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Coney's in Detroit; a question

So I stopped into Linda's Place in St Clair Shores yesterday for my monthly 99 cent coney fix. While I was dismantling my meal, I was thinking that I've never been able to pick up one of Linda's Coney dogs in my hands to eat it. There's that much coney sauce slathered over the dog. Don't get me wrong it's a good hot dog, and the sauce is blissful schmered over the bun. But a knife and fork are required tools at this meal.

My question to chowhounds is: are your favorite coney dogs "finger food"? Or do you, as I have to; use a knife and fork to keep order on your plate--and not in your lap?

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  1. There's no such thing as an "open-faced dog" in my opinion. If it can't be reasonably picked up without much mess/problem, what you have there is either failure, or something altogether different from what one might refer to as a "dog".

    3 Replies
    1. re: boagman

      Unless your 21 and it's 2:30 am at Lafayette. LOL

      1. re: boagman

        I don't know that I've ever eaten a Coney without a fork. Who makes a clean Coney? And why?

        1. re: boagman

          I'll slop on to the side of Knife and Fork....

        2. I'll usually pick up the coney to eat it--the knife and fork thing just doesn't seem right!

          But I definitely use about 10 napkins per coney.

          1 Reply
          1. re: coney with everything

            Honestly, years ago, I remember being able to do just that!

          2. If I can't pick it up, it isn''t a Coney.

            1 Reply
            1. re: KansasTravel

              I disagree. I don't think it's ever even occurred to me to try to pick one up and eat it.

            2. More data: I just returned from a 2-coney lunch at Little Joe's Coney Island on Schoenherr @ Nine Mile Road in Warren. Their coneys have even more coney sauce than I'm regularly served at Linda's Place!

              5 Replies
              1. re: RedTop

                Tuesday Coney lunch @ Friendly Family Restaurant on E. 10 Mile, just west of I-94 in Eastpointe. A true neighborhood diner, evidenced by the large group of locals eating late breakfasts and early lunches today. 99 cent coneys here on Tuesdays. Knife and fork required to dissemble the dogs. Nice snap to the tubesteak.

                1. re: RedTop

                  Another 99 cent Coney fest at Friendly Family Restaurant today! The dogs are Dearborn brand franks in casing (I asked). My serving today was terrific. Bun, dog, chili sauce, yellow mustard and nice portion of diced onion.

                  AND...I was able to pick it up in my hand and eat it without using any utensils. No residue on my shirt or pants!

                  1. re: RedTop

                    Hey, RedTop--cheap coneys on the weekends (50 cents each if you eat in, IIRC) at Sandy's by the Beech in Redford (5 Mile and Beech Daly). Good dogs and unlike many coney/family restaurants, you can have a beer with them!

                    1. re: coney with everything

                      Thanks for the tip! I think we're actually going to be out that way this weekend!

                      1. re: coney with everything

                        I love Sandy's, but their coneys are sub-par. The hotdogs they use are on the mushy side and lack the snap of a good vienna style dog. However, at 50 cents apiece I don't complain.

                2. coneys should be finger food. however, sometimes if the kitchen is busy, the cook is less than skilled (or just doesn't give a crap), the server joggles the plate, etc., etc., etc., the sauce will slop over the sauce-constraining perimeter of the top of the bun, and you have a mess on your hands. literally. at that point, i pick up a knife and fork and dig in. tastes the same, but not exactly as satisfying as eating a sloppy old coney with your hands and managing not to spill any down the front of you, or get any on your cuffs. another alternative if you've ordered a coney combo with fries is to take a fry and try to scrape up the extraneous sauce to make the coney more manageable. ah coneys, nature's perfect food.

                  1. My entire life, I've eaten coneys with a knife and fork, and don't know anyone that eats them with their hands. It's just not right...

                    1. I got a coney at a "Chicago style hot dogs" place outside Cincinnati called "Hot Doggin' It" and it was basically served as a plate that you had to eat with a knife and fork. I was pretty surprised when I got it. The chili just covered everything else, like a beef hot shot but with chili.

                      OTOH, the Cincinnati style chili places around town all serve "hand holdable" coneys.

                      The main issue seems to be a *lot* of chili served in a too small bun. If it's not such a generous portion you can pick it up and eat it "safely".

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: donw9876

                        Am I the only one who thinks that Cincinnati chili has no flavor?

                        1. re: KansasTravel

                          You are not alone in that opinion. At least no good flavors.

                          I do not understand the Skyline Chili thing....and I used to live in Central Ohio.

                          1. re: KansasTravel

                            I live in Southwest Ohio. I have for the last fifteen years after being born and bred in the Detroit area.
                            I am still baffled at the popularity of it around here. And some even think Skyline, etc. is pretty much the same thing as Detroit coneys.

                            1. re: KansasTravel

                              > Am I the only one who thinks that Cincinnati chili has no flavor?

                              No ... and I was born there and grew up with the stuff. I don't even consider
                              it comfort food.

                          2. The responses to this query are of very great interest to me. I find it interesting that, even within a local region, there could be this diverse of an opinion on such an issue...it's practically divided right down the middle, and we're all firmly grounded in our opinions on it!

                            I'm still dead-set on *any* dog being able to be reasonably picked up and eaten in a sandwichesque way, especially since it's basically inconceivable to me to even think about someone using stinking *utensils*. I'm of the same mind about pizza, too: pick up a slice with your hands (when temperature permits) and leave the silver to grandma.

                            I'm actually finding myself amused by the thought of using a knife and fork for such things. What, you gonna need a lace doily with that, too? Perhaps a fine linen napkin? A pickle fork? The "good" china? Perhaps a string quartet to play some chamber music whilst thou dost consume thy goods? ;)

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: boagman

                              Would a spork be acceptable to use?

                                  1. re: JanPrimus

                                    That's not my spork. But I would imagine the gods would eat their Detroit coneys as they're supposed to.

                                    1. re: JanPrimus

                                      Jan, that is stinking *hilarious*. I actually want one just based on the description alone! Heh.

                                1. re: boagman

                                  It’s got nothing to do with etiquette. Coney-style hot dog chili (usually a unique blend of beef hearts, cracker meal and spices) has become the star player of the dish. People want a lot of it on their dog, hence the sloppiness, and are obviously willing to go to the trouble of using utensils to eat it. Serve it like that at a ballpark and you’ve got a problem but Detroit’s Coney Island restaurants are sit down dining affairs.

                                  I’m still wondering where you get these tidy Coney dogs. Even the chains like Kerby’s and National make them sloppy. Do they make them different for carry-out?

                                  1. re: Tabrams

                                    Just ate at kerby's the other night, had a coney combo as did my dining partner. Both of us picked them up and ate them. Went to A&W last week, got a coney at the drive up. Again ate it with my hands. The sauce can be loaded on, it just can't slop over the bun. I've eaten a lot of coneys in a lot of places around detroit, ann arbor, and bay city/flint, at chains and at independent restos. The overwhelming majority of the time the coneys have been able to be picked up and eaten. I haven't perceived a difference in the dine-in versus to-go coneys.

                                    1. re: charlesbois

                                      My Coney eating is mostly limited to Detroit city and the inner-ring suburbs. And my experience is quite the opposite of yours. I just ate at the Kerby’s on 14 and John R this past Saturday afternoon. Though the Coney arrived with all the sauce inside the bun, the minute you try and pick it up it oozes all over the place. You could eat it with your hands I suppose, but it hardly seems worth the effort when you have a fork sitting right there next to you.

                                      I suspect it’s places like A&W, where you don’t have access to utensils, that make an effort to serve a Coney that can be eaten by hand. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure the Coney I got at Lipuma’s in Rochester, which is more of a walk-up then a diner, could be eaten by hand. BTW, Lipuma’s is a great place to eat a Coney on a warm Saturday afternoon right next to the burbling Paint Creek.

                                      Anyway, this whole discussion is subject to how we individually perceive if a Coney is too messy to eat with our hands. I’ll admit that the minute I start getting sauce on my hands and dripping on the plate I’ll go to silverware. Thankfully, I don’t recall anyone ever thinking me bourgeoisie for eating a Coney with a fork.

                                      Now, who makes the best patty melt?

                                      1. re: Tabrams

                                        Maybe it's just that the coney places I've frequented make it difficult to eat with your hands. People tend to be pretty loyal to their coney islands, so while I've eaten many a coney I tend to only get them from a few select places.

                                        1. re: Tabrams

                                          Five Star Coney Island on Nine Mile Road, just west of Hoover. Stopped today. First Coney Island in memory that I could pick up and eat. Sauce landed on the third button from the top! Koegel franks, I was told by a manager.

                                          1. re: RedTop

                                            "First Coney Island in memory that I could pick up and eat."

                                            You haven't done American or Lafayette?

                                          2. re: Tabrams

                                            I love Patty Melts! Have eaten thousands of them (really) since I discovered this plate. My new favorite is turned out by Classic Coney Island restaurant on Utica Road, in Fraser. Get their french fries to accompany the sandwich. Amazing. Classic is south of 15 Mile Road on the west side of Utica Road. Go. Go now.

                                            1. re: RedTop

                                              You have to try the Fly Trap's upscale version -- Moroccan spiced chicken breast, jack cheese and caramelized onion on grilled sourdough with a lemon garlic aioli. Fantastic!

                                              Chili fries and a patty melt is my go to Coney Island diner meal.

                                              1. re: Tabrams

                                                That sandwich at the Flytrap is absolutely awesome. I LOVE it! Definitely not something I could eat all the time (or I'd be 1,000 pounds) but it was delicious!

                                          3. re: charlesbois

                                            A&W coneys can be eaten by hand, but they aren't real coneys.

                                      2. Seems to me some places use the squarish hot dog bun, which makes the coney easier to pick up. Can't remember which--Kerby's, maybe? I don't eat coneys on a regular basis but buy them when I have a sudden hankering. I always try to pick them up, but with an ordinary bun I usually give up and use a fork.

                                        1. If you can pick it up, it is a "Chili Dog", not a coney.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Cathy

                                            So true. There is a difference!

                                            1. re: tdmort

                                              No . No , no , no . A coney can , and should , be eaten by hand . The thing is , you must designate a messy coney hand and a clean drink and fries hand . I use my left hand to lift the coney to mouth , and put the fork in my right hand to assist the plate to mouth transfer , kinda like a forklift . This lets one hand ( the left ) get all gooey and messy , while the other ( right ) hand is free to sip Redpop and dip fries in salty ketchup . Finish dogs , lick fingers , leave tip , ans Bob's yer uncle .

                                          2. I somehow feel cheated if there isn't enough Coney sauce (i usually get the special with the loose beef added) and I can still pick it up. Loaded dog's need tools--it's OK.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: workinglunches2

                                              I had a foot-long chile dog with the works and a Boston Cooler at the Dairy Park in Hazel Park on Saturday. (It don't get much better than this). You don't get silverware so you gotta eat it by hand. I made it about half way thru before it fell apart. I still finished it all, had chile all over my shirt and face and hands but who cares.

                                              1. re: Emil N. Firpo

                                                I always used a knife and fork, but I also get the Lafayette Special with wxtra ground beef,

                                            2. Vice President Biden was in Detroit today and bought a round of coneys for the house at Lafayette Coney Island downtown, including Governor Granholm. Granholm ate hers with a fork, but the Veep picked his up. Make of it what you will.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Jim M

                                                So, the second-most-powerful person in the free world eats his correctly, and one of the worst governors in the history of Michigan (who also happens to be a displaced Canuck) eats hers improperly?

                                                In fairness, I really liked Granholm as AG, but as a governor, she's the worst thing that happened to the state since Blanchard. It's no surprise that she screws up a coney as well. ;)

                                                1. re: boagman

                                                  I always have seen her as the one that was responsible for cleaning up the mess Engler left. Screwed from the beginning. As the state was going down hill (Something I don't blame on any politician) he killed all of the states revenue by Tax cuts to a point where we can barely function with base services. Tax cuts are the easy way out...killing revenue when you know your state will be sliding further is penny wise and pound foolish.

                                                  Yes I am one of those that wishes Taxes would be raised a little. HFCS would be nice to hit. <---had to turn it back towards food.

                                                  1. re: JanPrimus

                                                    well, Jenny is usually well-tailored. I imagine she really didn't want chili on her suit, or chili smell on her hands the rest of the day!

                                                    Not sure anyone could have done better with the current political/economic mess. Not her fault that the automakers tanked.

                                              2. Latest coney alert: Luigi's Coney Island; Groesbeck Highway, on the NW corner of 14 Mile Road in Fraser. 99 cent coney's on Mondays. Serve Vernors from the fountain. Very good!

                                                1. Melody Baetens writing in the Detroit News today had these observations about the current state of Coneys...

                                                  1. I'll occasionally eat with a knife and fork if I'm wearing something I don't want red stains on. But getting down and dirty is part of the deal. I have no problem at all with messy foods.

                                                    Burgers that have juice running down your arm........incredible.