"A special thanks to Long Dog for letting me ride with him on the Connecticut hot dog tour as well as doing an excellent job picking the places and organizing the tour. Directions were printed up for each stop. It was a damp, drizzly day, but we had a great time. Too bad more of you didn't join us. I was expecting a bigger turnout from the Jersey people who haven't tried Connecticut hot dogs.
I had been looking forward to this day for a long time. Previously I've gone to Swanky Franks, Super Duper Weenie (Fairfield), Rawley's, and Capitol Lunch (Storrs). Everywhere on the tour was a new place for me. We did go to Capitol Lunch, but it was the original in New Britain. And we hit Super Duper Weenie, but it was the Stratford location. It was great to be able to visit the places that I had been hearing and reading about on these forums for so long. And finally getting to taste the Hummel's dog that is so popular in Conn. I have sampled a Hummel's at Swanky Franks, but I think it might be a different dog than what is used at the Glenwood, Blackies, Mac's, and Danny's. Or maybe not, but it's been a few years since I've been there.
It was cool to be greeted by a big sign on the side of Danny's welcoming Roadfood.com's Hot Dog Tour. They hadn't been told by us that we were coming, so they must have read about it here. A nice little roadside restaurant that's much smaller than what I expected from seeing the pictures on this forum. In fact, all of the places look much bigger in the pictures. Nice staff, good service, pretty owner. The dogs are grilled, than deep fried. I had every dog half plain, and half with a topping. The Hummel's dog was a beef and pork blend (as were the Hummels served at Mac's, Glenwood, and Blackies). It is spicier than the typical beef and pork dog. It also has a certain tartness/tanginess that seems to be typical of many Conn. hot dog brands. A good tight casing with a nice snap. Unique and very good. If you like hot, spicy chili, this is the place for you. The spiciest chili that I've tasted up to this point.
Next was Rosco's. I've had their dog (it is available in Jersey) but have never been there until today. They cook a regular sized dog and a quarter pounder on a griddle. This dog is mild tasting, but delicious and in no way bland like a lot of dogs in this style. In fact, it is the dog I buy most often to make at home. It's so good that I usually eat it plain. I had the smaller dog and sampled the homemade chili, coleslaw and relish on the side. All are top quality. The chili is thick, tasty and fairly spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. The coleslaw is one of the best that I've tasted anywhere, certainly better than at any hot dog joint. The relish is peppery and spicy. A little too spicy for my taste. Next time back I'll try the long dog with chili and coleslaw. I would strongly urge the Sterns or someone from Roadfood.com to visit and post a review as they have done with the other places that we visited. I have been to dozens of hot dog restaurants and none serves up a better dog than this place.
Capitol Lunch was the third stop. They serve a small (10 or 11 to a lb) Rosol's dog that was grilled. It and the chili and relish are the same and tasted the same as they did at Storrs. The Storrs location also had a chili with peppers that the New Britain location didn't. The Cappy Sauce and relish were ok, as was the dog. Really rather average in my opinion. I've been told by a few people that those who are not from the area usually have the same opinion. Those that have grown up on the Capitol are usually the ones that give it the best reviews.
Blackie's was next up. They are known for their relish and deep fried dogs. It was fairly dark inside, but the relish appeared to be very dark, almost brown in color. At first, I thought it was chili. Very peppery. I couldn't decide if I liked it or not. The dogs were Hummel's, but they were either cut along the side or ripped open from the oil. They lacked the tautness and snap of the dogs served at Danny's. Good flavor, but I liked the tautness and consistency of the Hummel dogs at Danny's better.
Fifth stop was the Glenwood Drive Inn. A fairly big place with an ice cream shop attatched. They serve long Hummel dogs that have been charbroiled. A nice alternative to grilled or deep fried. These dogs were the same size (approx 5 to a lb) as the dogs served at Syd's in Union, N.J. Although the brands used are different (Syd's uses a spicier all beef dog) the dogs looked the same and had that charbroiled taste. I had mine with only mustard. Quality dog, one of the better ones that I've had.
Our next destination was Mr. Mac's Canteen. They used the Hummel's dog that was similar in size to Blackies and Danny's, but smaller than the Glenwood. Wheras Danny's are grilled than deep fried, Mac's are deep fried then grilled. Very similar in taste. I had half of the dog with chili. This chili was overwhelmingly hot and spicy. There was even a sign warning of this. I know there are people who like their chili this way, but I don't. It overpowers the dog and becomes the whole focus of the taste experience. I thought that I turned into a dragon! This was even hotter than Danny's. But Danny's was a little thinner and better complemented the dog. At Mr. Mac's, I would get the dog with mustard. Or bacon bits. Lil' Dog had his this way, and it looked good.
Our last stop was Super Duper Weenie in Stratford. This is a much smaller place than the original in Fairfield. They used a Miller's dog that was split and griddled. I had been to the Fairfield location twice and liked this dog. It's a little mild for my taste, but goes well with the homemade condiments. Even if you are using just mustard, it has enough flavor to stand on it's own. First time there, I got a plain dog w/mustard. It was my fourth or fifth dog of the day. Last time there, on my way home from UConn, it was my only stop. I had one plain w/mustard and a New Englander. The New Englander has mustard, sweet relish, sauerkraut, onions (which I left out) and a strip of bacon placed in the middle. Truly one of the better dressed dogs that I've had. This time, however, I had mine with just mustard, as it was my 7th of the day. We asked the manager about the dog used there, as we had heard that Miller's closed down and that the owner (Gary Zemola) had gotten the recipe and had the dogs made somewhere else. We were told that the dogs were similar, but not the exact same in recipe. Some or all of the sugar is left out in the new dog. My dog was smaller than the ones I had at Fairfield. Definitely not a quarter pounder. Cooked the same way, but a little drier and not as good as those I've had previously.
It was a great day for sampling hot dogs. I left full and satisfied. Blackies and Capitol Lunch were good hot dogs, but not standouts. Super Duper Weenie was good, but not as good as I've had in Fairfield. Danny's, Mr. Mac's, The Glenwood, and Rosco's all served top notch hot dogs that are certainly representative of the finest in Connecticut or anywhere for that matter. Looking forward to returning again. Thanks again to Long Dog for a job well done. It was nice to see Lil' Dog again and to meet Lee (Mama Dog) Barbara Ct, Greasewheel, Andrea, and Andrea's mom. Also the friendly people who own and work at these fine hot doggeries."
Edited by - John Fox on 12/17/2006 - &Latest update on 8/18/2008
Only revision is that:
1. Super Duper Weenie is now using Hummel's.
2. The place that made the Miller's recipe (Miller's Provisions went out of business) either stopped, went out of business, or SDW just switched on their own.
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The Gourmet Chili Dog
120 Brookline Avenue
Somerset, NJ 08873
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