As readers of this blog know, the thing I love most about food is regional cuisine. Sure, I may not like everything that makes a region popular, but I love the idea that no matter where you grew up, there’s going to be some brand, food, or preparation technique that will always make you think of home.
In Michigan, that food is the Coney Dog. I’m not a hot dog eater, so it’s not something that I’ve been able to adapt to. I’ve tried it once and wasn’t a huge fan only because I don’t like the dog. The chili is delicious and I could eat that without the hot dogs.
There are always imitators when it comes to a region’s marquee cuisine. Yeah, you can get a coney dog here in Lansing, but up until last week, you couldn’t get it from one of the big names in Detroit coney’s.
National Coney Station opened up on Grand River Avenue in the building that was most recently Moe’s Firehouse. Before that, it was a Spartan Gyro. National Coney did a lot of work to the building to clean it up. I never got a chance to eat at Moe’s before it closed, but for some reason, the place always scared me a little bit.
National Coney Station is not quite the same as the National Coney Island restaurants you’re familiar with in Detroit. They’re owned by the same company, but they’re designed to be more of a quickservice restaurant. The menu is much, much smaller having only nine choices plus some a la cart items.
You place your order at the counter and wait for your number to be called. J was hoping to get a salad, but the ladies in front of us tried the same and they were told the store was out of salad at the moment. I didn’t want to try a Coney Dog even though I sort of did. Instead, I ordered the only hamburger option on the menu. The NCI Station Burgers which are basically sliders. The order is three small hamburgers with carmelized onions, pickles, mustard and ketchup. I left the onions off and made mine a combo with fries and a drink. The burgers were nothing more than fast food. They were about two bite burgers on plain white buns with a pickle. They tasted a lot like McDonald’s Dollar Menu cheeseburgers. They were good and filling, but nothing special either. The fries were restaurant fries that were nice and crispy. Again, nothing special, but good comfort food.
J ended up trying the Buffalo Hani. There are only two Hani choices and fortunately, one of them was Buffalo chicken. The chicken was golden brown chicken tenders that were covered in a Buffalo sauce. It was then laid on a bed of American and Swiss cheese, topped with lettuce, tomato, and a bleu cheese sauce then wrapped in a grilled pita. J really liked the sandwich. There were a few too tomatoes, but that usually happens with chicken wraps. She loved the two different kinds of cheeses and the grilled pita.
Our bill was just over eleven bucks. Being an outsider, National Coney Station came off as a fast food restaurant with not enough choices to me. Looking at the National Coney Island menu’s makes me think they have a lot more to offer. For Detroiters now living in Mid-Michigan, National Coney Station is going to be a nice little slice of home right here in our backyard. More variety along Grand River is always a good thing and National Coney Station definitely brings something unique to the MSU campus.