Lockhart's BBQ - Royal Oak, MI



Hey, Barbecue! It’s me. I was just calling to say… last weekend was great. So great, Barbecue.  OK so full disclosure, I’ve been drinking a little and I just wanted to tell you that it was so good to see you and it was great. Wow, I’m totally messing this up already. I’m sorry. I mean, OK, that’s all. OK I’m going to shut up now...

I’m... Umm... OK.






But seriously, Barbecue? Why don’t... You should come up to Portland! I mean, you’d love it here. All my friends would be like... Pffff… You don’t even know, people would think you were, just, awesome. 

I mean we had such great times in Michigan, when I was there. So many lazy Saturdays and two-beer lunches and like... all the time we’d hang out and it would be so easy... so natural.

Yeah, I know! I decided to move I’m an idiot. Why would I expect you! Barbecue! To follow me?! So stupid! I just... I’m… I want to be WITH you and...

OK that’s it, that’s all I was—




Hey there you! I want you to know—




— it Barbecueeeeee!





OK so I know you prolly think I'm crazy but... Barbecue I just wanted to say one last thing... 


I just wanted to say… I wish that we were—


That we were together!

See because the other Barbecue here, they’re not like you. They’re just not the same. I mean, they’re trying and you know… You know! You’re just so…

Barbecue I love you. I just have to say it and you can take it or leave it but I love you and now that you know that…  You’re just so perfect. I mean, you’re spicy and you’re savory and you’re so tender but then the sauce: tart, sweet, tangy. I’m sorry Barbecue, you’re… I dream about you!

I don’t know, could you call me back if you’re awake? Or… I’m sorry… You know what? I’m sorry just forget it. Just… yeah.






— maaaaaazinggggg graaaaaaace! How sweeeet th —.




Ow… ah… what…






Bush has prickers…








Ummmm… I’m…




I’m on the beach right now.  I… You probably hate me… 




I can’t live without you… Why can’t you just come here?! It’s so easy! Everyone… Everything would be so awesome…

It’s not about you and me it’s about everything, Barbecue! We would be so great together up here! If you just came here for real and I just… Thinking about you on that plate back there I… Barbecue I need you!

We need to be together and now I’m standing in the ocean Barbecue! Here I am. I walked down here and I think I’m just going to walk in and keep swimming out. I don’t know. If you just call me in the next ten minutes I won’t walk out. But if you stay silent! If you don’t call me back then… Then…

Barbecue! Just…










Hey, Barbecue, it’s Brett. I don’t know if I called you or something last night…  I had a couple drinks. But I was just thinking we should totally hang out again soon. OK, cool. Just call me back when you get a chance. Bye!





4.5 Stars

Outside of Austin, TX, this is some of the best barbecue I’ve had. The burnt ends are super smoky and flavorful. You could cut the beef brisket with a fork. Not to mention that the sides are just obscenely tasty: pickles, collard greens and the Corn Bowl (which is a bowl of fresh, smoked corn that seriously tastes like pop corn).



A solid lunch with a beer will cost you ~$20. But, for the quality of the barbecue, this is not too much at all.


Pit Boss Chic

Sturdy, wooden tables, exposed brick and a huge smoker, open to the hungry eyes of the dining masses. It’s a cool, expansive space dedicated to barbecue (with a couple TVs for checking in on the important sports happenings of the day).


Midwest nice

Great service every time I’ve gone. This past foray was no exception.



Absolutely. Sure, when it comes to Michigan, barbecue isn’t the first delicacy to come to mind. But time and again, Lockhart’s satiated my need for properly prepared barbecue. Sure, Slows Bar-B-Q might have the more looming reputation, but for my money, I’d pick Lockhart’s every time.



The Fly Trap - Ferndale, MI

Our scene begins...

Bizz buzz yip! I am fly! Flip fly! TTYL! Hoo-Ha for flappy wing dings. YOLO! Can’t swat no no! Big old skin wavers miss! SMH! Fun and flap flap flap! Nibble zip yum! LOL! Woop woop wee!


He he he! You’re all so slow! The way my wings move IMHO I’m just too much of a hotshot for the noisy bigguns. I can dart in and eat from the smelly bin. Who cares what it is. I eat meats and cheese and eggs and the things on the floor and just about anything around. MmmmMmm! It’s all mine for the licking. Mine mine mine.


The giants make my life a pain. They shoo me out. They snap rags and clap their hands. I’m too quick for all that. Too sharp! They need to understand that I’m here to stay. And boy am I hungry! Scrambled eggs, taters, cheese, pesto and mmMmm! That’s the good stuff. Once they’re done with the food, it’s all mine. If they keep chucking it, I’ll keep licking it. Big old idiots.


I’m kinda becoming a food expert. Everything eventually goes in the trash, my banquet hall. There is one omelet that’s taken my fancy. It has a variety of plump and salty mushrooms covered in smoked gouda cheese. I mean it’s not like that’s all I’ve tried. It’s all so good. The salmon burger is always crisp and moist with hints of ginger. The huevos rancheros are smothered with beans and homemade salsa. Not to mention that every weekly special is an innovative surprise. But for some reason I keep going back to that savory mushroom-filled delight. Mmm!


I have a niggling feeling that my life is nothing but a search for the next meal. Truth be told, it hardly excites me anymore, gorging on food. Of late, I’ve found more peace in simply gazing from my perch, observing the fumblings below. Mind you, I’m still quite fast. I could flip under the lid of that stockpile of detritus any time I please. It’s not, however, what I live for anymore. I ponder on deeper things. Why am I different from these giants? Why am at odds with their world and their words? What is my true purpose here? I try to ignore my nature, to gorge endlessly on leavings. Could I possibly rise above it? Only time can judge.

Red Chili Salmon Burger with Shaved Cucumber & Ginger Lime Aioli 

But what is this abode? Why here, was I given the breath of life? Am I the first fly to think this way? Or is it simply that we never speak, that no record of fly-knowledge is kept? Or, hope upon hope, luck upon luck, could it be – just possibly – that I am special? Surely, the abundance of food calls to mind a certain land of plenty – a garden, if you will – from which man was cast. Indeed, could this be a heaven? Repugnant though my mind and form was hewn to be by some almighty hand, could I not be divine still? Perhaps that I am aware of my grossness, therein lies my salvation. Yes, is not the essence of sainthood the realization of one's basest instinct and its subsequent denial? Were I to cultivate my asceticism, ignore the ravening hunger inside…  Would I then be worthy of this place?


Despite various machinations, mine beastly desires invariably wrested control; I gorged, therefore, I am not divine. In fact, I am the nadir to divinity’s zenith. Videlicet, I am pestilence; I pester; I am a pest. If this be heaven or below is inconsequence, A fly am I – unchangeable – nuisance to man and beast. Despite fervent, unyielding effort, I could not keep away from the detritus for which I yearned. What purpose is mine? Why must I exist as vexation incarnate to all below? Surely, this be injustice most pure; where was my choice? No hands for goodly toil. No strength with which to improve the land’s contours. Naught but the innate urge for the ravenous pilfering of sustenance. I am bereft of good. Made for selfish purpose sole. I reflect upon this and little else; my end draws nigh.


Tho’ my form withers, tho’ my mind congeals, winsome thoughts return. P’raps ‘tis the propinquity of oblivion that I espy pulchritude in this life’s décolletage. Mine disgusting nature, rendered immaterial – to me – by life’s diminishing embrace. Could it be? That only prostrate, looking up from ‘pon the soil, we ken beauty’s true visage? Is’t that all life, both gross and blithesome, assumes resplendence at the prospect of its departure? Or, hark, be it senility? I think not. I wish not. But sooth! To mine compound eye, the light appeareth more pure, the air sweeter, mine form gentler. Whate’er reason be’t for this beatific morph of disposition, ‘tis not my Gordian knot to slice. Simply, I will cherish't as time dwindles. My love and joy I freely proffer. Every bit I’ve stor’d in this ethereal span. I bid thee, whosoever thou art, a fairer passage to where, graciously, I go. Adieu, my sphere sublime. Adieu.




5.0 Stars

This is a special diner. The lovechild of haute cuisine and good, old-fashioned grub. Homemade jams (raspberry lime a favorite of mine), garlic-smothered hash browns, perfectly seasoned and prepared omelets, a salmon burger that will crush your soul. Food-wise, this is as close to diner perfection as I’ve tasted. Just the freaking best.


Pocket Clip

Reasonable beyond all measure. It’s hardly the most expensive diner in the area, but it is the best.


Smoky Art House

Yes, it’s small. Yes, it’s seat yourself. Yes, it’s smoky. This is the Fly Trap. From the funky pictures on the walls to the humongous variety of salt & pepper shakers, there is an undeniable Fly Trapness about the place. Unique in the best possible way.


Time tested

The same (great) waitresses were there when I started going and remained two years later. Read into that as far as you want.



When in Ferndale, do as the Ferndaleans do; go to the Fly Trap. Most days there will be lines; don’t fret. Just hang out for half an hour. It is worth it. It’s always worth it.


Monty's Grill - Royal Oak, MI

Welcome to Monty’s Grill in Royal Oak, Michigan! BOY do we have a show for you today. Folks, you’re about to see something special here. Today, you’ll have a chance to witness, all in one place, the very best that Monty’s has to offer.

Hailing from Metro-Detroit and beyond, these are the… MONTY’S GRILL ALL STARS!



NAME: Woman Who Sits Alone

POSITION: Corner of the bar by the free newspapers

GO-TO MEAL: Half an egg and a black coffee

BIO: Hailing from what is most likely a literal cathouse, this queen of quiet speaks to nobody. Is she a librarian? Is she mute like that lady from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire? Mum’s the word! Often staring out the window or scowling at your conversation, she lives by her creed: Don’t ask. Don’t tell!




OR IS IT: Joe? Jimpy?

GO-TO MEAL: Meatloaf, Fries (w/ extra salt) and a Vernor’s


BIO:  Need an opinion? Jammer’s got plenty! Johnboy here’s a conversational chimera; try to kill one and three more grow in its place. With the help of his super-hearing, he’ll jump in on any topic. War? The more the better. The Economy? Socialism is destroying it faster than he can say “Who is Karl Marx?” Entertainment? Everything after Styx is irrelevant except that puppet guy… Dunham! You should watch his HBO! Such is Jombor’s mighty prowess. With one lash of his tongue, Jobe can transform any discussion into a disquisition.


The Arena

Picture c/o Yelp


NAME: Flirty Waitress Who is Way Younger Than You Thought

POSITION: Bending over for something

AGE: I dunno… 24? 25? (She’s sixteen)

BIO: She’s young. You’re male. And it’s time. To. ORDER! Flaunting a newfound feminine body, no untoward gaze could shrivel this colt. Weathering the mostly good-hearted – sometimes awkward – insinuations of the male clientele with only the protectant naiveté of youth, this PYT is actually an honor student with a deep interest in literature. Who saw that coming?



NAME: Guy in Wheelchair with Unknown Ailment

POSITION: Below the counter

GO-TO MEAL: So much corned beef hash

HOW DOES HE GET HERE: Seriously, there aren’t any wheelchair vans in the lot and it’s cold outside

HE MUST BE: A wizard

BIO: Is it some form of degenerative disease? Was it a horrific car accident? He certainly doesn’t care! He’s the happiest man on two wheels. Bursting with conversations about the weather, the weather or the weather, this sagamore of seated smiles can hold court with any crowd. In a space that’s hardly wheelchair-friendly, this friendly wheelchairer brings a ray of sunshine to any brunchtime.



NAME: High Teenagers

POSITION: Paranoid


GO-TO MEAL: Ummmmm... Uhhhhhhhh… Ummmmm…

BIO: They’ll have the pancakes! Known to local parents as “The Instigator” and “The Tagalong” this doped-up duo has a Learner’s Permit between them and are taking their newfound freedom for a joyride. The only thing poorer than this pair’s diet are their decision-making skills. Hey Bros, can we snake a toke? Of course not! Their older brother’s stash is cached!


The gatekeeper.

Picture C/O Localstew, Michigan



NAME: Parent Who No Longer Cares

POSITION: Hunched and broken

GO-TO MEAL: An overflowing plate of regret

HEY WHAT ARE YOU DOING: Your kid is swallowing a knife

BIO: Better call Ch-Ch-Ch-Child Services because this parent has ch-ch-ch-checked out! This nabob of neglect is so adept at aversion that it wouldn’t make a difference if their child was eating with their hands or eating your hand. Hear that screaming? They don’t! Look deep into the ill-rested prison of their eyes and you’ll find the unvarnished framework of true pain!



NAME: That Guy You’ve Already Met Like Three Times

NAME: Shit…

POSITION: This place is too small to avoid eye contact forever

GO-TO MEAL: Oh God he’s coming over

BIO: Heeyyyyyyyyy man! How’s it going? The rest of my night? Which night was that? Yeah it was great. Yeahhhh there were so many people there that night. How’s work going? Good? Yeah? Same here. Going well. Yeah, status quo with what I do. Ok cool, man. Catch you later.

NAME: God dammit




NAME: Old Man Who Never Leaves

POSITION: Unchanging

GO-TO MEAL: Time itself

GEOLOGICAL ERA: Paleoproterozoic

BIO: The length of his meal can only be charted in the half-lives of Carbon. With speed akin to the shift of heavenly constellations, he erodes his way through a plate of deadly-cold hash browns. Is he even awake? Or is he slumbering the sleep of a trillion dreams? Tectonically he moves through his seat-bound sub-life, our existence the humming of flies to a stone. None may be so bold as to disrupt his endless vigil. Sit on, old soul. Sit on.


The Grill.

Picture c/o Flickr user b_weinstein



#10 (possibly soon-to-be #10 and #11)

NAME:  Couple that Got Into a Fight on the Way Over

POSITION: Same table/Miles apart

GO-TO MEAL: I’m not hungry


BIO: Whether she did it again when she said she wouldn’t or the toilet seat just won’t stay down, this prickly pair’s seating arrangement puts the “table” in “unstable.” On the crackling cusp of a breakup, this meal could either be the slow train to Splitsville or the mid-day express to Make-Up Sex-opolis. No matter which way it goes you can bet this beefy bro is fretting himself to a higher hairline.


The Owners.

Picture c/o Yelp


(The Real) #1s

NAME: Alex and Angie (as pictured above)

POSITION: Dominating the Diner

GO-TO MEAL: Breakfast Special #2 (my go-to at least): 2 eggs, 2 sausages, 2 pancakes, hash browns -- $5.95

BIO: This griddleman is no middleman. An overseer from overseas, Alex, the cook, hails from a former-Soviet country (which I cannot remember). From the crack of dawn to mid-afternoon he’s slinging brunch and lunch from a hole-in-the-wall he’s proud to call his own. Not to mention that his wife, and co-owner, Angie, also waitresses from time to time. And may I say she is a delightful lady who’s always up for a conversation. This couple has created something delicious and heartfelt and great and they deserve all the success in the world.  Don’t just visit Monty’s Grille, convert to it.



3.8 Stars

Simple. Home made. Satisfying. Plus you get to see it made, which always makes food taste better.



Did you see the price of their breakfast special? That’s in 2013 dollars. You will be very happy with the bill.


Don’t judge a book etc. etc.

It’s attached to a motel that looks like it probably offers hourly rates. Inside Monty’s, however, it’s cozy (not cramped) with an atmosphere of friendship, not exclusivity.


More than service

If you put the least effort in, your server will become your friend.



Monty’s Grill may not have the Very Best Food of all the diners in the Royal Oak/Ferndale area. But I still went there probably twice as often as any other. It’s a special place run by fantastic people. Eat at Monty’s Grill.