American v. Lafayette

American, Lafayette, coney island, Detroit, dowtown

Michigan v. Michigan State, city v. suburbs, Detroit v. Everybody. There are plenty of local rivalries and one for the list is definitely American v. Lafayette.

I hear coney island diners are a southeast Michigan thing. These small – generally family owned – diners all have similar menus: loads of cheap breakfast foods, salads and soups, a handful of fried foods, usually gyros,  an assortment of pies and Coney Dogs aka hotdogs with chili sauce, onions and mustard. Friendly reminder: those ingredients are the only acceptable combination to order.

American and Lafayette are located downtown on Michigan Avenue (and Lafayette) and a stones throw from Campus Martius. I’ve been to both countless times. I prefer the curt, straightforward service of Lafayette. They are also slightly cheaper, have less seating, no public restroom and only accept cash. Due to the latter, American also enters the rotation. It’s roomier, has a broader menu, a more congenial staff and public bathroom for patron use only.

I’ve wanted to do a coney face-off for a while now and decided to do it with Madison on our trip downtown. We hit up both diners and ordered a coney dog and fries from each place. I’ve always said I prefer Lafayette hot dog (left) and it held up in the bite for bite evaluation. I was surprised to discover that I actually prefer American fries (lower right), they were greasier and hit the spot. Turns out I’ll be doing a split menu next time I have a coney craving.

Any local readers have coney preferences? Also more on the history of the two rival restaurants.

American, Lafayette, coney island, Detroit, dowtown

One thought on “American v. Lafayette

  1. My friend has suggested the best combo may be the dog from American with Laffayette’s chili, but I’ve never tried it.

    I’ll go to both, but push-come-to-shove I’m on team Lafayette.

    Speaking of: I always used the bathroom in the basement of Laffayette growing up. The stairs are basically behind the counter. Maybe things have changed – maybe I wasn’t supposed to be there – but no one ever said anything.

    It’s like being below the deck of a big ship.


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