What is Detroit without the Coney dog? Ever since Gust Keros opened American Coney Island in 1917, the beef frankfurter nestled inside a warm bun, topped with chili, mustard, and onions has defined Michigan cuisine. Over the years, local restaurants have branched out from the classic dish though. Now, it’s not uncommon to see a hot dog layered with unique ingredients, toppings, and vegan and vegetarian alternatives. While the Coney will always be a classic, here are six more hot dogs you won’t want to pass up.
The 3 A.M. Dog at Vinsetta Garage
Is it breakfast? Is it lunch? Who cares? It’s delicious. This beef dog is topped with house-made bacon jam (yes, bacon in jam form), Sriracha mayo, a sunny-side-up, cage-free egg, fresh chivies, and spicy fried onions. It’s perfect for bacon lovers and those who like a punch of heat. The restaurant also offers a gluten-free version of the 3 A.M., which keeps the Sriracha mayo and egg, but features a “Vinsetta blend” patty, Swiss cheese, and Woodshop MI maple bacon. Vinsetta Garage, 27799 Woodward Ave., Berkley; 248-548-771; vinsettagarage.com
The Gold Standard at Loaded Links
The hot dogs at Loaded Links are a healthier alternative to the many hormone- and preservative-filled dogs on the market. All of Loaded Links’ hot dogs are made with a prime cut of beef, use no random animal parts or fillers, and contain no MSGs or artificial colors. “No one else is doing that,” says Randy Ayyar, president and founder of Loaded Links, which is why The Gold Standard is a fitting name for one of their favored dishes. Topped with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, roasted tomato, arugula, and garlic aioli, this healthier comfort food won’t leave you feeling guilty. Loaded Links, 800 E. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-526-1000; loadedlinks.com
Vegan Coney at Chili Mustard Onions
It looks like your average Coney, but it isn’t. The hot dogs at Chili Mustard Onions — named Best Take on a Detroit Classic by Hour Detroit editors this year — are 100% free of animal products and made with organic herbs and spices. The recipe was created by founder Peter LaCombe. “I based my chili on National Coney Island chili because I grew up with it and loved it until I went vegan seven years ago, and recreated it only from memory,” he says. The warmth and familiarity of a classic Coney is captured in every bite — the flavor is practically indistinguishable. Chili Mustard Onions, 3411 Brush St., Detroit; 313-462-4949; facebook.com/chilimustardonions
Monthly Hot Dog Special at Imperial
Imperial is known for its Sonoran-style hot dogs, which is a hot dog wrapped in bacon. The trend, which originated from the Mexican state Sonora, is immensely popular in Arizona, and has evolved into a perfect blend of American-Mexican street food. July 2019’s Sonoran is bacon wrapped, of course, and topped with marinated steak, chipotle cheese sauce, sweet jalapeno relish, and a surprise crunch: Fritos. Imperial also offers plenty of vegan and vegetarian alternatives. Imperial, 22828 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-850-8060; imperialferndale.com
Banh Mi Dog at Laika Dog
Paying homage to all types of dogs and cultures — including Laika, the Russian dog who was the first canine to go to space (and die in space) — the Banh Mi dog is a unique twist on the Vietnamese sandwich. Featuring pickled carrots and radishes, fresh cucumber, picked red onion, cilantro, and spicy vegan mayo, this hot dog is a fresh summer treat. Laika Dog offers a variety of vegan ingredients alongside their organic grass-fed beef dogs. Laika Dog at UFO Factory, 2110 Trumbull Ave., Detroit; laikadogdetroit.com
CrawDog at The Mean Weenie
Seafood lovers, this one’s for you! The Mean Weenie is one of Detroit’s favorite gourmet hot dog and sausage food trucks. Offering creative recipes year-round, they also feature seasonal dishes, like the CrawDog. This hot dog uses local food items like all-beef dogs from Dearborn and buns from Brown’s Bun Bakery. Topped with dirty rice and crawfish etouffee, this sultry dog is a Cajun delight. The Mean Weenie, 708 Livernois Rd., Troy; 248-630-5737; themeanweenie.com
Written by Carmen Nesbitt for Hour Detroit magazine.