Coney Dogs

6 Must-Try Uniquely Michigan Dishes to Eat Before You Die

Read this article and find some of the best restaurants where you can find the most popular uniquely Michigan dishes to eat before you die. 

A truly well-rounded experience of Michigan will have you exploring every part of the state – the miles upon miles of shoreline, the inland lakes, the ample state parks, walking trails, and recreation areas, athletic competitions, well-crafted drinks, and delicious food. There are some unique Michigan dishes that you’ve just got to try when you’re out and about in the Mitten state. Check them out!

Homemade Detroit Style Pepperoni Pizza

Detroit-Style Square Pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza? And when you’re in Michigan, you have got to check out the Detroit-Style Square Pizza.

What makes it so special? The crust is baked to be spongey on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Plus, Detroit-style pizza has cheese and sauce covering the crust, and the cheese perfectly carmelizes to add even more crunch to each bite.

With delicious sauce and toppings – like smaller and thicker pepperonis that curl up when they’re baking – this is one pizza you definitely don’t want to miss.

While you can get Detroit-Style Square throughout the state (and even the country!), you’ll want to grab one (or more!) when you’re in Detroit. We recommend Buddy’s, Loui’s, and Green Lantern.

Homemade Upper Michigan Pasty Meat Pie

Upper Peninsula Pasties

Nothing says U.P. cuisine quite like a pasty (pronounced with a short “a” sound). Flaky and golden on the outside and wrapped around a delicious, flavorful filling, the pasty will leave you feeling filled up and so satisfied.

The pasty dates back to the early mining days when pasties were sent with the miners for a practical hot lunch and a full meal.

Now, pasties can be found throughout the U.P. and northern Michigan with meat and veggie fillings. (We’ve heard the secret ingredient for making them so tasty is rutabaga.)

Gravy is often offered with pasties on the menu, but that’s a good way to show you’re not from the U.P. It’s ketchup or nothing, and ketchup with a little kick can really kick your pasty up a notch!

Looking for a great pasty? Check out Kaleva Cafe, The Hut Inn, and The Pasty OvenPoutine


Poutine is the happy blending of Kennebec fries, fried cheese curds, all topped with brown gravy. This delicious and incredibly savory dish is such a comfort food and can be found throughout Michigan.

Poutine has become an elevated dish and can be made in many different ways including toppings and different combinations of flavor. Poutine is emerging as its own category of food, much like sandwiches.

Some of our favorite places to order poutine are Grand River Brewery, Hop Cat, and One-Eyed Betty’s.

Homemade Detroit Style Chili Dog

Coney Dog

Coney Dogs are a Michigan staple. When summer rolls around, we love to roll into the classic drive-up stands and feast our eyes and our stomachs on these beauties.

Of course, we need to remember there are two styles of sauces – chili-style brown sauce without beans and a drier, meatier, looser sauce called coney. Either way, it’s topped with onions and mustard for the perfect flavor combination.

You’ll find coney stands throughout Michigan and some of our favorites are Virginia Coney Island, One Stop Coney Shop, and Johnny Dogs.

Scalawags Whitefish &Amp; Chips - One Of The Best Mackinaw City Restaurants
Scalawags Whitefish & Chips | photo via JJ P.

Fish and Chips

Surrounded by the Great Lakes, fish has always been a big part of the Michigander’s diet. And we all have our favorite ways to enjoy it. But the most classic? Fish and chips.

Fried up for a crispy outside and a tender and flavorful inside, fish and chips is available on the menu in Michigan throughout the year. There is an uptick in availability each spring during Lent as many places have Friday fish fries.

Whether you go to a restaurant, bar, or local parish, Michigan’s famous fish and chips are sure to hit the spot.

Some of our favorite places for fish and chips are Scotty Simpson’s Fish and Chips, Atlantic Fish Market, Scalawags Whitefish & Chip, and Joey’s Seafood and Grill.

Vernors Boston Cooler
Boston Cooler

Vernors Boston Cooler

Nothing quite says “Michigan” like an ice-cold Vernors. And pouring it over vanilla ice cream really takes it to the next level. The Boston Cooler is a divine refreshment perfect for the hot summer days (well really, absolutely any and every day!).

If you’re wondering why a Michigan drink has the name Boston in it, it’s named for the street where the first soda counter served this refreshing beverage.

Where can you get one yourself? Check out Mercury Burger Bar.

What’s your favorite uniquely Michigan dish?

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