Relish the taste of Detroit-style hot dogs at Motor City Coney Island
March 2nd, 2012
02:00 PM ET
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Stone Mountain, Georgia, is 738 miles from the best known home of the Coney Island hot dog - Detroit. But for more than a year now, a Coney Island restaurant in suburban Atlanta has been backing up their motto, "A Taste of the D in the ATL."

Out of a strip mall location in the shadow of Stone Mountain, Motor City Coney Island has the Detroit flavor of the Coney dog made and served up by, of course, Detroiters.

A brother and sister team runs Motor City Coney Island, born from an idea of - what else - a craving for a Coney Island dog.

"I was visiting my sister 8 years ago, and asked 'Where are we going to dinner?' 'Oh that's right, you don’t have any Coney places around here,'" says Kenneth Bowden.

The Stone Mountain location brings in transplanted Michiganders and local hot dog lovers alike, says Bowden.

"We think we are poised for success now, because after we’ve been here for a year, we're constantly getting new people coming in too," he says.

Motor City Coney Island's specialty is the "Detroit-Style" Coney hot dog - the same kind of Coney you will find at any of the Detroit area Coney places, even legendary Lafayette Coney Island or American Coney Island restaurants in downtown Detroit.

The Detroit-style Coney dog is a specially selected hot dog that is grilled, put into a steamed bun, then covered by an all-meat beanless chili, two strips of yellow mustard and chopped sweet onions.

The dogs are shipped from Koegel's Meats in Flint, Michigan, as is the "Detroit-style" chili. The all-meat, no-bean chili is more sauce than chili, but it’s got a great kick and flavor in it from traditional Hungarian spices. Together, Coney lovers will agree, it's magic on a bun.

Michigan-made Better Made potato chips are available, as well as soda - or Vernors and Faygo brand "pops," as they say in parts of the Midwest.

"And don't forget the pop," says Terrnia Williams, a native Detroiter who now lives in Stone Mountain. "Now, that's pop - not 'soda' or 'soda pop' - but you have to have a pop. I have Faygo Rock & Rye here."

She's happy to find a taste of her hometown in her new home state.

"No, never thought I could get a Coney in Georgia," she says.

The dogs are also known as "snappers," for the snapping sound they make when you bite into one after fully grilled.

"The natural casing is a big part of it. But it’s the quality of the dog and the way its prepared," says Bowden. "A Coney dog has to be grilled. The natural casing is where the 'snap' comes in. The flavor stays in until you bite it. It doesn't dry out like some other dogs might."

Koegel's hot dogs are found at almost every Coney Island restaurant in the city of Flint and in other Coney Island restaurants in southeast Michigan.

The Coney-style hot dog originated in Jackson, Michigan, but the Michigan Restaurant Association believes Detroit, by far, has the most in the state.

“We have found over 100 different Coney Islands by name in the Detroit area alone. And that doesn’t even begin to count the many that have multiple locations,” says the association’s Territory Manager, Todd Ross.

The Atlanta area is among a few other cities with a Detroit-style Coney shop: In suburban Charlotte, a Coney restaurant opened last year, and actor-director Mike Binder, who grew up in the Detroit area, opened a 65-seat, 24-hour Coney restaurant in Los Angeles called Coney Dog.

Regardless, Stone Mountain’s “Coney” king says don’t expect him to change anything any time soon.

“We're not going to be something we're not. The Chicago dog? That is not going to happen,” says Bowden.

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Filed under: 100 Places to Eat • Bite • Detroit • Dishes • Hot dogs • Parts Unknown • Restaurants

soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. bouingiorno

    great article folks

    March 21, 2013 at 2:20 am |
  2. Bucko

    Hey! Coney Island is in NY. What's this abt Stone Mtn, Ga being the "Home of the Coney"???

    March 5, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Lewis & Clark@ Bucko

      Another Geographical Genius...Let us check our maps.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  3. Wrathskeller

    My favorite Coney dogs were the the foot longs you used to be able to get at Mauro's DQ in Hazel Park way back when (in the 70s & 80s). They still have foot longs, but they're not what they used to be. You know how it is; manufacturers and distributors change and so does the final product.

    As a side note, another great dog was (is?) the Colossal Dog that I used to get at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Ca. in the early 90s. I ask "is?" because I don't know if they still have them. I rate them second on my list, but I'd pass up a pile of them for another of the original DQ Coneys from Mauro's!

    March 4, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Pilgrim

      Another great foot-long dog was served at the Daly's Drive-in. Window trays, cute waitresses and all. The locations I went to were in Plymouth and Livonia.Great Detroit memories here!!!

      March 5, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  4. CORetiree

    I know this is all about Coney dogs, but the food I miss most from my years in The D is Detroit-style pizza. SW Coloradans seem to think pizza is all about thin crust, and I was dying for a Buddy's pizza. Then I happened upon The Brown Dog in Telluride. The chef is from The D, and he serves up a terrific Detroit-style pizza. Stop in if you're in the area! Unfortunately no Detroit brew – but you can wash it down with a very good Telluride Brewery Rye IPA.

    March 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Marlene

      Coney dogs, pizza, ribs, the best Greek salads, steak from Lelli's, deli from Stage Delicatessan, great Chinese food... I miss it all! I moved from Detroit in 2005 and now live in the San Francisco Bay area. I still love and miss all the food from the D!!! Long Live Detroit!

      March 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • trumod

      What's a Detroit style pizza?

      March 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
      • jason

        March 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
      • Wrathskeller

        Loui's is another GREAT example of Detroit-style pizza! My all time fave.

        March 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
        • Rick

          Louis was/is great. The walls of the original one at 9 and Dequndre are covered with wine bottles which, in the case of a an earthquake, would rain down. Very good pizza, though

          March 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Rick

      Is Strohs still available?

      March 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
      • Amy

        Yes, there's a Stroh's in downtown Wyandotte

        March 4, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
        • Jerry

          I'm pretty sure he was referring to the beer, not the ice cream parlor.

          March 5, 2012 at 12:42 am |
        • Rick

          i was talking about the beer, but if i am in the mood for ice cream, and i feel like the 27 mile drive to get it, I will keep that in mind.

          March 5, 2012 at 3:08 am |
  5. George Costanza

    The owners of the COney shop should fill the place with other Detroit items like the newspapers. There is a Buffalo based Hot Dog place (Teds) in Chandler AZ and that is what they do. It draws the Western NY Natives.
    I grew up in Brooklyn 15 minutes from COney Island. When I worked in Detroit on Michigan AVe betw Griswold and Washington Blvd. I used to eat the Coney Island dogs across the street where the two stores were (and still are) side by side. I found it ironic that what was called Coney Island dogs in MI were never sold in Coney Island. Great dogs tho in Detroit. LOved Redpop too. Bring the Freep in to the Stone Mtn store daily.

    March 4, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • mar9900

      yeh lets remember the real deal, the real coney island. i think the good folks in detroit should recognize the place that it all started. in my opinion the only hot dog worth eating is a nathans and dont ever slop chili on it-mustard, kraut, maybe stewed onions. i could eat them with a toasted bun and nuthin...NUTHIN I TELL YA!!!

      March 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
      • pattysboi

        Not fond at all of Nathan's. Now, Hebrew National, THAT's a great hot dog!

        March 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  6. Karl

    The planet's best hotdogs are found in Kalamazoo at the Root Beer Stand. Car hops take and deliver your order and their homemade chili sauce is unsurpassed. My wife and I grew up in Kazoo, now live in Lansing and regularly drive back home for a fix.

    Better hurry if you plan to get some. The Root Beer Stand is now down to only two locations remaining. They've already opened for the season!

    March 4, 2012 at 5:15 am |
  7. Joe

    Best place for a Coney is at Rudy's Hotdog in Toledo, Oh.

    March 3, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • Rebecca

      Yeah, best place to go if you want to be cleaned out the next day, better job than White Castle.

      March 4, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  8. murfizoid

    I live in the San Antonio area and we can get Vernors at H.E.B. Nothing beats my Bourbon and Vernors for a nice after work cocktail. I really miss Bucemis pizza down here. Go Tigers!

    March 3, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  9. Michael

    Doesn't compare to a Cincinnati Skyline Cheese Coney!!!!!!!!!

    March 3, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Steve

      I tried one of the dogs with the skyline chili at a Reds game. Way too sweet!

      March 4, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Skyline chili rocks

      Spot on! Skyline is the best! Although, Weiner's Circle in Chicago makes the best Chicago style dog

      November 11, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  10. Chris

    What? No Sander's Bumpy Cake or Guernsey Ice Cream for dessert? ;-)

    March 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Pilgrim

      BUMPY CAKE!!!!!!!

      March 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Pilgrim

      On the other hand, my Detroit friends had never heard of or experienced a Lobster Roll, which to me is proof that there is a God, and that he loves seafood!

      March 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • BC

      Bumpy Cake – that's my Rap Star name.

      March 4, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Rinsewind

      Man, I miss bumpy cake...

      March 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  11. Chris M

    Best PLACE to get Detroit- or Flint-style (or just about any other style)? Little old Traverse City, MI (tip of the little finger) has House of Doggs, and they'll serve up just about any version you can think of. Mmmmm...I think I'll run over there for dinner tonight!

    March 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  12. Chicago

    Just got back from a trip to MI. While I was there, I took a walk looking for something quick to eat. Saw a "Coney Island," but didn't stop, figuring it must be a tacky knock-off of something from NY. Wouldn't an NY coney dog be the "real deal"? (P.S. I'm from Chicago which, without question, had the best dogs).

    March 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • OvernOut

      A common mistake. Coneys were invented in Jackson, Michigan.

      March 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  13. Jennifer

    I moved from Michigan to St. Louis and every time I go home, I bring back a few packages of Koegel Viennas. Luckily for me, a few stores carry Vernors (as gourmet soda!) and Sanders Hot Fudge. What I thought was funny is one of the same stores features Michigan cheese. Perfect for a taste of home when I need it :)

    March 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  14. Pilgrim

    I was born and raised in Detroit, and now live in Boston. There are no Coneys here, sadly, because these Bean-towners have no idea what they're missing! Lafayette was always the best to me. Vernors ginger ale is another thing I miss. I've brought some here to Boston and everyone loved it! What makes it especially good is the fact that it's aged in the whisky barrels from the Seagrams distillery right across the river in Windsor. Sanders hot fudge is another Detroit specialty that's just not found anywhere else!

    March 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • OvernOut

      MMMMMMMM, Vernors! And Seven and Sevens! Somehow a Seven and Sierra Mist or a Seven and Sprite just don't sound like the same drink. My in-laws are all from the east (NJ, mostly), and I loved watching them drink Vernors for the first time. Nothing like it anyplace, it's the best!

      March 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
      • Pilgrim

        You should also try an RRRR-Rock and Rye and Rich and Rare......Faygo rock and Rye with Rich and Rare whiskey....another Detroit treat!

        March 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
      • pattysboi

        I've never liked vernor's. It's GOT to be Canada Dry, or nothing!

        March 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • MC

      If you're in Boston, go to Speed's, often in Newmarket Square. Won WSJ Best Dog a few years ago! No dogs, sheesh!

      March 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  15. Joe Grimm

    Excellent bit on a cool-sounding place. My only beef is not with the hot dog, but with the headline. In Detroit, we do not put relish on a coney dog and we wouldn't put it on a story about them. Our book, "Coney Detroit," just came out this week and our only issue with the designer - who did a wonderful job - had to do with relish stains he had put into the book. Mustard stains, chili stains, coffee rings, all good. Relish, no.

    March 3, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  16. rick

    the best soda in the world is vernors and the best ice cream treat in the world is vernors and vanilla ice cream, the "boston cooler". vernors, a coney dog and fries is the best lunch there is, but you might want to carry a rolaids with you.

    March 3, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • rick

      by the way, i now live in florida and drive extra miles to a walmart that carries vernors

      March 3, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Pilgrim

      Oddly enough, here is Boston, they've never heard of a Detroit Boston cooler, although the people I've made them for absolutely love them!

      March 3, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  17. John

    Best dogs are in Toronto, believe it or not. Grilled! Over 10 condiments and toppings that you add yourself at no extra charge.

    March 3, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • George Costanza

      Where in TO?

      March 4, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  18. David's girl

    I got all nostalgic just reading these posts. Living now in Tucson, AZ, but when I visit Flint I always make it a point to have 1) a coney dog and 2) a Halo burger w/boston cooler. I remember some journalist called them gourmet hot dogs, and they were right. Didn't know I could get them shipped here - I'm going to check that site next.

    March 3, 2012 at 6:45 am |
  19. Expansion expansion expansion

    Try for a franchise at Turner Field. The fans would snap 'em up. And how about opening shops in other areas of Atlanta.

    The Atlanta metro area covers some 8,300 square miles (about the size of New Jersey) so Stone Mountain is a bit far to drive for most, even it's for a world-class coney.

    March 3, 2012 at 6:16 am |
  20. NoTags

    The best place for hot dogs in Atlanta is the Varsity. I haven't lived in Atlanta for quite a few years, however whenever I get back my first stop is the Varsity for some chili dogs. I've eaten at the Varsity for 50+ years and their food today still tastes the same as it did 50 years ago. I get hungry just thinking about the Varsity chili dogs and chili steaks. Mmmmm!

    March 3, 2012 at 4:44 am |
  21. Chris M

    I love Detroit-style coneys, but I think Flint-style is much better. I grew up in the Flint area until I joined the military and relocated to Florida. What passes for a coney down here is little more than nasty cheap dogs with Hormel chili on top. There is a HUGE difference between a coney dog and a chili dog, but apparently these people don't know that. By a stroke of luck, I found out that you can buy Koegels and BOTH Detroit & Flint style coney sauce right from the Keogel website and have it shipped anywhere in the country. I swear it smelled like "home" in my house for a week.

    March 3, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • Chris M

      The best coneys came from the food cart out in front of Kessel's grocery store. I think it's called Kroger now.

      March 3, 2012 at 4:13 am |
  22. Pearl

    ok this is the first I've heard of this place. I'm from Detroit and grew up on Coney's so I will be checking this place out....Better be up to the test...

    March 2, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  23. fretlessbass

    Yeah, nothing like the taste of the D in the A... good one! :P

    March 2, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  24. Erica

    Bar none, the best coney dogs in the Detroit area are at Lipuma's in Rochester. Tiny place, great patio, awesome dogs :) My husband and I had our rehearsal dinner there!

    March 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Doug

      Couldn't agree more! Lipuma's has the best coneys in Detroit.

      March 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Miguel

      Erica, I don't mean to offend, but the best coney dogs/burgers in the nation are here in Southwest Detroit. You should check Dulys out sometime on W. Vernor.

      March 2, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
      • Kat

        Duly's is the best! My grandmother used to live right down the street and the owner would let me work behind the counter when I was a little girl. Great memories.

        March 3, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • Sally from Rochester, MI

      ABSOLUTELY!!!! Love Lipuma's!!!! I grew up in Rochester and now live in Texas. Every time I go home to visit, we have to go to Lipuma's at least a couple of times! I remember eating those same dogs 35 years ago. They were just as good then and they haven't changed a bit! :) There are ZERO coney places here in TX. Such a bummer.

      March 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
      • Alyssa

        I love lipomas! Best French fries! My favorite comey is from National! Wish we had them in Florida!

        March 3, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  25. Jazz

    I'm so glad they finally brought a Coney Island here to the A because that's one of my favorite foods from back home !!! I'm from Pontiac, MI so this is definitely a taste of home :-) Everyone is always nice when I go in and the taste is just like back home and to be able to have some Better Made REd Hot chips and faygo's with my coney is icing on the cake, thanks for opening here I'll definitely be back many more times to come !!!

    March 2, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Redgmac

      Jazz, I am from Pontiac as well, my uncle owned Angels coney island on Baldwin avenue for decades. I now live in Florida and there are no "Pontiac coneys" anywhere. People used to argue all the time while dining at uncles resteraunt over who had the best coneys.

      March 3, 2012 at 6:01 am |
  26. Nihal

    So happy that the Coney Dog opened up here in L.A.!! Feel right at home like I was back in the D. AND, they show Detroit/Michigan sports all the time!! Great place to catch the Red Wings, Pistons, Tigers, Wolverines, and Little Brother play :-)

    March 2, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  27. Monica

    I relocated to Duluth in 2008 and to my surprise,I did not find a Coney Island on every corner. I worked in Midtown at the time and was told to go to Varsity for a coney dog. I must sayn definitely NOT a Lafayette Coney Island.

    March 2, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Pearl

      Yes! Lafayette Coney's are outstanding.

      March 2, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  28. Britt D

    Im so glad this has finally happend. I lived in Detroit most of my life and I moved to Stone Mountain GA in 2007.(Eventually I left but I'll be moving back soon.) Everytime I would come back to visit it was my first stop and my last stop on my way back to GA. I love coney island it was something that only was in the D. Now when I move back to GA I'll always have a little piece of home not to far away

    March 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  29. mom

    Here in the D we have National Coney Island & Kirbiy's also along with many mom & pop places. It is nice to see our brands (fago & kogel) available outside of the D. I love my local coney places.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  30. Bob

    There is a place on Michigan Ave in Ypsilanti MI that serves nothing but Hot Dogs and Root Beer (and potato chips). It is a small yellow building (20 x 20 ft?) with large letters on the top that says "Hot Dogs". It used to be called Hot Dog Bill's. You drove in and they hung the tray on your car window. Has been there since WWII. Wonderful dogs.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Amy

      Is it before you come to downtown if you were coming from the east?

      March 4, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  31. Mark L

    In NYC the best hot dogs are at Papaya King on 86th and 3rd or of course at the original Nathan's (where they do the hot dog eating contest) in Coney Island (ironic huh?).

    March 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
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