The Unvegan

Recent Posts

Feeling South Beach at Burger City Grill
Back in Black at Constance Perry’s
Exotic Tube Meats at Biker Jim’s Gourmet Sausages
Short and Ribbed at Hearth and Dram

‘Coney Island’

Coney for the Road at National Coney Island

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Coney dog to go.

While the existence of Coney Dog in LA has staved off my insatiable desire to eat at Coney Islands every time I’m in Michigan, I still take advantage of Coney if it’s not too far out of the way. Case in point: National Coney Island at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. When I was there last, I was hungry and rather than blowing money on a generic sandwich, I opted for some Coney.

A True Detroit Experience at Coney Dog (REBRANDED)

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At home on the Sunset Strip.

EDIT: The place is now part of the Gaby’s Mediterranean empire, but last I checked they were still dishing out coneys.

We Detroiters (or metro-Detroiters in my case) are adamantly defensive and passionate about our Detroit roots. Ask one of the thousands of Detroit expats what they miss most about their homeland and they will give you answers ranging from the lakes to the sports to awesome summers. But there is one thing just about all of us can agree upon: we miss coney. In LA, we are about as far from Detroit as possible in the lower 48 and absence truly makes the heart grow fonder. Just about every conversation I’ve had with a former Detroiter in the 3-plus years I’ve lived in LA has led to a “wouldn’t it be awesome if we opened a coney restaurant out here?” moment. Yet, while all these conversations were taking place, a few people were making it happen.

The Original Coney Dog at Lafayette Coney Island

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The Original?

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.

The Original Coney Dog at American Coney Island

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The Original?

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 American Coney Island.

Getting Chili on Top at Lulu’s Coney Island

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Now that’s loose.

With nearly every visit back to Michigan (time permitting), there is a requisite stop at a Coney Island. You can’t drive more than a few miles in the metro Detroit area without hitting a Coney, and I’m pretty sure they are all awesome. My go-to Coney growing up was Leo’s, but sometimes convenience outweighs loyalty. So last time I was back in the homeland, we went to Lulu’s Coney Island in Walled Lake.

Getting Loose at Leo’s Coney Island (RELOCATED)

Looks are deceiving.
Looks are deceiving.

The phenomenon of the Coney Island is one of the greatest aspects of eating out in the Detroit area in Michigan. Completely unrelated to the actual Coney Island in New York, these restaurants are a result of the mixing of Greek and American foods, with the addition of the famous Coney Dog. Everyone has their favorite Coney Island, and sometimes the favorite one is just around the corner. I grew up with Farmington Coney Island half a mile away and would go at least once a week.