National Coney Station

15 09 2009
  • 565 E. Grand River Avenue
  • East Lansing, MI 48823
  • (517) 351-2100
  • Website
  • Menu
National Coney Station on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing.

National Coney Station on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing.

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.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Dairy Queen – Clifton, IL

14 09 2009
  • 1 Bradie Drive
  • Clifton, IL 60927
  • (815) 694-3202
  • Website
  • Menu
The Dairy Queen in (and only fast food option anywhere near) Clifton, IL

The Dairy Queen in (and only fast food option anywhere near) Clifton, IL

For those of you that didn’t grow up in a small town, you will have no idea what I’m talking about.  Imagine growing up in a town without a McDonald’s, a Walmart, or a Blockbuster.  In fact, imagine that the closest location of any of those three was a half hour away.  That’s how things were when I was growing up.  We only had two options when it came to eating out.  There was the local family run restaurant and a Dairy Queen.

Things haven’t really changed much in the town where I grew up (and my parents still live).  Well, actually they have.  The Dairy Queen is gone.  It moved five miles north.  That actually happened when I was in high school, so it wasn’t a big deal.  I had my driver’s license by then so I could still get the Blizzard’s that I craved.  

While I moved away from home, my brother stayed pretty close.  He moved to that town five miles to the north which is still in the same school district and for all intents and purposes, is still considered part of the same community.  We didn’t really go by towns where I’m from.  We go by school districts.  Yes, my high school was sixteen miles from my house in the middle of a cornfield.  Literally.  It’s in a corn field.  Read the rest of this entry »





Qdoba Mexican Grill – Delta Township

30 08 2009
  • 5415 W. Saginaw Highway
  • Lansing, MI 48917
  • (517) 977-0063
  • Website
  • Menu
Qdoba Mexican Grill on Saginaw Highway in Delta Township

Qdoba Mexican Grill on Saginaw Highway in Delta Township

I don’t think I need to tell you about our shopping patterns again….do I?  Of course, we were out in Delta Township and it was lunch time.  We weren’t in the mood to hunt out a sit down place and McDonald’s didn’t sound good either. 

I remember seeing a few months ago that Qdoba was moving into the space that used to be a Ya-Ya’s Chicken.  That was a while ago, so I assumed it was open. 

I’ve only eaten at Qdoba once in my life.  I used to work with a woman that loved it.  She would have lived inside Qdoba if they would have let her.  The closest one to us was forty minutes away, but if we were ever anywhere near it, I would have to take her for a burrito.  Only once did I actually eat lunch with her.  I wasn’t impressed, but I wasn’t turned off either. 

The newest Qdoba in the Lansing area is on Saginaw Highway across from the Lansing Mall.  Parking around the building isn’t great.  The entrance is actually on the side of the building and there are a few angled parking spots there.  If there’s a lot of traffic in the area of that strip mall, finding a close spot could be a challenge. 

The restaurant is set up sort of like a Subway.  There’s a counter where you order and it’s put together right in front of you.  I don’t like rice and it seems like all fast food Mexican likes to use rice filler.  Qdoba is no different.  That limits the options for me.  There were some things that sounded good, but I had a feeling it would be 90 percent rice and 10 percent meat.  Instead, I ordered three tacos.  Read the rest of this entry »





Sonic Drive-In – Birch Run

23 08 2009
  • 8650 Main Street
  • Birch Run, MI 48415
  • (989) 624-4700
  • Website
  • Menu
Sonic Drive In on Main Street in Birch Run.

Sonic Drive In on Main Street in Birch Run.

A few weeks ago, I put up a press release about Sonic opening a store in Birch Run.  I knew it was just a matter of time before we would find an excuse to make the trip east.

The Sonic in Birch Run is the chain’s fifth Michigan store.  It’s located on Main Street in front of the Prime Outlets.  You can see it as soon as you get off the Interstate.  The store has an exit and entrance from Main Street which was actually closed off when we first went by because of a lot of traffic, but most people will actually enter off Beyer Road in the back. 

When we took a trip to Flint just a few weeks after the Sonic opening there, we actually had to wait in a line to get a stall.  I assumed the same thing would happen in Birch Run.

We finally made our way to Sonic a little before six o’clock.  The main entrance is accessible from Beyer Road.  Since we were coming from the Outlet Mall, we were already close.  We pulled in to the drive way and I noticed a stall right away.  Instead of having two rows of stalls on one side of the building, they have one row on either side of the building.  Read the rest of this entry »





Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken – Kalamazoo South

18 08 2009
  • 4441 S. Westnedge Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49008
  • (269) 345-2151
  • Website
  • Menu
Lees Famous Recipe Chicken on Westnedge in Kalamazoo.

Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken on Westnedge in Kalamazoo.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had to drive to my parents house.  It’s been a nice break that’s about the change.  This trip is the first of many between work and wedding related events. 

I waited until J went to work, but I didn’t eat much before I left the house.  I was on my way to my brother’s for dinner, but that was still four or five hours away by the time I hit Kalamazoo.  I was hungry, so I knew I needed to get off and get something.

I don’t know much about Kalamazoo, but I do know Westnedge is a pretty good bet if you’re looking for something quick.  I wasn’t going to go to far down, but I drove a little ways off the Interstate to see what was around.  Just as I was getting ready to turn around, I found a chicken place.

Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken has three locations in Kalamazoo.  The one I found is on the corner of Westnedge and Kilgore Road.  When I pulled into the lot, I had no idea this was a chain, but when I got inside and saw the signage, it was pretty obvious this place wasn’t your Mom & Pop chicken place. Read the rest of this entry »





Gumby’s Pizza and Wings

16 08 2009
  • 311 W. Grand River Avenue
  • East Lansing, MI 48823
  • (517) 351-8400
  • Website
  • Menu
Gumbys Pizza & Wings on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing.

Gumby's Pizza & Wings on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing.

Long hot days.  I haven’t had too many of them the summer, but I have had a lot in the last week or so.  It seems at work picks up for me, our pleasant summer has taken a vacation.  Saturday was no different.  A ten hour day at Michigan State left me hot, tired, and hungry.   I decided to act like a college kid and I put in an order for pizza.

I don’t know why I thought of Gumby’s Pizza and Wings as I was trying to look up phone numbers using the web browser on my outdated Motorola Razr.  I’ve heard of Gumby’s but I’ve never had a pizza from one.  The chain is pretty exclusive to college campuses with 25 locations throughout the US.  There is one other location in Michigan at WMU in Kalamazoo. 

The Gumby’s Pizza and Wings in East Lansing is in a tiny mixed use building just to the west of downtown on Grand River Avenue.  It’s right across the street from Crunchy’s which is the reason I first noticed this location.  The shop is mostly take out, but there are a couple tables and a quasi-lunch counter if you need a place to eat.  They also have a couple video games and a Pepsi machine in the lobby.  Read the rest of this entry »





Cottage Inn Pizza – Washington Square

10 08 2009
  • 303 S. Washington Square
  • Lansing, MI 48933
  • (517) 267-9000
  • Website
  • Menu
Cottage Inn Pizza on Washington Square in downtown Lansing.

Cottage Inn Pizza on Washington Square in downtown Lansing.

Long baseball games make me hungry.  I was at the Saturday night beating the Lugnuts took at the hands of the Dayton Dragons and by the time the game finally ended, I was craving pizza.  J was at home and hadn’t eat yet either.  She texted me to see what I was going to do and I told her to call for pizza.

Cottage Inn has several locations in Lansing and the surrounding area.  We usually order from the one in Holt because it’s closest to our place, but it was my turn to buy dinner.  Had J ordered from Holt, she would have had to buy, so I told her to call the downtown location and I’d just pick it up on my way home.

The Washington Square location sits near the corner of Washington Square and Washtenaw Street.  It’s a small building, but they actually have a little bit of seating in the front of the store.  They serve pizza by the slice and actually had some in the rotating glass case at 10:30 at night.  I’ve always wondered about that when I drive by after baseball games.  I guess it was Saturday night and they probably do a decent business from the bars with the slices. 

J ordered the pizza at 10:25.  When I got there at 10:45, the pizza wasn’t ready.  We had ordered a large thin crust that was half cheese and half all meat.  We also got an order of Cinnamon Stix. The Cinnamon Stix were on the rack ready to go, but the clerk told me they hadn’t put the pizza in yet, so I had to sit there for the ten minutes or so while the pizza cooked.  It was made, it just hadn’t been put in.  Read the rest of this entry »





Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill

10 08 2009
  • 2401 Lake Lansing Road
  • Lansing, MI 48912
  • (517) 316-9973
  • Website
  • Menu
Smokey Bones Barbeque and Grill on Lake Lansing Road in Lansing.

Smokey Bones Barbeque and Grill on Lake Lansing Road in Lansing.

My curiosity finally won out.  Is it possible for a large chain restaurant to make good BBQ?  I’ve tried in the past.  I’ve eaten at a Corky’s franchise hoping for the best, but leaving feeling disappointed.  In my experience, the best BBQ joints are always locally owned, they smoke on site, and they serve Memphis style BBQ. 

Saturday was a pretty crappy day.  J and I both overslept due to the rain.  Our bedroom looked dark all morning and neither of us were motivated enough to actually look at a clock to see what time it was.  When we did finally roll out of bed, we started our Saturday ritual of debating eateries and activities to fill our afternoon before I had to go to work.  I had the BBQ craving and J had a GAP Rewards card, so Eastwood Towne Center seemed like the best option.

Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill is just off of Lake Lansing Road in front of the Eastwood Towne Centre near the other chain restaurants that dominate the area.  It was a miserable rainy day when we pulled into the parking lot and fortunately, we found a parking spot near the door.  The main entrance does not face Lake Lansing Road like you’d expect it to.  It actually faces the access road for the mall.  Read the rest of this entry »





Sonic Drive In – Oregon, OH

3 08 2009
  • 2925 Navarre Avenue
  • Oregon, OH 43616
  • (419) 691-6600
  • Website
  • Menu
The Sonic Drive In in Oregon, OH

The Sonic Drive In in Oregon, OH

So, I’m sure many of you were expecting a review of one of Michael Symon’s restaurants in this spot.  I mean, if I’m going to Cleveland, you’d think I’d check out one of my favorite chef’s places, right?  Normally, you would be right, but this time, I was tired and already promised J we’d find a Sonic on the way home.  In addition to that, neither of us were really dressed for dinner at a fancy restaurant.  We would have been ok for lunch, but would have felt out of place at dinner.

We left Cleveland at about 5:30.  Had we used the GPS to look, we could have found a Sonic in Cleveland, but I already wrote down an address for one near Toledo.  Our original plan was just to go to Sandusky and Toledo was the closest one that was on the way home.  I had been planning that stop for days.

There are two Sonic’s in the Toledo area and both are in suburbs.  We chose the one in Oregon because it wasn’t that far off the Interstate and on the northwest side of the city.  On the way from Cleveland, I missed my turn to stay on I-90, so we ended up taking OH-2 until it turned into a two lane road.  We had about a half hour drive through the Ohio countryside which was fine with me.  When we got into town, OH-2 turned into Navarre Avenue.  A few blocks later, it ran into the Interstate we needed to head home. Read the rest of this entry »





Wild Wing Cafe

1 08 2009
  • 2085 W. Grand River Avenue
  • Okemos, MI 48864
  • (517) 349-2321
  • Website
  • Menu
Wild Wing Cafe on Grand River Avenue in Okemos.

Wild Wing Cafe on Grand River Avenue in Okemos.

When I rolled out of bed this morning…er, afternoon, J started asking about lunch.  She was hungry.  I was hungry, so we started getting ready to leave the house.  Last night, I gave her the option of Mexican or wings.  Today, I wasn’t really in the mood for Mexican so I made the call to head to Okemos to try out the new chain in town. 

Wild Wing Cafe is on the corner of Grand River Avenue and Okemos Road in the building that used to be Bennigan’s.  The chain is an east coast franchise based in South Carolina.  The Okemos location is both the farthest north and west. 

I never went into the Bennigan’s, so I have no idea if anything has changed inside.  The dining room is anchored by a large bar in the middle that is covered with LCD TV’s.  In fact, that’s pretty much the whole design theme.  LCD TV’s everywhere.  Everywhere!  The place really has a sports bar theme.  The TV’s are accented with MSU pictures that have been blown up and hung on the walls. 

There are tables and booths that fill in the space around the bar.  We were shown to a table near the stage that hosts local bands on weekends.  A waitress came over and took drink orders while we looked over the rather large menu.  I knew I wanted wings, but there were a lot of options.  J isn’t in to the traditional wing as much as I am, so she needed a little more time to work her way through the choices.  Read the rest of this entry »