By Nick Nolan
Sweet and savory smells of street food filling the air are signs that summer is on its way. Whether it’s tacos, smash burgers or barbeque, there are plenty of options within Cloverland’s service territory. Here’s a closer look at three vendors offering some of the best street food you’ll find this side of the Mackinac Bridge.
District A – Dusty’s Dogz
Nestled in the heart of St. Ignace, Dusty’s Dogz made a name for itself among locals thanks to its gourmet approach to classic street food staples. Located on North State Street across from the East Moran Bay, the brick-and-mortar store serves as a home base for Dusty’s Dogz operations with a food truck and catering services available. Owner Todd Allen operates several Dusty’s Dogz across Northern Michigan and in his native Florida. Two things tie the businesses together – a love of dogs and a dedication to locally sourced ingredients.
“Dusty Rose is my dog, so we donate to local animal shelters,” said Allen, explaining the name of his business. “We are dog friendly. We have dog soups, dog ice cream and bone broth for dogs. Customers eat out of dog bowls. They love it. We even hang pictures of people’s dogs in the restaurant.”
For people, Dusty’s Dogz’s menu is a hamburger and hot dog lovers dream. Wild twists on hot dogs are the norm. The “Devil Dog” features spicy mustard, jalapeno and ghost pepper relish, hot sauce and more jalapenos for good measure. Those craving smash burgers are in luck with a variety of classic diner style hamburgers.
“We use Michigan made products. Vollwerth’s hotdogs, Faygo pop, Great Lakes Potato Chips,” added Allen.
Allen has leveraged his restaurant business to help support animal shelters in the areas he operates. Dusty herself is a rescue dog from Flint. He has worked with the Humane Society of the United States to help dogs find forever homes and donates a part of every order to local animal shelters. Allen’s dedication to dogs has made Dusty’s Dogz a must visit destination.
Dusty’s Dogz’s St. Ignace is open year-round. Visit dustydogs.com and follow @RustyDogzCheboygan on Facebook. Additional Dusty’s Dogzs locations include Indian River and Petoskey, Michigan and Orlando and Bonita Springs, Florida.
District B – Flannigan’s Goat
Since 2016, Flannigan’s Goat has been a Sault Ste. Marie staple amongst foodies. Garth Parrish and his wife Joy have taken their affinity for smoked meats cooked low and slow to provide an accessible option for locals seeking barbeque.
The business quickly gained a reputation for providing great food that is hard to replicate at home. In addition to offering barbeque items like pulled pork and brisket, Flannigan’s Goat adds smoked meats to nachos, tacos and sandwiches.
“I debated between a brick-and-mortar location and a food trailer.” said Parrish. “We like to be a part of events. A food trailer was in line with our goals and dreams.”
Mainstay events such as Soo Locks Engineers Day and the I-500 Snowmobile Race often play host to Flannigan’s Goat. The black trailer with a built-in smoker and red outline of a goat’s head is easy to spot. Parrish explains customers can also find Flannigan’s Goat at weddings, beer events and local businesses.
Barbeque provides a unique challenge for operating a food truck. Meats must be cooked and prepared in advance and cooking days range from 10-16 hours. In addition to freshly smoked meats, Flannigan’s Goat has a strong reputation for its homemade sauces, pickled jalapenos and coleslaws.
Having a wide array of proteins and freshly prepared ingredients allows Flannigan’s Goat to offer a creative menu. Favorites include “shells & cheese” comprised of homemade shell noodles and cheese blend with an optional topping of pulled pork, brisket, burnt ends or chicken. For a fun barbeque take on a favorite, there is the “Hawaiian pig” sandwich made with pulled pork, ham, pineapple, pickled onions, jalapenos and covered in a maple bourbon sauce.
“We absolutely love doing Flannigan’s Goat,” concluded Parrish. “We like to provide restaurant quality food out of a food trailer. We want people to go, ‘wow, that’s amazing!’”
To stay up to date on where to find Flannigan’s Goat, follow them at Facebook.com/flannigansgoat.
District C – Duck Duck Taco
While most may not associate Manistique with tacos, that’s changing thanks to Kate Steider and her business, Duck Duck Taco. The food truck opened in Spring 2021 and is readying for its third year of business.
“We have tacos, burritos and quesadillas,” said Steider. “We also offer pot roast and pulled pork sandwiches.”
Diners at Duck Duck Taco may notice a flare to its menu that isn’t typical of a taco themed food truck. Steider opened the business intending to serve customers Korean twist recipes she enjoys at home. While tacos are the foundation to Duck Duck Taco, the Mexican-Korean fusion twist offers a new appeal for residents.
“The Korean beef burrito is my number one seller,” Steider said. “It’s something I’ve always liked and it sort of evolved. I liked Korean beef tacos and threw the base of that into a burrito. One of our customers added shrimp and created what we call the surf-n-turf burrito.”
Steider said through her first two years of business most of her clientele have been Manistique residents, but business picked up in 2022. Duck Duck Taco’s regular weekday hours helped maintain a steady clientele. The food truck is usually parked on River Street in the parking lot between NAPA and Brazda’s, making it easy to find.
“I called up my friends at Cloverland and they put a stanchion in,” added Steider, noting she’s friends with the owner of the parking lot. “I’m primarily there other than a few events that we do to support the town. We’ll move for the Fourth of July, the Manistique salmon derby fishing tournament, the Hopps on the Harbor beer festival and Flannel Festival.”
As a seasonal restaurant, she is excited to re-open Duck Duck Taco this Spring.
Duck Duck Taco will open in early May. Stay up to date by following it on Facebook.com/duckducktaco.