Gopher Bar St Paul MN
I recently moved back here from Milwaukee, and I really miss the Coney Islands I used to get at "The Coney Island" at 6th and National on Milwaukee's South Side. The old Coney Island in downtown St Paul is closed for renovations, and I understand it has been for about 14 years. There used to be a great Coney Island joint on Rice Street a few blocks North of University Ave, across the street from the sausage place (great beef jerky), but now both places are gone.
I heard that the Gopher Bar on West 7th had great coneys, so I tried it out today for lunch. Forget it. The coney sauce is too thick and has little flavor. The gin & tonic left a bad taste. The place should be avoided.
Any good Coney Islands in the Twin Cities?
In my experience, traditional coney dogs come topped with a very thin sauce. Lots of raw diced onion and yellow mustard. And nothing else.
I happen to like the Gopher Bar's version of the coney dog. And the owner/operator George, has always been nice to me and my kids. As someone else mentioned, the buns are coated with garlic butter and toasted and I love that, but the sauce is much thicker than a traditional coney sauce. And really, the favor the cheese on top which is also not a traditional coney dog.
A chicago dog is nothing like a coney dog and most places that make chicago dogs do not make good coney dogs. They make chili dogs. Uncle Franky's version is not bad, but it's not a coney. There's a place in my hometown, Fort Wayne Indiana, that's been making traditional coney dogs continuously since before 1920. And they're like the place in St. Paul that closed 14 years ago. The coney sauce recipe for the weinery looks like it might be too thick. Otherwise, it looks about right. In Cincinnati, they might add a pinch of cinnamon.
I liked the dogs at Valley Lounge too. They were more traditional than the dogs at the Gopher or Uncle Franky's.
I am sorry you did not like the Gopher. It has been a while since I've been. What I remember is sublime buns - they brush garlic butter on the buns and toast them. Mmmm... Made one forget the specifics on the dog and the sauce. I must go back, just thinking about that delicious bun.
What about Uncle Franky's on Broadway in NE Minneapolis? I'm also not an expert on the Coney (or why something named after Coney Island seems to have its roots in Detroit)
They specialize in Chicago Hot Dogs, but it seems like the kind of place that would get the Coney right.
I've had people swear by the Coneys at the Valley Lounge at the intersection of Highway 13 and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. I had one there once and didn't think it was anything life-changing. As far as Eagan goes it's a good place for lunch though if you don't mind going back to work smelling like an ashtray.
The Wienery on Cedar may be your best bet for a hotdog... granted I myself have never had a true Coney Island, but the Wienery is pretty well established...
here's the info you need
414 Cedar Avenue S.
Here's a recipe to make it yourself:
Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce
1-1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 large onion - finely chopped
32 ozs. tomato puree
2 tsp. prepared yellow mustard (such as French's)
1 cup light brown sugar
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
In a large skillet, VERY lightly brown the ground beef and onions. Break up the ground beef as fine as possible. Drain off fat and set aside. In a large saucepan, combine all the remaining ingredients and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the browned ground beef & onions. Stir, then simmer for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Or, place the sauce in a crockpot, set on low, for about the same amount of time. Sauce will thicken.