Lafayette or American? This is a question that has sparked debates for decades.
In Detroit, there are a number of options to get a Coney Dog, that plump, juicy hot dog smothered in chili, topped with onions and mustard—and ketchup if you’re one of those people (it’s okay; I’m one of those people). But the only real choice Coney fans have to make when deciding where to get their fix is between Lafayette or American Coney Island—two Coney Islands right next to each other on Lafayette Boulevard.
Let’s set the record straight right now. I’m an American girl. I’ve never even been to Lafayette—so maybe that’s the only reason why I’m still on Team America—but the allure of American Coney Island was too strong in comparison to Lafayette. Walking down the street, it’s easy to see why.
American Coney Island is a sprawling, gaudy establishment. It dons a gigantic “American Coney Island” sign complete with a Coney dog bursting with red, white, and blue starry American pride (cue fireworks in the background). American is right on the corner, so it’s got plenty of windows lining the walls—perfect for people-watching. It’s hard to even notice Lafayette if you’re not looking for the narrow, no-nonsense building, whose gray exterior seems to say, “We’ve already given up; just go to American.”
Of course, that’s probably not true at all. Lafayette fans will defend their restaurant till the day they die, arguing that Lafayette Coney Island doesn’t need the garish displays of patriotism and fast food—the dogs are simply more delicious at Lafayette, and that’s all that matters. Of course, this is all hearsay. It’s also hearsay that the cooks aren’t as polite at Lafayette, and that the menu is somewhat limited. But then again, if you’re going to a Coney Island, how much do you need than Coney dog?
The funny thing is, both restaurants use the same type of hot dog. But the brothers (the restaurants were started by two different brothers—can you believe it?) disagreed on the recipe for the chili, and thus, the Lafayette/American rivalry was born.
Like I said, I’ve only ever been to American, so I can’t really say much on Lafayette other than it’s almost deliberately uninviting. But really, just try a dog at both of them, and decide for yourself—Lafayette or American.