Locals were saddened to see the legendary Joe Muer Seafood, once synonymous with Detroit fine dining, shutter its doors in 1998. Located near Eastern Market on Gratiot, the gritty location seemed incompatible with the 70-year-old seafood restaurant’s reputation as one of the country's best. During the eatery’s heyday, Detroiters lined up to dine on crab-stuffed flounder and lobster bisque in roomy booths suitable for lengthy lunches and even longer dinners. Unfortunately, the fickle auto industry, plummeting economy and evolving tastes signaled the end for Joe Muer.
Flash forward a dozen years. Owner-namesake Muer and Joe Vicari, a successful Detroit restaurateur, have reinvented the original restaurant, relocating it to a riverfront spot in the Renaissance Center. The 21st-century incarnation is sleeker with outdoor seating, a decidedly more contemporary atmosphere and an extensive sushi bar. Happily, Muer’s signature white bean salad, coleslaw and stewed tomatoes remain on the menu, as do Great Lake standards like broiled whitefish and sauteed perch.
Since the restaurant's reopening in 2011, nostalgic Detroiters have returned in droves. There are still kinks to be ironed out, such as an off glass of wine and erratic service, but for the most part, this is a magical reincarnation of an old-school local favorite. Appetizers start at $7, entrees $25.