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a coney dog, a plastic cup of brown cola, and a plate of french fries
A coney dog and french fries at American Coney Island.
Michelle and Chris Gerard

30 Iconic Foods to Eat in Detroit

Try these classic and essential tasty dishes from the Motor City

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A coney dog and french fries at American Coney Island.
| Michelle and Chris Gerard

No matter how long a person has lived in Detroit, there's always something else to try: another rib shack, a new style of pizza, or a Lebanese mainstay. That’s because the Motor City, in short, is packed with flavor.

Detroit encompasses so many square miles and diverse cultures, so it's tough to pare its goodness into a short list of iconic local dishes, but Eater tried. Below is a primer on 30 of the most delicious items the city has to offer right now, from coneys to pupusas to potato doughnuts.

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

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Phoenicia: Dry-Rubbed Ribs

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588 S Old Woodward Ave
Birmingham, MI 48009
(248) 644-3122
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It’s known for its high-end Lebanese cuisine, but Phoenicia’s most unexpected and beloved dish is the dry-rubbed pork ribs. The ribs are cooked, marinated, and cooked again under a broiler with a slightly spicy, secret dry-rub mix. While the meat doesn’t fall off the bone, it’s tender and exceptionally flavorful. Sauce is optional. Diners-in-the-know order them "Samy-style" — extra crispy with more dry rub. Dine in or pick up a meal curbside.

2. Ray's Ice Cream: Superman Ice Cream

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4233 Coolidge Hwy
Royal Oak, MI 48073
(888) 549-5256
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Although people can find Superman ice cream in a few other Midwest locales, the comically colorful concoction is widely said to have its origins in the D. It comes in three shades — blue, red, and yellow — the standard Superman colors.

Superman ice cream comes in blue, red and yellow and is swirled. Ray’s Ice Cream

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

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10009 Curtis St
Detroit, MI 48221
(313) 861-0331
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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.

4. Sweet Potato Sensations: Sweet Potato Pie

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17337 Lahser Rd
Detroit, MI 48219
(313) 532-7996
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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.

5. Scotty Simpson’s: Fish and Chips

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22200 Fenkell Ave
Detroit, MI 48223
(313) 533-0950
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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. Cash and checks accepted.

6. Al-Ameer Restaurant: Stuffed Lamb

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12710 W Warren Ave
Dearborn, MI 48126
(313) 582-8185
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The stuffed lamb at this Eater National 38 member 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.

7. Buddy's: Detroit-Style Pizza

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17125 Conant St
Detroit, MI 48212
(313) 892-9001
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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.

8. Amar Pizza: Ghost Pizza

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12195 Joseph Campau Ave
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 366-0980
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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.

9. Polonia Restaurant: Dill Pickle Soup

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2934 Yemans St
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 873-8432
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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.

10. New Palace Bakery: Pączki

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9833 Joseph Campau Ave
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 875-1334
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There’s no shortage of places in Hamtramck and metro Detroit to find pączki on Fat Tuesday, but New Palace Bakery offers the greatest variety of the Polish pastry with new flavors every year. The doughnuts — sometimes frosted or dusted with powdered sugar — are filled with a variety of creams and jellies.

11. Better Made Snack Foods: Potato Chips, Pork Rinds

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10148 Gratiot Ave
Detroit, MI 48213
(800) 332-2394
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At 90 years old, Better Made is the only chip manufacturer remaining in the city. The company’s longevity may be due to its constant innovation. In 2020, its new flavors included dill pickle chips, jalapeno cheddar-flavored popcorn, and peanut butter-filled pretzels. People can find Better Made almost anywhere in Michigan.

Better Made dill pickle potato chips Better Made courtesy photo

12. Cadieux Cafe: Mussels

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4300 Cadieux Rd
Detroit, MI 48224
(313) 882-8560
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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.

13. Rose's Fine Food and Wine: Crybaby

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10551 E Jefferson Ave
Detroit, MI 48214
(313) 822-2729
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Rose's Fine Foods and Wine delivers a gourmet twist on typical diner food and it makes some of the pastries in town on site. Hit the diner in the mornings for the fresh, not-too sweet crybaby potato doughnuts often flavored with berries or fruit.

14. Sister Pie: Salted Maple Pie

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8066 Kercheval Ave
Detroit, MI 48214
(313) 447-5550
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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.

15. Bucharest Grill: Chicken Shawarma

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110 Piquette Ave
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 965-3111
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There's shawarma and then there's the Bucharest chicken shawarma. The chicken is marinated and grilled on a flat top. Then the whole thing is wrapped in a pita with house garlic sauce, pickle, accompanying veggies, and, of course, French fries.

A box of Bucharest shawarma wrapped in tin foil to-go. Bucharest Grill [Official photo]

16. Cutters Bar & Grill: Burger

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2638 Orleans St
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 393-0960
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This off-the-beaten-path Eastern Market bar doesn’t give its burgers fancy names. Rather, they’re listed by weight — anywhere from three to 32 ounces. Patties made from a fresh Saad ground beef are mixed with house seasoning and cooked to juicy perfection on a flat top grill. Top the burgers with anything from blue cheese to pepperoni to habanero peppers.

17. Bert's Market Place: Ribs

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2727 Russell St
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 567-2030
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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.

18. American Coney Island: Coney Dog

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114 W Lafayette Blvd
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 961-7758
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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.

19. Lafayette Coney Island: Chili Fries

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118 W Lafayette Blvd
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 964-8198
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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.

20. The Brooklyn Street Local: Breakfast Poutine

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1266 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 262-6547
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In spitting distance of Canada, Detroit's food scene offers lots of choices for the northern neighbor’s poutine. Owned by bonafide Canadians, farm-to-table restaurant Brooklyn Street Local serves up one of the best bowls of gravy and cheese curd fries in the city with a vegetarian option and a fried egg on top during breakfast. It's a salty hangover essential.

21. Slows Bar B-Q: Yardbird Sandwich

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2138 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 962-9828
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An essential stop for barbecue, this Michigan Avenue restaurant’s Yardbird Sandwich is one of the most popular items on the menu, and it’s not hard to see why. Pulled, smoked chicken is coated in sauce and piled onto Zingerman’s bread along with sauteed mushrooms, cheddar, and applewood bacon.

sandwich Slows [Official photo]

22. Mercury Burger & Bar: Hummer Milkshake or Boston Cooler

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2163 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 964-5000
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Two of Detroit’s invented drinks are served at Mercury. The Hummer milkshake is a boozy concoction with Kahlúa and a swirl of fresh whipped cream, while the Boston Cooler features a Detroit original — Vernor’s ginger ale — in an ice cream float.

23. Hygrade Deli: Corned Beef Sandwich

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3640 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 894-6620
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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

24. Mike's Famous Ham Place: Ham Sandwich

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3700 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 894-6922 ext. 8

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

25. Armando's Mexican Restaurant: Botana

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4242 Vernor Hwy
Detroit, MI 48209
(313) 554-0666
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While “botana” is just a general word for “snack” in Mexico, 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.

26. Taqueria El Rey: Grilled Chicken

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4730 Vernor Hwy
Detroit, MI 48209
(313) 357-3094
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This seemingly always bustling taco shop sets itself apart from the other taquerias and trucks in Southwest with its chicken that's barbecued on an outdoor grill. The bird is lightly seasoned and served with warm tortillas.

27. Pupuseria Y Restaurante Salvadoreño

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3149 Livernois
Detroit, MI 48210
(313) 899-4020
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This no-frills Salvadoran spot in southwest Detroit specializes in pupusas; tiny pockets of dough stuffed with a choice of filling (cheese, meat, jalapenos, etc.) and toasted to perfection. Each order comes with a side of curtido (fermented cabbage slaw) for just a couple of bucks.

28. Telway Hamburgers: Slider

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6820 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48210
(313) 843-2146
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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 and don’t forget to take cash.

29. Asian Corned Beef: Corned Beef Egg Roll

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13660 Wyoming Ave
Detroit, MI 48238
(313) 834-1819
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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.

30. Sanders Chocolate & Ice Cream Shoppe: Bumpy Cake

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436 S Main St
Rochester, MI 48307
(248) 656-2590
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The bumps and lumps in this fudge-covered vanilla cake are encouraged. Created by Sanders Confectionery in Detroit in the early 1900s and originally known as “The Sanders Devil’s Food Buttercream Cake,” this cake always has had a cult following. Find at any Meijer grocery store, or go straight to the source.

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1. Phoenicia: Dry-Rubbed Ribs

588 S Old Woodward Ave, Birmingham, MI 48009

It’s known for its high-end Lebanese cuisine, but Phoenicia’s most unexpected and beloved dish is the dry-rubbed pork ribs. The ribs are cooked, marinated, and cooked again under a broiler with a slightly spicy, secret dry-rub mix. While the meat doesn’t fall off the bone, it’s tender and exceptionally flavorful. Sauce is optional. Diners-in-the-know order them "Samy-style" — extra crispy with more dry rub. Dine in or pick up a meal curbside.

588 S Old Woodward Ave
Birmingham, MI 48009

2. Ray's Ice Cream: Superman Ice Cream

4233 Coolidge Hwy, Royal Oak, MI 48073
Superman ice cream comes in blue, red and yellow and is swirled. Ray’s Ice Cream

Although people can find Superman ice cream in a few other Midwest locales, the comically colorful concoction is widely said to have its origins in the D. It comes in three shades — blue, red, and yellow — the standard Superman colors.

4233 Coolidge Hwy
Royal Oak, MI 48073

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

10009 Curtis St, Detroit, MI 48221

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.

10009 Curtis St
Detroit, MI 48221

4. Sweet Potato Sensations: Sweet Potato Pie

17337 Lahser Rd, Detroit, MI 48219

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.

17337 Lahser Rd
Detroit, MI 48219

5. Scotty Simpson’s: Fish and Chips

22200 Fenkell Ave, Detroit, MI 48223

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. Cash and checks accepted.

22200 Fenkell Ave
Detroit, MI 48223

6. Al-Ameer Restaurant: Stuffed Lamb

12710 W Warren Ave, Dearborn, MI 48126

The stuffed lamb at this Eater National 38 member 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.

12710 W Warren Ave
Dearborn, MI 48126

7. Buddy's: Detroit-Style Pizza

17125 Conant St, Detroit, MI 48212

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.

17125 Conant St
Detroit, MI 48212

8. Amar Pizza: Ghost Pizza

12195 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck, MI 48212

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.

12195 Joseph Campau Ave
Hamtramck, MI 48212

9. Polonia Restaurant: Dill Pickle Soup

2934 Yemans St, Hamtramck, MI 48212

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.

2934 Yemans St
Hamtramck, MI 48212

10. New Palace Bakery: Pączki

9833 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck, MI 48212

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

9833 Joseph Campau Ave
Hamtramck, MI 48212

11. Better Made Snack Foods: Potato Chips, Pork Rinds

10148 Gratiot Ave, Detroit, MI 48213
Better Made dill pickle potato chips Better Made courtesy photo

At 90 years old, Better Made is the only chip manufacturer remaining in the city. The company’s longevity may be due to its constant innovation. In 2020, its new flavors included dill pickle chips, jalapeno cheddar-flavored popcorn, and peanut butter-filled pretzels. People can find Better Made almost anywhere in Michigan.

10148 Gratiot Ave
Detroit, MI 48213

12. Cadieux Cafe: Mussels

4300 Cadieux Rd, Detroit, MI 48224

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.

4300 Cadieux Rd
Detroit, MI 48224

13. Rose's Fine Food and Wine: Crybaby

10551 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48214

Rose's Fine Foods and Wine delivers a gourmet twist on typical diner food and it makes some of the pastries in town on site. Hit the diner in the mornings for the fresh, not-too sweet crybaby potato doughnuts often flavored with berries or fruit.

10551 E Jefferson Ave
Detroit, MI 48214

14. Sister Pie: Salted Maple Pie

8066 Kercheval Ave, Detroit, MI 48214

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.

8066 Kercheval Ave
Detroit, MI 48214

15. Bucharest Grill: Chicken Shawarma

110 Piquette Ave, Detroit, MI 48202
A box of Bucharest shawarma wrapped in tin foil to-go. Bucharest Grill [Official photo]

There's shawarma and then there's the Bucharest chicken shawarma. The chicken is marinated and grilled on a flat top. Then the whole thing is wrapped in a pita with house garlic sauce, pickle, accompanying veggies, and, of course, French fries.

110 Piquette Ave
Detroit, MI 48202

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16. Cutters Bar & Grill: Burger

2638 Orleans St, Detroit, MI 48207

This off-the-beaten-path Eastern Market bar doesn’t give its burgers fancy names. Rather, they’re listed by weight — anywhere from three to 32 ounces. Patties made from a fresh Saad ground beef are mixed with house seasoning and cooked to juicy perfection on a flat top grill. Top the burgers with anything from blue cheese to pepperoni to habanero peppers.

2638 Orleans St
Detroit, MI 48207

17. Bert's Market Place: Ribs

2727 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207

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.

2727 Russell St
Detroit, MI 48207

18. American Coney Island: Coney Dog

114 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226

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.

114 W Lafayette Blvd
Detroit, MI 48226

19. Lafayette Coney Island: Chili Fries

118 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226

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.

118 W Lafayette Blvd
Detroit, MI 48226

20. The Brooklyn Street Local: Breakfast Poutine