One To Go, Please!

It's been a long time since we've done this, but your patience is finally paying off because here's another tribute to Detroit mass-consumerism! Yay! A few years ago, I wrote a similar entry about Dollar Stores, and now I am going to tell you a bit about Detroit's own Coney Island Restaurants!

Let me start by reminding you all that I grew up in the city of Detroit, where there are about 130 restaurants with the name "Coney" in them. That averages 1 per square mile, which means that no matter where you are, the chances are high that you're within walking distance of a delicious Coney Island.

Look, there are so many, there are even two right next to each other! :)
(actually, these are Detroit legends, click here for more details!)

However, in the town I live in now, just a mere 35 miles from Detroit, there are ... 8 Coney Islands. EIGHT!! And 3 of them are "Koney" Islands, whatever that means! That averages about 1 every 3 square miles. It's like torture! And that's according to the White Pages- I can't say I have actually seen more than half of those. Oh, and I've been looking, trust me! Plus, at least 2 of them close at like 6pm or something ridiculous. :)

Maybe you're thinking, "Oh, Ciara, you live in a college town, and college towns are so diverse and are such meccas of culture, there probably aren't a ton of any specific type of restaurants." But, no. How many pizza places are in my town? 57! That's an average of about 2.1 per square mile!

Not only are Coney Islands a rarity, but most people who live around me (and maybe even some of you reading this) have no idea what they are or what the appeal is. Everyone thinks I am talking about the Coney Island park in New York when I talk about them. So I thought, where else but my diaryland page could I educate everyone about one of my favorite types of restaurant?

And let me preface my exploration with this: I am sure there are places to eat that ARE better than Coney Islands, but there will always be a special place in my heart for Coneys because when I was growing up they were accessible, they were cheap, and they were gooood! So, I am sorry if I seem a bit biased!

Coney Island restaurants have a bit of a mysterious past-- no one really knows who the "first" owners were, but it appears that they began in Detroit by some Greek family. Other than that, it's all hearsay and legends, but regardless, the end result was nothing less than a restaurant phenomenon. Today, Detroit loves its Coney Islands and its signature food: the coney dog, which consists of a hot dog covered in beanless meat chili, mustard, and onions. It may look gross and overwhelming, but, trust me, it's a mouthful of tasty!

The hot dog that eats like a meal.

My 87-year-old uncle Hank can still perfectly pick one of these up and eat it without spilling, but I prefer to cut it with a fork and knife!

If hot dogs aren't your thing, they also have typical American diner-type food plus many Greek favorites like gyros and lemon-rice soup. One of my college friends said, "I don't like going to Coney Islands because I just end up buying things that I could make at home," but, actually that's the exact reason why I love them! It's like eating things I would eat at home, but without having to cook them! :) Plus, who could think that it's a waste to spend $2.50 on a grilled cheese sandwich and fries?

Unlike the dollar stores, the Detroit Coney Islands don't have super-crazy names, but sometimes their names do follow certain themes, like:

1. Friendly Names
Zorba's, Oscar's, Joseph's, Mike's, Johnny's, Gino's, Olga's, Lon's, Delia's, Grandy's, Bianca's, Caesar's, Zef's, Nikou's, Jack's, Tom's, Lou's, Hefty's, Colombo's (nice!), L George's, Jolly Jim's, Ed's, John's, Dino's, Leo's, Steve's.
People like friendly names because then they feel like they're just going to their friend's house for dinner (I mean, they'll get similar food anyways, right?). :)

2. Greek-Inspired Names
Omega, Olympia Flame, Apollo, Onasis, Olympic, Cosmos, Plaka.
You know, there's Greek food there, so they've got to keep it real.

3. Detroitesque Over-The-Top Descriptive Words
Super, Universal, King, Superior, Quick, United, Hollywood, Galaxy, Supreme, Legacy
Can these words describe a hot dog joint? Apparently! Look, in a free market, marketing is key!

And some are fancy:

and some are humble:

but they have the common threads of being privately-owned, having relaxed atmospheres, and a wide variety of good food. Usually the menus are so diverse that there's something for everyone (some even experiment with Italian and Mexican food... where else can you get a Greek salad, sweet potato fries, and a big glass of chocolate milk alongside your bean burrito?). And most of them are open until midnight, and some are open 24/7! Food any time! It's like paradise!

Well, I don't know if I've helped you appreciate this Detroit-original, or if I just made you hungry (or sick to your stomach!), but regardless, I'll leave you with a Top Five List and a video filmed at Lafayette Coney Island in downtown Detroit. Bon Appetite!

My Top Five Favorite Detroit Coney Island Names
5. United Cafe Coney Island
So, it wants cafes to be united? :)
4. Coney Daves & More
I love how Detroiters always put gratuitous "& More"s at the end of everything!
3. LA Coney Island
Sorry, you're not fooling anyone, we know you're not in Los Angeles.
2. Dog House Coney Island
Um, I know that hot dogs can be called just "dogs", but eating at a dog house doesn't seem that appetizing. :)
1. Genies Wienies Coney Island
No comment! haha.

I didn't take this video, but, oh, man, I wish I was there! See how happy everyone is at Coney Islands!

If anyone else loves Coney Islands, help spread the word so that maybe more can be opened outside of the Detroit-area! Down with pizza! Viva la Coney! haha.

ps. Ironically, I can't currently eat coney dogs because I got food poisoning from one when I went to Indiana. Why I ever thought to eat a coney dog in Indiana is beyond me! But, luckily, that doesn't affect my love for Coney Islands because I love everything else on the menu!


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