors, and just out of this world. Everything I’ve had has been delicious, and we have chef Brad Greenhill to thank. The menu is seasonal, so it’s ever-changing, but if the thrice-cooked sweet potatoes show up again, get them!” Takoi, 2520 Michigan Ave., Detroit; takoidetroit.com
“Curry Udon at Ima Corktown. Chef Mike Ransom lets his broths simmer for days, and it pays off. The curry broth is so rich and silky. It’s hard to order anything but this because I crave it so much and I’ll end up with a bad case of FOMO. I typically pair this with a crisp cider or chilled saki. Tip: Order extra broth to go with your leftovers because the udon noodles will soak it all up and you will be sad.” Ima, 2015 Michigan Ave., Detroit; imanoodles.com
Michigan & Trumbull Pizza
“M & T is one of my favorite spots for many reasons. It’s casual, yet the food is elevated. Owners Nate Peck and Kristen Calverley are some of the nicest, down-to-earth, most amazing people ever. Be sure to check out the patio when it’s open. It’s really cool and the best place to be on a nice warm summer night in Corktown enjoying a cold one. My favorite pizzas are the McLovin’ and Woodward White (Detroit-style) with a side of cilantro ranch. The McLovin’ is M & T’s version of a Big Mac pizza with Beyond Meat, and it’s so good. The Woodward White has mozzarella, baked ricotta, lemon zest, garlic oil, and red pepper flakes. The lemon zest takes this pie to another level!” Michigan & Trumbull Pizza, 1441 W. Elizabeth St., Detroit; michigantrumbullpizza.com
“The Ivey Sandwich is my go-to. Veggie spinach spread with dill Havarti cheese, avocado, sunflower sprouts, lettuce, cucumber, red onion, all layered together on toasted multigrain bread. It’s delicious, hearty, and you just feel good eating it. Mudgie’s is a great neighborhood spot, and they have lots of great vegan/vegetarian menu items. Such a tragedy that the community lost Greg Mudge, but his legacy lives on in every meal that is prepared at Mudgie’s.” Mudgie’s Deli, 1413 Brooklyn St., Detroit; mudgiesdeli.com
Mexican Village Restaurant
“The best cheese enchiladas in town and really good margaritas. I love Mexican food, and cheese enchiladas are my favorite. I always order them when I’m out at other spots, but none even come close to the cheese enchiladas at Mexican Village. They are super cheesy and delicious every time. They’re my comfort food and the perfect fix when I’m having a bad day.” Mexican Village Restaurant, 2600 Bagley St., Detroit; mexicanvillagefood.com
This story is from the June 2022 issue of Hour Detroit. Read more our digital edition.