The Motown Museum Pizza at Buddy's | Courtesy of Buddy's Pizza
It may not be as famous as Chicago’s own version, but Detroit deep dish can hold its own against any style of pizza in America. Square in shape, with a crispy, buttery crust and loaded with spiced tomato and cheese, it really is a thing of beauty. And if Detroit deep dish wasn’t great enough, a lot of the best places that serve it have simple, elegant names like Buddy’s or Loui’s. No messing around, just like the pies.
Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant
Pizzaria, Bar, Restaurant, Italian, American, Pub Grub, $$$
Cloverleaf's Detroit-style deep dish | Courtesy of Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant
Cloverleaf founder Gus Guerra is credited with starting the Detroit deep-dish trend in 1946 with his wife Anna’s traditional thick-crust family pizza recipe. Initially serving it up at his first bar and restaurant Buddy’s (see number two on this list), in 1953 he decided to go it alone, founding the Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant. For many, it’s still the best in the city.
The original Buddy's at the corner of 6 Mile Road and Conant Street | Courtesy of Buddy's Pizza
As previously mentioned, Buddy’s was home to the original Detroit-style square pizza, and it remains the yardstick all Detroit pizzas are compared to. It now has multiple locations, but the one on the corner of 6 Mile Road and Conant Street was the first, opening its doors as a tavern in the 1930s and first serving up that famous Sicilian pizza in 1946. It’s also been consistently named as one of the best pizzas in America.
Open since the 1970s, Loui’s is the definition of a cozy, old-school pizzeria, with low-key décor that’s barely changed since it opened and hundreds of Chianti bottles lining the walls. As for the pizza, it rivals anything in the city with its deliciously thick homemade dough and wonderful amounts of gooey and stringy mozzarella. Come for the pizza, and stay for the ambiance.
Located across from Belle Isle on the lower east side of Detroit, this tiny pick-up-only joint is a great choice if you want to enjoy your new favorite style at home. The menu includes a selection of neighborhood pizzas, celebrating the flavors of Detroit neighborhoods such as Corktown and Dearborn. All pizzas are offered Detroit deep-dish style or thin and round, but you can ignore that option.
A good origin story can never be overlooked, and Jet’s Pizza was started in 1978 when Eugene Jetts signed a lease on a space instead of buying a new home. Originally called Jetts Party Shoppe & Pizzeria and located in Sterling Heights, Jet’s Pizza now has over 400 carry-out and delivery locations in 20 states. Love that crust? Jet’s offers a deep dish split in two so that all eight pieces are corner pieces.
If you’re craving that Detroit deep dish in the early hours, Niki’s Pizza is always the right decision, being open until 3 am on Friday and Saturday. Staying true to its Greektown heritage, it even offers toppings such as feta and lamb, and large pizzas are half off on Wednesdays. To make it better or worse depending on your tastes, it’s also a nightclub.
Primo’s Pizza up in Birmingham is another long-standing Detroit deep-dish institution, celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018. Did you know Primo’s is also a grocery store? Whether you’re dining in or getting a delivery, you can pick up some groceries with it (that’s right, they will bring groceries with your pizza delivery). It’s also open until 2 am on weekends.
Another single store pizzeria that took the nation by storm is Hungry Howie’s. The first store opened in Taylor, Michigan, in 1973. The owners began franchising in 1983, and by the end of the ’80s, there were 160. Today, more than 550 locations serve their range that includes a Detroit-style square deep dish.
A fixture in Detroit since 1937, Shield’s originally opened as a bar on the corner of Davison and Shields Street, introducing pizza to its menu in 1946. While that original spot is no longer open, three locations around Metro Detroit still serve the ever-popular square, deep-dish pizza. Freshly made dough and secret sauce are the keys to the enduring popularity of its Detroit style.
Way out in Wixom, Michigan, Alex’s Pizzeria serves up delicious square pizzas that come loaded with a wide variety of weird and wonderful toppings, from alfredo sauce to hamburger. Alex’s claims to have the best pizzas in the Lakes Area, and who are we to argue?