Michigan has hot dogs in paradise, and it has hot dogs in hell, and no other state can make that statement. In fact, you’ll find ’dogs all over Michigan during National Hot Dog Month in July.
Several joints are veritable smorgasdogs.
Tony Lipuma, second-generation owner of the landmark Lipuma’s hot dog joint alongside the river in downtown Rochester, credits the quality of Michigan-made dogs. Lipuma says he gets nervous outside Michigan. He swears by and serves Koegel hot dogs, made the Old-World way in Flint. Koegel and Dearborn Sausage uphold Michigan’s tradition of high-quality dogs.
Lipuma’s hot dog selection includes: the Texas Dog (barbecue sauce, coleslaw, pickle spear); a Mexican Dog (dog and cheese rolled in a tortilla shell with chili, mustard, onion); the Russian Dog (Russian dressing, coleslaw and onion); and the Flip Saunders Dog (Cleveland Stadium mustard and onion).
In nearby Troy, transplant Scott Lukas serves up his hometown Chicago dogs. He calls his place Hippo’s, and his Hippo Dog is Chicago all the way featuring a Vienna beef dog, pickle spear, sliced tomato, sport peppers, bright green sweet relish, yellow mustard, chopped onions and celery salt in a poppy seed bun. His Ultimate Dog is a quarter-pound dog with Hippo toppings plus sauerkraut, Chicago giardiniera and double chili.
Mount Pleasant’s Dog Central pushes the envelope with the Goober Dog (shredded pickle, chili, crushed Fritos and peanut butter) and the Sonoran Dog (bacon, cheese, salsa, guacamole, mayo, ketchup and mustard).
In Grand Rapids, belly up to Yesterdog’s Ultimate Dog (chili, cheese, onion, pickle, ketchup, mustard); and take your camera, because you will want photos of its eclectic, old-timey interior.
Hiding behind this truck, under the “world’s largest wiener,” you can have a Mackinaw (a bacon-wrapped wiener with cheese) at Wienerlicious of Mackinaw City.
In the Upper Peninsula, Babaloon’s Café in Escanaba is far more than a hot dog joint and serves coney, Chicago, chili and cheese dogs. At Johnny Dogs in Munising a couple of the 15 options are topped with orange pop BBQ sauce.
Joe Grimm is co-author of “Coney Detroit” with Katherine Yung, which makes him one of the biggest hot dogs in Michigan. Grimm went to high school with Scott Lukas and prefers a coney dog made with a poppy seed bun.