I just returned from a visit to my native Michigan. During my travels I noticed a certain West side of the state versus East side of the state rivalry. In that past, I thought the divide was University of Michigan (East side) versus Michigan State (West side). However, the real battle (and conundrum for the edamamemonster) was which side of the state produced the best chili dog.  The West side of the state, specifically Grand Rapids, is where you find the truly unique and highly addictive Yesterdog.

This is the Yesterdog.

This is the Cheddardog. These sloppy concoctions are found at Yesterdog in Grand Rapids.  Yesterdog is a messy hole in the wall restaurant in the Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids.

This is a typical booth at Yesterdog.  And this is my son channeling Iggy Pop — who, by the way, was born and raised in the great state of Michigan.  Many of the leatherish seats are held together by duck tape.  Despite the decor by Sex Pistols look of the place there are a lot of rules regarding how to order.  Thankfully, I looked at the rules on their website before walking up to the counter. Here’s the short version.  You walk up to the counter. When asked, you order your dog — that’s it. Don’t ask for drinks or chips right away. You need to be asked to order drinks and then be asked to order chips. I was thrown off because I was asked for my dog order and drink order at the same time by the same person. But, I kept my cool and made my order.  Also, when ordering, drop the word dog from your order.  In other words, a yesterdog is a yester, a cheddar dog is a cheddar, etc.  The person preparing the dogs will announce when your dogs are done and foist them onto the counter (along with many other dogs) on a big wood board.  Your dogs will be each loosely wrapped in wax paper and placed on your tray.

What is in a Yesterdog (or a Yester)?  Chili, onion, pickle, mustard and ketchup on a hot dog with a very soft and receptive bun.  All the toppings are placed around the hot dog in such a way that you can taste each one with every bite.  It is brilliant.  I, being a condiment-phobe, went for the Cheddardog which has chili and cheese.  The chili and cheese are layered in the bun so that the chili, cheese, hot dog, and bun are one.  It was exquisite.

And, this is the Coney Dog.  The pride of the East side of the state and particularly the Metropolitan Detroit area.  I must disclose that I was born and raised in the Detroit Metro area and I have coney chili pulsing through my veins.  Now, coney chili is not the cowboy chili we think of in the western part of the United States.  Coney chili was created by Greek immigrants to the Detroit area; so, it has a variety of spices you would normally find in a Greek restaurant.  The coney chili is poured over a hot dog, yellow mustard is added, and chopped white onions are sprinkled on top.  The atmosphere at the Coney (this one is Athen’s Coney in Royal Oak) is calm.  A server comes to your table and politely takes the order however you want to give it.  The booths are neat and clean.  Silverware, napkins, and plates are all kindly provided by a friendly waitress.  If Yesterdog is 1970s punk rock London (or Detroit for that matter); then, Athen’s Coney Island is the 1950s as depicted on Happy Days.

Here is my nephew, Max, savoring his Coney in the wholesome atmosphere of Athen’s Coney Island.  So, who wins?  I’m not really sure.  This may sound like a copout; but, I think that perhaps sometimes you’re in a Yester-mood and sometimes you are craving Coney.  Hopefully, you are on the right side of the state of Michigan when the craving hits.

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