Coney Island: red hot wieners for Oklahoma City since 1924

by | November 11, 2008 | 36 Comments

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Coney Island has two metro locations: 240 S.W. 25th (map) and 428 W. Main (map). They are open Monday through Saturday for lunch.

Hot dog. Is there any other two-word combination in the English language that triggers more memories and food emotions? Probably, but it is hard to deny the importance hot dogs have played in the culinary history and tradition of our country. Unfortunately, Oklahoma City does not have a lot of places to get a good coney, in my opinion. We just lost Dawg House to apparent lack of interest by the Oklahoma City masses, so Coney Island is one of the only predominantly hot dog establishments left in the metro.

Coney Island can be found in downtown as well as on Capitol Hill. According to their signs, they have been serving “red hot wieners since 1924.” I have heard they have been around longer, some say since 1918. Either way, there’s plenty of nostalgia here. Inside, you feel like you have hit a time portal. Coney Island takes you back to a time where there were no credit card readers, where air-conditioning was never set below an almost-comfortable 75 degrees, and where napkins and utensils were apparently a luxury.

You can’t deny that these guys are good stewards of their money. I have seen them take unused napkins off the tables and stuff them back into the dispensers. I’ve also watched them wash their plastic utensils by hand in a big sink (this creeps me out a little, so I just eat mine with my hands). To further their cost-cutting efforts, they frequently turn the lights off on sunny days and get by on natural light alone.

The walls are decorated with big jumbo pieces of paper that have every year’s Oklahoma University football schedule and each game’s results hand written in marker (ruler-lined in pencil so all the lines are nice and straight, of course). These date back to the 1930′s. They serve cafeteria style as you line up and tell them what you want. Be ready please, they are impatient.

When it comes to the food you have very few options. There are hot dogs ($1.25) that can be decorated with mustard, ketchup, onion, chili, and cheese (10 cents extra). Then, there’s the Greek spaghetti ($4.15) in the tradition of the Cincinnati chili fanatics. It’s a bowl of overcooked spaghetti with chili, onions, cheese (20 cents extra), and, in the case of the Coney Island guys, a couple of red hot wieners. There’s also a Frito chili pie ($2.15).

The chili here is really interesting. It’s served the Cincinnati way (allspice, cumin, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and no beans). Calling it “Greek spaghetti” is weird because everything I have ever read is that it was a Macedonian immigrant that brought this chili recipe to Cincinnati, not a Greek immigrant, but I digress.

Anyway, that’s about it on the food options.  You can also get a bag of chips, a fountain drink, or a cold beer. If you want more choices, you are out of luck.

So, how does it all taste? Eh … it’s ok. The hot dogs have bright red casings. Again, I think this is a nostalgia thing. Some people think if the casing is dyed red, it tastes better. I don’t get it. In fact, I think it’s weird. Aren’t there enough unnatural ingredients in hot dogs already? Why inject the casing with red #6 and #4? And didn’t we determine in the 70′s that this causes cancer?  I have never been a big fan of the flavors of anything here, but it’s not bad, and there’s plenty of nostalgia to go around. It is what it is — a place to get cheap hot dogs.

One of the members of my shady restaurant crew wants to visit Coney Island weekly and always cites times he went as a kid and how it used to be across the street in another building and so on. I think Lance (another shady companion) put it best when he said, “You aren’t going here to eat good food here, you are going to eat memories.” Pretty profound for a shady restaurant guy. I’ve had the spaghetti with hot dogs, and it’s really not bad, but then again I cover it up with cayenne pepper to mask the flavor. It’s messy and you’ll also end up announcing to the world that you just ate it with that inevitable chili stain on your clothing and the horrendous Greek onion chili breath.

The biggest fans I have found of Coney Island, though, are my kids. Kids aren’t picky when it comes to hot dogs, and they remember you taking them to the “hot dog store” as you build memories they can “eat” later in life. It’s worth choking down a few mediocre hot dogs for them, and it’s cheap, too. Just remember your cash, remember your kids, and leave time to stop by the pawn shops and Volkswagen part stores in the area. It’s actually a pretty good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

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This article was posted by Andrew Littleton on Tuesday, November 11th, 2008. It is filed under:

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  • Chris J. says:
    November 12th, 2008 at 11:58 am   

    I’ve been here, but it’s been so long that I had forgotten all about it. When I first saw the dogs, I thought I was eating some mini version of a hot link, but nope, it was a hot dog in a red casing. I was almost dissapointed, but I had to quickly remind myself I ordered a hot dog, and that my eyes were fooling themselves.

    Besides, ketchup and mustard, chili cheese and onions will mask anything…so I guess the real question is “do you enjoy condiments?” If so, you’ll enjoy this place.

  • Beverly says:
    November 12th, 2008 at 3:21 pm   

    I’ve been to the Capitol Hill location, and I liked the hot dogs–not gourmet, not super healthy, but I wasn’t looking for those things. I suppose you’re right, nostalgia is a big component.
    My nostalgia goes further–not just the restaurant style in general (and its era), but the neighborhood as well. Capitol Hill was where my family shopped and did business when I was growing up. The bank with the TG&Y next door…JC Penney (buying fabric to sew our own clothes) and John A Brown…a grocery store–was it Humpty Dumpty? and more.
    Speaking of the food nostalgia again, I went to Crooked Oak School at 15th and Eastern, and there was a little eatery on Eastern across from the school where I used to get a Frito Pie for a quarter. That was big stuff back then. They made the Frito Pie by slitting the bag along the edge and pouring chili over the Fritos. Notice that I didn’t spell that “Frito’s”–I’m a grammar freak, and simple plurals never use an apostrophe. Hey, am I getting off the subject, or what….??!?!

  • isaac says:
    November 12th, 2008 at 3:24 pm   

    ate here once, and that was enough. nostalgia can’t feed me by itself, the food needs some substance. This had substance, but not the good kind……

  • Sweet Baby says:
    November 12th, 2008 at 5:46 pm   

    I agree with the comments made regarding the hot dogs, spaghetti and chili pie. I make a lot better hot dog at home and chili. But like you said, if memories are what you are looking for, don’t forget the kids, mine still remember and they’ve told my grandchildren, so every other Friday, I have to stop by the Downtown location and bring home hot dogs with ketchup and Cheetos.

  • Mark says:
    November 12th, 2008 at 10:43 pm   

    Love them! Not as good as the Coney Island’s in Tulsa, but for a no frills coney, they are good.
    4 with everything, sprinkled with red pepper, a strawberry pop, and you are set.

  • Tom says:
    November 13th, 2008 at 10:03 am   

    When I heard of the restaurant being in Capitol Hill I thought wow, I was impressed. Then I was mistaken, not what I was thinking, area and otherwise. So going there the first time was a little disappointing. However, I been there a few more times and the people are great. They know my son (grandfather likes to take him there) and they know my wifes family (Its a greek thing) The food is what it is… Good cheap hot dogs with Chili, Onions or Spaghetti. Nothing more nothing less. Would I take my wife to Coney Island for a romantic getaway. NO. I would take my kids and enjoy the nostalgia and the people.

  • Josh says:
    November 13th, 2008 at 12:24 pm   

    They have Cinci chili? Like the Skyline stuff? I’m there. Will they know what I’m talking about if I order a three way or will they make some inappropriate comment in response?

  • Mark says:
    November 13th, 2008 at 1:50 pm   

    Josh, they will understand what you want

  • Andrew says:
    November 13th, 2008 at 10:34 pm   

    I don’t want to compare it to the skyline chili in Cinci since there are serious Cinci chili lovers, but this is along the same vein.

  • Martha says:
    November 14th, 2008 at 12:51 am   

    I can’t figure out why OKC does not have at least a decent hot dog, I’m not asking for perfection, just a decent natural casing grilled dog!-on a new england style bun please! It’s so simple! In Buffalo NY there is a local chain called Ted’s (http://www.tedsonline.com/history.php )that grills the dogs over real charcoal-I would think this style would be popular here, but it’s no where to be seen, I mean there’s a wood fire on nearly every corner cooking all types of meat…just throw on some dogs! My favorite dogs to cook at home are Hoffman’s-only available in central New York…also yummy is Heid’s in Liverpool NY (http://www.heidsofliverpool.com/index2.htm)

  • ballerinatoes says:
    November 17th, 2008 at 6:09 pm   

    This place looks so cool and vintage…wish the food was better.

  • Ben says:
    January 16th, 2009 at 7:02 pm   

    It’s a sad state of affairs when the best restaurant hot dog I’ve found is the on served at Hooters (swiss & provolone with relish).

    That being said, sometimes you just want a hot dog…Might have to give this place a try.

  • Andrew says:
    January 16th, 2009 at 10:54 pm   

    Sad indeed. Perhaps a good hot dog joint will surface in OKC again one day. In the meantime, I’ll post warnings about one of the newest hot dog joints soon.

  • Mchelle says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 2:46 pm   

    What’s up with all the crazy talk. I’ve been going to Coney Island for years and it rocks. If you want an authentic coney for a great value it can’t be beat. The chili rocks!! I love it and I’ve tried other ones believe me. I wonder how they’ve been able to stay in business for so many years!!! Obviously not everyone shares in your opinion or otherwise it still wouldn’t be around. If you don’t think Frito Pies rule I just don’t know what to tell you. You probably don’t like music either or puppies !!!

  • Rhonda says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 2:54 pm   

    I work right down the street from the Coney Island and love this place! My coworkers and I go at least once a week. During lunch, you will always find a line to the door. Not only does this show you how great the hot dogs are, but it also explains why this fabulous little joint has been in business for so many years. If you haven’t tried the Coney Island downtown, you definitely should. Don’t listen to Andrew’s opinion. Go try it for yourself!! You will leave satisfied not only by the food, but also by the minor impact it left on your wallet.

  • Heather says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 3:04 pm   

    I think Andrew has a lot to learn about taste and value. I think these are some of the best hot dogs I’ve ever eaten and you can’t beat the prices. I will give up frills for cost at this time in our economy when you can’t find a good meal even at McDonalds for under $3. The chili is the best I’ve tasted and the nostalgia makes you feel at home. Its nice to know some people still believe in family and tradition. I highly recommend this place and would put these hotdogs to the test against anyone else in the OKC area.

  • GaryZ says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 3:11 pm   

    There is an awesome hot dog joint in town – you can stop looking it is called Coney Island – Duh

  • Andrew says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 9:39 pm   

    Sweet, we just had a Coney Island coalition hit the site. Love it when that happens. And just to clarify, this isn’t necessarily a negative review of the joint.

  • Jordan says:
    May 28th, 2009 at 12:01 pm   

    Good lord are people really critiquing the quality of hot dog at coney island? PEOPLE THEY”RE A BUCK 25, what are you expecting. If your looking for over priced gourmet dogs then go to nonnas or the prohibition room or some where else. I love this place, i can go in, visit the greek couple (in Capital HIghts) and enjoy a good quick meal for less than 7 bucks. People think food is all restaurants are about. They’re not, this is the kinda place your dad went growing up and can bring you. Nothing has changed over the years except for the additional OU win loss schedules posted on the wall. It comfort food at its finest, if you don’t like hot dogs don’t eat there, if you don’t like the mannerisms of the old man, don’t eat there. But its obvious that plenty of people have found the place worthwhile seeing as they have been open for years.

  • Coney Island « The best and worst of OKC says:
    August 12th, 2009 at 8:15 pm   

    [...] a portal that has taken you to a time that has long since past? If not, might I recommend a trip to Coney Island? This is one of those places that the atmosphere, décor and even the food take you back to a [...]

  • Herman Bodkin says:
    October 6th, 2009 at 9:30 pm   

    I am fixing to drive from Nashville, TN. And the biggest attraction for visiting OKC is to have a Coney Island Hotdog. The ones I had in Tulsa were absolutely the best, and the biggest reason I am looking forward to my OKC trip is the prospect of a Coney Island dog. Otherwise, I would probably forgo the trip. ’nuff said.

  • Andrew says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 7:45 am   

    Herman, it is critical that you know this is not the Coney Islander from Tulsa. I am living in Nashville now as well and can promise you these are not worth an 11 hour drive. Come to think of it, neither is Coney Islander, but don’t go into this thinking it is Coney Islander. Go to Nic’s for a tasty OKC experience. Just be ready to wait in line.

  • David says:
    November 4th, 2009 at 2:42 pm   

    Love these dogs! 4 with mustard, chili, onions, and a cold Miller just cannot be beat for lunch! I have ate 7 before for lunch and tried to go back to work…big mistake. Great chili dogs though!

  • BP says:
    December 2nd, 2009 at 5:35 pm   

    This was waaaaaaay overpriced for hot dogs. It wasn’t even all that good. I realize Coney I-Lander is located only the Tulsa area, but that’s where to go for a good dog. It’s honestly not that complicated…

    I don’t understand why there aren’t proprietors in the metro here than can duplicate what they’re doing in Tulsa to at least a *respectable* degree.

  • larry says:
    January 3rd, 2010 at 10:45 pm   

    i had a hot dog there last summer and they tasted much better in the 1950′s, i don’t why they aren’t as good as then.

  • Jim says:
    February 9th, 2010 at 12:38 pm   

    This place was great! Had lunch there recently and couldn’t believe how cheap it was and how great the chili and coneys were. I recommend it. you can’t beat the taste and value.

  • terri says:
    April 28th, 2010 at 5:46 pm   

    i read and read some more! i have been eatting these wonderful chili cheese dogs since 1979! i eat them every week without fail!!! they are the best!! more so since it is so laid back!! the brother sister duo are so friendly and they never forget who u are what part of the family or when the grandchildren are about to be another year older! maybe not the date!! chili cheese dogs with mustard and onion are my fav!!! nothing can beat these dogs for sure!! there is nothing not to like about this place! they more then take care of my chili cheese dog jones!!! and when thre teeth go there is a back up….chili spaghetti!!! i shudder to think that there will be a day that i won’t beable to get these!!! i luv it that they are thrifty!! they are not thrifty to the exspense of any customer!

  • ng says:
    May 23rd, 2010 at 3:27 am   

    I’m from cincinnati. This place is good. And it serves beer — even skyline doesn’t do that.

  • clgokc says:
    July 25th, 2010 at 1:01 pm   

    I grew up in Cincinnati – loved, loved, loved Cinci chili, especially Skyline. Not sure how long ng lived there, but this stuff isn’t even close. Yes, it’s certainly in the same vein as Cinci chili, as Andrew said, but a really poor imitation.

  • wimpy says:
    November 20th, 2010 at 8:44 pm   

    Great chili coneys, if it’s not fancy enough for you go back to the north side, if you just want a good coney from some friendly folks cone here !

  • Sharon says:
    February 15th, 2011 at 7:54 am   

    Coneys from Capital Hill. The main stay of my life. Have to have two at least once a week.

  • Brian Grider says:
    February 15th, 2011 at 9:07 pm   

    If you love hot dogs, you’ll love this place. Great hot dogs, great prices. The Greek Spaghetti is also VERY good

  • Sharon says:
    March 5th, 2011 at 9:50 pm   

    Stopped by Captiol Hill today. The coneys were to die for.

  • Debbie says:
    October 5th, 2011 at 3:07 pm   

    I used to work at the DHS office down the street in Capital Hill. This place was the place to go for a quick and cheap lunch. Yes the place was not the cleanest and the staff could be a little gruff. It has been over 12 years since I had thier hot dogs. Live out of state. From what I remember The chili spaghetti was quite greasy and only had it a couple of times. They use the same chili on their dogs but only a small amount. If you want to know if you have gall bladder problems, eat a plate of this chili spaghetti. Get the hot dogs with chili, onions and mustard. You will be glad you did.

  • Karma says:
    November 5th, 2011 at 2:34 pm   

    I drive from Texas back to OKC a couple of times a year to visit family, and the trip isn’t complete until I stop by the downtown Coney I’Lander to get me some hot dogs. I have tried everywhere in Texas, even the State Fair and they have nothing on this wonderful, nostalgic restaurant. I used to work downtown 20+ years ago and came there often. Plus, I love the decor, being an OU graduate. No Sooner fan can go without checking this one out. Everything in Norman has been redone just about…

  • KC says:
    September 27th, 2012 at 10:53 pm   

    There’s something so remarkable about these very simple dogs. A little chili, onion, and mustard with a bag of Fritos, a cold beer, and a moon pie make this a very nostalgic, relaxing experience.

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