Michigan vs MSU: The Battle of Local Gameday Eats

The annual meeting between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University football teams is one of the country’s most storied sports match-ups, dating back to 1910. These days, the rivalry extends well beyond the stadiums in East Lansing and Ann Arbor and encompasses so much more than game time. In fact, one of the biggest sources of pride is which team tailgates the best. Each group of fans has its own set of traditions—Sparty fans toss pennies at his stature for good luck, Wolverines take over State Street—and iconic foods.

Curious about what unique flavors each fan base noshes on for gameday? Check out each school’s most delectable finds that are worth bragging about, just in time for this Saturday’s game:


  1. Menna’s Joint: Known as the “Home of the Dub,” Menna’s burrito wraps are a staple for students. If you want to go healthy, avoid the deep fried tenders, ranch and sour cream, and instead dig in to their grilled Breakfast Dubs. The cheddar comes from the MSU Dairy Store across campus.
  2. Crunchy’s: This spot was named State’s top game-day restaurant by the Big Ten network. Pro tip: Get a platter of their avocado soft shell or fish tacos for your tailgate—a fresh squeeze of lime juice and they’re ready to go.
  3. Portable pitas: East Lansing is packed with places selling delicious, healthy pita sandwiches. If you’re headed to Spartan Stadium, grab one from the Grand Grillin Food Truck, which parks near the front gates every home game.


  1. Zingerman’s Delicatessen: Oprah and President Obama can’t get enough of Zingerman’s, and good for reason: It regularly makes lists of the country’s best sandwiches. The Reuben is simple, iconic and easy to travel with, but all of their sandwiches use fresh-baked breads, artisan cheeses and estate-bottled Tuscan olive oils.
  2. Pizza Bob’s: On the way down to the State Street tailgates, pick up a chipati from Pizza Bob’s—it’s essentially a salad to go. The soft roti bread is the perfect vessel for the tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and more.
  3. Saturday hash: Whether you’re at a hatchback grill or cooking up breakfast on your front porch, potato hash is the Wolverines’ ultimate breakfast. One of the best is the Hippie Hash at the Fleetwood Diner: It’s a layer of hash browns topped with grilled green peppers, onions, tomatoes, broccoli and mushrooms.

Who wins the head-to-head culinary clash? That’s still up for debate, but fans can look forward to these local favorites and more as the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy unfolds this Saturday.

Photo Credits: Ken Lund and Matt Hallowell

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