It has long been a personal ambition of mine to visit one of the places that has been featured on Man vs. Food; this week I finally did it! In the 2009 season of the show, Adam visited Detroit and talked about the rivalry of two places serving a ‘Coney Island’; for those of us not from Michigan: a Coney Island is a hotdog topped with chili, raw onions, and mustard. It’s what other people would call a chilidog.
Gust G. Keros immigrated to Detroit (via Coney Island, NY) from Greece in 1903 and founded American Coney Island in 1917. His nickel Coney Island hot dogs were a success and he brought his brother William over from Greece to help. William opened Lafayette Coney Island right next door and there started the rivalry. The evening I visited, I was off to a baseball game with dinner provided (hotdogs!) so I had to pick just one of the two restaurants to taste; I chose American Coney Island, as it was the first of the two to open almost 100 years ago.
Inside was a (British guy’s view of a) classic 1950s American diner, with formica tables and plenty of tiles on the wall. Also on the wall was a picture of Adam from Man vs. Food enjoying his Coney Island. I ordered mine to-go and took a bite into it outside.
It was a great chilidog. The wiener was long and moist and the bun that it came in was light. The raw onion and mustard was great and the chilli was just spicy enough to be really interesting. It was as great as those ingredients combined together could be; never going to win any food awards but a great way to spend $2.50. I got very messy, which in my book is usually a sure sign of great food.
But the taste, to a certain extent, was secondary to the fact that I got to do something that I have wanted to do for a very long time. I travel a lot in my job which can oftentimes be a pain, but it is little episodes like that which put a big smile on my face and make me feel very lucky. Can’t wait to return to Detroit and try Lafayette Coney Island next door! And I’ll do what Man vs. Food didn’t; I’ll drop off the fence and choose a winner! A wiener winner, if you will? No? OK.