In 1926, Christ Economou came to Tulsa, Oklahoma, from Texas, where he had run a few hot dog restaurants, and opened the city’s first Coney I-Lander. There are now a handful of these cheap chili-dog restaurants in Tulsa and environs, all based on the formula of a small hot dog in a steamed bun topped with mustard, raw onions, and no-bean chili. Shredded cheese is a popular option; and some folks have theirs with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.
The chili is exuberantly spiced but not tongue-tingling hot, and it is nothing like the stuff you would spoon up from a bowl as a meal. It is more a spicy beef paste, eminently suited as a dressing for a snappy little weenie or as a topping for a plate of tamales. A Coney I-Lander Coney is a two or three bite affair. Three or four make a modest meal in the single-digit price range; big eaters think nothing of having a half-dozen for lunch.
Ambiance is drive-in, fast-food, no-nonsense. Food-prep is a joy to watch and service is virtually instantaneous.