The Sandwich Circus

    Eastern Market, just outside of Downtown Detroit, is a venerable institution. Since the original sheds were built in 1891, the district around them has changed dramatically, but the core has remained the same: good food, bought and sold, by people trying to make their way in life.

    On the south side of the Gratiot connector from I-75, you might recognize Gratiot Central Market from your previous visits and recall a building next door that you never could quite figure out. For a while, it held Germack’s store, but they’ve moved down the way a bit. Now, part of the building is home to a restaurant (and bar) that’s well worth the visit.

    Step right up, exhorts a neon sign above the door. A chalkboard brags of the house-made bologna and now of the bar’s offerings. The circus theme echoes loudly in the space: A midway-style sign hangs above the bar; carousel horses ride above the corners of the bar; and circus posters hang on the wall. It works with the open, industrial space that Stache International occupies — playing on the temporary permanence of the circus, it feels almost like you could return to this building after a week away to discover an empty room where you would eagerly devoured lunch mere days before.

    Stache, hopefully, is here to stay though. It recently opened its bar, stocked with a small but enjoyable variety of beer, leaning more toward macro than micro; after all, a High Life is a great sandwich accompaniment. The service is personal. The owners are in the building almost every day, leading the kitchen and the front of house, and ensuring that every guest is well taken care of.

    The sandwiches are amazing. My go-to is the Stache Favorite, made with thick slices of house-made bologna (all beef no less), bacon, American cheese and caramelized onions, all topped with mustard. Get it simpler if you like, or add a fried egg. It is, hands down, my favorite bologna sandwich in Detroit.

    A very close second, and the first sandwich I ever ate at Stache, is the Uncle Jesse. Lamb, marinated and braised, is sandwiched in between two slices of sourdough bread that’s been grilled with a little za’atar. There’s onion, tomato, kasseri cheese and tzatziki. It’s like a gyro, but more so; richly flavored and balanced, it’s a delightful lunch.

    There are a couple turkey sandwiches, done deliciously as well, each exhibiting a creative approach to a “healthier” sandwich meat — a turkey BLT (the Southern Belle) is made, for example, with braised collard greens taking the place of the usual boring lettuce leaf. The Cubanelle displays a fun twist on the classic Cuban sandwich, with a grilled pepper, turkey and ham, and pickled pineapple on the side.

    Stache is a welcoming place throughout the week and a popular lunch spot on Saturdays in the market. The staff is friendly and the atmosphere quite relaxed. It’s a great location to meet your Downtown friends for a weekday lunch, a perfect destination for a light meal after an event or just a good excuse to go visit Eastern Market on a random afternoon. Step right up and enjoy.

    Chef Aaron Egan

    Stache International
    1416 E. Fisher Freeway, Detroit
    Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 11 a.m.-midnight;
    Saturday: 10 a.m.-midnight; Sunday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
    (313) 974-6895; stacheinternational.com

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