Downtown Flint is in the middle of a renaissance, enjoying a revitalization that has picked up even more steam in the last few years. Among other things, there are restaurants and storefront businesses opening up. More people are working downtown, and then, not leaving afterwards because they’ve moved into newly renovated lofts. The businesses these people work for moved into some vacant spaces, some that have been so for decades, and students at the University of Michigan-Flint and other nearby colleges are staying to hang out outside of classes.
My recent visit to the heart of this Mid-Michigan city was to go on a foodie self-tour and experience the food haven that the downtown is quickly becoming.
Flint Crepe Company
My self-tour began in the early morning along the red-bricked Saginaw Street, Flint’s “main street,” at the place to be for crepes, coffee and breakfast.
The Flint Crepe Company started in 2008 as a mobile cart you could find at the Flint Farmers’ Market, opening its current physical location in 2011. You will find bicycles hanging throughout. It’s easy to spot from the outside because there is a bicycle also hanging above the front door.
Flint Crepe Company offers savory and sweet/dessert crepes along with other rotating options. Everything is made from the freshest local ingredients. I went with their most popular crepe, The Reuben. I watched as the crepe maker put together the Detroit corned beef, swiss cheese, in-house sauerkraut, and their own thousand island dressing, right in front of me.
As you can tell, lots of stuff is made in-house. I ordered an Eggnog Latte made with their homemade eggnog. They bring in locally roasted coffee and also make the syrups used in their specialty coffee offerings in-house.
Flint Farmers’ Market
Since it was around lunch time now, I headed over to Flint Farmers’ Market to experience one of more well-known small city farmers markets in the US. I walked and scoped out the public market and its 50+ vendors which offer baked goods, meats, fresh produce, and cheese. Groceries, flowers, and gifts are available as well as restaurants offering food that you can eat amongst the tables in the atrium or outside.
I experienced the chocolate Christmas Crunch muffins from Bagels & Beans, a Beef & Lamb Shawarma (a must get) from Beirut Restaurant & Grocery, a Pumpkin Cheesecake Cinnamon Roll from Cinnamom Bakery and also did some sausage and bratwurst tasting outside at Reiner’s Meat Shop. I am still trying to figure out how I made room for it all on this day.
The history of Flint Farmers’ Market dates back in 1905, just moving back into downtown in 2014 after a seventy-year absence. This foodie destination in Flint, Genesee County and Mid-Michigan expands in the summer months as many more produce and flower vendors set up shop in the outside pavilion.
The Torch Bar & Grill
It was time for an early dinner, so I ventured off the beaten path. This hidden gem, only known to mostly locals, is tucked away one street off Saginaw in Buckham Alley and up a nondescript flight of stairs. I was greeted by friendly customer service from the moment I opened The Torch Bar’s door. I sat at the bar in the small, intimate setting with low ceilings. The place gives off a dive bar and oldie vibe offering up stories of yester-year with the pictures donning the ceiling.
I ordered the go-to, an Original ½ lb Torch Burger with everything on it and a side of onion rings. The Torch Bar & Grill is recognized both in Michigan and nationally for its burgers and has received acclaim as one of the best dive bars in the country. I watched as the burger is made from freshly-made ground beef on the grill that is out in the open. It was truly one of the best burgers I have ever tasted. To wash down the burger and other bar fare, The Torch Bar offers a nice selection of microbrews.
Cork on Saginaw
After a day of traveling and eating in Downtown Flint I was stuffed, to say the least, so I was looking for a place to unwind and enjoy some drinks and Happy Hour. Right back to Saginaw Street, I went to the chic wine bar, Cork on Saginaw.
I enjoyed two of their holiday hand-crafted cocktails, the Winter Elderflower and Sweet Flannel, partially made from freshly squeezed in-house juices. The bartender was very attentive as I sipped my drinks at the white marble bar. Christmas music was playing in the background and a holiday tree sat on either side. The place gives off an upscale, yet casual atmosphere.
Cork on Saginaw opened in 2010 in an old marble bank building that had been vacant for 25 years. They offer bistro-style food and the ability to have a custom wine tasting experience. You get a cash card at the bar and use their Enomatic self-serve dispensing system to get one, two-and-a-half or five-ounce pours of the wines of your choice.
View more of what you can expect to see and experience when checking out the Downtown Flint food scene: