If you are looking to experience an era gone by in Michigan, then one of the best places that you can go is Monroe’s Original Hot Dog Stand.
Tucked away in the southeast corner of Michigan is the historic city of Monroe, which boasts coastline views of Lake Erie. This is a community that was established in the 19th century and has held onto its charm.
About Monroe’s Original Hot Dog Stand
There are few things as evocative of America in the Fabulous Fifties as an old-fashioned, drive-in restaurant. Monroe’s Original Hot Dog Drive-In, on W. Front Street in the town of Monroe (about halfway between Detroit and Toledo on I-75), first started as an A&W Restaurant more than 75 years ago, under the ownership of a gentleman named Delmar Groves.
During his ownership, the A&W chain decided to start serving fuller menus in its restaurants. These new menus included hamburgers and fries, but Mr. Groves decided he wanted to keep his restaurant in a more traditional “hot-dog stand” style. Secondo and Kathleen Fanola kept this tradition when they purchased the restaurant from Mr. Groves in 1976, and it is now owned by Joe and Misty Fanola.
This hot dog stand looks like a relic from the rock-and-roll decade of the 1950s. On any given day, you will see cars pulled up into their individual bays as carhops head out from the diner in order to deliver fresh hot dogs right through the driver’s side window. This fast-food restaurant is not only someplace where you can get a great meal in Monroe, but it’s an experience that delights people of all ages.
The motto at Monroe’s Original is that they serve “The hot dog you grew up on.” To this day, Monroe’s Original Hot Dog Drive-In serves only hotdogs, chips, and beverages, reassuring customers that this restaurant has every intention of staying true to its roots.
Open daily from 11 am until 9 pm, this restaurant is famous throughout the United States for its hotdogs. Not only do people travel from far away to get a delicious dog and enjoy the drive-in experience, but they also know that this restaurant serves delicious, old-fashioned root beer in a frosted mug.
Employees, who are called “carhops” at drive-in restaurants, serve customers in the traditional, drive-in manner by bringing their food out to their automobiles.
Sadly, drive-in restaurants are a rarity these days – they reached the peak of their popularity during the 1950s when automobile ownership became widespread among working families. The first one opened in 1936 in Glendale, California, and the concept spread quickly across the nation thereafter. Some restaurants still have their patrons’ food brought out to their cars by servers on roller skates – no easy feat!
With a perfectly steamed bun and a selection of toppings and sauce, every hotdog on this menu is worth trying. If you are looking for simple and straightforward dining, then Monroe’s Original Hot Dog Drive-In is the place for you. The restaurant is family-friendly, and kids will have a blast with all the hotdog characters and jingles.
If you are planning your first visit to this hot dog stand, it’s important that you know how to order like a local. Start your hot dog order by telling them to make it “all the way” — this means that your dog will be piled high with onions and mustard, and of course, the secret sauce. The secret sauce might be the most incredible part of the experience, but you can enhance your meal even further with a root beer served in a frosty mug.
Don’t forget the bag of Better Made chips on the side, and you’ll have an authentic Michigan meal that you won’t soon forget.
More to Explore in Monroe
After you have filled your belly with a delicious hot dog, then you can head on out for a day of history and outdoor recreation in Monroe.
River Raisin National Battlefield Park
The River Raisin National Battlefield Park is a national park in Monroe that is located on the site of the January 1813 battle that took place during the War of 1812. Visitors can explore interpretive exhibits that not only provide information about the battle itself but also about how the battle impacted both Monroe and Wayne counties in Michigan.
In addition to a healthy dose of history, anyone who comes to the River Raisin National Battlefield Park also can enjoy the amenities at the park. The River Raisin Heritage Trail is a multi-purpose paved trail that stretches for 8 miles around the park, and people often enjoy hiking, biking, walking, or even skating along the trail in order to discover different points of interest in the park.
Not only will you discover breathtaking views of the river, but you also can explore historic buildings that have been preserved.
There is nothing quite like a summer day spent outside in Michigan. Whether you chose to relax along the shores of the river or spend your day in Downtown Monroe shopping, you will find that you are in need of a cool, refreshing, and delicious treat at the end of the day.
Fortunately, the Independent Dairy is located right in town, so you can get some of the freshest ice cream in the state in just a matter of moments.
The dairy was established in 1934 by a local Monroe resident who recognized the need to deliver milk via horse-drawn wagon to the people who lived in the area. Today, the fourth generation of family members still run the dairy, and they pride themselves on being one of the oldest and largest ice cream distributors in Michigan.
In the summer, Independent Dairy is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week, which means that you can get your favorite flavor scooped onto a cone whenever you want it. Some of the most popular ice cream flavors at this dairy include Mackinaw Island Fudge and Superman.
While the dairy always has its tried-and-true ice cream available for customers, its owners also are constantly looking for ways to innovate. Most recently, they added bursting bubble slushies — which are frozen concoctions that include little bursting pearls of flavor that ignite the senses. No matter what type of frozen treat you are craving, you can get what you want at Independent Dairy.
Lodging in Monroe
Southeast Michigan is a great place to explore this summer in Michigan, and Monroe County is a great home base for your Michigan summer bucket list adventures. Here are a few lodging options in the Monroe area:
- Quality Inn & Suites
- Hampton Inn Monroe
- Private Beach Nest for Multi-gen Family
- River Raisin Marina & Campground
- Tru by Hilton Monroe