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Flo's Hot Dogs - huge dissapointment!

Maybe my expectations were too high, but I couldn't believe how average I thought Flo's Hot Dogs on Rt.1 in Cape Neddick, Maine, were. It was one of our last stops on our long weekend trip to Oqunquit and I had seen Samantha Brown rave about this place on her TV show, which in turn led me to read glowing reviews everywhere on the Internet about this being one of the 10 best hot dogs in the country, if not the best. The hot dog itself was not unlike any hotdog you can buy at the supermarket, and her signature relish was just 'eh' - not bad but nothing to get excited about.

Me, my girlfriend, and our two friends all agreed it wasn't a bad hot dog, but the fact that this place has constant lines around the door and waits up to two hours, on top of the national press and notoriety is something we'll never understand. I'm from Western Mass and think Nick's Nest in Holyoke, or even a dog from Rondeau's in Palmer easily surpass what we had today. I realize I'm in the minority with my opinion so maybe I'm the weird one!

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  1. I’ve been to Flo’s a number of times. I’ve tried the mustard-hot sauce combo, the hot sauce-mayo combo, plain, etc. The dogs, themselves, remind me a bit of Rhode Island “wieners” in taste and consistency though they’re different in that the buns are steamed and the dogs boiled.

    I guess a lot of people go for the experience, having to stand in line while the woman behind the counter places the buns in the steamer and takes the order of about 10 to 15 people then prepares the dogs and collects the money en masse. She’s sort of mildly pleasant, yet New Englandy standoffish and everyone feels the tension of wanting to “fit in” and not be regarded as a tourist (though most of us are). This is one of those places that the culinary tourist must try at least once to add another notch to their belt. Standing in line one can imagine the thousands of people that have visited and done the exact same thing for many years prior, all stressed out trying to comprehend how to order.

    The last time I was there I told myself never again will I stand waiting in this cramped little space and pay for a just slightly above average dog to help pay for the lady’s annual timeshare in Aruba (though I also told myself the same thing the time before that).

    1 Reply
    1. re: bewley

      To be accurate, proper RI New York System weiners have steamed buns too, though the weiners themselves are not steamed.

    2. I have been to Flo's on several occasions and I totally agree that it a very overrated experience and hot dog.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Delhiwala

        I agree as well. I've posted here and on other forums about Flo's. It's one of the 3 most overated hot dog joints I've been to. The other 2 are Walter's in N.Y. and Hot Dog Johnny's in N.J. Flo's used to use a mild, bordering on bland dog from Schutz, which closed down. Currently they use an equally mild dog that is steamed or boiled, which is not the best way to bring out the flavor in a mild beef/pork dog. I haven't had their popular relish as there are onions in it. Also mayonaise.

      2. I liked it. We went early, after having breakfast buffet at our hotel down the road, before driving back to Hartford. Noone was in line and I was the only one there. We just got a single hot dog, and when asked how I wanted it, I just said 'however you make them.'

        I think it had mayo, their special sauce, and celery salt. I think.

        Amazing? No. Better than average? Hell yeah.

        1. Spent years driving by this place to head for our favorite Chili Dog at Perkins Cove at the Lobster Shack - still amazing after all these years. Flo schmo - finally stopped and cannot believe the hype - mediocrity at its worst. And the mayo thing? That's the magic? I will never understand the hoopla of Flo's. Go to Perkins Cove and feel good having an affordable chili dog amongst the lobster roll and chowdah tourists spending top dollar.

          1. steamed dog are steamed dogs...sauce or not...lived in Kittery for a bit...never went.

            My vote for a dog?

            Wassues in Belfast....cooked on the grill swimming in peanut oil and chopped onions.......slice of bacon......yum.

            If i get the inkling....some of that cheese wiz......stuff just melts the syeamed bun...grrr

            3 Replies
            1. re: westernmaine

              Yes, Wasses dogs are excellent.

              1. re: westernmaine

                Do they keep the onions and bacon on the grill at all times, kind of like diner home fries?

                1. re: westernmaine

                  Wasses is also in Rockland. Nice dog too. The things that makes dogs special are either if they are made local and not commercial or the preparation. Wasses to me is all about the prep.

                  Yet to do the hot dog pilgrimage tour, still working on all the clam, crab, lobster shacks in New England all the great places I hope Food Network never finds!

                2. Well, I mean, it's a hot dog. Even the best hot dog in the world is still gonna be just a hot dog. That's the problem with hyping things too much, they're never gonna meet the expectations. I remember lots and lots of recommendations for the fabulous MAINE DINER. Then after too much hype, it became, "oh well, it's a good diner, but it's just a diner, what's all the hype about?".......and now, it's still good, but's it's known as "that overrated diner".

                  And Flo's, well, it's just a HOT DOG...., and I do love a good hot dog, but did it ever really deserve all the hype? I don't know if people expect it to explode in their mouths with orgasmic flavor sensations, or what?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: jillso

                    dog is a dog when u want 1.....Wassas are the Whie Casle of dogs...kicks a steamed beef dog 2 ......bit's

                    1. re: jillso

                      "Even the best hot dog in the world is still gonna be just a hot dog. "

                      I really beg to differ.

                      1. re: gyppielou

                        Then what's it gonna be? A steak?

                        1. re: jillso

                          A Flo's or a Wasses dog will be different than a Cumberland Farms dog. Does Flo's use those red hot dogs?

                    2. I'm sure you realize that alot of hype is related to what one is used tom, to tradition etc. We have been eating Flo's hot dogs for 30+ years and love them. The really hot steamed dogs and rolls, the snap when you bite into them, the delicious relish etc. If you compare them to other steamed dogs, they are great. We crave them and eat them almost every week. However, we get ours at the Flo's in the parking lot at the Kittery Trading Post. NO
                      LINES> Exactly the same dog.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: emilief

                        I'm in agreement with those who find nothing particularly special about Flos. For us, NY Systems at Weinorama in Cranston RI are the gold standard, followed by a similar item at Olneyville in North Providence (but not in their Cranston location). In third place it has to be Ted's in the Phoenix, AZ area. I'd rate Harry's in Colchester, CT as a runner up. From there, I'd probably start ranking the NJ dogs.

                        1. re: emilief

                          emillief, you are correct in so many ways. We recently stopped at the Dog Hut on the Kittery circle, because we were hungry. We should have waited until Flo's. The chili dog's were bland and as Jr. Dumkeg said, straight from the can. He also said The BBQ dog was straight from the bottle. My kraut dog was ok w/ good snap, but w/ canned kraut. They use Neighborhood dogs. Maine just ain't got a dog cultuchah. Compared to Mass., Ct and especially NJ, Flo's sucks, but it's the best we got.

                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            "Flo's sucks" just when I thought you were agreeing with me !!! There is nothing about Flos that sucks. Very hot steamed fresh dogs on fresh buns with great sauce and a dog that snaps when you bit into it! But, everyone has their favorites.

                        2. If ever you are travelling down the N.J. Turnpike, take a brief detour in Clifton and stop in at Rutt's Hut. Ask for a "weller" or a "cremator". This is a life changing hot dog experience.
                          One caveat - you may never be able to eat a hot dog anywhere else again.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: terrystu

                            pssst, Rutt's is just off th Garden State Parkway.

                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                              I'm aware of that, pass, it's just that the tpk. happens to be the road I am on when I'm down that way, so that's the way I know to get to Rutt's.

                          2. Half of you seem to miss the point with Flo's and that is the sauce. If you go too Flo's and order a dog with out it then it is just any old dog.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: chefj

                              Well, I prefer my dog with just mustard 90% of the time. That's all a quality dog needs. I hate onions, so never eat them in any way, shape, or form. The other ingredients in the sauce are mayo and molasses. Even if I liked the sauce, I would still have it only once in a while since I prefer just a little mustard. The bland dog used at Flo's combined with the way it's prepared (steaming) makes this not even as good as "any old dog".

                              1. re: hotdoglover

                                Once again the sauce is the point always has been.

                                1. re: hotdoglover

                                  Sorta sounds like complaining about a Chicago dog, hold the veggies. Misses the point entirely.

                                  1. re: ratbuddy

                                    No I don't miss the point. While I prefer to taste the actual frank with mustard 90% of the time, I do enjoy toppings once in a while. Chili most of the time, the unique relish at Rutt's Hut in N.J., and a Chicago dog when there was an authentic one in my area. While the Chicago dog is not my favorite style (I prefer the salad on the side) I had enough of them to at least appreciate why these dogs are so popular in Chicago and elsewhere. The milder Vienna beef dog goes better with the other ingredients than a bolder Sabrett's, Nathan's, or Hebrew National. And I liked the contrast between hot meat and cool vegetables.

                                    As for Flo's, the first time I went I ordered one dog with mustard and one with the house topping, which is their sauce. This is what I usually do when visiting a place for the first time. The dog with mustard (at the time was a Schutz brand frank) was bland and below average. I took a bite of the dog with their sauce and spit it out. Just horrible. Worst topping/sauce/condiment I've ever had. So while I didn't have a whole dog with their sauce, I did have a bite. Admittedly I hate onions.

                                    I know this place is popular, and if you like it, fine. Enjoy and continue to go. You're entitled to your opinion. Which many share, including the Stern's who started the Roadfood website and write a column for Gourmet magazine. I'm entitled to my opinion, which is that Flo's serves a bland, mediocre dog with a lousy special sauce. Perhaps the most overrated dog I've had. Followed closely by Hot Dog Johnny's in Buttzville, N.J. and Walter's in Mamaronek, N.Y.

                                    1. re: hotdoglover

                                      In your previous post you stated that you'd never had the sauce. Hence the suggestion that you didn't get a true sample of the flo dog.
                                      Simmah down.

                                      1. re: jackattack

                                        Personally I hate Flo dogs. I do not like Onions or Mayo. still the people who love Flo's do not care much about the dog. They love the sauce and it is unique. No one ever said that you had to like it or that you were wrong about the quality of the hot dog itself.

                                        1. re: chefj

                                          @chefj: I misunderstood. Thought you liked the sauce. I know that's largely the reason for the popularity of Flo's.

                                          @jackattack: I just had a taste of it the first time I ate at Flo's. Did not have it on a whole dog so I really can't judge it except to say I don't like onions and I don't like mayo on hot dogs.

                                          1. re: hotdoglover

                                            No biggie. I think The Hot Dogs themselves are unremarkable at Flo's and those wonder bread buns are not my cup of tea either . There are some really great local hot dogs starting to show up here in the SF bay area. Do a search for Hot Dogs on the SF board.

                                            1. re: chefj

                                              If you don't like the dog, fine. But when you start putting down the famous New England hot dog ROLL (not bun)...you are asking for trouble , busttah.

                                              1. re: jackattack

                                                No dis intended just too squishy for me.

                              2. I think the majority of replies to this thread all concur that Flo's is not really all that great, but we are debating this on and on because (as "okra" so astutely pointed out on a thread about a clam shack in RI) Flo's is a Maine and NE institution. I truly believe if she were to open that shabby, disheveled shack with the same indifferent service today--for the first time--most people wouldn't give it the time of day. Forget about her average tasting dogs and ridiculous sauce, it's because the place has a history, reputation and memories. The rest of it is pure nonsense.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: bewley

                                  Well said.

                                  1. re: bewley

                                    Each to their own. Just because you dont' like something does not make another opinion nonsense. I LOVE Flo's Hot dogs. The dog has a nice snap, the sauce is delicious and when served steaming hot in a roll is a great taste. It is one of the few foods that I crave. Nonsense- bah humbug.

                                    1. re: emilief

                                      No, please don't think that I feel the opinions here are nonsense. I never meant that, however, I can see how you interpreted it that way. To clarify: I think the woman's overall attitude, waiting 20 minutes in line and the whole affair is pure nonsense given the subpar product that they serve.

                                      I truly value the opinions here.

                                      1. re: bewley

                                        So do I. And while I've probably been to more hot dog joints than most, my opinion is worth the same as everyone else's. Part of the enjoyment for me is hearing people's opinions about a place I've been to. Or hearing many different opinions of a place I haven't been to and finally going and forming my own opinion. Take a place like Rutt's Hut. Although wildly popular, half of the people who go there for the first time hate their hot dogs. This includes my immediate family. If you really like something, enjoy it. I like what I like and enjoy it no matter how many people think otherwise.

                                  2. Ach, none of you have had a real taste experience till you've had a RI "gagger", otherwise known as a NY System wiener. Get 'em "all the way"!

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: Rhody Dave

                                      I used to get 4 "all the way" in Olneyville when I lived just around the corner. Helped absorb all the alcohol.

                                      1. re: Rhody Dave

                                        Nah! The North Jersey Italian hot dog absorbs more alcohol w/ the bread and the grease lines the intestinal tract to prevent absorption. Jfood needs to arbitrate the Ct vs NJ question.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          I've found Flo's dogs most annoying, because they serve them in a napkin, which inevitably sticks to the bun.

                                          1. re: simplyput

                                            She doesn't serve her dogs in a bun, she serves them in a ROLL.

                                            1. re: jackattack

                                              I've had them, and I can assure you they are served on a hot dog bun, steamed nicely.

                                        2. re: Rhody Dave

                                          I really think Flo's is overrated, but as you say, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

                                          1. re: irwin

                                            I recently went back to flo's for the first time in over 20 years when I was working at York Harbor Inn and would eat there for breakfast almost everyday. I was shocked when it took 45min. got them the only way and they were OK, not as good as I remembered, but what is.

                                            1. re: ChefGrant

                                              Flo's has a store in the parking lot of the Kittery Trading Post which serves exactly the same dog, ssuce, etc. with little if no wait.