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View Full Version : Detroit Area Dopers - Coney Islands?


Spud
05-23-2010, 12:37 AM
I just returned from a quick trip to the Detroit area (Pontiac actually). Going up with 5 teams of about 20 boys each we had some people who were originally from the area. I got lots of input that rather than spending $13 for breakfast at the hotel I should walk the block and get the same thing for $3 at Lou's Coney Island. My son and I took the advice and were very happy we did so. I was told they are all around the area... but I went past several, and they were "Randy's", "Mel's", "Ken and Larry's" Coney Islands (not really sure about the names other than I think I went to Lou's)

So, what's the deal? Are these franchises? Is Coney Island just a local slang for a diner type of place? Is this specific to Detroit or is it all over Michigan?

Thanks for any replies... plus... damn you guys have some old money up there. We were at Country Day and they were fund raising... with a goal of $60 million :eek:

Mahaloth
05-23-2010, 09:07 AM
I'm from the area. There is Wikipedia article on what you describe. Funny thing is, until you posted, I just assumed this was a nation wide thing.

Coney Island Restaurants (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coney_Island_%28restaurant%29)


Since the owner of the first restaurant did not trademark the name or business plan, other restaurants began using the same name and formula. Most Coneys in the Detroit area are still owned by Macedonian, Greek or Albanian immigrants and other menu items include gyros and Greek salads, as well as corned beef and reuben sandwiches. Other fare is usually typical of a "greasy spoon." Depending on the restaurant, other Greek and Mediterranean dishes such as Shish Kebab, Souvlaki, Spanakopita, and Saganaki can be found at a Coney Island. These restaurants also carry other regional items such as the Boston Cooler, which is a float made with vanilla ice cream and Vernors ginger ale.

Mean Mr. Mustard
05-23-2010, 09:31 AM
The Wiki article is worth reading. The two original Coneys - American and Lafayette - have quite an interesting story behind them. It is worth a trip to either one (they are side-by-side in downtown Detroit and owned by brothers). The atmosphere can't be beat.

'Coney' refers also to the main dish at these restaurants: the Coney Island Hot Dog. This is the only thing I ever order at a Coney restaurant.

I had always assumed these were nationwide as well. I recently heard they have opened the first Coney Island in Chicago (http://leoschicago.com/).

lost4life
05-23-2010, 10:25 AM
When I moved from Michigan, I went into a deep depression when I realized the rest of the world did not have 24 hour Coney Islands to satisfy my soul.

apollonia
05-23-2010, 10:27 AM
Not being able to have a Coney dog at all hours of the day and night is one of the saddest and most painful things I've had to deal with after moving.

I could destroy one of those right now. Mm-hmm! Either that or a plate of chili cheese fries with a nice tall glass of Vernors.

fighting ignorant
05-23-2010, 10:34 AM
It wasn't until I was in college that I found out there was a place called "Coney Island" and - gasp! - it was in NEW YORK! And they did not serve proper coneys there.

DSeid
05-23-2010, 10:43 AM
If you are in the Chicago area there is now an authentic Leo's Coney Island (http://leoschicago.com/) here. Apparently there are enough Detroit area transplants that they think they will have a go. Give me a Wolfy's or a Flukies!

Wolverine
05-23-2010, 10:57 AM
I usually have a couple of coney dogs when I return in the summer. The chili at these places is just different enough from a generic chili dog that I don't bother with the generic ones. Here in Beijing, I can find chili dogs at Dairy Queen but I almost never order them. It just won't be right.

There's a place in Lexington, KY that advertises they have Detroit style chili dogs. They are only open for lunch and early supper but they were always very busy whenever I visited. Their website strangely enough is DetroitConeyIsland.com (http://detroitconeyisland.com/)

Gyros are also very popular at these places.

Hello Again
05-23-2010, 11:04 AM
I'm from the area. There is Wikipedia article on what you describe. Funny thing is, until you posted, I just assumed this was a nation wide thing.


The thing is, Coney Island has an association with hot dogs in NYC, but not with chili dogs (with onions) in particular. Nathan's is the famous hot dog joint on the boardwalk, and it isn't a diner. They do sell chili dogs.

In New York, we have the exact same kind of diner, it's just called a "Greek Diner" in the common parlance and usually has a greek themed name. The Ambrosia, on 1st Ave & 15th is a typical example, beloved of Cardiologists from Beth Israel medical Center :D.

I always thought "Mr. Greek's Coney Island" in Ann Arbor was trying to bridge the phraseology gap between Michiganders and the many U of M students from New York City. :)

An ex of mine from Michigan refused to believe me that the term "Coney dog" has no meaning in NYC, until he tried to order one and the waitress said "a what?"

Maserschmidt
05-23-2010, 11:05 AM
A little googling convinces me that this format exists in most large urban areas. Heck, here's Atlanta!

http://nakomasconeyisland.net/index.html

Now whether they're good or not is a different issue. Hopefully some folks will post reviews here.

pseudotriton ruber ruber
05-23-2010, 11:10 AM
I'm from Coney Island in Brooklyn, and I never heard of this sort of restaurant (by that name) in my life until I opened this thread.

Qadgop the Mercotan
05-23-2010, 12:46 PM
I lived in Livonia in the 60's and early 70's. I loved the "loose" hamburgers at Coney Island

Spud
05-23-2010, 12:47 PM
After looking at this I realized that I was at Leo's not Lou's. Now I wish I had more time so I could have tried other things besides breakfast.

Mahaloth
05-23-2010, 01:05 PM
I'm still blown away.

You really don't have these super common Coney Islands?

This is just like when I learned White Castle isn't everywhere. I mean, Harold and Kumar even go there. Were there people who never heard of White Castle before Harold and Kumar.

Shagnasty
05-23-2010, 01:18 PM
I'm still blown away.

You really don't have these super common Coney Islands?

This is just like when I learned White Castle isn't everywhere. I mean, Harold and Kumar even go there. Were there people who never heard of White Castle before Harold and Kumar.

I knew about the real Coney Island in New York but I just learned about these diners from this thread and I am well-read and traveled. I had heard of White Castle since I was young but that was only because of a Beastie Boys song from Licensed to Ill. I had no idea of what they were until I had to travel to Indiana one week a month for work in my mid-twenties. I love White Castle but they don't exist in the vast majority of the U.S. although I hear Krystal Burgers in the Southeast is very similar. You can get frozen packages of White Castle burgers in some supermarkets here in Boston though and they are oddly similar to the real tiny nasty little sliders but I think I am one of the few people to have ever purchased any.

Mahaloth
05-23-2010, 02:56 PM
To be fair, I had not heard of Carl's Jr. since we don't have them in Michigan(I think there are a few, actually).

My wife pointed out that had I not been to California, I would not have known what they were talking about in Idiocracy when they show a Carl's Jr. dispenser machine. "Fuck you! I'm eating!"

Mean Mr. Mustard
05-23-2010, 05:52 PM
If you are in the Chicago area there is now an authentic Leo's Coney Island (http://leoschicago.com/) here. Apparently there are enough Detroit area transplants that they think they will have a go. Give me a Wolfy's or a Flukies!

I hear tell an appropriately-named dude mentioned this way back in post #3. :D

Queen Tonya
05-23-2010, 07:29 PM
The best thing about coney islands is that they're cheap, quick, and while there is a full menu available of standard diner food, it's all about the breakfasts, coney dogs and saganaki.

Ok, that's what they're all about for me, anyway. It astonishes me when I find myself in a major city while traveling and unable to get cheap quick food at 3 a.m.

Spud
05-23-2010, 07:55 PM
That is what I couldn't believe... I had two eggs over easy, 4 slices of bacon, half a plate full of hash browns, and two slices of toast and I believe it was $3.95 The hotel across the parking lot offered the exact same thing (only with just 2 slices of bacon) for $12.95.

TBG
05-23-2010, 08:22 PM
To be fair, I had not heard of Carl's Jr. since we don't have them in Michigan(I think there are a few, actually).


There are a few, but they aren't that common, and they're called Hardee's, (which used to be more common back when they sold ripoffs of Arby's roast beef sammiches instead of high end (for fast food!) burgers.)

apollonia
05-23-2010, 08:51 PM
I lived in Livonia in the 60's and early 70's. I loved the "loose" hamburgers at Coney Island

Of course, you could just eat at Bates', which pretty much serves "loose hamburgers" in the sense that if you show up there, sooner or later someone will sling a stray hamburger at you. Never been to a greasier place, bless it.

DSeid
05-23-2010, 09:01 PM
I hear tell an appropriately-named dude mentioned this way back in post #3. :DMissed that Mean Mr. Mustard. My mistake.

Least Original User Name Ever
05-23-2010, 09:39 PM
Yeah, they're clearly all over Michigan. I'm partial to Leo's, Senate, Kirby's, and L. George's.

devilsknew
05-23-2010, 10:38 PM
The best thing about coney islands is that they're cheap, quick, and while there is a full menu available of standard diner food, it's all about the breakfasts, coney dogs and saganaki.

Around here they are known for their spanikopita (feta-spinach, phyllo, pie/popovers) gyros, chili, chili mac, and coney dogs, not their flaming cheese. The Detroit Coney Island tradition pretty much runs down 75 South to Toledo and as far as Cincinnati (Skyline Chili). We have a pretty famous Coney Island Hot Dog (http://maps.google.com/maps/place?oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=coney+island+toledo&fb=1&gl=us&hq=coney+island&hnear=toledo&cid=15439052951645209791) in downtown Toledo... oldest Restaurant in the downtown, been there since 1919. Although Toledo is best known for our Hungarian Sausage Coney, we also have the best Greek tradition Coney Dogs that I would put up against the Detroit Dog anyday. We have Rudy's Hot Dog (http://rudyshotdog.com/), Coney Island Hot Dog, Netty's (http://nettyscorp.com/), and Hot Dog Charleys.
Personally, I think Rudy's has the best and most traditional Coney Dog.

Wolverine
05-23-2010, 11:31 PM
Around here they are known for their spanikopita (feta-spinach, phyllo, pie/popovers) gyros, chili, chili mac, and coney dogs, not their flaming cheese. The Detroit Coney Island tradition pretty much runs down 75 South to Toledo and as far as Cincinnati (Skyline Chili). We have a pretty famous Coney Island Hot Dog (http://maps.google.com/maps/place?oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=coney+island+toledo&fb=1&gl=us&hq=coney+island&hnear=toledo&cid=15439052951645209791) in downtown Toledo... oldest Restaurant in the downtown, been there since 1919. Although Toledo is best known for our Hungarian Sausage Coney, we also have the best Greek tradition Coney Dogs that I would put up against the Detroit Dog anyday. We have Rudy's Hot Dog (http://rudyshotdog.com/), Coney Island Hot Dog, Netty's (http://nettyscorp.com/), and Hot Dog Charleys.
Personally, I think Rudy's has the best and most traditional Coney Dog.

I always thought Tony Packos (http://tonypacko.com/index.php) was the most well known because of the M.A.S.H. connection. Their fried pickles and peppers are great but the dogs I had were only mediocre.

Don't even get me started on the abomination that is Skyline Chili. I lived in Lexington for a few years and always saw them along I-75 when traveling back to Michigan and decided to try it out. Big mistake. It is fine for Cincinnati but it can be its own tradition. Does not belong to Detroit.

devilsknew
05-23-2010, 11:43 PM
I always thought Tony Packos (http://tonypacko.com/index.php) was the most well known because of the M.A.S.H. connection. Their fried pickles and peppers are great but the dogs I had were only mediocre.
Yea, pretty much what I said... Toledo is probably best known for the Hungarian Sausage Coney Dog (Tony Packo's). Well, I would strongly protest that they are mediocre dogs. They are the most perfect sausage coney dog ever conceived! Better than the Maxwell street Polish, and far better than that Washington D.C. Half Smoke with Ethiopian sauce.

I will admit that pre corporatization (pre-90's) Packo's dogs were much better than what you might get today. The sausage specifically... the sauce hasn't changed much.
Don't even get me started on the abomination that is Skyline Chili. I lived in Lexington for a few years and always saw them along I-75 when traveling back to Michigan and decided to try it out. Big mistake. It is fine for Cincinnati but it can be its own tradition. Does not belong to Detroit.

I've never had skyline chili... only ever had the greek diner chili fresh and local over spaghetti.

Hello Again
05-23-2010, 11:45 PM
I always thought Tony Packos (http://tonypacko.com/index.php) was the most well known because of the M.A.S.H. connection. Their fried pickles and peppers are great but the dogs I had were only mediocre.

Tony Packo's isn't a Coney Island. It's a restaurant (one that isn't open for breakfast), and not a Greek restaurant either -- it's predominantly Hungarian in addition to the more-famous dog & sausage selection.

devilsknew
05-24-2010, 12:25 AM
Tony Packo's isn't a Coney Island. It's a restaurant (one that isn't open for breakfast), and not a Greek restaurant either -- it's predominantly Hungarian in addition to the more-famous dog & sausage selection.

They offer only one dog... and it is not a Frankfurter or a Wiener, or colloquially a Hot Dog. It is sausage. Hungarian Sausage. Probably, most likely, if it had a geographic name a Budar or Pester. From Buda or Pest. Or Szeged style sausage.

Hello Again
05-24-2010, 12:35 AM
They offer only one dog... and it is not a Frankfurter or a Wiener, or colloquially a Hot Dog. It is sausage. Hungarian Sausage. Probably, most likely, if it had a geographic name a Budar or Pester. From Buda or Pest. Or Szeged style sausage.

You are mistaken sir. Tony Packo's sells their own sausage in three sizes, as well as the Front St. Frank, an "American style hot dog."

Regardless, it isn't a Coney Island, even though they sell Coney dogs, which was my point.

devilsknew
05-24-2010, 12:42 AM
You are mistaken sir. Tony Packo's sells their own sausage in three sizes, as well as the Front St. Frank, an "American style hot dog."

Regardless, it isn't a Coney Island, even though they sell Coney dogs, which was my point.

Like I said, Three sizes of the same Hungarian Sausage, basically to build the M.O.A.D (Mother of All Dogs). Which is actually a menu item... it's a giant Hungarian Hot Dog.... The Front St. Frank is on the children's menu. You go to Packo's for a Hungarian Hot Dog or nothing Else.

maladroit
05-24-2010, 01:01 PM
I love Coney restaurants for their french fries. They're crispy and salty on the outside, tender and fluffy on the inside, and come in massive portions.

devilsknew
06-03-2010, 06:22 PM
I always thought "Mr. Greek's Coney Island" in Ann Arbor was trying to bridge the phraseology gap between Michiganders and the many U of M students from New York City. :)

An ex of mine from Michigan refused to believe me that the term "Coney dog" has no meaning in NYC, until he tried to order one and the waitress said "a what?"

My hypothesis is that the terminology "Coney Island Hot Dogs" is also tied up in the great Lake Erie Boardwalk, Beach, and Island Resort Tradition of the late 1800's/early 1900's. We had some really first class boardwalks that were always evoking the Coney Island ennui and style in competition with the Eastern Seaboard and visitors and emigrants from the Yankee East.

Oh, another thing that the local coney Islandsin Toledo are known for are their Greek Salads (greens, tomato, feta, cucumbers, kalamata olives) and proprietary greek dressings. They also have killer braised lambshank specials on Sunday.

devilsknew
06-03-2010, 07:29 PM
My hypothesis is that the terminology "Coney Island Hot Dogs" is also tied up in the great Lake Erie Boardwalk, Beach, and Island Resort Tradition of the late 1800's/early 1900's. We had some really first class boardwalks that were always evoking the Coney Island ennui and style in competition with the Eastern Seaboard and visitors and emigrants from the Yankee East.

As a matter of fact that Yankee sea resort tradition as exemplified by Coney Island, Atlantic City, the Hamptons and Martha's Vineyard carries on, and is outdone by Boblo, Cedar Point, Marblehead and the Erie Isles. They did it first, but we perfected it. Fresh water too... no salt scaling or bleaching... better fishing.

devilsknew
06-03-2010, 07:57 PM
Although a differnet lake, I wouldn't want to forget Makinac Island, either... Unfortunately, You Eastcoasters want to know what real traditional seasiding used to be like need toi come to the Midwest for the real thing.

Spud
06-05-2010, 01:57 AM
No idea why I'm up this late, but I just flipped onto Food Network and they are comparing American to Lafayette... just checked the guide, and Food Feuds is the show. Now I'm really mad I'm 5 hours away.

edited to add results... American won.

cochrane
06-05-2010, 02:23 AM
Coney Island restaurants aren't confined to Michigan. When I was a kid growing up in Johnstown, PA, it was a family treat to go to Coney Island and get a bunch of dogs and fries. They're still in business. (http://coneyislandjohnstownpa.com/index.html) The restaurant was founded in 1916 and has been run by four generations of the same family.

cmyk
06-06-2010, 11:17 PM
Mmmm.

2:30 am:
"I'll take 2 coneys (hell yeh onions & mustard), a side of chilly fries, and a Pepsi."

Heals all wounds.

devilsknew
06-08-2010, 02:11 AM
Although a differnet lake, I wouldn't want to forget Makinac Island, either... Unfortunately, You Eastcoasters want to know what real traditional seasiding used to be like need toi come to the Midwest for the real thing.

You can also get the very best Jamaican food in the United States at Mackinac if you know the right people or ask kindly.

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