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Hot dogs

What's the best place to get hot dogs in Boston and Cambridge, besides Speed's? I'd like to go there, but it's a bit out of the way, and the hours are limited.

Btw, has the owner of Speed's considered setting up his food truck in a location with more customers, like Downtown Crossing, Fenway Park, or Faneuil Hall? He would be swimming in money if he did.

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  1. A Speed's dog takes about 10 minutes to prepare. If he was in a place with more traffic, either the line would be blocks long or the quality of the dog would suffer, neither of which would be good in the long run. A Speed's dog is about art, not commerce.

    Speed's truck has been where it is for 33 years. If he wasn't doing all right financially, he wouldn't have been there that long. (And at $7 a dog, there is no reason to believe he's not doing all right financially!)

    1 Reply
    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

      art may be a little much....they're not for everyone. big as a baby's arm with lots of toppings.

    2. anyone that serves pearl hot dogs is great I imagine. I think Summer Shack even has one on their menu. I Love hot dogs especially with mustard and onions.

      1. I believe he's well into his 90s, don't think the $$ would motivate him to move.

        5 Replies
        1. re: bakerboyz

          Well, Speed is officially retired as of this season anyway. He still owns the truck, but the new guy is running it single-handed.

            1. re: trufflehound

              Last time I saw the man himself was early last summer.

              1. re: trufflehound

                Nope. New guy -- who I suppose also has a name, but I don't know what it is -- says he never even comes out anymore. He is 100% retired.

          1. Not many options, IMO. Simco's in Mattapan has some of my favorite hot dogs, and Grumpy White's in Quincy has an excellent foot-long hot dog. I hear that New England Hot Dog Company in Everett is good, and the hot dog place in the Garage in Harvard Square might also be decent, but I haven't been to either place yet.

            18 Replies
            1. re: hiddenboston

              I drive by NE Hotdog in Everett a lot and each time I remind myself that I need to try it, but so far I haven't. On the high end, people who have tried the dog at the Butcher Shop have reported favorably (although, again, I have not tried it). Summer Shack (which in general I dislike a great deal) makes a decent dog; you grill the roll in that much butter and anything's gonna taste good!

              1. re: Blumie

                I've driven by NE Hotdog a lot too. Now I'm curious. Has anyone else posted on this place?

                1. re: yumyum

                  The closest I have to a first hand report is that the mother of my former secretary (both live in Everett) likes the place! We need a hound to take the plunge.

                  1. re: Blumie

                    I sir will be that hound. I'm craving a dog anyway. Report to come asap.

                    1. re: yumyum

                      Well, if it's not to your liking, at least you'll be within striking distance of a few other chowhound destinations: Abbondanza in Everett, New Bridge in Chelsea, and Angela's in East Boston.

                      1. re: Blumie

                        Oh, I'm not worried. Worst comes to worst and I pop into Kelly's drive-thru for a roast beef with horseradish. I'm sure there are better rare roast beef sandwiches around, but man, that one always makes me happy. I think it's the buttered/grilled roll.

                        1. re: yumyum

                          FWIW, my former secretary recommends Mike's, on Route 99 in Everett, over Kelly's. She also likes the fried clams there.

                          1. re: Blumie

                            I was also going to suggest Mike's if you're in Everett. Still need to try their fried clams.

                      2. re: yumyum

                        I tried the NE Hotdog in Everett about 3-4 months ago. I was very disappointed. Not a very good tasting dog and expenive. I don't remember how much but remember being surprised when it came time to pay, It was lunch time and the place was empty. Maybe Speeds has spoiled me.

                        1. re: catsmeow

                          NE Hot Dog

                          Absolutely abysmal. The onions were smashed, not chopped.
                          I took one bite, threw it away and left.

                2. re: hiddenboston

                  Big thumbs down on the place in the Garage, although in their favor, they're the only place I know of where you can get a corn dog round these parts.

                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                      Youc an get a corn dog at Summer Shack. It's ok, nothing great. I doubt it's hand dipped but I could be wrong since it's been 3+ years since I had one. Then again, it was on the happy hour menu so what did I expect for a few bucks?

                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                        I'll second Barmy's big thumbs down on the Doghouse in Harvard Square at the Garage. The time I went, the woman at the counter tried to overcharge me and held her ground even when I pointed out (twice!) that the exact description of the dog I ordered was listed on their menu board at $1.00 less that she was asking -- in fact, I said I would refuse the dog unless she charged me the correct price. And when I got the dog, it was mediocre at best.

                        The Doghouse does offer a corn dog, it's true -- I've had them before at their outpost in Faneuil Hall. It's OK, though I prefer the ones you get at places like the Topsfield Fair. Thought the corn dog at Summer Shack was a leaden, greasy disaster.

                        1. re: bachslunch

                          I guess that's the issue: to be a proper corndog, it has to either be eaten at a fairground or in the parking lot of a convenience store.

                          Speaking of convenience store hot dogs, I have literally gone to the Hess station at the corner of Brighton and Linden and gotten one of the $1 hot dogs with mustard, relish and banana peppers and eaten it leaning against the ice cooler rather than going to Spike's directly across the street. Because as crap as those hot dogs are, at least they taste like hot dogs. At Spike's, all I can taste are those freakishly enormous demi-baugettes they try to pass off as hot dog rolls!

                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                            Haven't had the Hess dogs, but have been to Spike's once and agree that once is enough.

                        2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                          i think soul fire has corn dogs on their menu as an appetizer. if i remember correctly, they come 4 pieces to an order (2 dogs each cut in half) and are hand-dipped.

                          1. re: lschow

                            Oh, right. I had those once. Batter was half raw. And it kind of needs to be on a stick for me. I'm a purist on my corn dogs!

                      2. BJ's used to have a 4oz hot dog at their snack bar - it was one of the brands they stocked in 40-oz. packs: Best Dinner Franks. Now they seem only to have the smaller size, which is 15 long franks to a 40-oz. package, at around $7.50. These are all-beef, garlicky, and my only reason for shopping at BJ's. There's always a package in my freezer; I pry one off as needed. I much prefer them to Pearl or any other brand. I'd always wanted to try Fred's wagon in Wakefield, and the time I went I'd just shopped at BJ's. I told them I was a newbie, and when they asked how I liked my dog (they use Pearl) I told them it was good, but Best's are better, and gave them one. The guy cooked and tasted it - his eyes lit up and he said he'd save the rest for Fred to try. I don't know if they decided to use them.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: greygarious

                          You might mean Best Kosher. If so, the Best Kosher 97% fat free hot dogs are by far the best I've ever had. Unfortunately I don't know anywhere to get them anymore - BJ's only carries the full fat variety and I (as well as my entire family) think the low-fat best kosher are in a different (better) category. If anyone knows where to get these, I'd love to know. I've called the manufacturer before and they weren't much help.

                        2. This will not be helpful location or hours-wise, but I like both Fred Frank's in Wakefield and the hotdog at the Formaggio Saturday BBQ.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: gini

                            Whatever happened to the Hot Dog Stand that was supposed to be in Harvard Square? Will it ever happen?

                            1. re: drewames03

                              It happened. And then it was over. I am fuzzy on details, but apparently having a true "stand" was not okay in H. Square. This may be why Speed likes to be in Newmarket. Because he *can* be in Newmarket.

                              1. re: yumyum

                                Alas, "Scup's Dogs" had just a brief go of it before the City of Cambridge, who had issued all the permits, was undone by the MBTA. A post-9/11-type complaint about propane tanks so near the T made them pull the plug, or at least that was the stated reason. I guess this means that every backyard gas-griller could be a terror threat...

                                Too bad, because Dave (who ran Scup's and previously Emma's pizza) did a similar sort of thing to Speed, rolling the dogs around in a pot with apple cider vinegar and then grilling. RIP, Scup's.

                                  1. re: nofzilla

                                    Scup's little menu looks interesting -- has anyone tried it?

                            2. Sully's on Castle Island. Decadent simplicity. Butter grilled Kayem dog. Butter grilled roll. Seaside view is free.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                Are they open yet? I didn't think they opened until May. They use to have .50 cent dogs during the month of November.

                                1. re: Guinness02122

                                  I think they are $1 in March. I have not been yet this season.

                                  1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                    Cool. I'll have to do a fly by on Saturday and load up Joey Chesnut style.

                                2. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                  Just a bump to second Sullys on Castle Island. Grab two, sit on the benches, watch the fishermen and the cruise ships. If you're new to Boston, you owe it to yourself to experience a little slice of Southie when the weather turns.

                                  1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                    Are they on rolls now? I always have had them on a folded slice of white bread. Delicious, nonetheless, with a nice 'snap' to the casing.

                                  2. Bukowski's in Back bay has really great grilled hotdogs for something like $2, also great beers, and atmosphere (IMO). Inman Sq is also very good.

                                    The Lower Depths in Kenmore Sq, a Bukowski's spinoff, also has great hotdogs for $1 and great beers, not so good atmosphere though.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: steinpilz

                                      Second Lower Depths. For $1 the dog is good. If you want toppings, like sauerkraut or bacon, it's an extra dollar. For that money, I'd get another dog. The beers are good, but pricey. Don't bother with their corn dog. The regular is better.

                                      1. re: Dreamworks

                                        They don't have a corndog, but a panko-crusted fried dog ("Tokyo Dog"). It's ok, but I prefer their $1 grilled Fenway Franks on a buttered and toasted roll.

                                    2. No one's mentioned Code 10 on Washington St. in the South End?

                                      They serve a good Pearl hot dog there

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: heWho

                                        I always wonder why Code 10 doesn't get more love. I've never been .. is it good?

                                        1. re: yumyum

                                          It's not bad. I had a pulled pork sandwich there once that was very good (though a pulled pork sandwich has to be really bad for me not to like it!)

                                          The dog is a winner though. Again, you'd have to really screw something up to make a Pearl hot dog taste bad!

                                          1. re: heWho

                                            I haven't had time to get to NE Hotdogs in Everett (and the sucky reviews don't make me die to get there) but I did stop into Code 10 last night.

                                            As you said, heWho ... it's hard to screw up an all beef Pearl dog, but for $2.50, a nice grilled dog on a grilled bun hit the spot. Some days you just need a hot dog.

                                      2. Did anyone else notice that last weekend the Wall Street Journal ran a long article on hot dog stands in America? The article rated Spreeds as the best hot dog in America.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Delhiwala

                                          See post previously posted about Speeds and article in WSJ.

                                          1. re: bakerboyz

                                            Oopps ... I missed that post. Sorry.

                                        2. If your up in the Watertown area the dogs at the Deluxe Town Diner are great. You can get it in the bun like a regular hot dog or get the blue plate special of franks and beans. Both delicious.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: heypielady

                                            Ugh, I take back my previous post. Just had a dog from there for lunch and was very disappointed. They've changed their bun and then new one is just too big for the hot dog. They also were really skimpy on the sauerkraut. I got a side of beans which were also disappointing... like pinto beans swimming in bbq sauce... nothing "baked" about them.

                                            I was craving a hot dog because my co-worker got one from Russo's the other day and it looked and smelled awesome. (I believe they use Pearl's). Next time I'll just go there.

                                          2. the fours in boston right next to the garden is chicka chicka good/ its a flipp'n classic-the bambino + it comes with beans...BEANS you dont even have to order them they just know that everybody loves beans!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: blu

                                              The hot dogs and beans at The Fours is literally the only edible item on their menu. The beans are delish. But you don't go to The Fours for the food.

                                            2. IMHO

                                              Hot Dog Annies (Leicester,MA) When I was a kid they were 12 for a buck. Bar b q or w/the worx they are still a good deal as they are full of memories.

                                              Caseys Diner (Natick) steamed w/all around (worx). This is about location. Eat inside and chat up the cooks. Good things that don't change.

                                              Simco on the bridge. (Mattapan) Perhaps for lunch. Long, good char, nice snap.

                                              Speed's (Newmarket-when the stars are aligned) There are disciples in the wings but don't you want to say you met Speed? Braised in Cider then char broiled. The condiments are home cooked.

                                              SuperDuperWeenie Man (Fairfeild, CT) Worth the detour the dogs, fries, and sides and dressings are wholesome and complex. They are on a mission from Dog.

                                              Coney Island (Worcester, MA) Three story neon hot dog with yellow neon dripping mustard. Unchanged since dirt. Get em w/the worx and w/chili.

                                              There are more and I'm always adding new ones. Please share your Hot Dog Heavens.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: EATTV

                                                I'll nod in agreement with the Casey's diner mention. I have enjoyed their all around dog on several occasions.

                                                SDW is really good too and usually a def stop on the way to NYC/LI when traveling that way.

                                                I haven't tried Coney Island yet but here they are similar to NY System style dogs in RI.

                                                1. re: Wursthof

                                                  I went out to Casey's (a significant detour from my route) today to quench my hot dog craving. I'll have to say I'm not sure I will go out of my way again. A decent steamed dog on standard steamed bun. I had the all around which put the relish and onions on the bottom and mustard on top. The onions were mangled pretty badly like someone had taken a machete to them. Not a big fan of that technique and it ruins the onions and their flavor. Forgot to ask for celery salt and my dogs were stuffed into the little wax bag by the time I had a chance to interact with the guy and ask. Two dogs and a chocolate milk for $5.50 isn't bad and there were plenty of people inside and in line outside. Just not sure it is worth it for me to drive to Natick to get them.

                                                  1. re: Wursthof

                                                    I still have never gone to Casey's but steamed dogs just don't get me going the way grilled ones do. I do appreciate the relish and onions going under the hot dog w/ mustard on top, my preferred style. And don't mind tiny bits of onion so will have to give it a go at least once.

                                                    As far as Lawton's in Lawrence goes, we made a special trip last summer and it was fine but not as good as I'd imagined. The roll wasn't overly buttered on the grill and we didn't really notice the deep frying aspect of it so much. Glad I went but if I'm up that way, I'll try that place hiddenboston mentioned in Merrimac, Skip's I think.

                                                    1. re: Joanie

                                                      Joanie, I like the burgers at Skip's in Merrimac, but have actually never had their hot dogs. Curly fries are pretty good there, too. This is a seasonal place, so if you go, definitely call ahead.

                                                      I have tried the hot dogs at Elliot's in Lowell. I wasn't all that impressed by their hot dogs--they seemed pretty basic. Plus, I had driven more than a half hour to get there, and within 2 minutes, I had ordered and received my hot dog and finished it. Kind of a downer, driving all that way for a hot dog that didn't really cut it for me...

                                                      1. re: hiddenboston

                                                        We were gonna go to Skip's on the way back from Portland 2 weeks ago but I think they open Patriot's weekend, or the week after.

                                                        I had Elliot's after reading your review of that road trip. Not a big deal but I'd probably go more often if I were nearby.

                                                2. re: EATTV

                                                  Hot Dog Annies was something back in the day. I remember going to an air show at Worcester airport in the early '70s and eating afterwards at Hot Dog Annies. There were 9 kids and a dad. I don't think he spent more than $3.

                                                  I also have had many a Coney dog during treks to the old Centrum for rock and roll shows. Those are tasty treats. No less than three will do!

                                                  1. re: ScubaSteve

                                                    If we expanding the search area, Elliot's Famous Hot Dogs in Lowell has classic NY-style dogs.

                                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                      How 'bout the new Bad Dawgs on Merrimac St. in downtown Lowell. All beef dawgs, many toppings. Had one today while looking for a bahn mi, the dawg was not bad.
                                                      (Found bahn mi about 1/2 mile down Merrimac in a little shop called nou-y. my first, had the "pate" bahn mi. liked it.

                                                    2. re: ScubaSteve

                                                      Lawton's does a great dog that is unique. It's a nine-inch long Kayem Dog (it was an Essem's Dog, made in Lawrence, until the brand was killed a few years back) that is deep fried then tossed on a foot-long bun and topped with your choice of chili, kraut, mustard, relish, cheese, ketchup, onions, etc. It's right on the canal in a shack that has seen better days. The grease factor is the difference here between other dogs.

                                                      1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                                        Mmm .. I like a deep fried dog. Called a Ripper at ASSBar, and pretty cheap, IIRC.

                                                        1. re: yumyum

                                                          Rippers are the thing at Rutt's Hut in Clifton, New Jersey.

                                                        2. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                                          i know they call it 'chili' but it ain't no Chili, what it is, is delicious.

                                                      2. I used to love the Joe and Nemo dogs. Steamed with a fresh soft hot dog roll and finely chopped onion and relish and. of course, French's mustard. Are there any J and N's left anywhere?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: taxi

                                                          No. I grew up on them in the fifties. They tried to make a come back a few years ago. Dogs were good but it didn't work. Bad locations.

                                                        2. With Spike's closing and this thread as old as it is, any favorites to update?

                                                          10 Replies
                                                          1. re: meeps2002

                                                            Unfortunately, only one Spike's location is closing. The other locations are still out there, attempting to claim that they make hot dogs.

                                                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                              I never understood the knock on Spike's.

                                                              I personally think they are excellent. One doesn't seek that food, looking for the next great thing...it is what it is...funky toppings, italian bread, and a decent dog.

                                                              No one is claiming it as "haute cuisine"

                                                              Everyone has guilty pleasures

                                                              1. re: meeps2002

                                                                What's up with the dog on the sub roll though?
                                                                Way too much bread, that's my knock.

                                                                1. re: meeps2002

                                                                  Too bad you can't taste either the funky toppings or the decent dog because they're swallowed whole by the Italian bread.

                                                                  Hot dogs are served on hot dog rolls for a reason. So actually, the knock on Spike's is that they're pretentious. Serve the same dog and the same toppings on a hot dog roll and I'll be perfectly happy with them.

                                                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                    Well - now that you've had your diatribe on Spike's

                                                                    Any other hot dog options in the Boston area worth checking out?

                                                                    I know Remy's near Fenway serves a massive, Wagyu beef dog

                                                                    1. re: meeps2002

                                                                      The Brondog on Bronwyn's bar menu is the best dog in the area and almost makes up for the loss of Speed's. Shockingly, the hot dogs and knockwurst at Moody's Delicatessen in Waltham aren't on the sandwich menu, but they're well worth buying and preparing at home. Closest quality classic-style chili cheese dog I know of is all the way out in Worcester at George's, unfortunately. Will never set foot in Remy's, so no info there.

                                                                      1. re: meeps2002

                                                                        The Kirkland tap and trotter hit dog is fantastic, IMO

                                                                      2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                        I think the size of the hot dog determines the size of the roll. At Fred's Franks in Wakefield they serve different sized rolls depending on which hot dog or sausage you order.

                                                                        1. re: RoyRon

                                                                          Yes, but the issue with Spike's is that you have a normal-size dog in an enormous roll.

                                                                        2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                          I've tasted the Spike dog without the bread - just be glad the bread covers up the flavor for you. Farm yard is the nicest way I can describe it's flavor. No amount of bread or condiments can cover up that flavor for me.