Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Coney Islands......The Taste of Detroit

Hold on, wait, hang on a second, stop!!

Coney Islands hot dogs are the are the taste of Detroit?? Huh??

Well, in 1917 Greek immigrant Constantine Keros founded American Coney Island downtown on Lafayette St. in Detroit. Gust as he was known started a dining tradition that can still be seen dotting the Metro Detroit area. I've always found it great that a simple treat like a dog with chili, mustard and onion can become synonymous with an area much like chili has in Cincinnati, Minneapolis' Juicy Lucy or the Slug burger in north east Mississippi. I also love a family run business. In this case, a fourth generation of the Keros family is now working the restaurant.

Competition for the Coney dollar was so great, Gust's brother opened his own Coney Island stand right next door. While Lafayette Coney Island still exists and does a good business, American Coney has gone on to expand into the vacated United Shirt space next door. A sizeable investment and chance has paid off nicely for ACI. As well as their store, ACI has expanded the menu to include Gyros, Baklava, fish (on Fridays) and chili cheese fries, among others. They even ship "Kits."
This did not quell the competition though. As we walked by Lafayette, workers invited us in and upon approaching the door to American, workers opened it and escorted us to seats.

Such is the iconic status of ACI that a who's who of Detroit (and beyond for that matter) have visited as well as all the local network affiliates and the Today show.
Recently ACI has been featured on Man vs. Food and in upcoming episodes of Food Wars and Iron Chef America. A picture of VP Joe Biden and a friendly employee is displayed proudly in the front window.

So....on to the food.

When ordering your Coney's you simply say, "(quantity) with everything." Or "(quantity) without (whatever)" if you choose to omit something.

So three with everything, a Coney loose burger and an order of chili cheese fries.

The fries are of the shoe string variety loaded with chili and a good amount of cheese. The chili is a tasty house made brew that's well balanced with not a whisper (IMHO) of heat. I like some heat in my chili but I didn't really miss it.

The loose meat burger (on the plate next to the Coney) is the same as the Coney dog (on a steamed bun) except seasoned ground beef is in place of the weiner. It was good but I'd rather have a dog instead of the beef.

The star of the show and the reason why ACI has been in business for nearly 100 years was the Coney dog. Enough chili and mustard and onion to compliment but allow the great dog to shine. This Vienna style (pork and beef) dog is made specially for ACI by Dearborn Sausage. It comes off a flat top (love the flat top) and its natural casing provided a crisp snap that could rival an apple. If you're a hot dog aficionado and love that snap from natural casings, this is as good as it gets.
Mrs. Sippi used a knife and fork while I dove in with both hands. Finger licking good as they say.

With two drinks we were out the door for less than $20. Great food served up by great people at a great price. May the Keros family still be there 100 years from now.

You can visit American Coney Island at 114 W. Lafayette, Detroit, Michigan or on the web by clicking here.
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Well that's all for today. Be sure to check back for more of my journeys.