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Mussels at Cadieux Cafe.
Mussels at Cadieux Cafe.
Michelle and Chris Gerard

35 Iconic Detroit Dishes

Classic and essential meals from across the Motor City

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Mussels at Cadieux Cafe.
| Michelle and Chris Gerard

No matter how long you live in Detroit, there's always something new to try. Another 50-year-old sandwich shop to checkout, a new style of pizza, a Lebanese restaurant that's been around forever but is entirely new to you. The Motor City is packed with flavor.

Encompassing so many square miles and diverse cultures, it's tough to pair down a list of iconic Detroit dishes. We've given it a stab here with some help from our wonderful readers who chimed in on the forums, Facebook and Twitter, and, of course, by email. Undoubtedly there will be disagreement and dishes missed. Drop your notes in the comments and we'll take them into consideration for future updates. Here, now, are 35 iconic dishes from Coneys to Detroit squares to Hummer milkshakes.

Editor's Note: Eater Detroit covers Detroit proper, metro Detroit, and occasionally other cities in Southeast Michigan. Locations in maps are organized geographically, never ranked.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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American Coney Island: Coney Dog

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In the debate over which Coney Island is better, American often gets props for its Coney dog recipe which naturally features loose chili sauce, chopped white onion, and mustard with a hot dog on a steamed bun.

Lafayette Coney Island: Chili Fries

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If a single Coney at Lafayette doesn't fill you up, the smart thing to do is order a plate of fries topped with the house chili. It's not fancy but it's a staple in the Detroit diner diet.

Roast: Roast Beast

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Michael Symon's meat-centric restaurant in downtown's Westin Book Cadillac hotel helped put Detroit's culinary scene on the map. Try the Roast Beast, a daily spit-roasted meat option for the true Roast experience. Sometimes it's pork, sometimes it's lamb, but count on it being delicious. Looking for a more moderately priced version of the experience? Keep the bar menu's Beast of the Day taco on your radar.

Sweetwater Tavern: Wings

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Ask a Detroiter where to find the best wings and Sweetwater Tavern in Bricktown probably tops their list. The wings here are a house recipe, marinated overnight, covered in spices, and fried to finger lickin' perfection.

The Golden Fleece: Gyro

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Keeping the "Greek" in Greektown, Golden Fleece is open late, which makes it the ideal spot to drop in for a gyro after visiting the bars.

Supino Pizzeria: Slice of Pizza

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Whether you're getting pepperoni, cheese, or the daily special you really can't go wrong with pizza for lunch at Supino. The slices are huge, hot, and foldable in the style of a New York pie.

Bert's Market Place: Ribs

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An iconic Eastern Market destination, summer means ribs at Bert's Market Place. Cooked outside, with the smoke wafting enticingly off the grill, it's a must-try meat experience.

Sister Pie: Salted Maple Pie

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On its way to becoming a classic, Sister Pie in West Village serves up great pastries using Michigan ingredients. While the flavors rotate monthly and seasonally, the salted maple pie is standard-bearer that tastes great any time of year.

Rose's Fine Foods: Crybaby

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Rose's Fine Foods is a different kind of diner and the pastries here are some of the best in town. Hit the restaurant mid-day for the fresh, not-too sweet crybaby potato doughnuts.

Cadieux Cafe: Mussels

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Flemish bar and feather bowling destination Cadieux Cafe serves up European beers with bowls of steaming hot mussels. Select from a choice of white wine, garlic, garlic-lemon, or marinara sauce. Monday nights mussels are all-you-can-eat.

Bon Bon Bon: Bon Bon

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Made in Hamtramck and sold in retail shops around town, Bon Bon Bon's delicious, artisan chocolates capture Detroit flavors in bon bon form like paczki and Boston Cooler.

New Palace Bakery: Paczki

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In Hamtramck Paczki Day might as well be a national holiday. There are dozens of places across Hamtramck and the greater Detroit metro area where you can eat paczki on Fat Tuesday but New Palace Bakery offers the greatest variety of the Polish pastry with fresh flavors added every year. The bready doughnuts — sometimes frosted or dusted with powdered sugar — are filled with a variety of creams and jellies.

Polish Village Cafe: Smoked Kielbasa

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While Hamtramck's Polish population is shrinking, much of the food remains, a favorite being the smoked kielbasa at this little basement restaurant. It's juicy, served with sauerkraut, and it's a local classic.

Amar Pizza: Ghost Pizza

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Along with many of Hamtramck's Polish restaurants, the city offers a variety of options for Bengladeshi cuisine including a Bengladeshi-influenced 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 gained a serious following.

Buddy's Pizza: Detroit-Style Pizza

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Buddy's Pizza is an icon that's credited with creating the original Detroit-style square pie. Similar to a Sicilian tomato pizza the square features 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.

Dutch Girl Donuts: Donut

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Very sweet, very inexpensive, a doughnut from Dutch Girl on Seven Mile is the quintessential example of Detroit economy and classic fried flavor.

Ernie's Market: Sandwich

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Since 1968 Ernie Hassan has been serving up monster sandwiches on fresh onion rolls with a choice of meats, cheeses, and some extra love. The thrifty sandwich spot is a destination for lunch crowds who line up daily for a meal, a Hershey's kiss, and a quick chat with the Hassan. Cash only.

Phoenicia: Ribs

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Known for its high-end Lebanese cuisine, Phoenicia also offers unexpected, but addictive dry-rubbed pork ribs that are some of the best in town.

Sweet Potato Sensations: Sweet Potato Pie

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Sweet potato, ice cream, sweet potato waffles, sweet potato cookies. Sweet Potato Sensations does it all, but for the true Redford neighborhood experience try the sweet potato pie.

Scotty Simpsons Fish & Chips: Scotty's Famous Fish & Chips

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For more than 60 years Scotty Simpson's has faithfully served the Brightmoor neighborhood big, beautiful plates of fish and chips. The house specialty is the fresh Nova Scotian cod fish & chips plate served with a side of fries, coleslaw, tartar sauce, and a roll.

Asian Corned Beef: Corned Beef Egg Roll

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One of Detroit's most unusual, guilty pleasure cheap eats is Asian corned beef. Sold in several locations throughout Detroit (and at newer restaurants like Stache International), corned beef, cheese, and other fillings are wrapped in egg roll paper and fried until golden and crunchy. It's something worth trying at least once.

Hamido: Falafel

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With two locations this Mediterranean restaurant serves up excellent take out and dine-in platters but don't miss the extra garlicky, herb-filled, fried falafel.

Al-Ameer Restaurant: Al-Ameer Platter

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Named a James Beard America's Classics restaurant in 2016, a meal at Al-Ameer is something every Detroiter should do just once. For the full experience, try the Al-Ameer platter with grape leaves, fried kibbeh, chicken shawarma, tawook, kabobs, kafta, shawarma, falafel, hummus. You won't go hungry.

Telway Hamburgers: Slider

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For real sliders and cheap coffee head to Telway, Southwest Detroit's 24/7 burger spot. The cheeseburgers at this greasy spoon taste best late at night.

Taqueria El Rey: Grilled Chicken

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Always bustling during the lunch hour, Taqueria El Rey sets itself apart from the other taco shops in Southwest with its chicken that's barbecued on an outdoor grill.

Pollo Chapin: Fried Chicken

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Detroit's best plate of fried chicken can be found at Pollo Chapin, an unassuming shop located in a yellow and green house on Junction. The crispy skinned-chicken id juicy, tender, and served with sides like beans and pickled veggies.

Mike's Famous Ham Place: Ham Sandwich

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Detroit has many old and faithful diners serving sliced ham sandwiches, and Mike's Famous is 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.

Taqueria Lupita's: Tacos

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This Mexicantown taco shop prepares a selection of simple street tacos on corn tortillas, with cilantro, onion, and lime. Pick your meat (steak, chicken, pork, beef head, tongue, or tripe) and remember to bring cash.

Mercury Burger & Bar: Hummer Milkshake or Boston Cooler

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There are three main drinks that Detroit can claim as hometown inventions and two of them are served at Mercury. The Hummer milkshake is a boozy concoction with kahlua and topped with fresh whipped cream while the Boston Cooler features a Detroit original — Vernor's ginger soda — in an ice cream float.

Green Dot Stables: Mystery Meat Slider

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Green Dot elevates the Detroit slider tradition with creative versions like fried chicken and hot brown, but it's hard to resist the mystique of the mystery meat slider updated weekly on the menu board. Past versions have featured beef heart, kangaroo, and fried Rocky Mountain oysters. Put your trust in the chefs and take a bite.

The Sugar House: The Last Word

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Another classic Motor City recipe, The Last Word was invented at the exclusive Detroit Athletic Club. The cocktail disappeared from memory until it resurfaced in a cocktail book in 2009. Made with gin, green Chartreuse, Luxardo, lime, and maraschino cherries The Sugar House offers an excellent example of the classic drink on its permanent menu.

Slows Bar-B-Q: Yardbird Sandwich

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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 Yardbird sauce and piled onto Zingerman's bread along with sauteed mushrooms, cheddar, and applewood bacon.

Bucharest Grill: Chicken Shawarma

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There's other 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, and accompanying veggies. Great for dine-in or take-out.

Mudgie's Deli: The Gutty Sandwich

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Corned beef sandwiches are a must-try at Mudgie's, a gourmet neighborhood sandwich shop and bar in Corktown. The Gutty sandwich is served with Milano salami, Sy Ginsberg corned beef and pastrami, cherrywood bacon, beef brisket, sharp cheddar, and garlic mayo on a kaiser roll. During brunch get one with a fried egg.

The Brooklyn Street Local: Breakfast Poutine

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Located in spitting distance of Canada, Detroit's food scene offers lots of choices in the way of poutine. Owned by bonafide Canadians, farm-to-table eatery Brooklyn Street Local serves up one of the best gravy and cheese curd fry iterations with a vegetarian option and a fried egg on top during breakfast. It's a salty hangover essential.