Coney Dogs to Chicken Shawarma: Famous Food in the D

By: Toni Cunningham | January 31, 2014

When hunger strikes and the pantry is empty, there’s only one thing left to do: dine out. And when you feel a pang of hunger for something in particular, it’s more than likely that you’ve already got a destination in mind.

While there are laundry lists of “top” restaurants in the area when it comes to various cuisines, there are several Metro Detroit restaurants that specialize in one dish and are, thus, famous for it.

Take a look at our list of restaurants in the area with famous items, and keep them in mind the next time you get a hankering for a cheeseburger or Coney dog.

Let’s play a word association game. When I say Café Muse, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It should be grilled cheese. Because Café Muse, 418 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak, has an entire page of its website dedicated to the sandwich, and its been endorsed by Gayle King (you know, Oprah’s BFF) and Esquire magazine.

The delicious, toasty sandwich is stuffed with havarti, fontina and fresh mozzarella, as well as tomato, basil and honey. It’s then grilled to perfection, and should be smashed no later than two seconds after it hits the table.

When it comes to mac n’ cheese, there are three places where you can get the same dish: Union Woodshop, 18 S. Main St., Clarkston, Clarkston Union, 54 S. Main St., in Clarkston, and Vinsetta Garage, 27799 Woodward Ave., Berkley.

The recipe is know as “the most-macked mac & cheese,” and if you haven’t tried it yet, I suggest you stop whatever you’re doing and run, don’t walk, to one of the above places. The famed Union Mac is perfectly concocted with Vermont sharp cheddar, Pinconning cheese, béchamel sauce, Parmesan cheese, penne pasta and a crispy crust.

The Bucharest Grill, 2040 Park Ave., Detroit, is known for one thing and one thing only: Chicken Shawarma. Grilled and marinated chicken is wrapped in a pita with lettuce, tomato, pickles, garlic sauce and a special blend of spices. The sandwich itself is cheap (under $5) and for $2 more, you can order it deluxe with fries. Who knows, while trying the local Shawarma joint, you just might run into Tony Stark and the Avengers.

They’ve also got a special Bucharest Shawarma (grilled chicken wrapped in a pita with cabbage, tomato, pickles, fries, garlic sauce and spices) and Beef Shawarma on the menu, but you’d be doing yourself a major disservice to pass up the original Chicken Shawarma.

If you’re going to grab a Coney dog in the Metro Detroit area, there are only two places to go: American Coney Island, 114 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, and Lafayette Coney Island, 118 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit.

If you know anything about this city, you know that there’s a “Coney war” of sorts going on between these two rival establishments, which are right next door to each other. Which one produces the best Coney dog? There’s only one way to find out.

If you’ve lived in the Metro Detroit area for any amount of time, you know that Redcoat Tavern, 31542 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak, is known for its burger. Top a Piedmontese patty with the restaurant’s famed house made zip sauce and you’re all set.

There are other things on the menu, but even skimming it would be like going to a steakhouse and ordering pancakes.

Another place known for its burger is Miller’s Bar, 23700 Michigan Ave., Dearborn. The “world famous ground round” burger is seriously something to write home about.

It’s served with or without cheese (what I’d like to know is what kind of monster doesn’t get cheese on a burger), and your only other topping choices are pickles or onions. You can order onion rings or fries on the side, and the burgers are served wrapped in paper, not on plates. Miller’s is the farthest thing from fussy, and the burgers are fantastic.

When you’re ready to go, cash out with the bartender by letting him or her know what you had—they don’t do tickets, so keep track of your beers!

If you haven’t yet tried any of the items on this list, there’s no better time like the present.