Want to learn about the best of Michigan food? You’ve come to the right place!
People from Michigan love to eat, and there’s no doubting it. But, of course, it probably has a lot to do with the cold winter months, so it is no surprise why many people are drawn to eating hearty and delicious dishes.
It’s as if they need that extra food to keep a tad warmer when the weather gets bad.
If you plan to visit Michigan anytime soon for a road trip or to watch a football game, there are many foods you should not miss out on.
But, of course, the same refers to moving to Michigan. You cannot call yourself local until you taste out all the city’s specialties, and there are a lot!
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The 5 Must-Visit Restaurants In Michigan
With so many places to choose from, it can’t be easy to decide on your own. That is why I give you a list of five must-try restaurants in Michigan!
Let’s get started!
422 Detroit St., Ann Arbor, 734-663-3354
If you don’t mind waiting in line to get your food, Zingerman’s is well worth the trip. This Ann Arbor favorite has long stood as the town’s most famous restaurant. In addition, University of Michigan alumni have been known to order meals from Zingerman’s from across the country.
So no matter what sort of meat, cheese, and topping combination you crave, you’ll find it on the menu at Zingerman’s.
- Special Diets: Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, Kosher, and Gluten-Free Options
- Cuisines: American, Deli
558 Monroe St., Detroit, 313-964-0869
A visit to Detroit must add a stop in the city’s famous Greektown, a neighborhood named for the many Greek immigrants who made Detroit their home in the 20th century and brought all the flavors with them.
The menu at Pegasus Taverna includes plates of lamb chops with rice and potatoes and Greek specialties like pastitsio, spanakotiropita, and moussaka.
- Special Diets: Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, and Gluten-Free Options.
- Cuisines: Mediterranean, Greek
23825 John R Rd., Hazel Park, 248-398-4300
James Rigato’s tiny Hazel Park restaurant has earned some serious local and national recognition. However, the best way to experience the intimate spot is to taste its menu, letting Mabel Grey turn local Michigan ingredients into passionate and flavorful stories.
You may get empanadas filled with red chile and beer-braised Michigan venison, sweet potato, pecorino and chive, octopus a la plancha with mangos, avocado, and macadamia nuts, and pickled ginger. The regular handwritten menu varies daily, allowing this restaurant to create a menu around its bounty of ingredients.
- Special Diets: Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, and Gluten-Free Options
- Cuisines: American
600 Vester St., Ferndale, 248-658-4999
Just a few miles from the city of Detroit, located in the Ferndale neighborhood, there’s a quiet, low-key spot all about seafood.
At Voyager, you’ll find great food – I recommend trying the oysters – and excellent service!
- Special Diets: Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Options
- Cuisines: American, Seafood
15 E. Kirby St. Suite D, Detroit, 313-818-3915
Named for the green liqueur that carries the same name, this fantastic restaurant near the Detroit Institute of Art has seven-foot garden installations and the abundance of fresh, local ingredients that fill the menu, from a bright Burrata to winter’s warming squash soup.
The chef at Chartreuse Kitchen And Cocktails takes full advantage of products coming out of local urban gardens and farms. Pair these great meals with well-curated wines and cocktails for the perfect date night.
- Special Diets: Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, and Gluten-Free Options
- Cuisines: American
Best Michigan Food
The Midwest is recognized for its comfort food, and Michigan indeed can’t be left out.
From cheesy pizza and sweet cocktails in Detroit to fudge and meat-filled pasties in the Upper Peninsula, here’s what you should try when visiting here!
If cheese is your thing, this Detroit-style pizza will be your new favorite meal once you try it.
First introduced in 1946 by a small place called Buddy’s Rendezvous, this square, deep-dish, cheesy pizza can now be found everywhere in the state.
Coney dogs aren’t unique to Michigan, but Detroit puts its spin on these hot dogs, as they did with pizza. They are made of a beef hot dog, chili sauce on top, and finished with some mustard and onions.
Firstly brought to the city by immigrants, coneys are now available in Detroit and surrounding suburbs.
The wet burrito is famous on the west side of Michigan but a mystery in various other parts of the country.
This is made by taking a burrito, topping it with enchilada sauce and lots of shredded cheese – and the result is a delicious wet burrito.
All Michiganders will tell you that their delicious pasty is a staple across the entire state. Students have it on their lunch breaks, parents make it as a brunch, and then freeze the leftovers for later, and it’s served at parties.
A pasty is a pastry stuffed with different fillings. Some of the most common fillings include beef, pork, or chicken, cooked with carrots, onions, and tomatoes. Locals further like to top their pasties off with some gravy or ketchup.
You can get this meal nearly everywhere in Michigan, just like the pizza I already mentioned.
Double-Baked Rye Bread
Double-baked rye bread is as popular in Michigan as bagels are in New York. So often imitated, this version of rye bread is different than any other and was first created by Jack Goldberg, the owner of Stage & Co. Deli in the 1950s. The tradition was continued by his son named Steven.
The seedless rye bread is baked for about 80 percent of the way, and then baked again until it has a golden, crunchy outside with a soft, yet sturdy center. They often combine it with corned beef and other deli meats.
Almond Boneless Chicken
Americanized Chinese cuisine may not be traditional Asian fare, but one dish, in particular, has become a popular Michigan Chinese food.
Almond Boneless Chicken is a dish of deep-fried, crispy, boneless chicken covered with a thick, dark brown mushroom gravy, with crushed almonds and scallions on a base of iceberg lettuce.
Although it’s unknown where the dish originated, it has been a staple on most Chinese food menus in southeastern Michigan for decades.
Surrounded by the Great Lakes, Michigan has plenty of delicious fish. Whitefish is a local favorite, often found in Lake Charlevoix. This lovely semi-seasonal place is in the northern part of the state, where many Michigan residents choose to spend the summer.
The freshly caught whitefish can be served in many ways; fish-and-chips-style, pan-roasted, or even made into a dip. But the locals say that the best way to enjoy the fish is probably smoked.
It’s no wonder that Detroit has a deli sandwich that originated from there. This oversized triple-decker sandwich is stacked high with corned beef, covered with rich Russian dressing, crisp shredded lettuce, and ripe tomato.
It’s delicious and fulfilling, worth trying!
People outside Ann Arbor may not embrace the Chipati with the same enthusiasm as the locals. Still, this simple salad made from lettuce, mushrooms, cheese, and peppers stuffed in a thick, oversized, freshly baked, and still-warm pita is a must-try.
The secret is in the sauce that they serve as a dressing and a dip for the bread. The sauce is rumored to be a mixture of hot sauce, ketchup, and ranch dressing, but nobody has confirmed it yet.
Detroit’s Greek immigrant population is so significant that it’s no surprise that Greek diners, often referred to as Coney Islands, are overflowing everywhere in the state. They served mainly hot dogs, chili, and fries, but they expanded their offer, eventually making another Michigan classic, the Greek salad.
Different from the no-lettuce version you’d find in restaurants in Greece, the Michigan favorite tops are freshly chopped lettuce with crumbled feta cheese and beets, peperoncini, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, olives, and tomatoes.
Michiganders create their variations by adding grilled onions, gyro meat, or grilled chicken on top. Additionally, each Coney Island takes its stab at a Greek dressing.
Although it originated in northern Italy, cudighi sausage is primarily cooked and served in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Ground pork shoulder is seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, red wine, seasoned further with garlic, allspice, and red pepper flakes, and when they add black pepper, it enriches the flavors even more.
The sausage is most commonly served in a sandwich, topped with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella, then placed on a bread roll. These tasty sandwiches can be found in most pizza places and restaurants in the area, sometimes served with the addition of fried onions, sautéed mushrooms, or roasted peppers.
Interestingly, Italian immigrants started making the sausage, which was first called gudighi and the story goes that they derived it from cotechino, a fresh Italian sausage.
Pinconning is a traditional semi-hard American Colby-style cheese. It’s named after Pinconning, Michigan, where it was first created by Dan Horn in 1915. This type of cheese is aged up to 120 months, giving Pinconning a unique savory flavor.
It’s made from cow’s milk, and it’s available in mild, medium mild, medium sharp, sharp, extra sharp, and super sharp varieties.
The texture changes with aging, but it’s usually creamy, rich and open. It’s recommended to use it in dishes such as mac & cheese and soufflés.
The olive burger is an American type of burger originating from Michigan. It’s made with ground beef, oil, white buns, mayonnaise, and pitted green olives. The meat patties are cooked, topped with a mixture of olives and mayonnaise, then placed in a burger bun, with no other condiments.
Some like to add a bit of olive brine to the olive-mayo mix, while others put the mayonnaise on a bun, and the patties are topped with olives.
There are many arguments about the origins of this burger, and some people claim that Olympic Broil in Lansing made the first olive burger in the 1960s. Others say it was made much earlier at the Kewpee Hotel Hamburgs in Grand Rapids.
This “Cherry Capital of the World” has a national festival in honor of the cherry every summer, with a week packed with events celebrating this sweet red fruit.
Over 75 percent of the nation’s tart cherry crop comes from the state of Michigan. There are numerous cherry orchards in the area, and several shops focus only on foods prepared with cherries, like marmalades, candies, and salsa.
Poutine is the delightful mix of fries and fried cheese curds, all topped with brown gravy. This delicious and amazingly savory dish is a dish of comfort food that can be found throughout Michigan, even though it originated as Canadian food.
Poutine has become an elevated recipe and can be made in many different ways, including toppings and various combinations of flavor. As a consequence, Poutine is emerging as its own category of food.
When it comes to distinct food culture, Michigan offers a lot. The state is home to many diverse recipes celebrated for uniqueness and taste, from deep-dish pizzas and burritos to all kinds of desserts.
The various festivals and cultural differences offer visitors much more than a dining experience. Instead, these foods are an experience in itself that has made Michigan savory dishes famous worldwide.
Have you ever tried any of the foods or restaurants named above? Let me know what you think in the comment section below, and don’t forget to check the articles I’m about to mention!
Which of these Michigan foods do you want to try first? Let us know in the comments section below!
Igor Jovanovski is an aspiring digital nomad, travel blogger and graphic designer who really loves food. He also has a creative side, and he works as a freelance graphic designer in his spare time. He has traveled across Europe quite a few times since he was young and recently started his mission to visit every country in the world! Igor’s favorite thing about traveling is the way he gets to know new people, food, places and cultures.
This exciting experience helps him create his own stories and make memories that will last forever