The coney dog is a variation on the classic American hot dog; its distinguishing characteristic is a chili topping (generally referred to as coney sauce). Roadfood founders and culinary road trip warriors Jane and Michael Stern explained their affinity for the coney dog in their 2009 book 500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late: “These are not aristocratic sausages like you find on the other side of Lake Michigan, in Chicago and Milwaukee. Far from it: they are cheap tasting. But we mean that with all respect; when the craving strikes for a brace of them, no prime filet mignon can satisfy it.”

The term “coneys” is used to refer to the dogs themselves and also serves as shorthand for the type of restaurants in which they’re commonly served, which are ubiquitous in Detroit. So-called “coney islands” are typically Greek-American owned diners that in addition to coney dogs, also serve an eclectic menu with everything from gyros and Greek salad to burgers and breakfast plates.

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