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Aug 22, 2008 01:32 PM

coney island huh? we just moved to Ann Arbor from Canada, and have a chowhound question...what is all this coney island stuff? Does it just refer to the chili dogs? Is it the style of restaurant? What are the good coney places in Ann Arbor? Why all this and no
Please help a confused canuck!

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  1. For whatever reason, "coney islands" in SE MIchigan are basically diners, the kind of place where you can get breakfast anytime, and also generally featuring some Greek influences like a gyros sandwich and ubiquitous chicken lemon rice soup. A "coney" is the chili dog itself; "with everything" means with chopped onion and mustard on top of the chili. I can only eat coneys about twice a year but when you get the craving, you gotta indulge it!

    Don't know about A2 coney islands, as my knowledge of that town is 20 years out of date. Each of the Detroit-area chains has their partisans, I'm a fan of the National Coney Island dogs myself.

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    1. re: coney with everything

      Differences in quality are not huge, but I like the Mark's Midtown branch on State south of I-94. Go at lunch--the waitstaff has the intelligence of air traffic controllers. The original SE Michigan coney islands, American and Lafayette, are at the foot of Michigan Ave. in Detroit, and they're fun to visit. "Two on one [two dogs on one plate], everything, orange soda!" They are different from most other places in that they basically have only the coney dogs, not the sandwiches, omelets, chicken lemon rice soup, etc. Chaldeans and Albanians are supplanting Greeks in the business, just as Greeks supplanted South Slavs a couple of generations ago. The origins of the coney dog, and other American fast foods containing chili, are obscure but seem to be connected with the wave of immigration from Eastern Europe in the early 20th century. Probably the name comes from the Coney Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati, but in that city the chili-spaghetti deal took hold instead. There are no coney islands on New York's Coney Island, and in fact in parts of New York state (and eastern Ontario) the coney dogs are called "Michigans." There is even a coney blog at A Flint-style coney, also available in Jackson and points west, has spiced hamburger on top rather than chili. Coney dogs are clearly not fine cuisine, but hot dogs in general tend to run pretty good around here, and they're tasty in their way.