Rodnick Chiropractic  Waterford Michigan

DOG DAY AFTERNOON: Who Has The Definitive Coney Island
Hot Dog In Metro Detroit?

METRO DETROIT, MI – I’ve searched low – I’ve searched high. I looked to see who has the absolute best Coney Island hot dog in Metro Detroit. It is a bit bewildering. There is a Coney Island hot dog restaurant every three miles from each other. But before I get into who has got the best ones let me get into a bit of the history of this whole thing because that’s important. The story actually goes all the way back to Brooklyn, New York. There is a peninsula that juts off the coast line of Brooklyn and is known to all as Coney Island.

From there the details get a little fuzzy. The Konon  Indians inhabited the island and some way that is where the name came from originally.  While that is certainly a possibility there is another story that talks about many different varieties of rabbits that once lived on the island. The Dutch and the English refer to the rabbit as a Coney and some give the credit for naming the island. That certainly makes sense.

So, let’s zoom ahead for a minute to this modern day era. I am walking around New York and decided to check out this old diner in midtown and get a late night dinner after a comedy show. They were still open and I liked the old feel of this place. I check out the menu and there is a section there that is talking about East Coast Classics and I see the name Coney Island. Only this time I don’t see the famous hot dogs or chili of any variety. I see menu options for crab cakes and fried clams! In the 1900’s this was the fare of the day and the shops that sold seafood were spread throughout Surf Avenue.

Hmmmm…..  So how did this chili thing start? The Michigan story has no direct connection to New York at all. As it turns out the hot dog got its name from the style of restaurant that they were served in. The very first Coney Island restaurants didn’t trademark their style of business or franchise it back in 1907. These were very popular and they were the very first fast food type of restaurants that served quick and fast fare. Eager first generation American’s jumped on the chance to build a business and bring it to the Midwest. These first immigrants were the Greeks and some Albanian and they were the ones who introduced the famous chili sauce.

The Michigan story gets kind of interesting. There were three major things that happened  early on. The Flint area was known for a much dryer type of sauce with lots of meat. There was also a much more liquid type of sauce popping up in Jackson. But then there was a dry sauce with a hint of chili and mustard coming out of Muskegon. All distinctive, all delicious. Then there was another major thing going on little later in the 1940’s right below the Michigan border in the city of Toledo. The Hungarian’s brought a powerful pepper punch to the dry beef sauce to the legendary dive bar, Tony Packo’s.

It’s not just the Greek Chili Dogs who get all the limelight. Oh no. Sharing the spotlight is also the famous Gyro, (pronounced Year-oh) sandwich which introduced the tasty addition of well seasoned lamb to the American menu.

Now, having said all of that what goes into this sauce? That is something that is being kept very tight lipped in the famous kitchens of Michigan based G&L Hot Dogs.  The famous sauce has a chili oil and some kind of powdered mustard. The whole recipe is shrouded in speculation and has helped turn this small Coney Island restaurant into a American classic. Some of these places treat it as a highly protected secret and rightly so. The Muskegon based G&L Greek Coney Dog restaurant has survived multi generations and continues to thrive today. There is a lot of pride and history that goes into the Metro Detroit variety and this too goes back generations to the year 1919. We did find out that beef heart was used and so were choice cuts provided by the Koegel meat company.

And now that you got the basics I am going to sample some of these dogs in
and around Metro Detroit…..


Walled Lake, Michigan

LULU's of Commerce - Coney Island - Walled Lake, Michigan

The best Coney Island hot dogs are not just in Detroit. Don’t worry, we’ll be heading down there soon enough. I like to hit this place whenever I am in the area because there is a homemade type of taste in just about everything they do. The portions are great and you will never leave here hungry but let me talk about the sauce for a second. This has a nice full chili taste to it and it is very meaty. This compliments the hot dog and keeps everything in order. The slightly sweet crunch of the white onion gives it just the right bite. One you order one you have to order the second one because it is that good. This is a solid presentation. Now, when you are here make sure you try the loose burger. This is a Michigan classic that has been around since the 1920’s. You know the score, this is loose chili beef in a bun smothered in a wet chili sauce topped with onions. If you want to be totally decadent you can have it with sprinkled cheddar cheese on top.

You can always get a spot at the counter and get served right away. This is where I like to sit and the staff here is super friendly. The fries are tasty, crisp and on point and the portions here are generous. The breakfasts here are great too and there’s a lot of love in the house. You’ll see nothing but happy faces in this joint and the place is usually packed on the weekends. It is somewhat of a hidden gem and you don’t really hear anyone really talk about it. I guess I turned this place into my own personal secret and getaway place when I get hungry.

It’s at the end of strip mall and it is kind of hidden. If you weren’t looking for it you would roll right past it. But this place is definitely on the best of the best list.


RUDYS PANCAKE HOUSE: Walled Lake, Michigan

Don’t let the name fool you this guy does more than just pancakes. His breakfasts are phenomenal and belong front and center on Food Network. Rudy is an unsung hero and is tucked away in a strip mall off of Pontiac Trail. I have one of his videos here for this monstrous Blueberry Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast which is beyond decadent. His Greek Salads are what dreams are made of and his special dressing is out of this world. But what I am about to tell you is something that is known by the locals only. Every Monday Rudy has Coney Dogs for just 99 cents…. Which is an unheard of deal.

Once again, the sauce is boss and is bordering on stellar. There is a freshness to this sauce and you can tell that this is a homemade deal. My usual rule of thumb here is that if it is a good dog then you may as well have two of them.  This is a solid production and the sauce has just the right balance of meat and spice. The hot dog has a snap when you bite into the casing and it is flavorful on its own. Then you have the crunch of the white onion on here that locks down the flavor and elevates this dog into local celebrity status.

I get take outs from this place quite regularly and really like his Gyros. These are really amazing and what makes it a special deal is the cucumber sauce that goes on it. It is fresh and it has a garlic like flavor to it and it is compliment to the seasoned lamb, onion and tomato.  The pita bread is big, flavorful and chewy and hold’s the ingredients in place for one delicious bite after another. Believe me when I say this but there is nothing like this anywhere. I am a gyro guy and I have sampled them all over the D from Greek Town to the streets of Ann Arbor and this is quite frankly – the best.

** I will have more updates for you on this article shortly. We will be sampling them all right here…. On Dog Day Afternoon at Hot Metro Finds.


Ted Cantu
Days of Summer 2014



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