The Scoop: Dining out may be the date night standard, but it’s the standard for a reason – few things are better than chowing down with somebody you love. Detroit restaurant TAKOI combines the best of Michigan’s ingredients with modern Thai cuisine. Brad Greenhill is TAKOI’s Head Chef, and he told us about the restaurant’s beginnings and journey from a food truck to its vibrant Corktown home. TAKOI offers daters plenty of options for food, drinks, and vibes, from their moody interior to their casual patio. 

It’s probably the most classic date in the book, but I love a dinner date. One of my favorite activities in general is going out to eat, so it’s really no surprise that it’s my favorite kind of date. But there’s one caveat — it’s got to be impressive.

Impressive doesn’t necessarily come with a price tag. A great dinner date night brings exciting and fresh food experiences to the table and gives you and your date a chance to bond over a long-shared love or a new experience.

There’s nothing like bringing a date to your favorite restaurant or one you’ve been meaning to try. TAKOI offers date-nighters reimagined Thai fare crafted from local ingredients, and the date night experience is completed by the restaurant’s modern, neon-lit interior. The Detroit restaurant is located in the Corktown neighborhood and brings a special vibe to any kind of date night.

Brad Greenhill is TAKOI’s owner and head chef, and he talked to us about the restaurant’s story, menu, and what makes it great for a special date. 

“We get a lot of dates, and I’m not sure how we became known as a great date spot, but I think it has to do with the vibe,” Brad said. “It’s industrial chic, but the lighting changes the mood and brings color into the space.”

Cuisine That Supports Local Farms

Before there was TAKOI, there was the food truck that began it all. “We were doing a Thai street food concept out of the truck, and we met somebody who wanted to open a restaurant,” Brad said. “At first, we wanted to do a diner, but after seeing the space for the restaurant, we decided to stick with the Thai food concept.”

TAKOI’s culinary concept has evolved over time, but Brad said the focus has always been on fresh ingredients and unique recipes. “We cook from a Thai technique and pantry, but using Michigan seasonality, and more of a Midwestern approach to that kind of food.”

TAKOI hio farm
HiO Farm provides TAKOI with fresh seasonal produce.

The combination of these two influences brings something one-of-a-kind to TAKOI’s tables. The ingredients for these dishes are just as special. TAKOI operates HiO Farm, an urban farm located just a mile north of the restaurant. 

“This will be our fifth season operating the farm,” Brad said. “May through November, HiO supplies us with most of our produce. We also source many of our meats from local Michigan farms.” During the winter months, Brad said they source the freshest ingredients possible, which usually means they don’t hail from Michigan.

“When we can get local ingredients, we do,” Brad explained. “But we still get pineapples and mangoes from Florida or California. We’re not totally beholden to our local ethos, but it’s definitely our guide.” 

TAKOI Crafts Dishes for Every Lifestyle

When you’re deciding on a restaurant for date night, it’s a good idea to pick a place that has options for everyone, especially if you’re going on a first or second date. TAKOI offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes, and the menu changes seasonally, so there’s always something new on the menu.

Brad told us his TAKOI’s most popular dish is the crispy ribs. “Those have basically been on the menu since we were a food truck. We’ve tried to get rid of them a few times, but we can’t. We’ve focused on smoked meats since our inception.”

TAKOI’s iconic crispy ribs came about as the result of necessity. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” Brad said. “We were smoking ribs, but having a hard time keeping them warm, because our oven at the time only had one temperature setting.”

takoi dishes
TAKOI offers a wide variety of seasonal dishes, including gluten-free and vegan meals.

Brad continued, “But we did have a fryer, so I thought that maybe I’ll fry the ribs. And that’s how they came to be. Our crispy ribs are smoked pork spareribs that we batter with tapioca and rice starch, and then we lightly fry till its a bit crunchy. It’s not a thick batter, just a nice outer shell.” 

The current menu at TAKOI includes appetizers like Big Nut, a gluten-free and vegan dish with peanuts fried with lime leaf, chilies, shallot, sea salt, and MSG. Brad said salads have been a part of TAKOI’s menu since the spot was still in a food truck, and today, guests can find salads like Som Tum Thai and Laap Gai. 

For main courses, TAKOI offers Khao Soi, a dish with egg noodles, stewed chicken leg, aromatic coconut milk curry, crispy noodles, and cilantro. The meal is served with pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, and roasted chili paste on the side.

TAKOI is a great pick for couples with different dietary needs but a shared love of inventive and eclectic cuisine. Not many restaurants have options attractive to vegans and smoked meat appreciators alike, but TAKOI delivers.

Take a Classic Date Night to the Next Level

TAKOI is a popular Detroit date night spot, and Brad said he knows why that’s so. Besides the restaurant’s culinary offerings, there is something special about TAKOI.

“The lighting is very moody, and it’s a modern interior,” Brad said. “It’s really vibey in there. The colored lighting wasn’t originally part of the design, but when we realized the LEDs we installed could change color, we really liked it.”

TAKOI takes reservations if you’re planning a fancy night out or celebrating a special occasion. During the summer, the restaurant opens up its patio for counter service with select dishes from the kitchen.

Whether it’s a casual stop before hitting the town for nightlife or an occasion all of its own, TAKOI offers a top-tier dinner date night experience. “We’ve had people tell us it’s like eating dinner in Blade Runner,” Brad said—and that sounds like a dining experience that’s hard to top.