American Coney Island
What is it?
A Vegas version of the classic Detroit eatery in business since 1917.
Where is it?
At The D Las Vegas in Downtown Las Vegas.
What kind of food is served?
Coney dogs, loose meat burgers (on a hot dog bun), gyros, chili, chili fries, and drinks. That’s about it.
What is the atmosphere like?
How is the service?
Fast and friendly. No complaints at all.
What are the prices like?
Crazy inexpensive. If you pay more than $10 you are either doing something wrong or you’re really, really hungry.
What else do I need to know?
The restaurant is open 24 hours a day in case you feel a hankering for a chili dog at 3am.
What’s the bottom line?
There’s a reason the original has been running for almost 100 years.
Detroit native Derek Stevens obviously felt that way and had the resources to do something about it. As the owner of The D in Downtown Las Vegas, he decided the one thing his new hotel needed was the first ever branch of the American Coney Island, bringing the classic eats to Fremont Street. That the place is run by one of the grandsons of the original founder is comforting since you can rest assured that they are going to make sure little is lost in the transcontinental translation.
The restaurant is small and utilitarian; less than a dozen tables and not much in the way of decor. But who cares? We’re talking chili dogs and gyros so if you want fancy wallpaper and lots of seating options, go to a buffet on The Strip (and be prepared to pay for the privilege). Note that you can access the restaurant from the Fremont Street Experience or from inside the casino.
The menu is similarly limited with four main items: the famous Coney Island Dog, a specially seasoned Dearborn Sausage topped with chili (no beans), their secret chili sauce, mustard, and onions (don’t ask for it with ketchup – they will sneer at you); the Coney Loose Burger, which is seasoned, loose-meat ground beef served in a hot dog bun and topped with chili; the American Special, a combination of the two (ground beef on top of a hot dog); and classic Greek gyros in soft pita with onions, tomato, and homemade Tzatziki sauce. A side of chili and fries (with or without chili and cheese) complete the offerings.
The dogs are substantially meaty in both flavor and texture, owing to their Michigan roots where they are required to have less filler. The chili is not too spicy and the ground beef has a nice hearty taste (midwesterners – it reminded us of our beloved Maid-Rite). The gyros made me flash back to a trip to Greece two decades ago.
Prices are so cheap you may need to look twice to make sure you are reading them correctly. $5-6 bucks is the top of the food chain price-wise so you can do a full, very satisfying meal for less than $10 easily.
The restaurant is open 24 hours a day just in case you get a craving for a chili dog at 3am.