Friday, June 3, 2011

A Coney Island of the Stomach

Coney Island, one of the oldest restaurants in Galesburg, Illinois, opened in the 1920s by Greek-Americans. What county in the Midwest doesn’t have at least one Greek steakhouse, pizzeria or chili dog joint?

That’s an overstatement, but it goes to show what a considerable contribution to the culinary and cultural landscape Greek-Americans have given us. Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago, George’s in Fairfield, Iowa, Mr. Filet in Des Moines, Lafayette and American Coney Islands in Detroit, just to name a few. Greek industriousness, hospitality, and its flavor, abound.

On this sunny afternoon, I tried the namesake Coney Island hot dog. Simply, an all-meat-chili dog. Chopped onion and brown mustard are optional. The chili sauce is nothing more than seasoned ground beef, much like a Cincinnati-style chili, but not as saucy.
I couldn't tell you what spices are in the sauce, besides chili powder. The flavor starts off rather muted, then builds to a nice tingly zest on the tongue. And at two bucks and a nickel, you can eat a bunch without breaking the bank. It's cheap, tasty, and not at all good for you.

Washed down with a glass-bottle sugar 7 Up and I was a happy camper. My only regret was not having room to try their dozen-plus hot dog varieties, nor their sides of standard comfort food fare. A Coney slaw dog, with a side of baked beans and potato salad? Oh! How did I miss that?
Coney Island on Urbanspoon Photos from the Picasa Web Album: A respite in Galesburg

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