On Saturday, 7 of us defied our stomachs, common decency, and a spot of rain to embark on a tour of Connecticut’s finest hot dog eateries. All in all, we covered 8 locations in 5 counties and put a good 150 miles on the bus. There were no bus problems, so that was a victory in and of itself. I did worry at one point when I was finding myself a bit stressed about whether or not I was making the correct turn off of Rt. 8. Then I realized, if I feel this way now, in a town I’ve been to before with English roadsigns and my Dad reading to me the directions from Google Maps we had printed out that morning, how on Earth will I manage in a few months when all I know is the vague direction I am meant to be headed and the roadsigns look something like this. Nevertheless, onto the results after the jump.
Rawley’s: A perennial favorite in my hometown of Fairfield, we loved the “succulent chunks of just-fried bacon” on the works dog and were generally impressed by hot dog quality. Black and white milk shake was definite bonus points.
Super Duper Weenie: Another Fairfield haunt, we liked Super Duper more for their toppings than the dog itself (though that was delicious). The Chicagoan, served with Lettuce, Tomato, Mustard, Celery Salt, Hot Relish & Pickle, was my favorite dog of the day.
Glenwood Drive-In: Probably the most pleasant surprise of the day, Glenwood garnered more first place votes than any other place on our hotdog crawl. Just a spectacular footlong with a perfect snap to the dog and a lightly toasted bun, combined with the surfeit of free toppings, made Glenwood a standout.
Top Dog: Cruising over the width of the Connecticut River, we only had a rough idea of where Top Dog was located. But it was hard to miss once we got there. A checkered cab, complete with Elvis and Marilyn Monroe life-sized dolls in the backseat, was hitched up to a hot dog Airstream (see prior post). This was worth it in and of itself, though the Orleans dog was even better.
Dawg House: It would be hard to outdo Michael Stern’s 2009 review of this place, so I’ll just quote him and let you know that we generally agreed:
The wiener itself is very good – taut and muscular but juicy enough and with a good crunch to its skin; and the chili sauce is intriguing: ground beef with a hot-pepper halo and a kaleidoscope of spice that probably echoes the ancestral recipes of Strand’s original owners, who were Greek. The bun is soft and fresh. Onions are crisp. Mustard is yellow. In other words, no single ingredient is spectacularly good. But combined as the Dawg House does it, their harmony is transcendent.
Capitol Lunch: Reviews were mixed here. The nutmeg meat sauce is certainly unique but it received a ‘love it or hate it’ reaction. I loved it, and it was probably one of my favorite individual dogs of the day. Bonus points for the owner being a really cool dude, and the fact that while outside, we met a man named Hennessy wearing safety glasses for no apparent reason who asked us very astute questions about our trip (How will you be changing currencies? What does the Wall Street Journal think of your team name?), but then would proceed to derive ridiculous conclusions from our answers (You must work in advertising! You seem like a cool dude but you’re friend is smooth.) It was his 50th birthday, so naturally we sang.
Blackie’s: I think we were getting full by this point. No frills to the hot dogs, but I found them oddly alluring. Perhaps it was the way they were stacked on top of each other like a Jenga set when they came to the table, or the nostalgic feeling for Lewiston, Maine I felt upon entering. Good relish, requisite snap expected of biting into a good dog, but otherwise so-so. Negative marks for the big sign that said “NO DANCING” in the dining area. I felt like I was in Footloose.
Frankie’s: I would be doing a diservice to my team members by starting this post any other way than by stating that this was the only establishment I received any push back from the management about having them take a picture wearing Bear Hat. Absolutely unacceptable, I mean really, what year is it? That being said, footlongs were stellar with probably the best topping selection (or maybe second to Glenwood). Just don’t put the marinara sauce type thing on the far left on your hot dog. I hate that. Jenny REALLY wanted fried cheese cubes so we appeased her and were actually quite impressed.
Overall results: Glenwood and Super Duper the winners (or should I say weiners) and Rawley’s coming in close behind. Overall, a great experience and recommended trip. Would also like to try Danny’s, Mr. Mac’s, and Merritt Canteen sometime soon.