Dishing Michigan: Iconic Meals and Local Flavors

From the heart of downtown Detroit to the northern shore of the Upper Peninsula, Michigan is packed with unique flavors waiting to be tasted. 

Detroit-style pizza on a table.
Detroit-Style Pizza | Photo Courtesy of Instagram Fan maynventures

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If you haven’t gotten yourself a Coney dog, you can’t say you’ve been to Michigan! A Coney dog is all beef in a natural casing, grilled and plopped into a steamed bun. The classic toppings of tangy beef chili, diced onions and a squiggle of yellow mustard complete the dish. Local celebrity Sam Richardson selected Lafayette Coney Island as his top pick, while Anthony Bourdain visited Duly’s Place Coney Island on his travel show “Parts Unknown” (and even ordered a second Coney dog!). American Coney Island is another local institution, and you can find variations on the tradition all over cities like Detroit, Flint and Kalamazoo.

Lots of cities claim to have the best pizza in the country, but we have the stats to prove it. Just in time for National Pizza Day, Detroit-style pizza topped the nation’s favorite – beating New York, Chicago and New Haven styles among pizza enthusiasts. Thick, square-shaped crust with crispy edges is typically topped with pepperoni, melted Wisconsin brick cheese and strips of sauce. We can trace the origins of this spectacular slice to Sicily, but it was Buddy’s Pizza that popularized it in Detroit culture.

Check out our guide on where to try Detroit-style pizza in its native city.

A plate with a combination of main dishes.
The Pure Michigan Peanut Platter | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

Multicultural influences have always been a big part of our diverse dining scene. In our Signature Dish series, we’re showcasing fresh flavors that will make your mouth water just thinking about them. Discover the Pure Michigan Peanut Platter from YumVillage, which chef Godwin Ihentuge whipped up with a mix of suya chicken, akara sliders and maafe (peanut stew) atop a Belgian-style waffle. At Baobab Fare, we can’t get enough of the samaki (red snapper) that’s been marinated for 24 hours.

When you’re in the Upper Peninsula, you’ll pass plenty of signs tempting you to pull over for a pasty. Brought to Michigan by Cornish miners, the “Yooper” (local to the UP) pasty is a flaky, handheld pie stuffed full of savory goodness – order a classic meat and potatoes pasty, a vegan version with all veggies and other local favorites.

Get more tips on only-in-Michigan delicacies, many of which come with the most picturesque views.

A pasty meat pie covered in gravy
Pasty in the Upper Peninsula | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

While a pickle isn’t exactly a meal, many would argue that a great pickle can make a meal. McClure’s Pickles has been a local staple since 2009, brought to Detroit by two Michigan brothers using their great-grandmother’s recipe. Find them in grocery stores and delis all over Michigan and other parts of the country.

One of the great mysteries of the Midwest is Superman ice cream. As legend has it, this tri-colored treat originated in Detroit at Stroh's® Ice Cream during the Prohibition era, but that hasn’t been confirmed. However, the superhero-themed ice cream is easily spotted for its signature red, yellow and blue colors.

Got a taste for something sweet? Click here for more tips on where to find Pączki (Polish doughnuts), Mackinac Island fudge and other fun Michigan goodies.