While nobody is exactly sure where the Coney Island hot dog originated, no other state has embraced this variation on the chili dog more than Michigan. While you'll find Coney dogs all over the state, three cities seem to take the dish more seriously than others.
'Michigan' on Serious Eats
Housed within Nelson's wood paneled walls is one of the purest examples of a Midwestern fish fry that I've experienced in my adult life. If you find yourself in Three Oaks, MI, it's worthy of your dinner plans.
Instead of a gargantuan pastrami that is too big to fit in your mouth, this one is stripped of the theatrics and is all the better for it. Thin slices of salty pastrami are griddled until crispy, and then loaded on rye bread with provolone and Dijon.
I don't know about you, but I've never been one to turn down a free drink. Fortunately (or if you ask my liver, unfortunately), my gig as a touring comedian means that I've managed to score one in almost every US state.
Having long since outgrown the downtown Kalamazoo facility (which still houses a beer store and the Eccentric Cafe brew pub) and their second brewing facility in nearby Comstock, the company expanded their brewing capacity again earlier this year, with the addition of a 200-barrel production brewery in also-nearby Galesburg. The capacious new space accommodates the brewery's special needs like increased capacity for dry-hopping, good news for any fans of their magically bright Two-Hearted Ale.
Marooned in a neighborhood now bereft of industry and commerce, Elmer's old-fashioned, deliciously basic burgers with onions show why it's still going strong
Even though it could take the easy route and dish out some tired old fried fish sandwich, Mermaid in Saugatuck, Michigan brings it's A-game with the walleye pike sandwich.
For thirty years, visitors to Ann Arbor, Michigan, have gone home a little sad because they know their hometown doesn't have anything quite like Zingerman's Deli. Well, Zingerman's Roadhouse might be even better.
Once upon a time, the mitten-shaped state known as Michigan was not known for its coffee. Its bizarrely named "Coney Island" hot dogs and diners, its square-shaped pizzas, its death of industry...sure. But artisanal coffee? Not until recently did this pleasant peninsula begin to stand out, and cities across the state have begun to offer some of the best coffees roasted in the nation—and the mitten itself—at truly lovely cafes. Here are our very favorites.
Back before "slider" became a term to describe any small burger made out of any kind of meat, the word referred to small beef patties, steamed and seared on a griddle and served with a grilled onions on a cheap white bun. These delicious bits of nostalgia are all too rare in most of the country, but the tradition lives on in Detroit.
Perhaps no two people represent this burgeoning New Buffalo community better than Pat and Ellie Mullins, the married proprietors of Local on the north edge of New Buffalo, Michigan. Outside of their shop, along the Red Arrow Highway, a red sign reads "bacon." I liked them immediately.
Michigan has some of the highest hot dog standards in the country, disallowing the use of mechanically separated beef, an excess of fat and offal, and limiting the amount of water a hot dog can contain to just 10%. The best come in natural hog casings to offer snap and spring with each bite. Question is: in a state full of great dogs, who makes the best?
The 48209 zip code of Detroit is a hot bed of delicious taco activity, as I found out on a one-day whirlwind tour of 11 taquerias and trucks in the city. Though Detroit's Mexican Town is located in the area, the tacos we tried from the several joints located directly in Mexican Town were uniformly sub-par compared to some of the exceptional finds at the trucks, supermarkets, and loncherias nearby.
Detroit doesn't exactly have a style of barbecue it can call all its own, which is why Slow's, an institution-in-the-making on the main strip of Michigan Ave doesn't really have a style of its own either. Instead, you'll find their own versions of staples from around the country like Texas-style brisket, Carolina-style pulled pork, or St. Louis ribs.
You wouldn't expect to find a great burger on a 6-lane strip of commercial property sporting mostly strip clubs and Lebanese restaurants, but it's there, and it's worth stopping at.
The story of Journeyman Distillery, which opened its doors to guests for the first time in early October, rambles across continents and centuries. It's about a building in need of a purpose meeting a man in pursuit of his newfound passion. We met up with Journeyman's owner and chief distiller, Bill Welter, to get a behind-the-scenes look.
Glancing at the tiny shack-like exterior of the Liberty Street location, which started as a lemonade and hot dog stand, you'd be excused for thinking their menu is still just as simple. Get closer though and you'll see a window plastered with signs describing a half dozen soups. Roasted Garlic, Broccoli Chowder, Cold Peach soup, and the like. Through an unfortunate turn of events, I found myself nearly shoeless on a cold, drizzly October morning in downtown Ann Arbor. Their Cheesy Chicken Tortilla soup definitely helped me deal with that situation.
Have you ever tried wine from Michigan? This was my first, from Black Star Farms in Sutton Bay. (We've covered their cider before.) It's a fruit-driven riesling, with slightly perfumey flower-pollen notes and some nice slate on the finish.
Grand Rapids, Michigan, may not be at the top of your list for coffee destinations...but clear aside some room and let it dwell there alongside the greats. Local roasters MadCap have built national acclaim by sourcing excellent coffees and presenting them to their smaller-city audience and international competition stages alike. Their 2011 Los Lobos coffee from Costa Rica won a Good Food Award, and barista-owner and barista Trevor Corlett and Ryan Knapp have made it to some of the highest ranks of the competition stage. But more importantly—to them and to you—is their goal to change how everyday people think about their coffee.
The American cider scene may be booming in New England and the Pacific Northwest, but we shouldn't leave out the midwest when we talk about the rise of cider. From suburban Detroit all the way north to the Sutton Bay, Michigan has cider fever. Here are a few of our favorite cideries in the Great Lakes State.