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Dec 22, 2006 08:29 PM

Detroit and Michigan traditions?

New England has clam chowder. Philadelphia has steak & cheese. Cincinnati has chile over spaghetti. Memphis has ribs. What do we have here in Detroit? Besides Paczkis. And where do I get it?

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  1. Besides packis, we have Coney Island hot dogs, made from pork with casing, all meat, high fat chili, diced yellow onion and yellow mustard. The best, IMHO, is at Lafayette Coney Island
    118 W. Lafayette.

      1. re: Cathy

        What is City Chicken? Where do I get it?

        1. re: dearborn barkis

          City chicken is breaded pork and veal on a stick that you make like fried chicken. You can make it yourself, or buy it ready to cook at a grocery store. Occasionally, I have seen it on the menu at Polish restaurants. Try Steve's Three Brothers Steve's Three Brothers Restaurant (17820 W. Warren Avenue - (313) 271-1227)

          1. re: momskitchen

            I work near Threes Brothers. My co-workers tell me it's great, but I've never been. They say it's the best Polish restaurant in the area.

            1. re: dearborn barkis

              Try the Polish Cafe in Hamtrack, on Yemans. By far the best and it doesn't get more real than Hamtrack. We took the kids last week and they said it was the best City Chicken they EVER had, and Grandma was with us (hers is the benchmark). She was in Poland this summer and from what we can figure, city chicken is a DETROIT Polish food.

              1. re: jjdarnell

                Just trying to help out: the place you're referring to is the Polish Village Cafe, not just Polish Cafe (which could be confusing to someone asking directions).

                But yes: it's darned good, *dirt* cheap, and I happen to love their fried pork chops. Good stuff, Maynard! The only thing I'd say as a caveat is to not expect much from their potatoes and veggies, but the meat and especially the appetizers in the form of soups, cucumbers in sour cream, potato pancakes, and what not, are great!

                1. re: jjdarnell

                  I don't know about that. My Slovak grandmother in Cleveland could make some mean city chicken.

                  This ( ) website claims to have traced the origin to western Pennsylvania.

                  Here's ( ) a thread from the Home Cooking board.

                2. re: dearborn barkis

                  Bad news - I think ....

                  I saw a realtors sign on Steve's 3 Brothers. Has it closed?


                  1. re: momskitchen

                    yes it has and that's a shame. It was the best Polish food in the Detroit and surrounding area.

                  2. re: dearborn barkis

                    you missed it ! it's closed ! and yes it was the best bar none.

                    1. re: Rick Durocher

                      Before Three Brothers closed, I tried its pierogi and kielbasa a few times. Yes, it is--or was--good.

                      You may want to try Sabina's on Oakwood in Melvindale for good Polish food. And they have city chicken too. Friday when Summerfield & I went for the second time in the week, I had an excellent flaky fish w/ mac&cheese, a dish which seemed to be popular on a lenten friday.

                      1. re: dearborn barkis

                        oh sad sad day to hear about this.....

                        I loved everything I tried there; the chicken noodle soup, stuffed cabbage, pierogis, and kielbasa......and that fantastic home-made sauerkraut of theirs....they will be sorely missed.

                3. re: dearborn barkis

                  I just found this site & had to respond to your "city chicken" question.
                  At the turn of the century chicken became very expensive with veal & pork being the cheapest of meats. People couldn't afford the chicken so they put the veal & pork on sticks, battered & fried them like a chicken leg & named it "city chicken". My husband has tried it with pork & london broil (since I don't like veal) which is also very good. It has nothing to do with the polish heritage.
                  I visit Westland 3-4 times a year & haul back corned beef from Wigleys. Since the airlines are going to start charging $25 for a 2nd suitcase plus extra over a certain weight, I figured it would be less hassle to find my corned beef on line & have it shipped. Can't find anywhere. Does anyone know where I can buy it?
                  By the way, you might want to try the corned beef sandwiches at "MotorCity" casino..Outstanding!

                  1. re: kim_in_florida

                    Hi kim. Thanks for the info. Perhaps this is just a coincidence, but Hamtramck was the epicenter of meat strikes in 1935. Polish housewives picketed local butcher shops and eventually rallied women in Detroit and other states to do the same. City chicken is available at every Polish grocery and restaurant in Hamtramck.

                  2. re: dearborn barkis

                    Ready-to-pan-fry city chicken on skewers is available at all the Westborn Markets (Dearborn, Livonia, Berkeley and who knows where else). Just like Grandma used to make.

                  3. re: Cathy

                    Best city chicken this OLD Polish boy has ever had I found at Kopytko Meat Market. no tables, to-go only, AND the best smoked kielbasa, (they do their own smoking). 8609 Jos. Campau in Hamtramck, 313-873-421 THE BEST!

                  4. Are you kidding me? The best we can do is a hot dog named after a second-rate amusement park in New York? They do have a great roller coaster, however. But how can Detroit possibly hold its head high trying to capitalize on a NY establishment? Surely we must have our own regional specialty.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: dearborn barkis

                      Starting a food fight, eh, Barkis? To paraphrase Hercule Poirot, Detroit does not have the cuisine, it has only the food.

                      I don't think I've seen corndogs anywhere but around here. Maybe that's the tradition. Gotta find a place where you can get a pasty and a corndog and wash it down with Vernor's. Mmmmm. You can do this while reading Ferlinghetti's "A Coney Island Of The Mind". There's a place on Michigan Av. in Saline that I hear has pretty good pasties. Anyway, I vote for pasties.

                      1. re: dearborn barkis

                        Well in Plattsburgh, NY which is a small city just south on Montreal and on Lake Champlain we have "Michigan" hotdogs. The are served on a split top New England style roll and the chili sauce is different, it is a very dense almost crumbly dry topping. Then topped with chopped onions and and yellow mustard. If you want to have the onions in the bottom of the bun (neater to eat that way) you order "one buried" .

                        Jane and Michael Stern wrote about them last summer in their Road Food column for Gourmet

                      2. If you don't like Lafayette Coney Island, try American Coney Island on the corner of Layefette and Michigan. It's just as good.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: beverly hills 48025

                          oddly enough they are owned by the same people

                        2. But why do we have to play second fiddle to New York? They have the Yankees. We have the Tigers. What regional specialty do WE have? And where do I get it?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: dearborn barkis

                            Coney dogs are great! If you go to any New York greasy spoon and ask for a coney dog, they'll think you're a blinking idiot. Coney dogs are a Detroit specialty.

                            1. re: beverly hills 48025

                              I haven't been to Lafeyette, but I have been to American. "Greasy spoon" says it all.

                              1. re: beverly hills 48025

                                They are uniqely detroit.... We put our (cow) Hearts into it!! I have had the cinnci chili and the packos chili and they are not anywhere close to being good.... they taste nasty to me. If you want to get the taste you can go to most krogers and get a jar .... try it at your own risk!!