Monday, November 3, 2014

Fueling Up at Vinsetta Garage

Looking through an old garage door from a table at Vinsetta Garage
Holy F*%k! This Is Good!

Those were the first words that ran through my mind as I bit into the deep fried cheese curds at Vinsetta Garage in Berkley. I had heard a lot of hype about this restaurant and was hoping that it would not disappoint me as many over-hyped restaurants do. But with that first bite, I knew the hype level was appropriate, and maybe even inadequate.

The "holy" cheese curds
Vinsetta Garage uses an old garage/gas station's space on Woodward Avenue. Drivers passing by on Woodward who are unfamiliar with the popular restaurant might still assume it is an active garage. Words on the brick building's exterior advertise auto electrical and ignition work.

Once inside, diners will find the interior walls adorned with items that celebrate Detroit's automotive history. The windows on the garage doors, high ceilings, and skylights create a bright dining room during the day, not the dark and dingy garage that it probably once was. 

One of the pieces of old equipment inside the restaurant
The restaurant carries a good selection of bottled and draft craft beers, including several Michigan brews. Honoring its automotive past, the restaurant's wine list humorously separates its offerings into the categories of: 1) the higher priced "Packard" wines; 2) the mid-range "Oldsmobile" wines; and 3) the cheap "Yugo" wines. I ordered one of my new favorite beers, Huma Lupa Licious IPA from Short's Brewing Company of Bellaire, Michigan. I later tried Traverse City's Right Brain Brewery's Hawk Owl Amber to go along with my main course.

The menu is filled with dishes that made this carnivore's mouth water. Since I already ordered the deep fried cheese curds, I thought, "What the hell!" and ordered the Macon Bacon Burger (Angus beef, Woodshop MI maple bacon, pancetta, grilled Canadian bacon, house-made bacon jam, smoked cheddar). 

The Macon Bacon Burger
For my side, I ordered the fries. The fries were very good, but I have had better fries and they did not compare to the burger. The Macon Bacon Burger was oozing with maple and bacon, but the maple and bacon flavors did not overpower the taste of the burger itself. Even if I had stripped the burger bare and only ate the beef patty, it would have been delicious. The combination of quality beef and savory toppings made the Macon Bacon Burger one of the best burgers I have ever had.

My wife ordered the Union Mac (Vermont sharp cheddar, Pinconning, penne rigate, bechamel, parmesan, crunchy crust), a gigantic bowl of mac & cheese that could feed a family of three or four. I enjoyed my taste of it, and my wife said it was the best mac & cheese she has ever had. 

The Union Mac
I highly recommend Vinsetta Garage, and I hope to return soon. The rest of the dishes on the menu look delicious, and I have no fear that they will fail to live up to the hype.

Vinsetta Garage
27799 Woodward Avenue
Berkley, Michigan 48072


The restaurant can be extremely difficult to get into on a weekend night (I tried once before on a Saturday night and did not want to wait for more than two hours for a table), so I would recommend trying it for lunch. We arrived around 2:00 p.m. on a Thursday and only waited five minutes for a table.


  1. I've been wanting to go back to this place for ages...ever since I used to take my cars into Vinsetta Garage for service! I've tasted the Mac 'n' cheese a couple of times at Forgotten Harvest's Champagne Cruise, but haven't gotten a chance to get back to the restaurant yet (like you, we tried once at the insistence of friends to get in on a weekend night and were told it was a 2-hour wait). We're been wanting to go back to try for lunch on, say, a Thursday at 2 p.m., but our schedule just hasn't cooperated yet! Do they still have the big collection of vintage license plates they used to display at the garage? I think they had one from just about every year since the garage had opened (like 1912 I think...)

    1. I know people who have been able to get in during the weekend for lunch or for a dinner on a weeknight.

      I compared old pics of the garage to the way it looks now, and there isn't too much of a difference on the outside. As for the license plates, I did not notice those, but I was so focused on the menu and my food that I might have missed them if they still have them.

  2. Great to hear all the good comments on Vinsetta Garage. My father Mike Kurta, Sr. was the founder and I owned and ran the place for 30 years from 1958 from 1989 with my wife Margaret. When it closed in 2010 we were sure it would be demolished, but angels Curt Catallo and Keith Crain appeared and gave it a new life. Thank you both.
    Mike Kurta

    1. Thank you for sharing your family's story. I am happy the building is still standing. I looked up old photos of the building online and saw that the new owners changed very little about the outside of the building. I am happy they preserved your family's legacy.