The Unvegan

Recent Posts

10 Years of Unvegan
A Quick Bite at Burrito Express
Serendipity at Northern Waters Smokehaus
Twerks and Burritos at Casa Amigos

‘Chili’

Pickled by The Greasy Wiener

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Hot dogs lurk in this Brisk truck.

On the way to basketball one night, I stumbled upon what appeared to be a food truck festival in a high school parking lot. I am nothing if not a man who takes advantage of such opportunities, so I pulled up and saw what they had to offer. A few of the trucks I had seen and eaten before, but some were new to me. One of these, freakishly painted as a Brisk iced tea ad, had just what I was looking for. Called The Greasy Wiener, this trucked dished out…well…hot dogs, with a side of sexual innuendo.

Not Addicted to Chili Addiction

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I’d like some chips with my salt.

My quest for challengers to the Chili John’s and Coney Dog empire of LA chili led me to Chili Addiction in West Hollywood. Their menu of insane chili concoctions really pulled me in the first time I saw their menu online and I really thought I had found myself a contender. I convinced my buddy to give it a try with me, both for company and so we could get multiple things to test out.

Meat Stacks at Smoke Shack

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Chili? In Wisconsin? In February? Shocking!

Here we have a long-awaited new guest blog from none other than @RGspiegel. Catch more of his writing here.

Disclosure I: David Marcus, one of the owners of Smoke Shack, is my second cousin.
Disclosure II: I’m starting a movement such that cousins are classified only as first or second cousins. How much better is that than trying to figure out your exact relationship to your dad’s first cousin’s son with somethingth-cousin-somethingths-removed? A lot.
Disclosure III: Smoke Shack was legitimately awesome.

Now that my and Unvegan’s journalistic integrity are squarely intact, I can begin the review of my glorious Saturday lunch at Smoke Shack, a BBQ restaurant that opened up about a month ago in Milwaukee’s third ward.

Overloading on Larry’s Chili Dog

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Classic dog-in-bun.

Up in Burbank is a classic-looking hot dog shack called Larry’s Chili Dog. They have an awesome neon sign that looks like it was built in the 1970s at the earliest, but likely goes back even further. The true age of the joint is bit difficult to ascertain, for while another, smaller sign says “SERVING BURBANK FOR OVER ’50 YEARS,'” I’m not really sure what 50 years amounts to when you put them in quotes. Whatever the case, this place was definitely old and old school.

Scaring Vampires at The Stinking Rose

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This is the story of when I ran away and joined the garlic circus.

With the ever-growing popularity of vampires in silly stories like Twilight and edgy television like True Blood, it seems that something important to our very human survival has fallen by the wayside. That is garlic, the fabric of our lives…errr…the thing that vampires hate. For some reason. One place you’ll never see a vampire hanging out at is The Stinking Rose, a restaurant in Beverly Hills. The reason is that apparently “stinking rose” is another term for garlic. I disagree with calling it stinking because I like the smell of garlic, as long as it hasn’t yet been eaten, but perhaps pungent rose was already taken.

Beefing Up at Soul Dog (CLOSED)

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And who is Otis Jackson?

A few months ago, a sign appeared in North Hollywood for a soon-to-open restaurant called Otis Jackson’s Soul Dog. The sign claimed “premium hot dogs & soul fixins” and while I wondered who the hell Otis Jackson was, I figured that this place wasn’t just serving the hot dog meat, but also the souls of the animals in the hot dogs. But, with Vicious Dogs just a 3 minute walk down the street, this was going to have to be a damn good hot dog to compete.

Rainy Day Chili at Tub’s

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Is this the Texas way?

Having never spent a significant amount of time in Texas, Texas-style chili remains a mystery to me. However, if I were to imagine chili in Texas, it would pretty much look like Tub’s Fine Chili & Fancy Fixins, which I decided to head to on one of LA’s recent days of rain. For starters, the interior has a whole country-western sort of theme to it, with the workers wearing cowboy hats and cowboy-esque stools that resemble saddles. It’s a bit gimmicky for Southern California, but it kind of feels right for the place. Then there’s the chili, which is a far cry from the Midwestern-style chili I know and love from Chili John’s in Burbank and pretty much the entire state of Michigan. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because as they say, “variety is the spice of life.”

The Original Coney Dog at Lafayette Coney Island

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The Original?

Just before my last visit to my Detroit homeland, I happened to watch a TV show called Food Wars. This show goes all around the country and pits local restaurants against one another. In this particular episode, Detroit’s Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island faced off. The two Coneys were founded in the early 1900s by brothers from Greece and both claim to be the originator of the Coney Dog, a Detroit staple. On the show, American (powered by their sweet Vidalia onions) edged out Lafayette by a vote of 3-2. But how would they fare with the Unvegan? Fortunately an impromptu tour of Detroit with a last-minute visitor brought me to the corner of Lafayette and Michigan Avenue. Wondering which Coney Dog was the unvegan king, I stepped into Lafayette Coney Island.

The Original Coney Dog at American Coney Island

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The Original?

Just before my last visit to my Detroit homeland, I happened to watch a TV show called Food Wars. This show goes all around the country and pits local restaurants against one another. In this particular episode, Detroit’s Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island faced off. The two Coneys were founded in the early 1900s by brothers from Greece and both claim to be the originator of the Coney Dog, a Detroit staple. On the show, American (powered by their sweet Vidalia onions) edged out Lafayette by a vote of 3-2. But how would they fare with the Unvegan? Fortunately an impromptu tour of Detroit with a last-minute visitor brought me to the corner of Lafayette and Michigan Avenue. Wondering which Coney Dog was the unvegan king, I stepped into American Coney Island.

Getting Chili on Top at Lulu’s Coney Island

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Now that’s loose.

With nearly every visit back to Michigan (time permitting), there is a requisite stop at a Coney Island. You can’t drive more than a few miles in the metro Detroit area without hitting a Coney, and I’m pretty sure they are all awesome. My go-to Coney growing up was Leo’s, but sometimes convenience outweighs loyalty. So last time I was back in the homeland, we went to Lulu’s Coney Island in Walled Lake.