Detroit’s Famous Coney Dogs

There is no food more quintessential Detroit than the coney dog, and no argument more quintessential Detroit than where to find the best one.  Native Detroiters know this debate comes down to two historic coney joints, located side-by-side in downtown Detroit.

Doggie Latchkey knows many of our pet sitting clients come from outside of Michigan and some of you may even be wondering, what is a coney dog? The Detroit staple is a hot dog covered with coney sauce (not chili!). Coney sauce is tomato-based and seasoned much the same as chili but is made specifically to top hot dogs with and has a much thinner consistency. It is designed to be poured over top the hot dog and its flavor to soak into the bun. The coney sauce is then covered with raw white onion and yellow mustard.

You might think the coney dog was invented on Coney Island in New York City, and while it does have the claim to fame of inventing the hot dog, the coney dog is Pure Michigan. The origin is attributed to Greek immigrants that made their way through New York’s Ellis Island and likely experienced their first taste of hot dogs on Coney Island. Exactly whom invented this Detroit delicacy is disputed, but what we know for sure is that two restaurants emerged, becoming both institutions of the Motor City and creating a fierce family rivalry.

American Coney Island was opened in 1919 by brothers Bill and Gust Keros, occupying a now iconic, almost triangular storefront at the corner of Michigan Ave and W Lafayette Blvd. The story goes that the two brothers had a falling out, leading Bill to open his own competing restaurant, Lafayette Coney Island…right next door!

This sibling rivalry has extended outside the Keros family and has led to constant debates, disputes and arguments amongst friends and family throughout the Metro Detroit region for nearly a century now. So, you’re probably wondering which one is better? Many will tell you this is a matter of opinion and personal taste. As born and bred Metro Detroiters, Doggie Latchkey is here to tell you those people are wrong. There is a correct answer on which is better, but we don’t want to influence your opinion…try them both and tell us which you prefer!

If you love food and want to discover more of what Detroit has to offer, make sure you check back on this blog often. We will be discussing not just the Detroit institutions, but the new and the eclectic from all over Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor.

And of course, we love our Grand Rapids people too! Stay tuned to learn more about the hot dog capital of West Michigan (and feature location of the original “American Pie” movie), Yesterdog!

Do you have a favorite hot dog place in Michigan, let us know in the comments and it just might make a future feature on this blog.