The Battle of the Coney Islands — Sioux City, IA

Coney IslandVSMilwaukee Wiener House Building

Food in Sioux City was shit. First of all there is nowhere to go and all the places we decided to go to were average at best, horrible at worst. Green Gables, a restaurant that is touted as the oldest surviving restaurant in Sioux City, is sadly nothing more than a glorified Denny’s. Kahill’s Steakhouse at the Marina Inn and what seems to literally be the Republican National Headquarters of the Siouxland, Luciano’s, both had the prices of a more mid-priced upscale restaurant but neither rose above being anything but serviceable.

All this being said, practically the moment I stepped foot in Sioux City I was hearing about the Coney Island. The Coney Island, as I was to learn, is simple bite sized hot dog not unlike a chili dog. Instead of chili the boiled dog is dressed in a sort of mystery meat sauce along with a squirt of mustard and chopped onions. Simple enough, but this Coney Island business was brought to my attention by so many people, especially those who were born and raised, that it became an obsession for me. What wasn’t clear to me was where to go. I had seen Milwaukee Wiener House on a foot tour of downtown and became convinced that this was the place to get the Coney Island. After some consulting, and a call to my grandfather, the place in which everyone seemed to championing was the aptly named Coney Island. How could this be though? Sure both were institutions dating back over 80 years but Coney Island didn’t have a single write up online. Milwaukee Wiener House, on the other hand, had a write up on roadfood.com, in which they state that “we believe we found the city’s best [Coney Island-style] hot dogs at Milwaukee Wiener House.” The challenge, as Ozone from Breakin’ would say, was on. So at 9am (lovely time for a hot dog, although both places open at 6am) on my last day in Sioux City, the taste test began.

Coney IslandConey Island's Coney Island

With its subtle, almost Wes Anderson-esque sign in the front, Coney Island, was the more unassuming of the two. After a brief conversation with the man behind the counter, I ordered my Coney Island. It was so built up for me, that by the time I was finally ready to bite into it, I thought this dainty little dog wouldn’t match the hype.

 

Phil Tries the Coney Island of Coney Island

To my surprise it was extraordinary. The flavor of the meat sauce complimented all the simplistic elements — I loved it and still often crave it, but I was still under the impression that Milwaukee Wiener House would rein supreme — so the battle waged on. But before I left I talked with an older gentleman who grew up in Sioux City. He had come all the way back home, just to have a Coney Island, he was even wearing a Coney Island Cap.

Milwaukee Wiener House BuildingMilwaukee Wiener House's Coney Island

Milwaukee Wiener House (not sure of the history but a Milwaukee Wiener House, in Sioux City, serving Coney Islands? — identity crisis) looks like the shit. Just look at that illustrated logo (even on the tray! — reminds me of the work of Mike Allred) of original owners Tom and Gus, they clearly rule[d]. Yet something was immediately amiss. There was nothing called a Coney Island on the menu. I had to ask if they served them, which they enthusiastically replied, yes indeed. I ordered up two now that I was getting hungry. Visually they looked a bit more thrown together, not handled with the same delicate care of Coney Island’s. Yet taste was the matter at hand and unfortunately, Milwaukee Wiener House was a cut below that of Coney Island.

 

Phil tries MWH's Coney

It wasn’t as big of a jump as going from Dom to Cook’s but it still was distinctly not as good. If I were to have had it before I had the Coney Island, I probably wouldn’t have been disappointed, but now I had to eat two and was already craving a Coney Island… Coney Island.

So the verdict is, if you are in Sioux City, get a Coney Island at Coney Island, and since they are walking distance, get a shirt at Milwaukee Wiener House. Or, since they are 2 bucks, you can take the challenge yourself.

Check out more hot shots of the Coney Island Battle in the Gallery.

Coney Island is located at: 510 Nebraska St, Sioux City, IA 51101

Milwaukee Wiener House is located at: 309 Pearl St, Sioux City, IA 51101.

 

11 Responses to “The Battle of the Coney Islands — Sioux City, IA”


  1. 1 Tom

    Haven’t sampled either in 35 years, but Coney Island was always my fave. Next to Bishop’s and across from my church. But, dude…they certainly aren’t boiled, they are grilled on a flat-top.

  2. 2 admin

    I stand corrected, I will correct accordingly.

  3. 3 Dan Roupe

    First off, i think you were clearly misguided when you came to town on where to eat. Yes I am from Sioux City however I have lived all over the country and been across the globe. (thanks uncle sam) Green Gables is historic yes but for the food is flavored for the greatest generation if you get my meaning. Milwaukee beats Coney any day of the week. There is another shop called George’s #1 all of these seem to compete with one another and i think there is some major history. Did you try any mexican food? We have the best in the country! I have been to all of the border states and not found any better than right here. How about a steak? Hungry’s North or Theo’s you cant beat them. I could go on and on! Next time you come around look me up, I will get you where you need to go.

  4. 4 admin

    Firstly – I must preface this reply by saying that I am doing a Battle of the Coney Island redux post. I was recently back in Sioux City and did a reevaluation of the Coneys including George’s #1. That being said – when it comes to atmosphere and energy – a place that is transporting and nostalgic in the best sense of the word, Milwaukee Wiener House wins without question.

    When it comes to taste and execution of the hot dogs themselves Coney Island AND George’s #1 beat Milwaukee hands down. I can’t debate facts like what one grows up on – generally speaking whatever you grow up on is what you are going to lean towards – I can’t really say that is the case with you, but what I can say is that Milwaukee shorts you on the chili and the onion, while having a more watery and less tasty chili – Plus other issues that I will explore in further depth and will be better represented in the post itself with pictures of the differences and a deeper analysis.

    I did find some better eats while I was there this last time but that being said – the mexican food in Sioux City does not hold a candle to that of restaurants in Tucson like El Charro, Mi Nitido, and Cafe Poca Cosa – or vastly superior mexican food found in Phoenix, Las Cruses, and San Diego.

    As for Theo’s and Hungry’s North – I was evaluating restaurants in Sioux City NOT in surrounding areas. That being said, I have a couple to add to my list when I come to town. What I did hear though, and what I admittedly didn’t check out was the supposedly great Thai and Vietnamese food over on 7th st., like Da Kao – any view on that?

  5. 5 Robert Leth

    Thanks so much for your great restaurant reviews. I am a new fan to Sioux City, and I love the town, but the online restaurant reviews are not very informative. Then, lo and behold, I find this webpage devoted to my EXACT problem: What weiner house should I try on my trip to Sioux City! I believe I will try Coney Island!

  6. 6 admin

    Robert – stay tuned for the redux post on Sioux City’s Coney Islands coming soon, I feel as though George’s #1 embodies Coney Island’s taste (supposedly George’s is from Coney Island but that’s just hearsay as far as I know right now) but hell try ‘em all if you can. Thanks for your sentiments and I will keep the reviews coming.

  7. 7 Laurence

    La juanitas on pierce rivals the burritos of the Southwest. I live in L.A. now and travel to Mexico often, the comparison is valid. Only on the carne asada and pork side though, stay away from seafood in Siouxperland. Unless of course you go to Fuji Bay sushi. I know, I know. But I catch my own tuna and yellowtail, sometimes make my own sushi, and have eaten fresh fish all over the Pacific, and I’m telling you the quality of the fish here is very good. It is better than sushi places in Chicago and Minneapolis. Also for great, authentic Mexican go to S. Sioux City (just over the bridge), for El Ranchito, La michocana and the original La Juanita.

  8. 8 Dave Winkel

    I ate at both Coney Island and Milwaukee Wiener House when I was a paperboy paying my bill at the Sioux City Journal. Hot dogs were a dime then. Coney Island is still in the same place. Milwaukee has moved. George’s #1 Hot Dog Shop has been around maybe 20-25 years.
    All of the owners are inter-related from Greek origin. I rate Coney #1, George’s #2, and Milwaukee #3. However, after saying that I haven’t found any better hot dogs around the U.S.A. I will take any of the three. Have a great day!

  9. 9 admin

    Laurence, Looks like I got to head back and do the Mexican crawl and reevaluate my position a bit, although I live in the greater L.A. area as well and am not impressed by the Mexican food here here at all but I have had a lot people say Sioux City’s is worth while. Is the Siouxland some sort of strange unknown food mecca?

    Dave, I have to completely agree with your rating system on the Coneys, and you sir, have a great day as well.

  10. 10 Jimi311

    Sioux City also has excellent pizza. When I go home I order Jerry’s Pizza and El Fredo’s too. Miles Inn for a Charlie Boy or the extra gressy Tastee In & Out. And if you into ground beef mexican go to Ruth’s and Navarrete’s. Taco John’s for Potato Ole’ and Taco House up at the Lakes. Coney Island is the Best and Town House was good fried chicken, pizza, bugers, wings and COLD BEER —

    Laurence is Bowler and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  11. 11 FrankieBagADounuts

    You are right about Laurence. He is a midnight bowler and uses Starkist in her spicy tuna roll

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