Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Welcome To The Wiener’s Circle

Coney Island Wiener Stand
131 West Main St.
Fort Wayne, IN

Sometimes finding a cool place to eat is counter-intuitive.

If a place has a hysterically uncool sounding name, chances are, it’s a cool place to eat.

I mean, would you eat at a place called Coney Island Wiener Stand?

In all my decades on this planet I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “wiener” in a sentence. I don’t think anyone else in the last half century has either.

At least no one I hang out with.

So any place with a name like Coney Island Wiener Stand has got to have been around a while.

Try 96 years to be exact.

Packing them in for 96 years. There was barely a place to sit on this cold mid-winter Monday in Northern Indiana.

The menu board is short with a few extraneous things like burgers and fries. But no body orders those.

Everyone comes here for Coneys.

The Coney Island hot dog is one of those quirky culinary footnotes of Americana.

How does the name of an amusement park in New York City get attached to a popular Midwestern junk food delicacy?

Beats the heck out of me.

Some claim the hot dog was first introduced to America by a German immigrant at Coney Island in the 1870s. But that doesn’t explain why the distinctive Midwestern version, smothered in chili sauce, mustard and raw onions still carries the name of its distant ancestor a century and a half later.

You can find Coney Islands all over the Midwest from Chili parlors to family restaurants to specialty wiener stands like this one.

Fort Wayne’s version is delicious and satisfying. They go light on the chili, heavy on the onions, nicely complimenting the mild taste of the hot dog.

But like the inexplicable popularity of White Castle burgers, the bun here steals the show.

Fresh from the bakery and steamed to a pliable softness, these hot dog buns serve as much more than a delivery vehicle for processed meat. It’s the soft deliciousness of the buns that make these Coneys so addictive.

This is a lunch that hits the spot without hitting the wallet. After one of the best lunches I’ve had in days, the bill came to a whopping total of $2.70, including tax.

I left a 50% tip – and still felt guilty about it.

But that’s Midwesterners for you. Traditional. Frugal. And old fashioned enough after nearly a century to keep flocking to a place named Coney Island Wiener Stand.

Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt.
Coney Island Wiener Stand on Urbanspoon

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