Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Happiness Known as the Coney Dog

I live in south-western Michigan, specifically in the Portage/Kalamazoo areas, but I am originally from the east side of the state, moving here from Ann Arbor and growing up in Sterling Heights. A common restaurant, one that is easy to take for granted, is Coney Island.

For those of you who are not from Michigan, when I talk about Coney Island, I am not talking about the amusement park in New York. Instead, I am talking about a restaurant that serves hot dogs with chili and cheese on them, as well as chili-cheese fries. Almost universally, these places are owned by people of Greek heritage and will also server Gyros (pronounced "year-ohs.") And, while there are chains of these places, like "National Coney Island", there are a number of them that are independently owned and named things like "Phoenix Coney Island," "Koney's," or "Kirby's Coney Island."

For whatever reason, the "Coney Island" concept just hasn't caught on in Kalamazoo like it has on the east side. So, I was thrilled when I saw a place called "Coney'Z" off of Romence. I was able to convince the guys that we needed to try it for lunch, promising gyros would be available.

"Coney'Z" is a very small restaurant, with a very limited amount of space. There were about ten closely packed tables/booths, and the store itself was sharing space with the cafe next door. The food selection was pretty limited, too. There were no gyros, but there were "sliders", described as being like the White Castle ones. And, of course, there were hot dogs.

I was happy with my Coney dog with cheese and chili cheese fries, and it seemed most of the group was happy with at least portions of their meals. It seems like a place we will visit again. I am happy for this little place, but it really isn't like the Coney Islands from back home.

I also tried some chili-cheese fries at Nisker's recently, but wasn't really impressed; their regular fries are decent enough, but the chili and cheese they add really doesn't do it for me. So, I'll keep looking for my stand-in Coney dog and chili-cheese fries place.


Anonymous said...

I'm from Jackson and I also grew-up with a tradition of Coney Islands. Not so much on the Greek influence as you indicated and is common of the Detroit area, but nonetheless Coney Dog centric. I have over and over craved for a good coney joint in the kzoo/battle creek area but have yet to find any. I tried Coney'z today but they aren't open on a Sunday so I'll try someother time. The Coney Island in downtown kzoo near Monaco Bay is pretty good but not very flavorful.

Andy said...

Since I've posted about this, I've found another Coney place, out on... Stadium I think. It is another OK place, but I'm not going to jump up and down about the Coney experience there.

Most of my Coney eating is still done when I visit family back in Sterling Heights. You can barely go a block before hitting several Coney Islands there.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Flint and I also have been craving a "real" coney myself. I've been contemplating going back to flint just for a meal run, since I don't have any family there anymore. Coney's just aren't the same here in k-zoo, or any where for that matter, you can't beat an eastside coney. whether it's from Flint, Pontiac, or Detroit.

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