Favorite Dish: Authentic Michigan Coney Island Hot Dogs at Grand Tavern in Delray Beach

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"When people who know about them and love them come in here for the first time and realize we have Coney dogs, you can literally see tears in their eyes," says MegannLucaj

While everyone knows about the Chicago dog, not many realize there's a nearby Michigan version that's just as good — some might argue, even better. Created in Michigan by Greek immigrants, this breed is marked by a natural-casing beef and pork Vienna sausage topped with a thin, chili-like meat sauce, yellow mustard, and chopped white onion.

Finding one in South Florida, however, isn't easy.

About the only place that serves them around these parts would be Grand Tavern in Delray Beach, which opened off Linton Boulevard in 2011. According to the Delray Beach Grand Tavern proprietors Megann and Victor Lucaj, the restaurant's Michigan-style fare is a good pairing for the South Florida town. 

"There aren't very many places that make them outside of Detroit, especially not here, so it's nice to see what a little taste of home can mean to someone," says Megann.

A Detroit native herself, Megann says the Coney is a fixture in cities across southeastern Michigan — places like Flint and Jackson — where the dogs first appeared in the early 20th Century at restaurants including Todoroff's Original Coney Island, what today stands as the longest continuously operated Coney Island restaurant in Kalamazoo. Today, Victor's family continues to operate several locations, allowing them to ship the couple the Detroit-made National Chili sauce they need to make authentic Coney-style hot dogs.

Michigan and Delray Beach share some interesting history. Linton Boulevard is named after Michigan Congressman William Linton, also one of the area's first developers, the Grand Tavern menu states. The developer later partnered with Michigan-based investors Nathan Boynton and David Swinton, who together helped to build the surrounding area, naming Delray Beach after the southwest Detroit neighborhood Delray Detroit.

Native Michiganders longing for a taste of home will find more than just Coney dogs on the Grand Tavern menu. The original location opened in Michigan in 2008, operated by founders and Michigan natives Victor, Chris, and Mike Lucaj. Today, the Delray location offers a number of Michigan-only eats sourced directly from home, including Better Made potato chips (a Detroit company founded in 1930), and specialty craft beer like Bell's Hopslam (rare brews that are often given priority delivery to Grand Tavern).

Grand Tavern is located at 710 Linton Blvd., Delray Beach. Call 561-279-2779, or visit grandtaverndelray.com.

Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.

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