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Escalators, Dancing Dealers, A Loooong Bar And Now At The D: Chili Dogs

Where: 301 E Fremont St. [map], 89101
November 2, 2012 at 2:10 PM | by | ()

The D has been bringing a little bit of Detroit to downtown for a few weeks now. Its biggest Motor City influence has been exhibited by the arrival of American Coney Island. The 24-hour hot dog joint straight outta Michigan is located right under the fancy new ride escalating on up to the second level Vue Bar.

Since we can't survive purely on pancakes, pizza, and fried Oreos while downtown, hot dogs sounded like a cheap eat worth checking out.

We stopped in to snack on Just One Dish figuring if it's on the marquee it must be worth going after first. After the dogs, the remainder of the menu is small focused on the only non-dog items -- burgers, gyros, fries and chili. Chili, cheese, and onions are the main ingredients here. They can be added to anything. Chili fries? Check. Cheese fries? Yep. Chili cheese fries? Of course. Bowl of just chili? You bet.

The ordering counter is a bit cramped so it's actually a good thing menu is "focused." It forces indeciders into decisions rather than create a traffic jam. Plenty of dogs are always on the grill, but food is made to order on the spot.

The restaurant itself is also on the small side but not tiny, with diner-style tables and chairs decked out in red, white and gold. The walls display old-timey (we couldn't keep it to October) pics of Michigan and American Coney Island. If you need to hit a restroom or just wash the paws, plan to before going in. The nearest bathroom we found is on the other side of the casino's first floor. Maybe, the D's plan is for patrons to work up an appetite weaving past slot machines and dancing dealers.

The Coney Dog ($3.75) is a specially-seasoned Dearborn Sausage brand hot dog in natural casing served in a steamed bun. It comes topped with mustard, sweet chopped onions, and a century old, family secret recipe for special chili sauce. That combination brought back memories of east coast drive-ins and dive diners that specialized in basic but delicious sauced up dogs.

Detroit-ers will likely flock to the D for dogs for the same reason of recalling good times with their taste buds. Setting expectations of those same east coast dogs with sauces full of meaty flavor may have been a mistake for us, however. The Styrofoam-plated dog itself was solid; a great bite through the soft bun. The onions and mustard were a perfect combination that made us feel right back at home. But, the chili sauce could've used more flavor and was just a bit too watery for us. Instead of burying ourselves chin deep in chili, it made for a rather messy meal that forced us to constantly look for napkins eat quickly before the bun got soggy rather than fully enjoying the Coney Dog.

Even though we didn't love the chili sauce, we'd opt for dogs at the D again now that we know not to expect quite the same dogs we grew up with. We wouldn't go out of our way for it like we would pizza and it's probably not the best drunk food but, at 3 a.m., the best laid nutritional plans usually disappear, don't they?

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