I am an American and I Eat Hot Dogs

Dog Crawl NYC Stop 1: Katz’s Deli, E. Houston St., NYC
Filed under: General — paul @ 3:00 pm

1 x dog with “everything”, $2.95

Super Bow Sunday 2008 and we embark on our first official NYC Dog Crawl. This is our pregame: a 1pm meet-up at Katz’s and then a walking tour of lower Manhattan’s more well-established hot dog eateries. I’ve been living in Brooklyn for about 5 months now, and I’ve barely had a chance to check in with the local flavor, so I’m primed and ready for the marathon.

Katz’s is a legendary deli on Houston, and I’ve always heard good things about their hot dog. It seems to make all of the “10 Best” lists of dog joints in NYC, but after our visit, I’m assuming that it’s making those lists based on reputation and not product.

The hot dog itself was actually fine, but their biggest affront, both to hot dog eaters nd to humanity, was that when I asked for a hot dog with everything, the dude behind the counter put a stripe of ketchup on the hot dog. I was shocked. I’m not even sure how to adequately describe what I felt. It was like being in a zombie movie where you’re at the counter ordering food and you suddenly realize that all the people working are zombies, everyone in the restaurant is a zombie, and then you look to your friends for backup and realize that they’re zombies too. The whole world had turned itself inside out. If you were to go back and read through this blog, over 150 entries at this point, not once have I ever been served a hot dog with ketchup. What the hell was going on? Was it this guy’s first day? As soon as I saw that red stripe, I said, “Wait a sec, are you putting ketchup on that hot dog!?” “Well, you asked for everything.” OK, yeah, I asked for everything, but I don’t think that’s meant to be taken quite literally. When it comes to hot dogs, there’s a regional specificity to the word “everything.” In Chicago, it’s mustard, relish, a pickle spear, lettuce, tomato, sport peppers and celery salt. In Cincinnati, it’s chili, mustard, onions and shredded cheese. And in New York City, it should be mustard, onions, and kraut. Ketchup should never enter the picture. Not in New York, not anywhere. I think I was actually offended!

Now I highly doubt that Katz’s could maintain their spot on these top 10 lists by serving hot dogs with ketchup. It’s my suspicion that this was an employee-motivated attack on our sensibilities. Maybe it was this dude’s first day? Maybe he’d never worked behind the hot dog counter before? I’m actually considering writing in to Katz’s deli asking if ketchup is an approved and regular part of their “everything” routine. If any Katz’s representatives are reading this, please feel free to write in to address this issue.

That being said, the ketchup error was quickly corrected, almost as if the employee knew what he was doing was wrong. He quickly discarded the ketchup-ridden dog and fixed a new one up for me. It had a real classic New York feel, highlighted by lots of snap and a fine onion sauce. I suppose this is the real reason why this place ends up on those lists, but I’m still not feeling it. It was a fine dog, but it’s nothing that’s gonna blow your mind.

Dog Crawl NYC Stop 2: Crif Dogs, St. Mark’s Place, NYC
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:58 pm

1 x Spicy Redneck, wrapped in bacon with chili, coleslaw and jalapenos for maybe like $4.50

Crif Dogs is one of those nouveau/hipster hot dog-only joints. They’re popping up all over the country and are recognizable by their penchant for “extreme” and “wacky” hot condiment combinations and cartoony graphic design that occasionally seems to have been done by tattoo artists. I’m not really complaining here, just pointing out some commonalities that I’ve observed in my travels. In actuality, these are the places that are generally pushing hot dogs into new directions. These are the guys who, by dedicating themselves entirely to the hot dog, free themselves from convention and pave the way for truly unique creations. It’s true that many of these hot dogs are maybe motivated by a novelty factor, but hey, I play in a band about the Harry Potter books so who am I to criticize someone for being novel.

Anyway, Crif rocks things out Jersey style and that means these hot dogs are deep fried in grease. What’s more, they subscribe to the adage that bacon makes everything better. Nearly all of their hot dogs are wrapped in bacon, and then given the Jersey treatment. While I’m not huge on the grease-dog, the bacon added just the right flavor and depth that the oil just doesn’t quite provide for me. Throw a line of mustard on this and it’s good-to-go.

Mine came with some coleslaw, chili and jalapenos and their menu proclaimed that this hot dog was so good that it would “make you want to hump your mamma.” While I wasn’t very interested in that, I was definitely intrigued by a hot dog that considered itself worthy of such a bold claim. While I don’t think that it quite lived up to its own hype, this dog was pretty darn good. While the chili-slaw combo may have it’s roots out in West Virginia, this is a totally different beast than the elegantly flavored creations out in Appalachia. This focused more on the bold and spicy versus the hot/cold harmony of the more simple chili-slaw dog. They heavy flavor of this dog was accentuated by the greasy prepwork and NYC’s favorite flavor component, bacon. It was all around satisfying, and thankfully not quite as spicy as I had expected.

The highlight of the trip, though, was the Sourcheese dog that a couple of other folks on our trip went in for. Deep-fried with bacon and slathered with cheese sauce and laid up with a pickle spear, it was simple and probably super-hazardous to your health, but holy crap was it good. This was indulgence taken to extremes. I’ll tell you right now that this place was the highlight of our hot dog crawl.

One note of caution when visiting Crif Dogs (which I recommend): there are two Ms. Pacman machines in this place. One is a table-top, which I didn’t get to play. The other is a slow abomination with a washed out screen and a flippant joystick. Plus, the player is given 5 lives at the start, which is simply excessive. Someone needs to get inside this thing and flip some dipswitches ASAP.

Dog Crawl NYC Stop 3: Gray’s Papaya, 6th Ave and 8th, NYC
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:55 pm

1 x hot dog and a coconut juice, $2.50

Forget this place. Seriously people, you can do so much better. This place is basically for drunk people to eat at at 3am. The hot dogs taste like plastic.

Dog Crawl NYC Stop 4: Old Town Bar, 18th St, NYC
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:49 pm

1 x Frankfurter (comes with a side), $4.75

At this point some of us are starting struggle with the number of hot dogs we’ve eaten in the day. I’m not saying that I’m one of them, but I was certainly feeling like going all-out for the chili dog was maybe not in my best interest at this point in the afternoon. It’s a decision I later regretted after having a bite off Georg’s. Man, that chili dog was nice.

According to the internet research I did, this place is renown for it’s New England- style hot dogs and they lived up to the promise. In fact, I suspect that this hot dog is secretly in competition with the one served up on Revere Beach for the most-buttery hot dog of the northeast. Even though it was February, I think we were all instantly struck by that summer feeling. Mustard and relish came served on the side, which I always appreciate in a sit-down setting. The dog was a fine all-beef variety with good flavor, although overall, this guy was a bit salty, maybe from all the buttering that was going on backstage. Also, this place wins bonus points for being the first spot on our tour where we drank beer. Beer and hot dogs are good!

Dog Crawl NYC Stop 5: the Shake Shack, Madison Square Park, NYC
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:48 pm

1 x Flat Top dog, with carmelized onions and cheese sauce, $3.75

The Final Stop on our tour of duty today leads us to the legendary Shake Shack, now with winter hours! We took a little walk before-hand to try and walk off some of our previous exploits. There weren’t too many hot dogs on the menu, and honestly, this place is not really know for it’s hot dogs as much as shakes and general summer food, so I panicked a bit at the counter and ordered the cheese dog hoping that these guys might be able to capture the magic of their downtown neighbors at Crif Dogs. In reality, the cheese dog is not one of my favorites, and without the bacon, it was a tough way to close out a full day of hot dog consumption. Yeah, it was definitely on the higher end of cheese dogs, but it’s just not my thing. I may have been a bit burnt out at this point, but I still think on any other day, I probably would have ordered something else from the menu.

Taaffe Hall, Brooklyn, NY
Filed under: General — paul @ 1:15 pm

2 x dogs with special sauce, mustard, onions and relish

Playoff Football! Yes, sporting events in Taaffe Hall are an excuse to relish in the culinary excesses of American culture. In total pregame mode, my roommates watched 7 hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer while scarfing down bags of Doritos and beer. I thought they might be burnt out by game time, but they rallied around the stove and Dan cooked up some Hebrew Nationals, whilst everyone else chipped in prepping condiments. I improvised a barbecue sauce that was pretty heavy on the smoky flavor, but thinned out nicely when complimented with some diced onions, relish, and a stripe of high quality mustard. Dan gets bonus points for toasting the buns. I might have been pushing it by eating two whole dogs. The Hebrew Nats are kinda salty and I may have overloaded the last one on onions and relish, which must be used in moderation. Keep a cool hand when sloshing that stuff on the dog. It’s easy to get carried away. Go Pats!

Super Duper Weenie, Fairfield, CT
Filed under: General — paul @ 1:14 pm

1 x Californian, $3.25

I’ve been riding the Chinatown bus between Boston and New York way too much recently. Every time we pass through Fairfield, CT on 95N, I see that Super Duper Weenie sign and feel a slight pang of regret that, instead of stopping off there, we’ll have to stop off at that Chinese Buffet on 84. I mean, Chinese food at $6/lb does make for pretty great bus food, but I’d much rather hit up one of our country’s finer hot dog places if I had the choice. But this time, I’m the one driving, and I’m the one who decides to take that exit and grab a dog

I decided to go way out on a limb and try the Californian, which comes topped with chili, onions, American cheese, hot relish and a pickle. This totally looked like a disaster waiting to happen. First off, I’ve been to California and never seen them serve any dogs that sounded like this, so I’m immediately skeptical. Second, I don’t put American cheese on anything. Yeah, I know, I’m a snob. Deal with it. Seriously though, it’s not that good! It’s real flavorless and kind of plastic-y. Sliced cheese comes in many other reasonably priced varieties, each of which has far more character than the over-processed block that bears our nation’s name.

Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve been totally schooled by Super Duper Weenie. I tried to order the worst thing on the menu, and it blew me away. This dog was incredible. The chili here is top-notch, and I just couldn’t believe how great that slice of American cheese tasted after it had gotten a little melty underneath the hot dog. The hot relish is SDW’s secret weapon in the condiment arena - they can put this on anything and it will taste great. This is one of those times when it feels so good to be proven wrong. I left feeling inspired. If Super Duper Weenie can put American cheese on a hot dog and make it work, then anything must be possible.

I don’t normally make over-enthusiastic endorsements like this, but Super Duper Weenie is truly a place where the hot dog is treated as an art form. They’ve treated all aspects of the hot dog with meticulous care, and I feel fortunate to occasionally be the beneficiary of their hard work. I’m already looking forward to my next visit.

Boston Speed’s, Roxbury, MA
Filed under: General — paul @ 1:16 pm

1 x Speed Dog with everything, $7

I think Old Speed has finally retired. But fortunately for the rest of Boston’s hot dog enthusiasts, he’s passes he recipes along to small team who have taken over his cart and location in Newmarket Square. I had heard rumor about the expanded hours, and while there certainly was a charm to the unpredictability of a Speed’s visit, the more frequently I can get a Speed Dog, the happier I’ll be. These guys seem to have their stuff together and are all about consistency.

This was my first visit in over a year. It was just a few days after Christmas and it was bright and sunny and not-too-cold. With these glorious rumors of expanded hours dancing in my head, I though, “Why not take a chance?” I was in the area – it couldn’t hurt to just drive by and see. And oh how my heart lept as I turned the corner at the Farmer’s market to seem off in the hazy distance of that industrial park, the finest hot dog cart in all the land: the legendary Boston Speeds!

As shocked as I was to see a white dude inside the cart, the service was quick, the toppings were all there in their buckets and the dog was pretty much as good as ever. The price has now been elevated to $7, but if an extra dollar is all I have to pay to ensure that I can get a Speed’s dog 5 days a week between 11am and 5pm, then you won’t hear one complaint escape my excited mouth. Go here to eat.

Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant, Kansas City, MO
Filed under: General — paul @ 1:12 pm

1 x Poor Dan Junior, $3.29

This is one of those restaurants that is all about the atmosphere. It’s a total throw-back to those times when food used to be delivered to restaurant-goers by railroad. What? You don’t remember those times? Well this is the kind of place that makes you think that such a thing might have been popular at some point maybe about 50 years ago.

Orders are called in to the kitchen via a closed circuit phone system with phones at each table in the restaurant. Minutes later, a train comes along trailing your order of food in a folded up take-out box. The train deposits the food off onto a hydraulic lift that gently lowers it to table level for distribution to the lucky recipients. Drinks and desserts, unfortunately, arrive in the more mundane traditional manner.

I wasn’t really in much of a hot dog mood, but they had a rather interesting menu item that a hot dog blogger just couldn’t pass up: a hot dog, sliced up and served on a hamburger bun along with cheese, chili, mustard and pickles. It just got me all nostalgic for those days when there wouldn’t be hot dog buns in the house, but mom would cook up hot dogs anyway and call upon her stash of frozen hamburger buns. Then she’d just defrost one, slice up the dog into circles, add some mustard and we’d be good to go!

I know I’m maybe a little fussy and I have rather high standards for hot dogs, but you can believe me when I tell you that this hot dog took “salty” to extremes. I started to feel myself becoming dehydrated while eating it. I couldn’t even finish. I think it was a combination of overly salty chili and an overly salty hot dog, but who knows? Maybe they were salting the mustard and the pickles too? My recommendation is to skip the dog at Fritz’s and instead go for a “Gen Dare,” which is a hamburger topped with hash browns, cheese, and grilled onions!

Louie’s, Wheeling, WV
Filed under: General — paul @ 1:09 pm

1 x chili dog, $1.50

Bound for St. Louis, we found ourselves headed through the pan-handle of West Virginia right as our stomachs began to grumble. Not having any idea where to stop, we called up the expert: Stanton of the West Virginia Hot Dog Blog. He had brought us out for some great dogs in Charleston over the summer and luckily I still have his phone number hanging around for just such an emergency. He directed us to Louie’s, though he warned that pan-handle dogs are a little different from the WV dogs that he whet our appetite with back in July. His vast knowledge didn’t fail either, for instead of being met by the glory of the chili-slaw dog, we were instead subjected to the lazy-man’s chili dog. I’m sort of inventing terms here, but what I mean to describe is a chili dog that simply fails to deliver on all the excitement of a chili dog. Specific failings at Louie’s include:

1) That crappy, watery chili that’s really just ground beed with a little bit of seasoning.
2) No cheese – sire, I understand that we’re privy to local custom and maybe cheese isn’t the thing here in Wheeling, but if you’re going to top your dog with a subpar chili, you could at least supplement with some cheese.
3) Rollers! Bad form! I am just not-at-all into hot dog that are cooked on rollers. It’s a pet peeve, I guess.

So I can’t really give much of an endorsement to Louie’s other than the fact that it’s probably one of only a half dozen places to eat in Wheeling if you’re hungry.

Taaffe Hall, Brooklyn, NY
Filed under: General — paul @ 3:20 am

Taaffe Hall, Brooklyn, NY

1 x dog with onion sauce, 1 x chili dog

Game One of the World Series! Sox versus Rockies. I went into game host mode and cooked up a batch of veggie chili and some cornbread. I went to the C-town grocery store and bought a pack of Sabrett hot dogs and some of their special onion sauce. With this being my first dog as a resident of NYC, I figured I’d do things proper. These guys weren’t anything special, but my chili got some pretty good reviews. I also busted out my jar of Ipswich Oatmeal Stout mustard to much applause.

Local Burger, Lawrence, KS
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:13 am

1 x chili cheese dog, $7

There are so many things to love about Lawrence, Kansas. Great eateries, an excellent record store, a fine used bookstore, and a super cheap vintage shop all contained on a 1/2 mile strip downtown. In one of the most notorious and mysterious of red states, here we find progressive ideas about consermerism being put into practice to great local triumph. It’s home to the oldest farmer’s market in Kansas, and the residents here seem to have a passion for supporting the locals.

Enter Local Burger: trumpeting the cause of American fast food favorites whilst combining the local sensibilities we love. They claim that the average meal at Local Burger has traveled less than 20 miles to your plate! This is astonishing compared to the national average of 1500 miles/meal. They’re use, almost exclusively, locally sourced meats and veggies which, we can assume, are pretty darn fresh. This is not the kind of approach of your typical hot dog shack, so I was definitely very eager to see how it would work out.

A hot dog, let’s face it, is usually constructed of the cheapest of meats. For years, we have sought the proper condiments and combinations to mask this fact and make these questionable meats more palatable. Here at Local Burger, the hot dog itself is re-envisioned in keeping with their high-quality mission. They offer up beef, buffalo, and more, all locally sourced and encased. A plain and simple dog is $4 and served on a whole wheat bun that is made in-house. “The works” (onions, pickles, kraut) can be added for an additional $1, or you could top it with buffalo chili ($2) and cheddar cheese ($.50). And that’s pretty much it for the hot dog-related menu options.

The night before my visit, I had a one-bite teaser of their all-beef dog with the works. It was absolutely top-notch. Great condiments, a high-quality hot dog, and a unique and complimentary bun. I was hooked.

I decided to go all-out on a chili cheese dog. While I waited, I talked with Karen, the new businesses partner at Local Burger. She’s looking to bring Local Burger to the “next level.” I’m not totally sure if that means franchising, but if it does, it’s certainly interesting because the underlying concept of Local Burger seems to preclude all the benefits of franchising outside of shared name recognition and some good graphic design. Anyway, Karen was really nice and she seemed very proud of Local Burger’s success, which is always a good sign.

The chili cheese dog itself was outstanding. It was served at perfect eating temperature and the cheddar chunks had been carefully melted into the chili to create glossy, yellow-orange pools on top of the hot dog. The bun got a bit soggy in spots, but my favorite hot dogs are sloppy but manageable, and this one worked out fine in that regard. Not to wax too poetical on a hot dog, but this was really a case where you can taste the care and tenderness that created the whole entrée before me. Without a doubt, one of the top ten best hot dogs I’ve ever had.

My biggest gripe is with the price. Forgive me, but we’re in Lawrence freakin’ Kansas here. My friend lives 3 blocks off the main drag and pays $275/month in rent. Meanwhile, I’ve been living in Boston and Brooklyn and paying between $650 and $800/month and never, not once, have I paid more than $6 for a hot dog. And that $6 was at Boston Speeds where he serves 1/2 pound hot dogs! I’ve traveled all over the country, eating at some of the most famous hot dog places in the world, and never paid anything above $6. But here, in Lawrence, Kansas, I’m breaking the bank and dishing out $7 for a hot dog. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally buying into the concept here. I love the idea. It’s just that there’s something weird about paying $7 for a hot dog. I tend to treat a single hot dog as a snack rather than a full meal, so imagine if you come into Local Burger and you’re hungry. You could potentially end up spending $14 on a meal. On a meal that consists of 2 hot dogs! I don’t know about you, but I balk at spending $14 on pretty much any entrée. For $14, I want candles on the table. I’m not exactly sure what the solution is, but at $7 each, these chili dogs will be a rare treat for me rather than a Lawrence dietary staple.

Fenway Park, Boston, MA
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:10 am

1 x Fenway Frank with onions, relish and mustard, $4.00

I wasn’t too thrilled about my foray into the underbelly of the bleachers for yet another encounter with the legendary Fenway Frank, but I didn’t have time to grab any dinner beforehand and no one brought any good snacks to the game. Plus, it was the playoffs, so what the heck, right?

I did happen to bring a 6-pack of Hood Sports Bars into the ballgame. With it being October, I figured my chances of hearing the “Sports Bars here!” call in the bleachers was pretty slim. I would be proven correct. We feasted on the striped ice cream treats during the bottom of the first and I discovered that at $2.79 at the Shaws down the street, the entire 6-pack was cheaper than a single Sports Bar here at Fenway. I’m bringing them to every game from now on.

Super Duper Weenie, Fairfield, CT
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:30 pm

1 x New Yorker, 1 x Cincinnattian, $3.25 each

For the past few years of touring, I had been seeing the signs for Super Duper Weenie every time we drove from New York City back to Boston. It jumps right out at you on 95N around exit 24 in Connecticut. I was always curious about this place and it kept popping up on certain lists, so I knew I’d have to check it out. The one thing that kept me from doing so was the boycott.

Yes, the boycott of Connecticut. There are certain people amongst us, myself included, that feel that Connecticut is not really a part of true New England. All of the New England states really have their own uniqueness to them – a gritty, self-determined mindset. All except Connecticut, whose defining characteristic is that it wants to be New York. It’s obvious that the state has forsaken it’s New England heritage and instead tried to model itself after its neighbor to the west. Christ, they even keep electing Joe Lieberman! So with that treachery in mind, I had resolved not to spend any money in Connecticut - never contribute to their economy in any way. We always gas up at the borders and never stop for food – until today.

And honestly, despite breaking the boycott, I’m really glad I stopped because Super Duper Weenie does pretty much everything right. It’s a great-looking shack, with a few barstools and counter space for 8-10 people. There’s an adjacent room, with about a half-dozen picnic tables all strung together in two long rows – so they’ve got the totally unpretentious atmosphere bit covered. The menu itself is a tour through the great hot dogs of America: New England, New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, West Virginia (Dixie) – all my favorites are here! I grabbed a New Yorker which came with kraut, onion sauce, mustard and hot relish. The relish was really what put this dog over the edge. It had a great kick to it that really brought the whole dog together. I also grabbed a Cincinnatian and was pleased to find that, here in Connecticut, they have a better grip on this dog than most of the places in the Midwest. The chili was very well-seasoned and the cheddar was nice and melty. The dogs themselves were split length-wise and then grilled with the flat side down, which brought an excellent flavor into the entirety of the dog. I tried a bite of a couple other dogs. The chili-slaw dog was poorly proportioned and had a little too much slaw (or not enough chili) for my tastes. The New Englander tasted fine, but I’m not really sure how bacon got into the recipe. I don’t think that’s necessarily a regional characteristic unique to New England.

Our friend Dave, who plays in the all-hockey band the Zambonis, lives real close and came by to meet us for some food. We had arrived just before closing and after we were served, the guy behind the counter gave us the remainder of the dogs on the grill. So after stuffing ourselves, we had 3 more hot dogs to deal with. Dave was on his way to a party that Moby’s old band was supposed to be playing at, so I decided to send along a gift to Moby.

P.S. Moby’s vegan
P.P.S. Moby never showed up to the party. I don’t know what Dave did with the hot dog.

my parent’s Cape house, Falmouth, MA
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:29 pm

A few dogs were left from Mom’s visit a couple days ago. I wasn’t real thrilled about eating more hot dogs, but I was also feeling a little lazy, so I threw one in the microwave real quick. I toasted another bun from the freezer and then, once we were ready to go, I added in my big, fancy flourish: Pierre Robert. It’s a french triple crème cheese that comes it at an astounding 75% butterfat. It’s absolutely delicious when spread on little toasted slices of bread. On the hot dog, it got all melty and basically turned into butter, so I basically ended up eating a hot dog slathered in butter. And at $19/pound, that butter comes in about 5 times more expensive than the hot dog. In the future, I think I’ll choose a stronger, more pronounced, high-end cheese if I decide pull such a stunt again. This one was just too mild when run up against the hot dog.

my parent’s Cape house, Falmouth, MA
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:28 pm

Mom boiled some Kayem dogs on the stove and served them with freshly toasted buns that came straight from the freezer. The side of baked beans was tasty, but the do was nothing special. I thought of adding some beans to the dog, but instead opted to try some of the condiments, which included a sample-size jar of some weak-ass stone ground mustard and some green piccalilli. God, I hate that word. Piccalilli. It’s so stupid. I can’t believe I’m even writing it down.

Worlds of Fun, Kansas City, MO
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:24 pm

1 x Chicago Dog, $5.50, 1 x Marshmallow Dog, $1.99

Amusement park food is always an adventure. Nearly everything is overpriced and subpar. Here at Worlds of Fun, we happened across an authentic looking Chicago Hot Dog stand that even boasted Vienna Beef franks. I was easily persuaded, despite the rather outrageous price tag. They employees behind the stand were rather clueless, despite having the proper recipe clearly outlined for them on the menu. I walked our dear friend though every assembly step of the 4 hot dogs we ordered. He was definitely a bit overgenerous with the sport peppers, and he would consistently forget about the celery salt, but in the end, we all had a good time and enjoyed our dogs, so that’s what counts.

Immediately afterwards, I followed some friends into one of the souvenir shops and was astonished to find, oh my, yes, a marshmallow hot dog. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! I purchased it quickly for the bargain price of $1.99 before any of my pals could advise against it. I can’t really tell you what kind of qualities or flavors I was looking for in this marshmallow hot dog. I think I was just looking to experience it. Most impressive was the fierce food-coloring job that was consistent throughout the entirety of this monstrosity. I’m not just trying to tell you that the outside of this hot dog was colored to look “real.” No, the fake hot dog and bun coloring was completely solid throughout the entire dog. So one bite in and it still looks meaty. Oh yeah! I was able to convince about half of our party to take a bite, but I couldn’t sell anyone on more than a taste. And even with their help, I didn’t come close to finishing this guy. Unless you’re under 10 years old, I recommend getting a whole gang of people pumped up before even trying to take care of one of these.

Grand Coney, Grand Rapids, MI
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:22 pm

1 x Flint style coney, 1 x traditional coney, something like $2.50 each

We had no idea that Grand Rapids was such a hotbed of hot dog activity, but our pal George can’t stop talking about all the great dog places in town. Late-night, post-show we head over to Grand Coney because this is probably the only place open at this hour.

This place is basically a diner with a decent hot dog menu and even a old fashioned soda fountain. For dessert I was even able to score a cream soda that was made with actual cream! Hooray for life!

The hot dogs were pretty good. I’ll be totally honest - the best coney I’ve ever had was from Skyline in Cincinnati. I think I just like the Cinci-style chili a bit more than whatever they’ve got going on up here in Michigan. In these parts, it’s a streamlined, ground-beefy style, while Skyline has a more robust, chocolaty chili. These dogs still shaped up nicely and I think I enjoyed them even more than the coneys we had in Detroit back in March. They had a nice zip to them and they went down easy - of course, when you’ve only eaten one meal all day and it’s 11:00 at night, chances are most everything goes down pretty easy.

some cart near the City Center Sheraton, Toronto, ON, Canada
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:21 pm

I guess this was my first Canadian hot dog. We’re up in Toronto at this Harry Potter symposium and there are all these hot dog carts positioned around a park across the street from the hotel. This is good because mostly we are too busy running around and drinking and dancing and partying to have much time for eating. For some, this is their only source of solid food for the weekend. I’m somehow able to limit my intake to just one dog over the course of the weekend. It helped that I got invited to some kind of Slub Club-like cocktail hour and my brother and I stole a whole tray of finger food. We should have tried to get that bottle of Grand Marnier too!

The hot dog was decent. I think I actually got a veggie dog hoping it would be healthier. I have no idea. They had some nice condiments on the cart. Yellow peppers, onions, relishes, etc. I loaded it up veggie style. It hit the spot. Probably one of the most satisfying things I ate that weekend, but that’s not saying much.

Skeenie’s Hot Dogs, Charleston, WV
Filed under: General — paul @ 2:17 pm

2 x with everything, $1.32 each

The second and, unfortunately, final stop on the WV Dog tour takes us too Skeenie’s which has been slapping dogs together for over 50 years. It’s a great looking roadside shack, that is adjacent to a small house which we later discover is occupied by the owner. Diners are welcome to eat at the most misshapen picnic tables on the planet because there’s no indoor seating.

I ordered two dogs so I could get charged up for our show tonight. The chili here had quite a bit more kick than the chili over at Romeo’s. The slaw helped mellow it a bit, and brought everything to a nice, tolerable heat level. My general impression was that Romeo’s came out on top. They had a great Yin/Yang/Chili/Slaw thing happening and Skeenie’s just couldn’t compete on that level. However, this place is still top notch, especially if you get a chance to talk with the 80-year old owner. She told us she’s been eating a hot dog a day for 50 years!!!! Four heart attacks later and she’s still going strong! If that isn’t a solid endorsement, I don’t know what is.

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