There are few things in life I enjoy more than a trip to Detroit. I find it to be a beautifully gritty city. It has great sports teams with long histories (some better than others), it has the automotive heritage, and it has great eats. Detroit is a city where one will never go hungry if he knows where to look. On my most recent trip I had to stop in to one of my favorite restaurants: Lafayette Coney. Lafayette Coney has earned a place in Detroit history. When you walk in to the diner you are immediately transported back in time. With its laminate countertops, stainless steel bar stools, and cream-colored wall tiles one can imagine that Lafayette Coney Island hasn’t changed much since it first opened up in 1936.
Located at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Lafayette Boulevard, Lafayette Coney Island has stood through Detroit’s good times as well as its bad times. It has lasted this long because it has focused on one thing and doing it well: making Detroit-style Coneys. Supposedly created by Greek immigrants, the Coney consists of a made-in-Michigan, natural casing hot dog; a warm, soft bun; raw onions; a healthy dose of yellow mustard; and a heaping pile of beefy, savory Detroit chili. The combination is often imitated but rarely duplicated. And while the dog is the main event it is not the only reason to visit Lafayette. There is a slight attitude you receive from the diner’s staff that makes this place even more of a pleasure to visit. Do not expect a warm welcome. Seriously. It’s almost Soup Nazi material. If you belly up to the bar you had better know what you’re getting or else suffer the wrath of not only the kitchen staff but also of the crowd waiting behind you. And once you do finally get the order out of your quivering lips a mustached waiter shouts out your order to the cook in a heavy Greek accent.
There is no ticket taking or tallying up your total bill in a cash register. It’s old fashioned, methodical, and quick. Within 3 minutes of ordering your Coney is in front of you and it’s served with a fork because that’s the only way you’re going to finish all of the chili and onions. You didn’t get yours with onions? What’s wrong with you!? Get the onions! And after you’ve eaten through half of your Coney and fries be sure to wash it down with a refreshing, golden hued Vernor’s, another Detroit favorite. You feel that? That’s pure, unadulterated Detroit pride burning in your chest.
118 West Lafayette Blvd. Detroit