The Unvegan

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A Taste of Home at Upper Deck (REBRANDED)

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If you hail from the great state of Michigan, you know why I took a picture of this.

EDIT: Apparently this place is now called Blitz, but still reps the state of Michigan.

A couple weeks ago I headed to Phoenix with the girlfriend for a wedding. But this wasn’t just any weekend, it happened to be the weekend of the Michigan-Michigan State game. It’s usually a pretty big game, but with both teams undefeated (at the time), it was a game I couldn’t miss. Fortunately, said girlfriend found an interesting bar for me to watch it at in Old Town Scottsdale. It was called Upper Deck Sports Grille and was dedicated to Michigan and Michigan State fans. You would think Phoenix would be big enough to host ex-Michiganders at more than one bar, but you would be wrong.

I walked in and found the place to be packed. Supposedly Spartans took the lower level and Wolverines took the top, but on this day, the maize, green, blue and white was everywhere. There wasn’t a seat to be found, but luckily a friend of mine in Phoenix had a connection and hooked me up with a seat. I was excited for the game, but the excitement doubled when I saw what they had on tap. Bell’s Oberon! A Michigan favorite that for some reason just can’t make it one state over into California. I ordered a pitcher for the table to start my day and then sat down to look at the food menu.

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Welcome to Arizona, Mr. Coney.

It was then that my excitement tripled, because the menu had coney dogs, loose burgers and sliders. These are things you just can’t get outside of Michigan (well maybe the Midwest) and I certainly didn’t expect to find them in Arizona. I learned that the guy who started the place was from Detroit, so that led to the beautiful Michiganized menu. After thinking hard, I decided to go with the coney dog. And this wasn’t some phony coney dog that was just some dog with chili on it. No, this was the real thing, with real Pete’s Coney Island chili flown in from Michigan. Because of that, it was pricier than the average $2 coney, coming in at $6.50, but at least it included fries. Plus that’s a whole lot cheaper than a flight to Michigan.

Like any coney dog, it came with onions, but I ordered mine without. When it came out, it looked just perfect. Although I had never been to Pete’s Coney Island before, I saw that it was the same beefy, runny chili I grew up loving. The only thing that could have improved the coney dog would have been a little more chili, but I was not going to complain.

I won’t get in the details of the game, but despite the results of the game that shall not be mentioned, my belly was certainly happier for the experience at The Upper Deck. I can’t speak for the other food, but if you are a Michigander in Phoenix, The Upper Deck offers a great taste of home. And if you aren’t a Michigander, but just want to know what we grew up eating, give The Upper Deck a try.