424. Lafayette Coney Island – August 18, 2019 – Detroit, MI

August2019LafayetteConeyIsland1 (2)August2019LafayetteConeyIsland2 (2)My chronicling of my rendition of the Detroit Coney Challenge continues with my visit to Lafayette Coney Island, American Coney Island‘s neighbor and competitor in this gastronomical rumble.

Researching online in the writing of this post, I discovered that Lafayette Coney Island was opened in 1936 by Bill Keros in response to a rift with his brother, Gust Keros. The brothers had opened American Coney Island together, but after their falling out, Gust maintained ownership of the restaurant while Bill went off on his own – just next door (awkward!). So the Lafayette vs. American rivalry has its origins in a family rivalry.

Lafayette doesn’t look like it’s changed much since its 1930s inception. Its long, narrow interior with its mint-green walls accented with white tiling and shiny metal shelving emanates Depression-era vibes. Framed photos of notables who’ve noshed on Lafayette’s wares crowd the walls and are a reminder of the decades that have passed in the restaurant’s 80-year existence.

Lafayette’s menu is even more abbreviated than American’s (which is pretty spartan itself). It essentially focuses on its pièces de résistance: its chili and the Coney dog, loose Coney burger, and French fries it tops. A few other food items are offered, such as potato chips, pie, and donuts. And like American, Lafayette Coney Island serves beer.

When my friends and I took a seat at one of Lafayette’s long tables, we were promptly greeted by a server, and our orders were taken. Our food was brought out shortly thereafter.

As I mentioned in my post on American Coney Island, I don’t like hot dogs, so I modified the Coney Challenge to suit my tastes, subbing Lafayette’s loose Coney burger (called a Loose Hamburger on its menu; it’s basically a Coney dog with ground beef replacing the hot dog) for the Coney dog. My friends ordered Coney dogs, and, as we did at American, we got an order of chili fries to share.

Our food appeared quickly, and I dug in with surprising gusto considering I’d consumed the same meal just 15 minutes prior.

My appetite was not disappointed. Lafayette’s Loose Hamburger was AMAZING! Its chili was richly flavored and reminded me of National Coney Island’s chili, which I grew up on and love. It formed a powerful flavor combination with the spicy ground beef, savory mustard, and generous heaping of diced raw onion. The fries were tasty, too, slathered as they were with that luxurious chili.

After finishing my meal, it was time for the verdict. Which Coney Island restaurant won out for me: American or Lafayette? I compared both experiences:

-I found American’s vibrant red, white, and blue interior more striking than Lafayette’s, and I preferred their fries over their neighbor’s.

-BUT, I favored Lafayette’s chili over American’s. I found it to be notably more nuanced in flavor.

The deliberations done, my verdict was in: in my personal Coney Challenge, Lafayette Coney Island takes the prize as being the premier Coney Island institution in Detroit. YAY, Lafayette!!! Thanks for doing your thing so well and for serving Metro-Detroiters the Coney goodness for over 80 years!

And thank you, American, for doing your thing, too; you are definitely awesome yourself! 🙂

118 W. Lafayette Blvd.

Detroit, MI 48226

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