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.
Lafayette is set up kind of like a diner. There’s a long counter for ordering and a few small tables in the back. Since I was eating on the go, I ordered a single Coney Dog for tasting purposes. The classic Detroit Coney is prepared with delicious naturally cased dog, special Detroit chili (with Greek seasoning), onions and mustard. But they are always willing to drop the mustard and onions for an unvegan like me. In a matter of seconds, my dog was ready. I paid up the $2.50 and was ready to test out Food Wars’ runner-up.
I bit in and it was damn good. The natural casing of the dog gave way easily to unleash the delicious flavor inside the dog. But the flavor of the dog wasn’t so important compared to that of the chili. The chili managed to carry a lot of meaty goodness while retaining the soupiness that sets Detroit chili apart from all others. It was spiced beautifully and within a few minutes the dog was fully consumed by yours truly.
It was a great dog and I could have easily dropped three more and a loose burger, but with my personal food war taking place, I had to stop myself at just one. And who won? Check the scoreboard up to the right to see who won the Unvegan’s hometown (yeah, I was born in Detroit) food war. No matter what the results of my food war may be, this is a food battle definitely worth fighting for yourself.