Eat around the world in one night — and help Detroiters

by | Jun 4, 2023 | Comment, Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

SANTIAGO, Chile − Here’s one way to do it. Plan for several years, save your money, make deep dives into the internet, and reserve a trip of a lifetime.

That’s how I got here, to South America, first time ever in countries such as Ecuador, Peru and Argentina. We have seen things you can only imagine, like the remains of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian mountains, or the gravitational pull of the actual equator line in Quito.

Or the food.

It is, for me, my favorite way to experience a new place: walking the streets, smelling the aromas of things you have never tried.

You can ask them in Ecuador to bring you what the locals eat, and they will plop down a massive plate of llapingachos, patties of fried potatoes and cheese, or pescado encocado, fish cooked in a coconut milk.

You can ask for a great meal in Peru and they will serve up ceviche, raw fish marinated in various flavorings, or beef flame-cooked with chiles, tomatoes and onions, called lomo saltado.

You can ask for a local libation in Santiago and get a piscola brandy drink, or Pisco, which is almost as common as Coke is in the States.

Fly to foreign countries. Book tours. Ask the locals. Use Google translate.

That’s one way to do it.

Or there’s an easier way.

EAT Detroit.

If you’re hungry, take your pick

That’s right. The chance to try foods from 25 different restaurants in a single evening is back again. You can go around the world and never leave Detroit.

On Tuesday, June 27, the third annual EAT Detroit event returns, a dine-and-dash opportunity to try the best restaurants in the city in a four-hour adventure. Each restaurant serves up three signature dishes and a signature drink, which you can sample to your hearts content, then move on to the next.

The limited tickets for the general admission ($150) or a special VIP before and after event ($275) are only available through

Best of all — all the money goes to help needy people, through the charities of SAY Detroit. So you can’t gain weight. No calories in doing good!

Four hours. From 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with a wristband, maps, and buses (although many restaurants are walking distance from one another). And I’m not kidding about the around the world thing.

Consider the list of restaurants, including the French-inspired fare of Bar Pigalle, just voted the Free Press’ No. 1 best new restaurant in Detroit for 2023, or the Lebanese fare of Leila, voted Detroit’s best restaurant of 2020, or the contemporary Italian of SheWolf Pastificio & Bar, named Restaurant of the Year by Hour Detroit magazine in 2020, or the Irish, Italian, German fare of Cork & Gabel, or the Japanese specialties of Ima Izakaya, the pan-Asian of Pao Detroit, the Havana-inspired fare of Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine, the Thai specialties of Takoi or the good old-fashioned American smoked meats of Slows Bar BQ or the soul food of SavannahBlue.

Honestly, this is as much fun as you can have eating without boarding a plane. 

‘A way to pay back the community’

“It’s a phenomenal event,” said Elias Khalil, who owns the fantastic Spanish restaurant La Feria, which returns again to EAT Detroit. “It’s a way to pay back to the community, that solidarity which is the definition of what it is to be a Detroiter.”

Khalil will be offering up pan-seared garlic shrimp, almond-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates. and house-toasted baguettes made with garlic sheep cheese.

Hungry yet?

You can go Italian at La Lanterna, with some lasagna Bolognese or some fettuccini with meat sauce, served up by Eddie Barbieri, whose grandfather opened the place in 1956.

“I really think this is a great opportunity to showcase all the restaurants in the city,” Barbieri said. “We treasured the two times we’ve done it and are very happy to go back-to-back.”

That vibe is shared throughout the 25 participating eateries, especially given the challenges that faced the industry during COVID-19. EAT Detroit is a great way to put yourself inside these trendy, often hard-to-get-into places, see the interior, taste the fare and make a mental note about coming back. 

How it all started

And of course, there’s the charity element, which is the entre reason for doing it. So many people in our city can’t even afford daily nutrition for their kids. Why not partner with those who can to make life better for kids, seniors, veterans, medically challenged and homeless Detroiters, on a night that could not be more enjoyable?

We started this event in 2019, with the help of Jack Aronson, the creator of Garden Fresh and one of the most giving people I’ve ever met. Jack passed away two years ago, but his spirit still infuses EAT Detroit and motivates the participants.

“Jack was a huge supporter of local chefs,” recalled SheWolf chef and co-owner Anthony Lombardo. “There are countless stories of him walking into the kitchens and handing out hundred-dollar bills to the cooks. He knew the hard work that went into the restaurant business and had tremendous respect for the world of hospitality.”

So there you go. You can do it the hard way, as I’m doing, take years, spend a small fortune, sleep on airplanes.

Or you can try the easier way, on Tuesday, June 27: Eat the world in four hours, sleep in your own bed and help others sleep more soundly.

Your stomach — and countless needy Detroiters — will thank you. 

For tickets and a full list of participating restaurants go to

Contact Mitch Albom: Check out the latest updates with his charities, books and events at Follow him on Twitter @mitchalbom.


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New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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