Detroit's first vegan coney island, Chili Mustard Onions, to open in Brush Park

click to enlarge Vegan coney dog - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Vegan coney dog

The coney dog is a messy and glorious flavor bomb that serves as Detroit's unofficial dish, but it's one that our vegan and vegetarian populations don't get to enjoy.

And that doesn't seem fair, especially when you consider that Detroit is one of the nation's more vegan friendly towns. But, as such, it was only a matter time 'til someone fixed the situation, which is what will happen in August when Chili Mustard Onions - Detroit's first vegan coney shop - opens in Brush Park.

Owner Pete LaCombe, aka "Vegan Chef Pete",  says to expect everything one might find your standard coney island, but meat and animal product free. A good portion of the menu will also be organic and non-GMO. So that means meatless and healthy coney dogs, gyros, hamburgers, chicken lemon rice soup, spinach pie, Hani, grape leaves, salads, fries, soups, and weekly or daily specials.

The chili that LaCombe uses on his dogs will be similar to that at National, he says, though slightly thicker and spicier, as it's made with 10 spices and a soy crumble.

Beyond that, Chili Mustard Onions will trade in items not typically found at a coney island, like wraps, pierogi, stuffed cabbage, potato skins, and some breakfast dishes like waffles and pancakes.

LaCombe also highlights his take on the Big Mac, which he calls the Big Mock. It comes complete with two non-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on sesame seed buns.

click to enlarge The Big Mock - a vegan Big Mac - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
The Big Mock - a vegan Big Mac

LaCombe tells MT he doesn't rely solely on fake meat products, but he will use what tastes good. 

"I don't like a ton of different fake meat patties. If I do anything, it's usually more of a veggie patty. But if I taste something that I like and know I can use it, then I'll make something out of it," he says.

For dessert, LaCombe will develop a menu around vegan soft serve ice cream with cones, sundaes, and flurries. He'll also have other treats like doughnuts and a Sanders bumpy cake.

As far as price points go, LaCombe says he is still working out those details, but a coney will run in the $5 range while the Big Mock will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $8.

The restaurant will be among the first businesses in the beautiful Victorian homes under renovation in Brush Park. LaCombe says he fell in love with his space, located at 3411 Brush St., and jumped at it when it became available.

click to enlarge Vegan spinach pie - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Vegan spinach pie

Chili Mustard Onions is LaCombe's first restaurant, and his only prior experience - funny enough - came at Carl's Chop House when he was a kid. But he says he grew up within walking distance of his Italian and German grandmothers' kitchens and learned to cook with them.

"I fell in love with the food we made, and I've always had a love of cooking," he says. "Different experiences in life brought me back to that passion, except now I'm vegan, and my wife and daughter are vegan. I want to make a difference and change world with food - vegan food."

click to enlarge Vegan doughnuts - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Vegan doughnuts