Start with a tube steak served more than a dozen ways at the International Dog House in Jackson, or pull up to a counter for the all-American favorite slathered in special sauce at a Coney Island restaurant---the neighboring American Coney Island in downtown Detroit started it all.
Bring money for the jukebox and order up a taste of nostalgia at Rosie’s Diner in Rockford. The authentic stainless eatery (made famous in the old “quicker picker upper” Bounty paper towel commercials) was moved to Michigan from New Jersey and still serves burgers, malts, fried bologna sandwiches, meatloaf and fresh baked pie. Modern additions include a few lighter entrees and a bar.
Other interesting places to find good food and handcrafted beer include Camp 33 at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub at Upper Tahquamenon Falls State Park, the Walldorff Brewpub & Bistroin a historic building in Hastings, and Traffic Jam & Snug (TJs) in Detroit. “TJs” also makes its own cheese, ice cream, breads and desserts in a series of eclectic dining rooms.
You can grill your own prime beef to accompany the house beers at Hereford & Hops Steakhouse & Brewpub in a historic hotel building in Escanaba.
Traditional service and Italian specialties are served at Detroit’s oldest dining room, the Roma Café in the city’s historic Eastern Market. The city’s quaint Dakota Inn Rathskeller has featured sauerbraten, sausage, schnitzel (and American foods) as well as German American drinking songs since 1933.
The Granddaddy of Pure Michigan dining experiences is the all-you-can-eat, family style chicken dinner at one of America's largest family restaurants. Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth in the Bavarian-themed town of Frankenmuth serves about a million guests per year in 10 dining rooms that seat more than 1,500 guests. Across the street there’s more chicken and German fare at the popular Bavarian Inn.
Great Classic Joints
Pal’s Diner, Grand Rapids
Burgers, malts, and dash of 1952 at a pink-striped, stainless steel eatery
Water Street Coffee Joint, Kalamazoo
Java, light menu at 1934 gas station
Cherry Bowl, Honor
Drive-in family-friendly movies, fun, and food under the stars since 1953
Dawson and Stevens at the Bottle Cap Museum, Grayling
Classic ‘50s diner with classic fountain treats
Waffle House of America, Lawrence
Malted waffles all day, plus comfort food in unpretentious setting
Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger, Ann Arbor
Great burgers since 1953, boasting over two million different combinations
Sidetrack Bar and Grill, Ypsilanti
An 1850 saloon that specializes in beer battered pickles, top-rated burgers and local brews
At michigan.org, you’ll find a list of casual dining establishments and brewpubs at a destination near you.