Nick’s Famous Coney Island — a Portland gem

My recent trip to Portland, Ore., to visit with my daughter included some great places she picked out for us to eat. Knowing that I grew up in Coney Island, she decided to take me to a Portland classic locale — Nick’s Famous Coney Island Food & Cocktails.

IMG_2867Portland is a funky town, no doubt about that, and Nick’s fits right into its artsy cum blue-collar waterfront vibe. The bar has been on the same street for 85 years, most of those in the same spot and it looks it with its old-style bar and stools on one side and its dark interior. It reminded me of a place that could have been along the Brooklyn waterfront circa 1950.

We were there for the hot dogs and I was not disappointed — nor was my vegetarian daughter who tried their veggie dog offering. Note, of course, that hot dogs are not on my usual low-fat, low-salt diet.

But this was a vacation treat, much as Nathan’s is when I’m in NYC. Plus, oddly enough I was just getting over a bout of food poisoning the week before I visited that caused me to drop nine pounds in seven days, so I thought a food splurge was in order.

The meat hot dog I got is made for the place, a bartender there told me, and is a combination of beef and pork with a natural casing.

My old-fashioned dog at Nick's Coney Island
My old-fashioned dog at Nick’s Coney Island

It was plumper than many dogs and had great mouth feel while I as chewing it. But the hot dog is just the beginning at Nick’s. Its specialty is its Coney Sauce, a mixture of ground beef and spices with a slightly taco-esque flavoring.

I ordered the Old-fashioned Dog, classic guy that I am, which was a hot dog covered with cole slaw and the Coney sauce, and of course mustard. The cole slaw was a nice light complement to the Coney sauce which was a beef heavy but tasty. I added more mustard to what it came with, I can never get enough mustard.

Nick's has the vibe of a waterfront dive circa 1950. I loved it.
Nick’s has the vibe of a waterfront dive circa 1950. I loved it.

To not go completely off my diet, I got a side salad rather than fries as my side with a vinaigrette dressing.

As I mentioned, my daughter ordered the veggie Coney, which the menu says is “a one of a kind tofurkey kielbasa with a vegan version of our Coney sauce.”I have no idea what could have been in the veggie version of the Coney sauce, but my daughter gave it a thumbs up.

Nick;s was an out-and-out blast to go to. The bartender was from New Jersey and was able to have an in-depth conversation with me on the differences between Nathan’s hot dogs, classic Chicago Vienna Beef hot dogs and Nick’s hot dog. That alone was worth going.

I loved this sign in the men's room, how often do I see signs with my name on them?
I loved this sign in the men’s room, how often do I see signs with my name on them?

Next time you’re in Portland, give Nick’s a visit, or two.




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