I am reasonably sure that most folks have heard of a Coney dog or as it was called years ago a Coney Island. That is a hot dog topped with a meat and tomato sauce. If not then surely you are familiar with the Chili dog. The difference is the type of meat sauce. The Chili has a more pronounced Southwest flair to it. I have always thought the Coney Island dog came from New York. Actually I have discovered that the name may be from New York but the sandwich hails from Detroit. At the turn of the century Greek and Armenian immigrants started selling hot dogs smothered with a meat sauce. Possibly in an effort to “Americanize” it they named it Coney Island. Since that was the reputed home of the hot dog they thought it apt.
The reason I got interested in their history is a new carry out joint opened in Indy selling authentic Detroit Coney Dogs. The owner gets the sauce from Detroit so it should be authentic. After I realized that I had to get to Chucks Coneys I thought why not make it a multi part review. I know of several joints that sell coneys and chili dogs. Knowing that I could eat more than one in a day I decided to go ahead. Due to the logistics Chucks would be my last stop for day one. Naturally it wasn’t open. Their web site listed Saturday hours they just weren’t open. So let’s begin with Big Dan’s.
Big Dan’s used to be called Mr. Dan’s; and before that it was Gay Dan’s. As the sign says it has been around since 1950. I think in the 80’s it fell on hard times and now only the one at 5925 Mass. Avenue remains. I read where in the past 50 years 16 Mr. Dan’s have opened and closed. It is an authentic Hoosier experience.
They use an all beef dog. Initially it was Nathans now it is Eisenberg dogs; the Chicago dog. The dog is excellent. A great snap with a bit of spice and wonderful texture. I really couldn’t tell much about the coney sauce the amount was small and it couldn’t compete with the cheese and onion. I think to properly judge I have to go back and try just the dog and sauce. My version with onion, cheese and mustard was $4.68.
They have some replica ads from the Gay Dan days.
Garcia’s Hot dogs. 5102 E 16th Street
Garcia’s is a hot dog-cart doing business at the corner of 16th and Emerson Ave. I have seen it on several occasions but never had an opportunity to stop. I am glad I finally did. He has an amazing set up that allows him to griddle his dogs to order. He also has bacon wrapped dogs.
He greets every customer with a smile, a handshake and a hearty Welcome My Friend. The man understands Hospitality.
He splits his dogs length wise and cooks them on his griddle; giving them a bit of char. He puts them in a steamed bun, adds cheese then a bunch of chili. The onion finish gives it a nice crunch. His chili has a definite Southwest flavor. Loaded with cumin. Reminiscent of tamales. More than likely from a can but fits the dog well. It was very messy to eat in your car, it could stand a knife and fork.
Next time I am in the area I am trying a bacon dog with some of his homemade relish. His chili cheese dog was $3.50. I gave him $5 because that was definitely a 5 buck dog.
Coming soon Part 2 of Coney Dogs on Indianapolis.
I am sure that anyone under the age of 30 who lives anywhere in the vicinity of 49th St. and College Avenue has been to the Sinking ship. After all, I’m told that it is a joint for hipsters. I’m not sure what that means. All I know is that it’s a big bar, a clean bar with really good beer and really good prices. It also has a very unique menu for a tavern. It offers several vegan options. That includes but is not limited to, soy chorizo and soy cheese. They even offer seitan wings. Seitan is also called “wheat meat“. It is created by some mystical process where wheat is reduced to gluten, leaving protein rich, “meat like” product. I have been wanting to try it for quite a while. However it reminds me too much of the movie Solyent Green. But someday, someday.
Pat and I have been there several times for beer. They don’t start serving lunch until noon and, we like to get started around 11-ish. You know old dudes. Last week I made a solo trip to break the ice. So to speak.I didn’t order off the menu. I tried their special. Which was a chili dog with fries for $7.50. The dog was a good all beef wiener but was only a quarter pounder. They make their own chili and it worked great as a Coney sauce. I will have to try it by itself to see how it works as straight up chili.
When Pat and I went back together I knew exactly what I would order. They offer smoked pork in two different forms. One as a barbecue sandwich; the other as a Cuban sandwich. That is a combo of pork, ham, cheese, dill pickle and mustard. Pressed in a hoagie roll. And they actually smoke their pig in a smoker, outback behind the kitchen. You could actually taste the smoke, faint but definitely there. The ham was decent Deli style, and worked really well with the cheese and everything else. A compact package of good food in a Gonnella roll. The fries I had were decidedly different from the ones that came with my hotdog. I asked Bartender Ben and he told me that they had indeed changed. They were now making their own french fries. Well, I think Bartender Ben was pulling my leg a little bit. But that’s okay. He did an outstanding job anticipating our refills.
As I’ve mentioned before Pat is a traveling puzzlement as to what he’s going to eat at any given time. As if to illustrate the point, he ordered fried tofu with peanut sauce and a slice of pepperoni pizza. Pizza was their three dollar lunch special.He enjoy the pizza,telling me he thought the crust was home-made. The only reason I’m writing this much is that Patrick’s review is a little more esoteric than normal. Nicely done just a little, well, esoteric.