The Coney Dog Chronicles

By: Carolyn Hall | February 2, 2024
Homemade Detroit Style Chili Dog with Mustard and Onion chili dogs coney dogs

Welcome to the world of coney dogs, a Detroit delicacy that has become synonymous with the city’s culinary culture. These are held in the highest regard by Metro Detroiters, right alongside other culinary classics like Faygo pop and Better Made chips. In Detroit, coney dogs are made with all-beef hotdogs, a steamed bun, beanless meat chili, chopped white onions, and yellow mustard. Today, we’re taking you on a savory journey through some of the most renowned establishments in Detroit that have perfected this delectable dish, as well as ones that offer a unique twist on this classic. Is your favorite spot for coney dogs on the list? Check it out…

AMERICAN CONEY ISLAND

114 West Lafayette Boulevard, Detroit

Family-owned and operated since 1917, American Coney Island is known as one of the oldest places in Detroit for its coney dogs. Throughout the last 107 years, American Coney Island has developed and been serving up its own secret Keros family recipe Coney Island chili sauce over specialty-seasoned, natural skin-casing hot dogs from Dearborn Sausage. If you’re missing the taste of a coney dog and want to make them at home, kits are available for purchase to make a dozen authentic coney dogs from American Coney Island. 

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LAFAYETTE CONEY ISLAND

118 West Lafayette Boulevard, Detroit

Arguably American Coney Island’s biggest rival for coney dogs is Lafayette Coney Island, located right next door. If you haven’t heard about the rivalry between these two spots, check out some of their history here, along with other iconic Metro Detroit stops. Sit up at the counter, order a few coney dogs (no one can order just one!), pair it with a cold pop and a side of fries, and you’ve got a classic Detroit meal. 

ZEFF’S CONEY ISLAND

2469 Russell Street, Detroit

Zeff’s Coney Island has been an Eastern Market staple since the 70s as a local family-owned spot. Amongst its specialties, you’ll find omelets, French toast, and of course, coney dogs. In this welcoming space, you can find the Coney Island coney dog, which is the Detroit-style specialty with mustard, onions, and chili. Other dogs available include the Zeff’s Coney special, coney taco dog, and New York, Greek, and Chicago-style varieties. With a wide menu to choose from, everyone can find a coney dog that suits their taste buds.

GRANDY’S CONEY ISLAND

4004 Outer Drive, Detroit

Grandy’s Coney Island is another Detroit staple, open 24/7 for all of your coney dog needs. Whether it’s a late-night craving after being out or your lunch break, you can get yourself a coney dog. The Coney Island dog has your classic trio of mustard, onions, and chili. Other varieties here include the New Yorker, with sauerkraut and mustard, the Coney special, with ground beef along with the trio, and the Super Coney, which happens to be topped with chili, mustard, onions, and cheese, all wrapped in bacon. Bonus, if you happen to buy five coneys, you get one free.

IMPERIAL

22828 Woodward Avenue, Ferndale

Social Media Manager Johanna Medranda, describes Imperial as, “Your favorite local taco joint; a roadhouse, honky-tonk, or tavern… Imperial is somewhere you’ll always find a cold can of beer, enjoy a great whiskey or tequila, and if you’re in the mood… LA street-style tacos and Sonoran hot dogs.” Imperial is a place where the traditional coney dog takes a delightful detour and meets the vibrant flavors of LA street food, creating a fusion that’s as exciting as it is delicious. A great example is the Chino Sonoran, which is Imperial’s version of a coney dog, with a bacon-wrapped hotdog, chorizo chili, chipotle mustard, white onion, and cilantro. While not the typical flavor profile of a coney dog, Imperial certainly stands out in this scene. 

chino sonoran from imperial with mustard, onion, cilantro, and chili - chili dogs
Photo courtesy of Imperial

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