The Best Food and Drink in Michigan for 2018 from The Best Food and Drink in Michigan for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Michigan for 2018 Gallery
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The Best Food and Drink in Michigan for 2018
When you travel through Michigan, you won’t just find the Great Lakes, you’ll also find great cuisine. To celebrate the Wolverine State (and every other state), we rounded up 25 of its best foods, drinks, and culinary hotspots as part of our first annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
Michigan hosts one of America’s very best restaurants, Roast, which was featured on our 101 Best Restaurants in America list. Michigan is also home to some of this country’s very best craft breweries, including Bell’s, Founders, and Dark Horse. But you’ll also find fabulous macaroni and cheese at Detroit hotspot Slows Bar-B-Q, world-class cocktails at the Goodnight Gracie Jazz & Martini Bar in Royal Oak, and the most delightful cupcakes at Union General Cupcakery in Canton. If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, we’re not sure what else will get the job done.
Best Bar: Goodnight Gracie Jazz & Martini Bar, Royal Oak
Right outside of Detroit, the Goodnight Gracie Jazz and Martini Bar is, in fact, a martini bar, but it also stocks a plethora of whiskey, Scotch, and bourbon. The intimate bar, with dark mood lighting, live music, and a lively dance floor, specializes in concoctions made with house-infused Tito’s vodka, including raspberry-infused for the Vixen Martini, strawberry-infused for the strawberry mule, pineapple-infused for the pineapple mule, and many others. There are 23 martinis on the menu, the signature non-martini cocktail being the Kentucky Buck (Ridgemont Reserve 1792, the bar’s exclusive single-barrel hand-selected blend, with freshly muddled strawberries, fresh lemon juice, Angostura bitters, simple syrup, and ginger beer). Save room for the sliders, which include prime rib with “zip” cheese, crab cake, and chicken parmesan.
Courtesy of Founders Brewing Co.
Best Beer: KBS, Founders, Grand Rapids
Jessica K / yelp
Best Burger: Velveeta Cheese Burger at Redamak’s, New Buffalo
Founded by George and Gladys Redamak in 1946 and owned by Jim and Angie Maroney since 1975, the legendary Redamak’s is only open from March 1 to November 15 due to the fact that it only holds a 10-month resort liquor license, but it’s definitely worth a detour to the sleepy hamlet of New Buffalo on the shores of Lake Michigan. Expect a wait (even though the restaurant seats 400), and when you finally snag a table, do what everyone else does: Order a burger — the Velveeta Cheeseburger, in particular. Butchered and ground in-house, these patties (which are available in either 5 1/3- or 8-ounce portions) get a nice sear in their own individual skillet and are then draped with a glob of melty, oozy Velveeta. It’s served with ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onions (lettuce and tomato were only introduced within the past few years), but honestly all you really need is meat, cheese, and bread. You’ll never receive a burger cooked below medium, but something about these burgers makes them irresistibly delicious. Cash-only and undeniably quirky, there’s nothing else quite like Redamak’s.
Left: Noah H / Yelp; Right: Apple S. / Yelp
Best Cheesesteaks: Big John Steak & Onion, Various Michigan Locations
This Michigan mini-chain has 16 locations, most of which are in Flint. In business since 1972, they’re using fresh rib-eye steak in their cheesesteaks, griddled to order and piled onto a freshly baked roll with or without onions. White American is the cheese of choice here.
Best Chili: American Coney Island, Detroit
One of the most popular spots for a classic “Coney-style” dog (and locked in friendly competition with its neighbor Lafayette Coney Island for decades), American Coney Island was founded by Greek Immigrant Gust Keros in 1917. Whether you eat his classic Coney chili, which is made primarily with beef hearts and spiked with healthy doses of garlic, cinnamon, cumin, and oregano, atop a hot dog, fries, or just on its own, you’ll be plotting your return before you even leave.
Angela W / yelp
Best Chinese Restaurant: Best China, Canton
Shanghai specialties are the selling point here, best chosen from the Chinese menu available upon request. For your determination, you’ll be treated to mountains of preserved vegetables, tender Lion’s Head pork meatballs, and thick, springy fried noodles and rice cakes. But for all the adventurousness, they still manage to make an excellent wonton soup.
Best Craft Brewery: Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo
Bell’s Brewery has been producing delicious, inspired brews since 1985. Two Hearted Ale, Black Note Stout, and Hopslam are regular fixtures on best beer lists. This Kalamazoo icon places great emphasis on sustainability, environmental stewardship, and the low environmental impact of their beer. Spent grain is donated to local dairy farmers to feed cattle, and the brewery’s carbon footprint has been drastically reduced due to recycling practices that only require once-per-week garbage pick-up.
Mary P / yelp
Best Cupcakes: Union General Cupcakery, Clarkston
This cupcakery is still impressively operating as an old-fashioned general store. Don’t let the Old World charm and whimsical curiosities fool you, though — the signature cupcakes are piled high with a distinctive tower of frosting and have unique flavor profiles that make them more modern than they probably care to admit! If you make a pilgrimage to this cupcake hotspot, try the “How About Them Apples” caramel apple cupcake topped with caramel buttercream frosting.
Left: Collete N / Yelp; Right: Siobhan J / Yelp
Best Dive Bar: Abick’s Bar, Detroit
Abick's Bar is Detroit’s oldest continuously family-operated bar, and the tin ceiling and years’ worth of signs show its age. The drinks are cheap and the jukebox is always rocking. If you’re lucky, you may meet the bar’s mascot: the owner’s adorable mastiff named Shadow.
Michael C / yelp
Best Doughnuts: New Palace Bakery, Hamtramck
New Palace Bakery makes some of the best Polish doughnuts, called paczki, that you’ll have ever tried. Whether you join the long line that winds out the door on Fat Tuesday or are craving these sweets any other day of the year, New Palace will spoil you with wonderfully light and fluffy doughnuts filled with fresh fruit and custards.
Courtesy of Boyne City Farmers Market
Best Farmers Market: Boyne City Farmers Market, Boyne
Take a trip to the Boyne City Farmers Market to support the long list of farmers, vendors, and artisans that fill the stalls. Boyne also has food assistance programs helping low-income and elderly community members. The market is open every Wednesday and Saturday, May through Labor Day, before moving indoors for November through April.
Best Food Truck: El Guapo, Detroit
The Michigan food truck scene has been heating up over the past few years, with the competition among taco trucks the most feverish of all. The current king is El Guapo — Fresh Mexican Grill, which was actually the first licensed and accepted food truck in Detroit’s history. Founded in 2011, El Guapo offers a menu that features a variety of tacos, burritos, and bowls with grilled chicken, chorizo, or beef brisket, along with a few specialties like the pork belly taco and the shrimp burrito. With everything on the menu priced at less than $9, you can fill up without emptying your pockets.
Mark W. / Yelp
Best French Fries: Green Dot Stables, Detroit
The menu at this Detroit staple features more than 20 types of sliders, which of course beg to be paired with some fries. Thankfully, there are five different fry preparations here: truffle and herb, venison chili cheese, poutine, Cajun, and regular. We suggest you opt for the truffle and herb variety; a dusting of herbs and a sprinkle of truffle oil kicks these light and fluffy fries into the stratosphere.
Wikipedia / Crisco 1942
Best Fried Chicken: Zehnder's of Frankenmuth, Frankenmuth
Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth is a 1,500-seat institution that is famous for its all-you-can-eat German-style fried chicken dinners. Kitsch is the game here, as the restaurant is associated with a waterpark (and its adjoining hotel), but don’t let that fool you into thinking their fried chicken tries too hard. It is simple, salty, and keeps Midwesterners coming back for more.
Michael S / Yelp
Best Hot Dog: Lafayette Coney Island, Detroit
One of the culinary world’s greatest rivalries is between two neighboring downtown Detroit hot dog stands: Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island. While the battle over which hot dog tastes better is on par with the fight between Pat’s and Geno’s cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, most locals will tell you that it’s Lafayette all the way, for several reasons. The hot dog has a juicy, salty, smoky snap, the coney sauce is spot-on, and the fries are crispy, but it’s the experience that puts it over the top in our book: While American is shiny and a little charmless, Lafayette is a divey, weathered, eccentric sort of place that hasn’t been renovated in many years, but the charm is palpable, especially in the staff, who’ll most likely bring you your order in less than 30 seconds. In short: the perfect hot dog stand.
Randy G / Yelp
Best Italian Restaurant: Bacco, Southfield
Chef and restaurateur Luciano Del Signore’s home base, Bacco, has been drawing crowds for its contemporary high-end Italian cuisine since 2002. High-quality ingredients, prepared simply, result in some truly outstanding dishes. Take the strozzapretti, for example: These long tubes of fresh house-made pasta are tossed with a sauce made with house-made sausage, tomato, cream, and a touch of truffle oil and plated like no other pasta dish you’ve ever seen.
Jelly M / Yelp
Best Jewish Deli: Zingerman’s, Ann Arbor
Zingerman’s opened its doors in 1982 and has since grown into a huge organization encompassing its flagship deli, a bake house, and a candy manufacturing division among other businesses. All of their soups are made from scratch and include matzoh ball, Jewish chicken broth, and kreplach. It also features knishes, chopped liver, potato latkes, and noodle kugel. As for the main event, most customers flock to their corned beef Reubens and other specialty sandwiches like Jon & Amy’s Double Dip, made with Zingerman’s corned beef and pastrami, Switzerland Swiss and Wisconsin muenster cheeses, as well as hot and regular mustards on pumpernickel and rye bread.
Slows Bar B-Q
Best Macaroni and Cheese: Slows Bar-B-Q, Detroit
This classic side dish is elevated to new heights at this trendy Detroit barbecue joint. Shells are combined with a sauce made primarily with béchamel and mild Cheddar, and, as a finishing touch, more grated Cheddar is broiled on top. It’s rich, creamy, and insanely addictive.
Tara L / Yelp
Best Mexican Restaurant: Taqueria El Rey, Detroit
This low-key Southwest Detroit gem is perhaps best known for its adobo grilled chicken, cooked on a massive drum-like grill by owner Chico Fuentes and his son, Sammy. Whole chickens, served with rice, beans, tortillas, and salda, cost just $11.50, and they’re astoundingly delicious. Tacos and tortas are also spectacular, filled with your choice of 10 fillings, including pastor, asada, tripe, lengua, and cabeza.
Mironda R / Yelp
Most Expensive Restaurant: London Chop House, Detroit
This elegant and classy institution has been going strong since 1938. Dining in this very fancy spot will certainly set you back, as steaks start at $32 for a small 6-ounce filet and go all the way to $110 for a 14-ounce boneless wagyu rib-eye. Non-steak entrées, like lamb chops and Dover sole, average over $40.
Best Pizza: Buddy’s Pizza, Detroit
Detroit’s signature square pizza style is like a Sicilian slice on steroids. There's crisp, thick, deep-dish crust action, often formed from the process of twice-baking in square pans that have been brushed with oil or butter, and a liberal ladling of sauce spread across the cheese surface. It supposedly all started at Buddy’s Rendezvous, a neighborhood tavern, in 1946. Try the signature Detroit Zoo pie from the Motor City Pizza Collection: Motor City Cheese blend, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, pine nuts, and tomato basil sauce.
Best Restaurant: Roast, Detroit
Michael Symon is one of America’s most fearless, fun-loving, and unpredictable chefs, and at his entry into the Detroit dining scene, all of this is evident and more. The dinner menu at Roast contains delicious and unexpected twists including beef cheek pierogies, pork belly with watermelon and halloumi, and “roast beast” with cassoulet and pork sausage — and the steak selection isn’t fooling around. Dishes like filet mignon with crab béarnaise, dry-aged New York strip with smoked mushroom conserva, dry-aged rib-eye with preserved lemon and smoked garlic, and dry-aged porterhouse for two with marbled potato and caramelized onion will make immediately obvious why Symon is one America’s top chefs.
Ryan T / Yelp
Best Sandwich: Reuben at Zingerman’s Delicatessen, Ann Arbor
Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw opened Zingerman’s Delicatessen in 1982, and since then this quintessential Jewish deli and gourmet food shop has become beloved in the city, so much so that even President Barack Obama stopped in to try one of their famous Reubens. That Reuben, made on an award-winning homemade Jewish rye with Zingerman’s corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut from The Brinery, and Russian dressing, is easily the restaurant’s best-selling sandwich, and with good reason: It’s the best sandwich you’ll find in the entire state.
McKinney K / Yelp
Best Soup: Cauliflower Gruyère Soup, Dime Store, Detroit
Dime Store has become a popular casual local gathering place, and regulars tell anyone who will listen to drop by and try the soon-to-be legendary cauliflower Gruyère soup. Executive chef Josh Taylor uses plenty of puréed fresh cauliflower and an ample amount of high quality Gruyère to make this creamy, cheesy creation that has regulars coming back for more and more. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2018.