Breakfast, Coneys & Gyros: Local Coney Islands of Metro D

By: Toni Cunningham | November 28, 2014

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and you’re wondering what to eat. Wait, wondering what to eat? Aren’t you surrounded by mountains of delicious leftovers that would feed an army? Well, sure. But you don’t want that tryptophan in the turkey kickin’ in while you’re mid Black Friday shopping, causing you to become drowsy and delirious, now do you?

Whether you’re planning to be out and about the day after Thanksgiving, or are simply suffering from what I like to call extreme turkey overload, there is something to be done: save the leftovers for the weekend. Instead, grab a quick meal on the go or perhaps order takeout from one of my personal favorites, and a staple in the state of Michigan: Coney Island.

If you’re not a Michigander, you just might not “get” Coney Island, and my friend, do I feel sorry for you. There are plenty of chain Coney Islands that we all know and love, but there are also a few independent ones in the Metro Detroit area with the usual staples, such as Coney Dogs, Greek salads, Chicken Finger Pitas and more. And since we are all very much familiar with the two rival Coney Islands of the Detroit area, Lafayette Coney Island, 118 W. Lafayette Blvd., and American Coney Island, 114 W. Lafayette Blvd., I will just leave that argument where it lies.

If, like me, you dream of french fries, here are some of the best independent Coney Islands in southeast Michigan:

Athens Coney Island, 32657 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak, has been around for 50 years, and the classic diner has all of your favorite Coney items on the menu. Start with an Athens Greek Salad or sample one of the restaurant’s homemade soups or Athens Classic Chili.

Original Athens Favorites include the Coney Island (a Detroit-made natural casing dog with mustard, chili, and onions), Swanky Frankie (a dog topped with applewood bacon and American cheese) and Loose Burger (seasoned beef mixed with Greek spices, onion, chili, mustard and optional cheese).

The menu’s Gooey Grilled Cheese promises it’s “just like mom used to make,” and there are plenty of sandwich and wrap options, as well as breakfast items. Who doesn’t love a good Coney omelet?

Detroit One Coney Island, 3433 Woodward Ave., Detroit, prides itself on having the number one best Coney in the area, but that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself. Perhaps one of the best aspects of Detroit One Coney Island is the delivery until 2 a.m. Cheese fries at midnight, anyone?

Try a Coney Special (hot dog with ground beef, chili, onions and mustard), Fish Sandwich (with your choice of Cod or Catfish), Wayne State Pita (chicken strips with lettuce, tomato, mayo, Swiss cheese and American cheese) or Gyro Dinner (lamb with tomatoes, onions and cucumber sauce).

Breakfast anytime includes everything from the Detroit One Skillet (ham, bacon or sausage with green and red peppers, onions, tomatoes and hash browns topped with cheese and two eggs) to Chicken and Waffles to breakfast sandwiches.

Canton Coney & Grill, 8533 N. Lilley Rd., Canton, has been in operation for nearly 30 years, and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner options, as well as buffets, carryout and catering. And because most places aim for convenience nowadays, you can even order online!

Start off with some signature munchies like The Original Sampler Platter (which includes two jalapeno poppers, two broccoli bites, two beef taquitos, two mini tacos, two chicken fingers and two cheese sticks), Saganaki “Opa” or Seasoned Fries with chili and cheese.

In addition to classic pitas, there are ciabatta wraps and lawash wraps on the menu, like the Steak and Veggie Wrap (with grilled green pepper, mushrooms, onion and tomato, served with french fries and tzatziki sauce or sour cream) and B.L.T. Avocado Wrap (bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado and mayo).

Greek specialties include ever-popular items like Spinach and Cheese Pie Dinner (phyllo dough with spinach, Feta cheese and seasoning served with rice and a mini Greek salad), Chicken Gyro Sandwich and Pastitsio (layers of penne pasta, ground beef, Parmesan cheese, milk, egg and seasoning, served with your choice of fries or rice).

Before you visit or carry out, be sure to head to Canton Coney & Grill’s official website to print a 10 percent off coupon!

Athenian Coney Island, 43324 11 Mile Rd., Novi, was once voted the city’s best Greek restaurant and breakfast joint, so you know the food here is top notch. While most Coneys offer Greek salad and a variety of others, there are about a dozen to choose from at Athenian. Take your pick from Athen’s Chicken Salad, Justin-Luca Salad (with lettuce, chicken strips, American cheese, Swiss cheese, cucumber, tomato and olives) and Spargo Salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomato, corned beef, turkey breast and Swiss cheese), amongst others.

Pita sandwiches include the Mary Jane (with Eggbeaters, lettuce and tomato), Olympian (with grilled chicken, grilled onions, grilled green pepper and Swiss cheese) and Chicken Hummus (with grilled onions and Feta cheese). There are plenty of Coney Dogs and Gyros to choose from, as well as sandwiches.

The award winning breakfast items are served all day long, so you can order The Hungry Man Breakfast (three eggs, two sausage, two pieces of bacon, ham, hash browns, potatoes and toast), Chili and Cheese Omelet, Texas French Toast (with your choice of ham, bacon or sausage) or Border Pita (with ground beef, American cheese, bacon and onions) whenever you please.

Phoenix Coney Island, 40100 Van Dyke Ave., Sterling Heights, is “the king of koneys.” If you’re looking for a Coney restaurant with a great special, Phoenix is it. The Phoenix Free For All is always on special for $7.75 and includes a quarter pound Vienna hot dog, slit and filled with cheese sauce, grilled with two strips of bacon and topped with chili, raw onions and mustard. It’s served with fries, a bowl of chili and a 20-ounce soft drink with unlimited refills. What a bargain!

There are countless other Coney dog varieties, including the Michigan Coney “Special” (a natural casing dog topped with ground beef, chili, mustard and raw onion), Romeo Coney Dog (a deep fried hot dog topped with cheese sauce, chili, yellow mustard and onion) and Warren Coney Dog (a natural casing dog with cheese sauce, chili, yellow mustard and onions).

Other popular items include Fish and Chips (one half pound of battered cod served with fries), Geno’s Special sandwich (chicken breast served on pita bread with Swiss cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and mayo) and Sterling Coney Taco (spicy ground beef covered with Phoenix chili, onions, cheese sauce, shredded lettuce, tomatoes and red sauce in a Coney bun).

There are plenty of other non-chain Coney Islands in the Metro Detroit area, such as Mark’s Midtown Coney Island in Ann Arbor and Red Hots Coney Island of Highland Park. It’s simple, it’s quick, and it’s delicious. Coney Island food is a staple for us Michiganders. We’ve all got our favorites: what is yours?