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28 Iconic Detroit Dishes

A bucket list of the Motor City’s most important classic and contemporary meals from coneys to salted maple pie

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Living in Detroit means coney islands, square pizza, slow roasted shawarma, sliders, and corned beef egg rolls. It’s lamb chops and baklava. Vernor’s and Faygo, Better Made, and Boston Coolers. In other words, Detroit is filled with iconic dishes that speak to its global influence.

Detroit encompasses so many square miles and cultures, so it's tough to pare its goodness into a short list of iconic local dishes, but it’s worth a try. Below is a primer on the most delicious, most iconic, and most utterly Detroit items the city has to offer right now, from coneys to square pizza to a plate of botana. Note, this map, like Detroit’s food world, is ever-evolving. What might have seemed iconic a decade ago has made way for other dishes that continue to help tell the story of the city.

Undoubtedly, there will be some disagreement and perhaps some dishes missed. Give us your feedback at the tipline.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Scotty Simpson’s: Fish and Chips

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For more than 70 years, Scotty Simpson's Fish & Chips has faithfully served big, beautiful plates of fish and chips in Brightmoor. The house specialty is the fresh Nova Scotian cod fish and chips platter served with fries, coleslaw, tartar sauce, and a roll. Frog legs are also available for the curious diner. Cash and checks accepted.

Sweet Potato Sensations: Sweet Potato Pie

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Sweet potato ice cream, chicken and sweet potato waffles, sweet potato cookies and cornbread — Sweet Potato Sensations does it all, working hard to preserve the legacy of George Washington Carver. Headed to the Old Redford neighborhood eatery? Try the pie first.

Shatila Bakery: Baklava

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This beloved Middle Eastern pastry oasis in Dearborn is known for its baklava. The assorted baklava platters are a staple of celebrations any time of year, in particular during Eid. Other traditional choices like ghraybeh butter cookies, nutty maamoul, and awamehs (think fried dough soaked in sweet syrup) are also available. The mall-like setting encourages customers to browse the well-lit pastry cases. Don’t forget to visit the ice cream bar for a scoop of pistachio.

Hamido Restaurant: Shawarma

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This humble shawarma shop is a beloved essential in Dearborn. The menu’s star attraction is the shawarma, available in entree or pita sandwich form. The spit-roasted chicken imparts a nice char-grilled finish to it, while the meat option is packed with flavor. It comes out hot and juicy in a tightly wrapped house-made pita with garlicky toum and a side of pickles. Dine-in seating is available, but Hamido also does a very efficient carryout service.

Al-Ameer Restaurant: Stuffed Lamb

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The stuffed lamb at this nationally-recognized restaurant should not be overlooked. Each plate is filled with tender, slow-cooked pieces of lamb topped with slivered almonds or pine nuts over rice. The “stuffed” part is somewhat of a misnomer, but a phenomenal eating experience all the same.

Asian Corned Beef: Corned Beef Egg Roll

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Founded in the 1970s, this unassuming Detroit carryout deli chain has gone on to inspire numerous imitations of its signature dish: the corned beef egg roll. The fried wonton envelopes come filled with everything from corned beef and melty swiss cheese to steak. They’re big, hot, and less than $5. An order comes with packets of orange duck sauce.

Chef Greg's Soul-N-The Wall: Boogaloo Wonderland

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When it comes to Detroit sandwiches, few have achieved the legendary status of the Boogaloo Wonderland at Chef Greg’s Soul-N-the Wall: a hoagie topped with beef, tangy red sauce, American cheese, and caramelized onions. This hole-in-the-wall’s signature dish is a nod to an original recipe at the now-shuttered Brothers Bar-B-Q and to the late “Boogie Wonderland” songwriter Allee Willis.

Telway Hamburgers: Slider

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For bonafide sliders and cheap coffee head to Telway, southwest Detroit's 24/7 burger spot. The burgers at this greasy spoon taste best late at night. Order by the bag for just a few bucks. Cards are reluctantly excepted here, but cash is preferred.

Pollo Chapin: Fried Chicken

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This longtime favorite on Junction Avenue serves some of the best fried chicken in the city. Pollo Chapin pays homage to its Guatemalan heritage by pairing the fried bird with plenty of pickled cabbage and beets, a dinner roll, and creamy macaroni and cheese. Ad a little bite to the drum sticks with a glug of Valentina.

A plate of fried chicken with a roll on the side, pickled beets and cabbage, and a tamal wrapped in tin foil.
Fried chicken from Pollo Chapin.
Brenna Houc/Eater

Armando's Mexican Restaurant: Botana

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While “botana” is just a general word for “snack” in Spanish, in Detroit the word refers to a very specific nacho-like dish. Armando’s botana features corn chips loaded with beans, chorizo, Muenster cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, avocado, bell pepper, onions, and jalapeños. For a classic Detroit flaming cheese-meets-Mexicantown moment add an order of queso flameado.

La Jalisciense Supermercado Y Taqueria: Birria de Chivo

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This carniceria, supermarket, and restaurant has a little bit of everything to satisfy one’s cravings for traditional Mexican. In particular, its birria is made in the old-style way found in the highlands of Jalisco: with goat. While a growing number of taquerias, food trucks, and pop-up operators have gone all-in on the nationwide birria craze of the past few years, most spots around town use beef. Not here. The birria at La Jalisciense is marinated in chiles, salt, and other spices and cooked low and slow for a rich, meaty flavor. Get it as a caldo with a side of corn tortillas and diced onions and cilantro or in taco-form.

Mike's Famous Ham Place: Ham Sandwich

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Many of Detroit’s old diners serve sliced ham sandwiches, but Mike's Famous has one of the best. The ham is sliced thick and served on a poppy seed roll with pickles, mustard, and maybe a little ham garnish on top.

A large ham sandwich on a bun with poppy seeds. It has a slice of ham on top of the bune and a pile of pickles on the side Brenna Houck

Hygrade Deli: Corned Beef Sandwich

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Head to Michigan Avenue near Hubbard Street for Hygrade Deli’s iconic Reuben sandwich. A mountain of freshly sliced corned beef is layered between slices of grilled rye with kraut, Thousand Island dressing, and melty swiss cheese. It even comes with a pickle on the side.

A reuben sandwich from hygrade deli sliced in half with about an inch and a half of corned beef between two slices of toasted bread Brenna Houck

Mercury Burger & Bar: Hummer Milkshake or Boston Cooler

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Two of Detroit’s invented drinks are served at Mercury. The Hummer milkshake is a boozy concoction of rum, coffee liquor, vanilla ice cream, and a swirl of fresh whipped cream, while the Boston Cooler features a Detroit original — Vernor’s ginger ale — in a non-alcoholic ice cream float.

Lafayette Coney Island: Chili Fries

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If a single coney at Lafayette doesn't fill a person up, order a plate of fries topped with the house chili. It's not fancy, but it's a staple in the Detroit diner diet.

American Coney Island: Coney Dog

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In the never-ending debate over which coney island is better, American often gets props for its coney dog recipe, which naturally features loose chili sauce, chopped white onions, and mustard with a hot dog on a steamed bun.

Golden Fleece Restaurant: Greek Salad

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Aside from the iconic coney dog, the Greek salads that come out of the region’s casual eateries and Greek American restaurants are another Detroit-area specialty. They usually include a combination of lettuce, tomato, pepperoncini peppers, feta cheese, olives, chick peas, and beets — which are frequently also incorporated into the dressing, giving it a pinkish hue. This Greektown establishment is known for carrying this traditional dish, which goes great with a gyro, lamb chops, and solo for a satisfying lunch on the go.

Bert's Market Place: Ribs

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Long a staple at Eastern Market, Bert’s Market Place is the quintessential outdoor experience. Ribs are cooked outside with the smoke wafting enticingly off the grill to one’s nose. Go for the ribs, stay for the live jazz.

Louisiana Creole Gumbo: Gumbo Supreme

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Get the full New Orleans-style treatment at this local favorite. Established by Louisianans in the ‘70s, the restaurant uses a collection of family recipes to make its po’ boys, red beans and rice, and jambalaya. The gumbo is a particular treat, which comes in several versions including Supreme filled with Andouille sausage, chicken, and shrimp. Order carryout online from the Eastern Market (expected to close sometime in 2022) and Seven Mile locations, or head to Farmington Hills where the restaurant offers a little more seating.

Sister Pie: Salted Maple Pie

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Beloved bakery Sister Pie in West Village serves up great pastries using Michigan ingredients. While the flavors rotate monthly and seasonally, the salted maple pie is a standard-bearer that tastes great any time of year — especially with a dab of whipped cream on top.

Food Exchange Restaurant: The Big Baby

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Located on Harper Avenue in Detroit, this hole-in-the-wall restaurant is home to the Big Baby: a 12-ounce patty topped with corned beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, American and Swiss cheese, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. It’s big enough to split it with a friend and is available for carryout or delivery. Place orders by phone or online.

An employee holds the Big Baby sliced in half at Food Exchange.
The Big Baby at Food Exchange.
Michelle and Chris Gerard

Cadieux Cafe: Mussels

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This Flemish bar and feather bowling destination serves up Belgian beers with bowls of steaming hot mussels. Select from a choice of white wine and garlic, Cajun-style, or garlic-lemon butter and dill.

National Coney Island: Hani Sandwich

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The hani — a pita sandwich made up of strips of crispy chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, melted slices of Swiss and cheddar cheese, and a mayonnaise blend — is the often-imitated wrap invented in the 1980s by a chef named Hani at the American Coney Island at Seven Mile and Mack. It’s especially popular among the late-night crowds getting out of Detroit dive bars.

Polonia Restaurant: Dill Pickle Soup

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This quaint but lively Polish restaurant in Hamtramck is filled with character and makes a mean dill pickle soup to boot. The sharp dill flavor is complemented by notes of lemon. Order a cup before digging into plates of city chicken and pierogi.

New Palace Bakery: Pączki

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There’s no shortage of places in Hamtramck and metro Detroit to find paczki on Fat Tuesday, but New Palace Bakery offers the greatest variety of the Polish pastry with new flavors introduced every year. The doughnuts — sometimes frosted or dusted with powdered sugar — are filled with a variety of creams and jellies.

Supino Pizzeria New Center: Slice of Pizza

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This beloved pizzeria is a good bet for a big, thin slice and a soda. Slices come in cheese, pepperoni, and a rotating special. Take your pick and they’ll box it up for you piping hot from the oven for just a few bucks.

Amar Pizza: Ghost Pizza

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Hamtramck offers a variety of options for Bangladeshi cuisine including the Bangladeshi-influenced takeout pizza shop Amar. Among the tandoori chicken pizzas and dried fish, the extra -spicy Ghost pizza topped with chicken, red onion, cilantro, and ghost pepper sauce has a serious fan base.

Buddy's: Detroit-Style Pizza

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Iconic Buddy's Pizza is credited with creating the original Detroit-style square pie. Similar to a Sicilian tomato pizza, the square features a thicker, spongier crust with caramelized cheese edges, toppings, and sauce on top. The Detroiter with brick cheese, parmesan, pepperoni, sauce, and a spice blend is particularly gooey and delicious.

Scotty Simpson’s: Fish and Chips

For more than 70 years, Scotty Simpson's Fish & Chips has faithfully served big, beautiful plates of fish and chips in Brightmoor. The house specialty is the fresh Nova Scotian cod fish and chips platter served with fries, coleslaw, tartar sauce, and a roll. Frog legs are also available for the curious diner. Cash and checks accepted.

Sweet Potato Sensations: Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet potato ice cream, chicken and sweet potato waffles, sweet potato cookies and cornbread — Sweet Potato Sensations does it all, working hard to preserve the legacy of George Washington Carver. Headed to the Old Redford neighborhood eatery? Try the pie first.

Shatila Bakery: Baklava

This beloved Middle Eastern pastry oasis in Dearborn is known for its baklava. The assorted baklava platters are a staple of celebrations any time of year, in particular during Eid. Other traditional choices like ghraybeh butter cookies, nutty maamoul, and awamehs (think fried dough soaked in sweet syrup) are also available. The mall-like setting encourages customers to browse the well-lit pastry cases. Don’t forget to visit the ice cream bar for a scoop of pistachio.

Hamido Restaurant: Shawarma

This humble shawarma shop is a beloved essential in Dearborn. The menu’s star attraction is the shawarma, available in entree or pita sandwich form. The spit-roasted chicken imparts a nice char-grilled finish to it, while the meat option is packed with flavor. It comes out hot and juicy in a tightly wrapped house-made pita with garlicky toum and a side of pickles. Dine-in seating is available, but Hamido also does a very efficient carryout service.

Al-Ameer Restaurant: Stuffed Lamb

The stuffed lamb at this nationally-recognized restaurant should not be overlooked. Each plate is filled with tender, slow-cooked pieces of lamb topped with slivered almonds or pine nuts over rice. The “stuffed” part is somewhat of a misnomer, but a phenomenal eating experience all the same.

Asian Corned Beef: Corned Beef Egg Roll

Founded in the 1970s, this unassuming Detroit carryout deli chain has gone on to inspire numerous imitations of its signature dish: the corned beef egg roll. The fried wonton envelopes come filled with everything from corned beef and melty swiss cheese to steak. They’re big, hot, and less than $5. An order comes with packets of orange duck sauce.

Chef Greg's Soul-N-The Wall: Boogaloo Wonderland

When it comes to Detroit sandwiches, few have achieved the legendary status of the Boogaloo Wonderland at Chef Greg’s Soul-N-the Wall: a hoagie topped with beef, tangy red sauce, American cheese, and caramelized onions. This hole-in-the-wall’s signature dish is a nod to an original recipe at the now-shuttered Brothers Bar-B-Q and to the late “Boogie Wonderland” songwriter Allee Willis.

Telway Hamburgers: Slider

For bonafide sliders and cheap coffee head to Telway, southwest Detroit's 24/7 burger spot. The burgers at this greasy spoon taste best late at night. Order by the bag for just a few bucks. Cards are reluctantly excepted here, but cash is preferred.

Pollo Chapin: Fried Chicken

This longtime favorite on Junction Avenue serves some of the best fried chicken in the city. Pollo Chapin pays homage to its Guatemalan heritage by pairing the fried bird with plenty of pickled cabbage and beets, a dinner roll, and creamy macaroni and cheese. Ad a little bite to the drum sticks with a glug of Valentina.

A plate of fried chicken with a roll on the side, pickled beets and cabbage, and a tamal wrapped in tin foil.
Fried chicken from Pollo Chapin.
Brenna Houc/Eater

Armando's Mexican Restaurant: Botana

While “botana” is just a general word for “snack” in Spanish, in Detroit the word refers to a very specific nacho-like dish. Armando’s botana features corn chips loaded with beans, chorizo, Muenster cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, avocado, bell pepper, onions, and jalapeños. For a classic Detroit flaming cheese-meets-Mexicantown moment add an order of queso flameado.

La Jalisciense Supermercado Y Taqueria: Birria de Chivo

This carniceria, supermarket, and restaurant has a little bit of everything to satisfy one’s cravings for traditional Mexican. In particular, its birria is made in the old-style way found in the highlands of Jalisco: with goat. While a growing number of taquerias, food trucks, and pop-up operators have gone all-in on the nationwide birria craze of the past few years, most spots around town use beef. Not here. The birria at La Jalisciense is marinated in chiles, salt, and other spices and cooked low and slow for a rich, meaty flavor. Get it as a caldo with a side of corn tortillas and diced onions and cilantro or in taco-form.

Mike's Famous Ham Place: Ham Sandwich

Many of Detroit’s old diners serve sliced ham sandwiches, but Mike's Famous has one of the best. The ham is sliced thick and served on a poppy seed roll with pickles, mustard, and maybe a little ham garnish on top.

A large ham sandwich on a bun with poppy seeds. It has a slice of ham on top of the bune and a pile of pickles on the side Brenna Houck

Hygrade Deli: Corned Beef Sandwich

Head to Michigan Avenue near Hubbard Street for Hygrade Deli’s iconic Reuben sandwich. A mountain of freshly sliced corned beef is layered between slices of grilled rye with kraut, Thousand Island dressing, and melty swiss cheese. It even comes with a pickle on the side.

A reuben sandwich from hygrade deli sliced in half with about an inch and a half of corned beef between two slices of toasted bread Brenna Houck

Mercury Burger & Bar: Hummer Milkshake or Boston Cooler

Two of Detroit’s invented drinks are served at Mercury. The Hummer milkshake is a boozy concoction of rum, coffee liquor, vanilla ice cream, and a swirl of fresh whipped cream, while the Boston Cooler features a Detroit original — Vernor’s ginger ale — in a non-alcoholic ice cream float.

Lafayette Coney Island: Chili Fries

If a single coney at Lafayette doesn't fill a person up, order a plate of fries topped with the house chili. It's not fancy, but it's a staple in the Detroit diner diet.

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American Coney Island: Coney Dog

In the never-ending debate over which coney island is better, American often gets props for its coney dog recipe, which naturally features loose chili sauce, chopped white onions, and mustard with a hot dog on a steamed bun.

Golden Fleece Restaurant: Greek Salad

Aside from the iconic coney dog, the Greek salads that come out of the region’s casual eateries and Greek American restaurants are another Detroit-area specialty. They usually include a combination of lettuce, tomato, pepperoncini peppers, feta cheese, olives, chick peas, and beets — which are frequently also incorporated into the dressing, giving it a pinkish hue. This Greektown establishment is known for carrying this traditional dish, which goes great with a gyro, lamb chops, and solo for a satisfying lunch on the go.

Bert's Market Place: Ribs

Long a staple at Eastern Market, Bert’s Market Place is the quintessential outdoor experience. Ribs are cooked outside with the smoke wafting enticingly off the grill to one’s nose. Go for the ribs, stay for the live jazz.

Louisiana Creole Gumbo: Gumbo Supreme

Get the full New Orleans-style treatment at this local favorite. Established by Louisianans in the ‘70s, the restaurant uses a collection of family recipes to make its po’ boys, red beans and rice, and jambalaya. The gumbo is a particular treat, which comes in several versions including Supreme filled with Andouille sausage, chicken, and shrimp. Order carryout online from the Eastern Market (expected to close sometime in 2022) and Seven Mile locations, or head to Farmington Hills where the restaurant offers a little more seating.

Sister Pie: Salted Maple Pie

Beloved bakery Sister Pie in West Village serves up great pastries using Michigan ingredients. While the flavors rotate monthly and seasonally, the salted maple pie is a standard-bearer that tastes great any time of year — especially with a dab of whipped cream on top.

Food Exchange Restaurant: The Big Baby

Located on Harper Avenue in Detroit, this hole-in-the-wall restaurant is home to the Big Baby: a 12-ounce patty topped with corned beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, American and Swiss cheese, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. It’s big enough to split it with a friend and is available for carryout or delivery. Place orders by phone or online.

An employee holds the Big Baby sliced in half at Food Exchange.
The Big Baby at Food Exchange.
Michelle and Chris Gerard

Cadieux Cafe: Mussels

This Flemish bar and feather bowling destination serves up Belgian beers with bowls of steaming hot mussels. Select from a choice of white wine and garlic, Cajun-style, or garlic-lemon butter and dill.