Despite its Great Lakes etymology, a Michigan is a chili dog found in upstate New York, not in the Wolverine State. We recently traveled to Saratoga Springs via Plattsburg to sample these hot dogs and found the Big 3 open for business: Clare & Carl's (Roadfood.com review), McSweeney's (Roadfood.com review), and Gus' (Roadfood.com review). We were faced with a quandary: which one should we try? True Roadfooders know the answer: all of them!
3rd place: Gus' Restaurant. After disembarking from the Lake Champlain ferry, our first stop was Gus' since it was the closest. Seeing "Famous Red Hots" on the sign made our mouth water even more:
This Michigan was served in a regular hot dog bun, not the New England-style split top as pictured in Michael Stern's review. I ordered the onions "buried," or placed underneath the weiner and chili so as not to fall off while eating. The chili was mild and plentiful, and this was a solid dog and a grand start to our Michigan extravaganza:
2nd place: Clare & Carl's. This ramshackle hut is located in the middle of Plattsburgh proper. The neon sign advertises "Texas Red Hots" (note, also, that the best Texas Red Hot is nowhere near the state of Texas, but that's another story!), even though they're called Michigans on the marquee inside:
This Michigan was also served in a regular hot dog bun, not the New England-style split top as pictured on Roadfood.com, though one end of the bun was semi-closed. Again I ordered the onions "buried," and this time the chili was spicier with little flecks of pepper visible:
1st place: McSweeney's. This restaurant was the newest/cleanest of the Big 3, having been renovated recently or simply well kept by the owners. Even their sign depicts a Michigan in its traditional bun, resembling a split-top on its side:
Now this Michigan was the best of the Plattsburgh 3, hands down! The chili was spicier, delivering a kick of moderate spice with every bite. The car hop service was friendly, and our server brought out the Michigan and fresh-cut French fries on a car-window tray with a full complement of condiments (bottles of ketchup, Frank's Red Hot Sauce, salt & pepper shakers, white vinegar). This is the one Michigan worth returning to Plattsburgh to eat again and again:
Up next: Michigan variations south of Plattsburgh!