Detroit Coney Grill in Tempe: Hot Diggity (Coney) Dog
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
All photos by Laura Hahnefeld Coney close-up.
For Michiganders (yours truly included), there may be not be a more sacred food than the Detroit Coney.
Typically constructed with a beef-and-pork, natural-casing hot dog nestled into a steamed bun and slathered with a beanless ground beef seasoned chili sauce (runnier in Detroit than in Flint, where beef heart is usually added), then topped with onions and yellow mustard, Detroit Coneys are more or less the Heaven-sent road food of the Motor City.
And just under two weeks ago, they made their way to a new spot in Tempe.
See also: Portillo's Opens in Tempe
Courtesy of Michigan native David Najor, who spent years working for his family's grocery stores in Detroit before moving to the Valley in 2011, Detroit Coney Grill serves up Detroit Coneys and Detroit Looseburgers (think a heartier and livelier sloppy Joe), as well as customizable burgers, salads, and hand-cut fries smothered in chili and cheese.
And Najor's come prepared with Detroit-based ingredients and products, too, like Faygo and Better Made Potato Chips.
You'll want a Coney -- make that two. The best I've had in the Valley so far, Najor's version features a decent all-beef natural-casing dog with a good snap as well as a top-notch signature chili sauce -- made with seasonings and spices such as chili powder, cayenne pepper, and garlic -- with a rich, mildly spiced, and meaty taste reminiscent of the famous Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit.
My one criticism: I wish the bun was better. Too crisp and flour-y, it fell short on being as successful as the Coney's hot dog and chili sauce.
Najor's very good chili, along with gooey cheese sauce, can also be had atop hand-cut, skin-on fries, fries -- which, on my visit, could have benefited from a little more time in the fryer.
Detroit Coney Grill, with its bright orange and white-tiled walls, Detroit memorabilia on the walls, and friendly counter service, seems to have hit the ground running with Michigan transplants. Donned in ball caps and jersey's from Detroit sports teams, they've been packing the place since it opened. And although it's still working on a few kinks, for now, there isn't a better place in the Valley to score Detroit Coney dogs.
Multiple visits for this Michigan transplant are imminent.