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Woah! What is a Michigan Red Hot?

A Michigan red hot is more than just a chili dog. If you’ve never had one of these New York state delicacies, you should add it to your bucket list.

Of course, you may be curious about what exactly this food consists of.

We’ve got answers for you. Today we’ll dig into this unique treat.

Let’s hit the road!

About Michigan Red Hots

You can only order this tasty treat in Plattsburgh, New York. It starts with a steamed, all-beef frank on a sturdy roll. Some places even leave their rolls out overnight before serving to let them toughen up a bit. Then you slathered the hot dog with Michigan sauce, a hearty red condiment with meat. Next, you top it off with onions and a thin line of mustard. 

While it may bear a visual resemblance to a coney island chili dog, these wieners don’t taste similar. Detroit coney sauce usually contains organ meat and a Mediterranean flavor. 

The hearty Michigan sauce can be made with tomato as a base. Some varieties use beef broth instead. It usually has brown sugar, cumin, and ground meat mixed in. You can find many versions of this topping. Some even use vinegar or hot sauce to add a kick. Diners enjoy the variety available in this classic New York meal.

Where Did Michigan Red Hots Originate?

You may wonder why Michigan Red Hots can only be found in New York. We admit it had us a little confused at first, too.

The origins of this New York delicacy haven’t been officially confirmed, but the story goes that Eula and Garth Otis opened a hot dog stand in Plattsburgh after they moved from Michigan. The Otises ran print advertisements for their unique take on the classic after opening their shop in 1927.

The Michigan red hot became a cultural institution of the town. Plattsburgh has even named July Michigan Month. They issue an annual Michigan Passport encouraging residents and visitors to check out all the local spots. If you make all the stops before August, you’ll earn a free bumper sticker!

Is Plattsburgh, New York, Worth a Visit?

There’s more than Michigan red hots to this sleepy little village. The town has no shortage of things for the whole family to enjoy. Take a dip at Plattsburgh City Beach or Point Au Roche State Park. The state park also features some easy hiking trails with wildlife viewing of frogs and herons. After your time at the beach, you can head to Elf’s Farm Winery and Cider House for some refreshing beverages.

If you enjoy museums and art galleries, Plattsburgh has got you covered. Visit their Transportation Museum or The War of 1812 Museum to get your fill of history. You can also check out the Rockwell Kent Gallery at the local university.

This city, located less than an hour from the Canadian border, can be exciting. Whether you consider yourself a foodie, history buff, or outdoor lover, there’s something for you.

Pro Tip: Want to try another famous hot dog? Dig in and discover What Is a Sonoran Hot Dog?

Three Michigan Red Hots on table
While in New York, make sure to grab a Michigan Red Hot!

Best Michigan Red Hots in Plattsburgh

Now that we’ve convinced you to stop by Plattsburgh, you’ll need to know where to get your Michigan red hots. We’ve vetted some options for you.

Clare and Carl’s

The sign outside says Texas red hots, but don’t let that deter you. This small roadside restaurant has been slinging some of the best Michigan dogs in town for the last eighty years. It has been listed on New York’s Register of Very Special Places for its longstanding food service in this community. 

For just $2.75, you can order a Michigan. If anyone in your party has reservations about this regional delight, they can grab a hamburger or clam strips instead. You can even have a carhop bring your meal for an exceptional experience. Clare and Carl’s opens every year from April until September. Visit their Facebook page to find out if they’ll be open during your visit.


Brothers Michael and Stephen Farrell decided to open a restaurant serving their favorite local cuisine in 1991. McSweeney’s Red Hots opened just over 30 years ago. Today, you can visit them at any of their three locations around Plattsburgh. 

This restaurant could be a great option if you visit in the winter. McSweeney’s stays open year-round. In addition to red hots, you can order sandwiches, salads, and seafood. Don’t forget to get a slice of pie or even purchase the whole thing to take with you.

Ronnie’s Michigan Stand

Ronnie’s opens every year in April and closes its doors in September or October. Check their Facebook page to ensure they’re open during your visit. They’ve been serving up some of the most delicious Michigan red hots since opening in 1959. They offer a carhop service, but things can get messy, so you might want to eat inside.

Pick up a Michigan for $2.50 at this location. We highly recommend trying the fries with Michigan sauce, especially if you need a break from franks but want to try their secret sauce. For a special treat on a scorching summer day, order their rootbeer float.

Pro Tip: Hot dog fans will love learning about The Weird History of the Wienermobile RV.

Best Camping Near Plattsburgh

Located along the shores of Lake Champlain, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that this area has excellent camping. We’ve got some good spots picked out for you.

Cumberland Bay State Park

Located just five minutes outside Plattsburgh, Cumberland Bay State Park offers convenient camping. Try to get a waterfront campground, and you won’t be disappointed. Sites run from $15 to $34 per night. The campground fills up quickly, especially in the summer months, so book well in advance. 

We love this state park for its large, sandy swimming beach. It also has several hiking trails that become very popular in the fall. Cumberland Bay offers grills and showers for campers to use. 

Ausable Point Campground

This campground, about 15 minutes south of Plattsburgh, can be booked from May to October yearly. Sites start at $22 but cost $5 extra for out-of-state travelers. 

Ausable Point has a lovely swimming beach equipped with a lifeguard. Campers often enjoy fishing in Lake Champlain and along the Ausable River. If you plan to fish, note that you cannot purchase a fishing license at the campground. Other popular activities in this area include hiking, boating, and windsurfing.

Don’t Sleep on Michigan Red Hots

While Chicago-style dogs can be found everywhere, there’s only one place to try a genuine Michigan red hot. Luckily, Plattsburgh, New York, has great outdoor activities and even better food.

Next time you book a trip to the northeast, consider swinging through this lakeside cultural hub. Visit some museums, take a hike or a swim, and cap off the day with a unique and delicious dog.

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