Detroit Coney Grill Serves Classic Hot Dogs In Tempe. Here's What to Order | Phoenix New Times

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Best Bites: Detroit Coney Grill Brings A Taste of The Motor City To The Valley

Detroit Coney Grill in Tempe serves the closest you can get to the classic without leaving the Valley.
The Detroit Coney is as authentic as a Phoenician can get almost two thousand miles away from the Motor City.
The Detroit Coney is as authentic as a Phoenician can get almost two thousand miles away from the Motor City. Natasha Yee
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Welcome to Best Bites, a series where we celebrate not a whole restaurant or menu, but one specific and amazing dish. These bites have something to say and we are listening. Keep reading for dishes that are seriously worth the trek across metro Phoenix to find. Dig in!

The Coney dog may seem like it's just a plain old hot dog topped with chili. But in Detroit, it's much more than that. It's a rite of passage that brings a comforting end to many a late-night jaunt.  And though the space between Phoenix and the Motor City spans almost two thousand miles, Detroit Coney Grill knows its way around the handheld, savory delicacy.

The downtown Tempe restaurant sits on bustling Mill Avenue between Sixth and Seventh Streets, and is one of many dining options in an area dominated by Arizona State University students. Detroit Coney Grill serves casual, yet substantial bites including the Quad Burger, four beef patties stacked high between a three-piece bun oozing with cheddar cheese and topped with Thousand Island dressing.

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The employees at Detroit Coney Grill don t-shirts that read "Made in Detroit."
Natasha Yee
National Geographic recognized the restaurant as the ninth-best burger joint in the country in 2016, based on Yelp reviews. But as juicy as its burgers may be, they're not the star of the show. Among the menu of chicken wings, fried pickle chips, sliders, and pita wraps, the Detroit Coney hot dog is the real draw here.

Its name is derived from the Coney Island hot dog. Coney Island is a peninsular neighborhood in a southwestern area of Brooklyn, New York. Many Greek and Macedonian immigrants visited the famous spot after arriving on Ellis Island in the early 1900s, according to the Detroit Historical Society.

Nathan's Famous brand offered the ubiquitous "basic frank in a bun" all over Coney Island. The Greek and Macedonian immigrants en route to Detroit took it from there, the Detroit Historical Society says. They topped the hot dog surrounded by a soft, steamed bun with beanless chili, diced white onions, and yellow mustard and dubbed it the Coney Dog.

Though the phenomenon began in the early 1900s, there is no shortage of Coney restaurants in Detroit today. But when cravings hit for the real thing in Phoenix, thousands of miles away from Coney Island or Detroit, there's no better option in the Valley than Detroit Coney Grill.

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Pro Tip: Order the onions on the side if you have plans after lunch.
Natasha Yee
If you have plans following a midday lunch, maybe order the onions on the side. Additional topping options include diced tomatoes, which add a refreshing bite to the hearty sandwich. And an order of thick, hand-cut fries rounds out the meal.

These massive and messy dogs are served with a fork and knife that absolutely no one in Detroit would judge you for using.The bun is steamed to perfection, served with the beef Frankfurter topped with hearty chili. The tomatoes add freshness while the mustard lends a zing.

The Tempe restaurant has a diner-meets-sports-bar vibe with checkered tiles, big-screen TVs, and upholstered booths. The restaurant's logo which features the Detroit "D" front and center, is sprinkled throughout. Employees don shirts that read "Made in Detroit" on the back.

Other staples like Better Made Potato Chips in original, sour cream and onion, and red hot barbecue flavors, and Faygo sodas, including red pop, cotton candy, and orange variations, are plentiful.

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There are many flavors of Faygo, a Detroit-based soda, to choose from.
Natasha Yee
Though Dave Najor, the eatery's owner, wasn't in on our recent visit, his Detroit roots can be felt from the menu. Najor began his career in food service in the grocery industry, according to the Detroit Coney Grill website. His appreciation of fresh ingredients and attention to detail are apparent at his restaurants.

Detroit Coney Grill also has a Scottsdale location at Hayden and Indian Bend Roads to sate Coney cravings in another part of metro Phoenix.

Inside the Tempe eatery, a cheeky sign reads, "It's not a hot dog. It's a Coney dog." As any proud Detroiter will tell you, there's an immense difference. But you don't have to take our word for it; head into Detroit Coney Grill and try one for yourself.

Detroit Coney Grill

699 South Mill Avenue, #119, Tempe
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