Uncle Franky's vs. Valley Lounge: A coney dog confrontation

Categories: Food Fight

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Steven DePolo
Coney dog

Most of the time we visit restaurants that specialize in something we wouldn't normally prepare at home: tacos al pastor, Thai boat noodles, grilled sweetbreads, tres leches cake, and coney dogs. Real, make-your own sauce coney dogs respect and honor Michigan's great culinary contribution to the Western world. However, in the sausage-mad Twin Cities, where numerous restaurants chef up nearly infinite high- and low-brow hot dog permutations, there are only a handful of legitimate coney dog vendors. This week's Food Fight features two of the best.

See also:
Foxy Falafel vs. World Street Kitchen: A falafel fracas

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Amy Dahlin
Uncle Franky's coney dog

The Venue:
Uncle Franky's is a cozy joint in Northeast Minneapolis. It's hard to imagine a friendlier neighborhood gathering spot; it's as cheerful and comfortable on a snowy, sub-zero winter afternoon as it is on a clear, warm summer night. Valley Lounge in Eagan is a similarly welcoming place that gives off a suburban-snowmobile-bar charm. It's a place where families can gather at long tables for a casual Sunday lunch without cramping the style of the loquacious middle-aged sports fans talking hockey, munching chicken wings, and enjoying a Bloody Mary nearby.

The Weigh-in:
Uncle Franky's looks and feels like a cleaner, bigger version of those rickety Chicago-style eateries wedged under El stations throughout the Windy City. The grill's behind the counter, the high-top tables are along the wall, and the photograph of Cubs legend Andre "The Hawk" Dawson is in the corner. If you're a Chicago native, then this place should remind you of the City of Broad Shoulders you left behind. Valley Lounge is a huge, Tudor-style building across the river that has karaoke nights, bocce ball leagues, and multiple big screen televisions for whatever game is on. Its cracked-leather seats and chatty servers feel beamed in from a much smaller town.

Round 1: The bun
Uncle Franky's soft, poppy seed bun has just enough weight and firmness to hold everything safely inside. It's standard yet satisfying. Valley Lounge uses what looks like a thick slice of grilled toast pried open just enough for a hotdog to nestle in. This bun's added texture and unexpectedly buttery flavor were wonderfully satisfying.

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18 comments
swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

Is there anyplace in town that tries to do the Cincinnati-style dog?  Like Star or Skyline?  That's a sick guilty pleasure.  Man, I could go for a plate of those suckers today. My insides would hate me for it later, but that's what later is for.

Jodi Michelle
Jodi Michelle

Coney Island in LaCrosse Wisconsin... This is a little shout out. :)

jodee143
jodee143

I always had a a great dog growing up in LaCarosse Wisconsin. At Coney Island dogs. Yum. Everytime I go back home I try to make sure to have one.

flamingbagofpoo
flamingbagofpoo

Seriously? No Gopher bar vs any pretender? No one has heard of this Eagan place

Antonio Trujillo Jr.
Antonio Trujillo Jr.

The Bulldog-Downtown has a wide variety of specialty dogs too. How bout a throwdown?

Mike Kim
Mike Kim

Meh. Those aren't proper Coneys. No fancy buns, no extra toppings, just a steamed bun, natural casing beef dog, beanless beef chili, raw onions, and yellow mustard, please. Oh, and served with chili cheese fries (this is where the cheese belongs) and a ice cold Vernor's on the side. Late night munchies heaven.

laxx1559
laxx1559

The 'the south shall rise again' esque decor may be off-putting to normal people, and Democrats.  Not to mention the dingy interior.

laxx1559
laxx1559

The 'the south shall rise again' esque decor may be off-putting to normal people, and Democrats.  Not to mention the dingy interior.

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