For any native Detroiter, there’s no question as to what a coney dog is and if you like them. The delicious hot dog topped with hot chili, raw onions and mustard, is a Detroit classic that’s eaten during downtown events like Tigers and Red Wings games, festivals, or even just a Monday afternoon for lunch. There are two legendary places to go to for a coney dog in the city of Detroit, and you must be loyal to whichever restaurant you dine with – American or Lafayette. Which one do you choose?
Owner Gust Keros opened American Coney Island’s doors in 1917, 13 years after he immigrated to Detroit from Greece. Soon after starting his business, he brought his brother, William Keros, over to America as well. William then opened up Lafayette Coney Island right next door to his brother’s restaurant. The Keros brothers’ businesses have competed side by side for the best coney dog in Detroit on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Lafayette Boulevard for close to 100 years. About 25 years ago, William sold his restaurant to his loyal employees who still own it today. Even though both restaurants are no longer family-owned and operated, the family rivalry still stands, says Grace Keros, the current owner of American Coney Island and daughter of Gust Keros.
When it comes to choosing your allegiance, there’s one delicious way to make the difficult decision – have a coney showdown. Buy a coney dog with everything on it and a side of fries from each establishment, sit down in Campus Martius Park, indulge in both and compare. Choosing the Coney Island restaurant that’s best to you could come down to the right amount of “snap” in the hot dog, the spice in the chili or the crispiness of the French fries. It’s all up to you!
Other than a coney showdown, family tradition might be the reason for your loyalty. When talking to Lafayette devotee Trey Slominski about why he chooses Lafayette’s coney dogs, he said, “It’s a family tradition. Never been to American and never will. I once tried to walk inside of American and my dad grabbed me by the arm and said, ‘We are Lafayette people, son.’ It’s in my blood.”
Both Coney Island establishments are staples of the city of Detroit. If you live in the city, work downtown or are visiting, come be a part of Detroit’s history and enjoy the city’s native coney dog. If you haven’t chosen your commitment to either American or Lafayette Coney Island yet, visit both on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Lafayette Boulevard today to declare your allegiance!