For a century, Koney King has claimed to have the best Coney dog in Gary.
Greek and Macedonian immigrants, who also pioneered Cincinnati-syle chili, are credited with popularizing Coney dogs, a Midwestern diner classic in which a hot dog is topped with chili, chopped onions and yellow mustard.
So smothered with toppings that the hot dog itself is almost an afterthought, the Coney dog is so popular in neighboring Michigan they have several different regional styles, including a Detroit-stye, Flint-style, Jackson-style and Kalamazoo-style.
Koney King has been serving them since 1920, when it was founded as a counter-style diner called Coney Island lunch by a Bulgarian immigrant in an alley west of Broadway on 9th Ave in Gary. His grandson Paul Kamanaroff moved the family business to 4601 Broadway, where it's operated for 50 years.
The no-frills fast food joint was recently acquired by James "Jimmy" Hendricks, who plans to carry on the tradition. It has an old-fashioned counter but mostly serves as a to-go joint. Uniquely, it has a statue of a hot dog squirting ketchup on its forehead while holding mustard in its other hand and licking its lips.
Koney King serves hot dogs, Polish sausage, burgers and ham sandwiches, all of which can be topped with chili "Koney-style." The chili also can be bought by the bowl, pint and quart.
Rich and hearty, Koney King's chili has been made with the same secret family recipe for 100 years. It's smokey, meaty and great on a cold winter's day. It's the undisputed star of the Coney dog, which is accentuated by the tang of the mustard and the piquancy of the raw onions. You can add cheese if you like.
For more information, visit thekoneyking.com or call 219-887-1843.
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