The Detroit food pyramid looks something like this: Vernor’s, Faygo, and Better Made Chips at the bottom, providing the historical base; Buddy’s, Sanders Fudge, and HoneyBaked Ham packed in the middle; and Slow’s, craft beer, and just about anything in Corktown near the top.
But at the pinnacle of Detroit’s culinary creations stands the meaty, onion-topped, mustard-laced original that is the coney dog. From far and wide, people come to sample the city’s most beloved food, and though coneys can be found at literally hundreds of spots throughout the city and state, not all of them are created equal, which is why we’ve narrowed it down to 10 favorites that represent the highest in coney achievement.
In the coney business, it’s not about who you know, it’s who knows you, and luckily for Hollywood, there’re plenty of folks who know about their dogs, their drive-thrus, and their speedy service. If you’re looking for a quick coney fix that sticks to the classic style, Hollywood’s the place to be.
There are several space-themed coneys to be found throughout the city, and Cosmos can be easy to miss to the untrained eye. In fact, you might call it the "pale blue dot" of the coneyverse -- but in this part of the city, it’s a hot spot for no-nonsense, authentic coneys available round the clock with its 24hr drive-thru.
Lake View (& Other Locations)
Leo’s is home to the comfort coney. Whichever location you choose, you know you’re going to get the coney special, you know you’re going to eat every last one of those fries, and you know you’re gonna wash it all down with a tall, cold Coke. A solid choice available near you, no matter where you are.
Roseville (& Other Locations)
As the oldest coney chain in the state, National still holds its own as a top dog (do we dare? Yes we do) in the ongoing coney competition. You’ll find them in the city, in the suburbs, at the fair, and even at Detroit Metro Airport (eat before you fly at your own risk). Despite the ubiquity, they continue to execute their coneys at a high level.
Coney purists may disagree, but Bucharest Grill deserves a spot on this list for serving up their coney-like creation, the "Detroiter". Replacing the traditional beef hot dog with a knockwurst and adding cheese to their original coney sauce and grilled onions, they have a unique take on an old favorite that rarely disappoints even the most studied coney connoisseurs.
Seeing as how they’re open 24/7 and right on Woodward, Detroit One is a critical stop when you're in need of a late-night coney fix. They’re an iconic spot with an iconic storefront, and a solid lineup of authentic coneys. Bonus: if you order 20 or more at a time, they’re just 95 cents a piece.
There’s a lot to love about Joe’s Top Dog, where there’s a full bar, an open kitchen, damn solid coneys (particularly on 99-cent coney Wednesdays!), and some of the friendliest people to ever serve a coney. This is where a lot of folks from the Ford Rouge Plant like to come for lunch, and it’s where you should, too.
3. Duly’s Place
Duly's flies a little under the radar relative to some more heralded competition (more on them later), but their Coney's are damn near done to perfection -- with sweet onions, spicy chili, and a steamy bun. With just one row of stools at the old-timey lunch counter appealing to purists, all there is to do at Duly’s is enjoy your coney, another coney, and the company.
There's no doubt, American makes a terrific coney dog. You know it, we know it, the world knows it. And although it’s number two on this list, many others with fine taste have put it at the top. Both spots put out a damn fine dog, but the chili is a bit different, and therein lies the defining taste of each, giving a certain other spot the slight edge in our opinion.
When you eat at Lafayette, you join the ranks of Eminem, Kid Rock, Henrik Zetterberg, Nick Lidstrom, Drew Barrymore, and so many more, who’ve all downed one, or two, or ten award-winning coneys here (not to say they haven’t also ventured next door). Maybe it’s the diner-like atmosphere, maybe it’s the beefier chili or the Spanish onions used to top it all off… it doesn’t really matter. Lafayette is simply the best original coney there is.
Sign up here for our daily Detroit email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Motor City has to offer.
1. Hollywood Coney Island9951 Gratiot Ave, Detroit
2. Cosmos Coney Island14613 Greenfield Rd, Detroit
3. Leo's Coney Island5575 Greenfield Rd, Dearborn
4. National Coney Island27027 Gratiot Ave, Roseville
5. Bucharest Grill2040 Park Ave, Detroit
6. Detroit One Coney Island3433 Woodward Ave, Detroit
7. Joe's Top Dog Coney Island13342 Michigan Ave, Dearborn
8. Duly's Place5458 W Vernor Hwy, Detroit
9. American Coney Island114 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit
10. Lafayette Coney Island118 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit
Hollywood Coney Island is a classic coney outpost on Gratiot Ave with drive-thrus and speedy service.
Aside from its awesome tiled counter and space-themed name, Cosmos is pretty great for having no-nonsense, authentic coneys and a 24hr drive-thru so you can get at them any time of day.
This chain diner offers both classic American and Greek eats, such as Coney special hotdogs, omelettes, gyros, and burgers.
Loaded, Detroit-style Coney Island hot dogs and other American comfort foods have been served here since 1965. Try the Coney dog (topped with chili, cheese, and diced onion) for a true Motor City dining experience.
Just a quick walk from the ballpark, Bucharest is a great spot for both lunch and late-night shawarma. BG is open until about 2am on weekends, so you can get your spiced beef or chicken (or vegetarian venison, which they have) fix on your way home from a night out. Best of all, this location includes plenty of seating and free parking.
Detroit One Coney is an iconic institution that also happens to have tons of pitas, sandwiches, and even breakfast. Though, if you stick with the coneys for long enough (make it through 20), they're only 95 cents each.
Joe's Top Dog has a full breakfast menu, plus burgers, sandwiches, salads, and dinner entrees, but the real star of the show here is the coney, especially when it's only 99 cents on Wednesdays.
There are many places in Detroit to get a Coney Dog, like Lafayette and American but Duly's, found off of Vernor Highway in Mexicantown, deserves a place on the list of Detroit coney greatness. It has the advantage of not only being just as good as the rest, but it's also the cheapest.
Located besides archrival Lafayette Coney Island, American Coney Island has been serving paper platefuls of the crispy fries-and-chili covered hot dog meal since 1917. The spot continues to be family-owned and -operated, and the only way you can get your hands on their secret Detroit chili sauce is by ordering your own dog, or a Coney Kit, which comes complete with 12 Dearborn Sausage brand special recipe hot dogs, buns, a sweet onion, American's famous family-owned Detroit chili sauce, instructions, and a hat.
While no one knows for sure where the Detroit coney dog originated, what's clear is that Lafayette is one of two establishments serving the premier version. Grab your own plate with a side of chili cheese fries, and ignore the sassy cooks and the dinginess of the space. You're here for the coney.