Gastro Obscura Guide to Southern Eats

5. Coney Island Cafe

It may surprise you that a diner celebrating its centennial anniversary serves buzzworthy food. But such is the curious case of Coney Island Cafe, a Hattiesburg icon that opened in 1923. Beyond its unapologetically classic selection of diner fare—think burgers, curly fries, and breakfast options—Coney Island Cafe upholds its name by serving hot dogs “made all the way,” or dressed in chili, pickles, mustard, and onion. 

For the uninitiated, a Coney Island hot dog sits in a steamed bun, coated in beanless chili with mustard and chopped onions. Many Coney fans assume that the chili-cheese atop their dogs has a Mexican origin, but its roots are actually in spiced Greek red sauce. The first Coney Island hot dog stands were founded by Macedonian and Greek families in the United States about a century ago.

Fittingly, BJ and Kayla Fokakis, the current co-owners of Coney Island Cafe, inherited the business (a few generations later) from their great-great-grandfather Arthur, who immigrated from Greece in 1919. Outfitted with diminutive booths and wooden walls adorned with family photos, it’s an enduring haven for a comforting, inexpensive meal. Coney Island Cafe opens at 6 a.m. everyday and closes at 2 p.m. on weekdays, noon on weekends. Make sure to bring cash.

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