What Up Dawg 317 M.A.C. Ave., East Lansing 517-351-DAWG Located in downtown East Lansing, this hot dog joint serves up some tasty fare. Though it appears to be a restaurant, it is more like a hot dog cart with a roof. There are plenty of seats but no wait staff. You order your dogs at the register and wait to be called. There is not a lot of what could be construed as ambiance, but the food sure looks good. The menu strives to be as local as possible, serving almost all Michigan-made products. One deviation from this is Hebrew National so they are able to cater to the kosher crowd. The franks and brats that dominate the menu are Koegel, the two types of Coney sauces are compliments of Detroit’s Lafayette, and Abbotts from Flint. The fact that they offer both gives them some serious credibility in the hot dog department. People will be thrilled to know their choices can be paired with a beer, again many from local Michigan brewers. Let’s get down to the dogs themselves. They have all kinds of clever names, like the Bok-Bok Dawg (chicken) and the Not Dawg (vegetarian). However, regardless of the cutesy names they are given, at the heart of each is a solid representation of a hot dog. They have a classic Coney, a Chicago dog, a brat with sauerkraut, mustard and grilled onions and many more selections. When I asked the man behind the counter to make a recommendation he suggested the Smokey Dawg. I went with that and the Chicago dog. The Smokey Dawg surprised me. First off, I don’t care for bacon or smoke flavor, so a dog topped with grilled onions, bacon, BBQ sauce and gooey cheddar cheese may not have been the best pick for me. But upon my first bite, I was smitten. There was a fantastic balance of sweet and salty. The smoke flavor continued to excite my palate. Also, there were so many great textures: the snap of the smoked sausage, the crunch of the bacon, the soft bun and the gooey cheese. Next up was the classic Chicago dog. All those toppings, sports peppers, tomato, relish, etc., made for one satisfying dog treat (sorry, had to throw that in there). This was paired with the Dawg’s fresh-cut fries, which of course can be upgraded with Coney sauce and cheese. What Up Dawg has 2sDay (Tuesday), which gets you two Coneys for $2. Another bonus is Friday’s “Free Fry Day,” which gets you free fries with the purchase of a dog and drink. And finally, for all the men out there (or courageous women as well), there is the Big Dawg Challenge. If you eat all nine specialty hot dogs in one 15 minute period, you get to create an item for the menu and your name and picture will go up on the wall. Our very own local Man vs. Food challenge. Fleetwood Diner 2211 S. Cedar St. Lansing, 517-267-7606 I have passed Fleetwood Diner many times and thought it looked cool but had never made it in. It is the classic ‘50s diner that sits on Cedar Street. Though the kitschy exterior always called me to stop and sample their fare, apparently I should have stopped because of the reputation of their Hippie Hash. A concoction of hash browns, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, broccoli and Feta cheese, this interesting pile can be topped off with two eggs prepared to your liking and a side of toast. I was, however, on a Coney mission, so I had to pass on this attractive culinary creation, but I will for sure be returning to try it. On to the dogs. Unlike What Up Dawg, the Fleetwood Diner has a more extensive menu, very diner-like (big surprise, right?). However, let it be said that the Coney dogs can hold their own. I don’t know what brand of dogs they use, or where everything was purchased from, but I do know that they were GOOD. Fleetwood makes their own Coney sauce and are not afraid to slop it on. What was great about it was its subtle burn. Not an intense heat, but something that came along just to perk up your taste buds. I washed it down with a classic chocolate malt. You know the kind, topped with 6 inches of whipped cream and a cherry, complete with the stainless steel blender cup with all the leftover malt on the side. Open 24 hours, Fleetwood Diner is the perfect spot for dads to satisfy a Coney craving. The kids will find it cool, too.
Colette Evangelista sells certified organic, non-toxic beauty, health, baby and home products at www.healthandhopeorganics.com. Twenty percent of her profits go to Ascending Above Autisim, a charity that helps parents pay for autism treatment.