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Searching for a great Hot Dog as winter winds down.

Just having a craving. What's your favorite?


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  1. My favorite are my Essem's cooked at home..but my favorite place out to get a hot dog is Top Dog in Rockport.

    10 Replies
    1. re: BlueMagic

      I don't know if I have ever had an Essem's. Are they best griddles, bbq'd or steamed. And to keep this on board, who carries the brand in the Boston area?

      1. re: Bellachefa

        I find Essem behind the deli counter at Market Basket.
        Essem was bought by Tyson Foods, and Kayem bought the Essem brand off Tyson about 5 years ago, and they are not as readily available like they used to be. The Essem dogs with the natural casing (hog or sheep) was a mix of beef and pork with dried milk and other spices.
        The dried milk has been removed from the original recipe.
        I'm pretty sure you can find Essem dogs at Hannafords too.
        I like them steamed or on the grill.

        1. re: Infomaniac

          Do you remember the old Essem plant in ( I think South Lawrence)? I remember my family used to get hot dogs and such there. They used to sell the "imperfect" ones at a big discount. I think I ate hot dogs with "pimples" on them for the first 10 years of my life..lol.

          1. re: BlueMagic

            I remember the plant in Lawrence, and my dad would stop there and bring home a box of the imperfect ones in all shapes and sizes.

            1. re: BlueMagic

              Absolutely I do. Didn't they also have kielbasa there, at least seasonally?

              ETA: Second on Thwaites for cooking at home. Once in a while, I like the dogs at Kelly's in Saugus, too. I get a clam roll and a dog and call it a surf n turf.

            2. re: Infomaniac

              I went to the Market Basket in Chelsea today and asked for Essem at the deli counter. They had never heard of them. I also checked with the stocker on the prepackaged area and he said he'd never heard of them either.

              1. re: catsmeow

                I don't doubt what they told you, and that's too.bad.
                Try another MB and you might get a different answer.
                Most of the MB's in the Merrimack Valley know of Essem.

            3. re: Bellachefa

              Hi Bella,

              Well..that is the subject of the great hot dog debate in my house :-)

              I like them best bbq'd just until the skin cracks..otherwise broiled the same way.
              Son likes them steamed.
              They are really good either way.
              I get them either at Butcher Boy in North Andover or Thwaites Market in Methuen.

              1. re: Bellachefa

                Love Essem's I worked at the plant one summer right out of High School, summer of 1988. I still eat (local) hot dogs, too. The closest I find to the original Essem taste are Kayem's. I can attest to the quality of the meat they used in the past, as well as the nonfat dry milk and spices.

            4. For home cooking? Sometimes I'm in the mood for the big dog, Pearl Natural Casing dogs that are sold in the deli case, good, but somewhat mild, so the grill is a good spot for those to add that extra char flavor. For a smaller dog, and a bit spicier option I go with Applegate Farms natural casing dogs, very tasty, and a smaller dog (which I usually prefer to be honest), good on the grill or griddle, and sometimes steamed when the mood strikes. Lastly, my latest favorite have been the ones made by Moodey Street Provisions in the freezer case, a very spicey dog with alot of flavor, nice size and good snap (all 3 dogs here actually have good snap, FYI)...actually need to head out and grab another packet of these soon...their pricey, at about $10 for a pack of 5 I think it was? Maybe six? I can't remember how many but it was such a tastey dog it was worth the price for me.

              1. Here is an old post, but R.I.P. Gregg of boston speed dog.

                As reported earlier Sullivan's at castle island is reported open, oh to have a blue bird day in the 50's to enjoy the view.


                1. Fred's Franks, the truck and Big Green Egg can be found off Route 128 at Exit 40, at the head of the lake in Wakefield.

                  He has Pearl franks grilled to order, with some sausages and he had jalapeno ones last summer. Also has sauerkraut and many homemade condiments. Really nice guy, too.

                  His website says he will be opening for the season in March.

                  If not Fred's Franks, we really like grilling the Pearl Kountry Klub hot dogs from the deli counter. Their website has a directory where their products can be found.

                  Fred's Franks

                  Pearl Meat

                  1. Go see Grady at Windy City Eats. Original location in Weymouth or his new one in Norwell. Great Chicago dogs!!

                    1. At home I go with the Kayem "Old Tyme" natural casing franks cooked in butter in my cast iron pan (alongside buttered, top-split buns, of course).

                      Elliot's on Elliot St. in Lowell is where go out for dogs. They grill the bun, and they offer two types of franks: steamed and "trailer dogs." The trailer dogs are deep fried and awesome.

                      1. New England Charcuterie/ Moody's in Waltham has an amazing one. They usually offer some interesting toppings on them if you get one for lunch there (you can also buy them by the pound).

                        1. My favorite local hot dog places in no particular order are:

                          Casey's in Natick
                          Fred's Franks in Wakefield
                          George's Coney Island in Worcester (oddly closed Tuesdays)
                          Spalla's in Natick for a solid Chicago style dog.

                          All very different but all serving very good dogs.

                          1. Great replies.

                            I do like the occasional stop to the green egg in wakefield. Many other fine ideas yet to try while out and about and at home. I like the kayem natural casings steamed with that nice snap. I also like the other grocer shelf kayem scored and grilled. I like em both, just different ways. Thanks everyone. I never did make it to opening day at Castle Island for a half priced all around.

                            1. Larry Joe's New England Firepit, trained with the original Boston Speed and playing a mean keyboard has been open all winter(except certain nasty days) on route 140 in Mendon. Best big dog around.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: trufflehound

                                Does he have the condiments Speed use to have?

                                  1. re: trufflehound

                                    Great! Thank you. I'll have to take a drive out there.

                                    1. re: catsmeow

                                      He's usually there T_Sat when the weather is good. He may run out early on ocassion, but I don't work near there anymore so I don't have recent experience.

                                1. re: trufflehound

                                  just called larry joe and he is back in bellingham. opes today at 11am

                                  1. re: trufflehound

                                    Never been to Mendon/Bellingham.
                                    can you give a better location?


                                    1. re: gutterman

                                      Looks like Mendon/Bellingham is south of the pike out by 495, I found this page that says rte 140 in Bellingham.


                                      I found some older links at other addresses that seem to be wrong (23 Cape Rd Mendon, MA 01756, 264 N Main St Bellingham, MA 02019).

                                      Good luck and let me know what you find

                                      1. re: lc02139

                                        The easiest way to get there is 95 south to around Plainville and then connect to 495 North for a few exits. You could also go down the pike to 495 South. I think it borders RI.

                                        1. re: lc02139

                                          30 Cape Rd, Mendon, MA. That's is state route 140.

                                      2. re: trufflehound

                                        I was coming up 395 in Ct today and made a detour through Mendon to get a dog at Larry Joes. Great dog and Larry Joe is very pleasant to talk to. I was hoping to buy some bottled condiments but he doesn't have them for sale. He's hoping to bottle them eventually but said there are strict regulations that have to be followed and he isn't set up for it. He also said he's in touch with Speed and his wife. They'd like him to open a truck up in Boston, but he's not able to do that right now. There's always hope......

                                      3. The Ashmont Grill in Dorchester has a Pearl dog on the menu for $7. It comes with their excellent fries. It's pretty hard for us not to order the outstanding burger when we're there so I haven't had it yet but if you like Pearl dogs it works.

                                        It's probably cooked on their wood grill.

                                        1. Savenor’s will sometimes grill out and stick a dog in a hollowed out baguette when the weather’s good (March is probably a bit early). It’s good, but the baguette size and crunch will rip your mouth up a bit.

                                          1. Pearl "Kountry Klub" brand dogs. These are generally sold at the deli counter, not in the packaged hot dog section of the supermarket. About 1/4 lb each with a natural casing and great snap and flavor. They also make a 1/2 lb version (that's what the late lamented Speed's Dogs used for his famous creations), but I haven't found them at any retail market (if anyone knows who sells them, please let me know).

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: BobB

                                              Roche Brothers generally has them, in Needham, at least.

                                              1. re: BobB

                                                Roche Bros in West Roxbury as well, I had also picked them up at Restaraunt Depot (full package) back when I was cooking for a pub, but they were sporadically stocked there and not always available.

                                                1. re: devilham

                                                  Good point - RD still has them from time to time in those giant packages.

                                                2. re: BobB

                                                  bodegas/supermarkets near the old Pearl St factory carry them. also try Tropical in Dudley, Brothers in Uphams, or NSA in Mattapan Sqr (last, so if you inconcievably strike out there two SIMCO locations nearby)

                                                3. Flo's (on Rt 1 in York, ME) with special sauce and mayo.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: PeterHG

                                                    After years of driving by, when we finally stopped at Flo's we simply didn't understand the hoopla and still don't. Mediocre at best for us. We have had many many chili dogs at the Lobster Shack in Perkins Cove over the years however.

                                                    Clearly, lots of people love Flo's

                                                  2. Fat Cat in Quincy has a fabulous dog served with their great fries. That's where I get my fix these days if I need one. Windy City in Norwell is decent if you don't get the Chicago style. McKays serves a good dog with those giant fries that are kind of meh!

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: CocoDan

                                                      Is your problem chicago style dogs in general or WCE's chicago dog in particular? I've always found them to be a fairly standard rendition of what one would find in chicago.

                                                      1. re: jgg13

                                                        I guess I'm just stuck on the the style I grew up with which is the grilled dog in a buttered and grilled roll with spicy mustard, piccalilli and chopped onions (at Nantasket Beach).

                                                        The Chicago style dog is ok, but not my favorite. WCD does a pretty good job with theirs.

                                                        1. re: CocoDan

                                                          Nantasket has been our goto beach for the last couple of years, CocoDan, where do you get dogs down there? The little place that's on the beach proper is pretty lame (but I eats them anyways), there's a stand a ways further down the beach on the main drag....is that the spot? And is it good? It has always intrigued me, but I can't get the wife to walk all that way for a dog....as she is unenlightened (just kidding, hot dogs aren't for everyone I guess.....weirdos)

                                                          1. re: devilham

                                                            Growing up we used to go to a little shop called Leo's down near the old Bath House end. Long gone. Now you can get a decent dog at the stand down by the Nantasket Resort Hotel facing the beach. Decent. I usually go down to the end of Pemberton across from Hull High School to the clam schack there (don't remember the name, run by Billy Dwyer), for a very good dog. The fried clams and scallops are pretty darn good.

                                                            1. re: CocoDan

                                                              awesome, thanks! Shouldn't be too hard to convince the wife to visit a clam shack, we're both suckers for fried clams

                                                    2. Nothing fancy, doesn't compare to the old Speed Dog, but I really enjoyed a $1 hotdog at Deep Ellum this past Sat night. Buttered toasted roll, nicely charred dog, and simply topped with mustard and relish. Definately satisfied my craving for a hot dog. Along with a pretzel, my dinner was cheaper than the bf's beer. And it was a relatively warm walk back across the river.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: viperlush

                                                        You had me at "nicely charred dog"! It's been far too long - I should get over there some time soon.

                                                        1. re: Allstonian

                                                          I don't know if they are always like that. I hadn't been there since last spring?Summer? But for a dollar ($2 when I spring for the pickle spear), and a great beer list, it's worth the risk of getting a non charred dog (maybe can request it?).

                                                        2. re: viperlush

                                                          Pretty sure you mean the Lower Depths, not Deep Ellum.

                                                          1. re: rknrll

                                                            Yes I did thank you for catching that. Interesting since Deep Ellum isn't a bar that I frequent and Allston isn't a place that I hang out in.

                                                        3. I used to love Best's Kosher, which was an all-beef wiener sold packages at BJ's, where it was also their snack bar hot dog. But Saralee bought Best's, then discontinued the line entirely. A few years ago, Costco introduced their own Kirkland line of all beef, in wiener and dinner frank size (identical ingredients). I think they taste just like Best's, and I love them. I don't care for steamed or boiled. I either microwave or saute them.
                                                          And it has to be Martin's potato roll, though I do wish Martin's made their burger-size whole wheat potato rolls in hot dog bun shape too.

                                                          1. I've been enjoying Niman Ranch Fearless Franks lately.

                                                            1. Freds Franks opens on 4-1

                                                              1. Spalla's in Natick serves up a Chicago dog.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: alakate

                                                                  Had a couple Chicago dog's at Spalla's on Monday. Authentic as can be - and the dog was served hot - unlike some that I have gotten at Windy City Eats or at Gold Coast stands in Chicago that weren't heated all the way through. Talked to the owner at Spalla's and she was given a recommendation to steam the dog for 1.5 minutes from her supplier - but she thinks that is not enough. I love this place, but its going to make me fat because now I have to get a chicago dog AND an italian beef whenever I am in the area.

                                                                  1. re: LStaff

                                                                    Totally agree with your Spalla's observations - including the one about getting fat (I live a couple of blocks away).

                                                                    1. re: NE_Wombat

                                                                      I too live very close and I have the same dilemma. What I often do is get the combo beef which comes with sausage so I can get some encased meat and the beef! LOL.

                                                                2. Went to Fred's Franks and had a Shnurble

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Locutus

                                                                    I only made it there once a couple of years ago and had the Shnurble and I swear to god it was one of the 20 best things I have ever eaten in my life.

                                                                  2. It's not close to Boston but still...no other hotdog comes close to Teo's


                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: AdamGL

                                                                      Interesting. I've never been to Teo's (will remedy that this summer), but I have been to their similar competitor, Hot Dog Ranch, in downtown Pittsfield (http://www.yelp.com/biz/hot-dog-ranch...). Also mini dogs with house-made chili topping, well worth a visit.

                                                                    2. My favorite if Fred's Franks or Speed, but another year round local option is The Dockside in Chelsea (across from Market Basket). They have 2 jumbo Pearl franks with fries for $7 on the menu.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Schnowzer

                                                                        Freds is awesome, been there a few times now.
                                                                        Speeds is done the owner is dead.

                                                                        I went to Larry joes in Mendon Yesterday for the first time.

                                                                        It was very good. He has 8 topping for the dog. I got them all, 1 spoon at a time in a row across the dog so i can get a different topping for each bite

                                                                        1. re: Locutus

                                                                          Speed died? I know the guy that took over his business died. I hadn't realized he too had passed. Any obits or stories?

                                                                          1. re: Locutus

                                                                            What? next you are going to tell me Mr. McDonald is dead and the Burger King was the untimely victim of regicide!

                                                                        2. Kelly's has a pretty good dog..mustard, relish, onions on a griddled bun.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: phatchris

                                                                            Hmmmm...never thought to get a dog there. I was once told the hamburgers were pretty good, and I tried them. For a fast food type burger, they are good. The buttered griddled bun is a nice touch. It's no Tasty Burger, but it's good.

                                                                          2. Had a great dog at Simcos friday. The one in Roslindale
                                                                            Used to go to the one "on the bridge" all the time as a kid.

                                                                            Nice crispy dog with mustard relish onions on a buttered roll wrapped in foil to keep hot. Best hot dog I have had in years!! Steve

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: steve4310

                                                                              +1 on this, I love Simcos, and since I live in Rozzie, it's a short trip for a great dog. My wife likes a chili dog, I'm more a mustard and onions guy, but either is great...it's a nice foot longer too (give or take a few inches), which makes it a meal :)

                                                                            2. I stopped at Fred's Frank in Wakefield on Sat for my first of the summer season Italian Sausage sub with peppers and onions and it was excellent. I sure sign that Spring has now officially arrived. They were doing a brisk business on Sat with many of the people telling Carl, the owner, how happy they were to see him back. I heard Carl mentioning that he was seriously contemplating opening a small "brick & mortar" place in Medford Ctr. He said he would still keep the truck in Wakefield if he did but he wanted a business he could run year-round.

                                                                              1. In case you missed it, good roundup of glamour franks in Boston Magazine recently: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaur...

                                                                                I like Coney Islands, too. George's in Worcester, Tex Barry's in Taunton and Attleboro, J.J.'s and Roger's in Fall River.


                                                                                1. Went to Freds yesterday. Had a dog and a burger

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Locutus

                                                                                    We were there on Sat on the way back from running the dog at the beach before she is banned for the season. My Jumbo Shnurble was as good as ever. One of the kids opted for a burger and I thought is was terrible, juicy but really quite flavorless.

                                                                                    1. re: black_lab

                                                                                      I thought the jumbo dog at Fred's was bland too when I tried it for the first time last year- maybe because it was a little undercooked/barely warm in the middle. Guess I need to try again, or get the smaller dog or sausage and peppers mentioned above.

                                                                                      1. re: LStaff

                                                                                        If you're going to grill at home, the veal dogs at Bazaar are fantastic on the grill: knockwurst size, juicy and beautifully spiced. You can buy them from the deli counter or packaged in fours.

                                                                                      2. re: black_lab

                                                                                        Had the same experience this week: mini shnurble (my first) was good, my sons cheeseburger really needed some salt.

                                                                                    2. Teo's looks like the infamous Rhode Island hot weiner or New York System weiner of my misspent college days. Man are those good when you are drunk. :)

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: GretchenS

                                                                                        Gretchen, Another former Rhode Islander here. You made me crave an armful of weiners "all the way" from that place in Olneyville. It's on the agenda for my next RI trip.


                                                                                      2. Nudged by this thread, I just went to Fred's Franks for lunch with a colleague and we had our first Shnurbles. Excellent! Looking forward to working our way through the menu this summer. I've had the kielbasa and the cheese and garlic sausage on previous visits and enjoyed both very much. Super nice folks. Good people-watching too.

                                                                                        1. The hairier the arm, the better the weiner we always used to say... I'll bet it has been 25 years since I have had one and I can remember how they taste perfectly, pretty amazing when I think about the circumstances under which most of them were consumed.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: GretchenS

                                                                                            A few open sores are also key to the ultimate NY system dog. I think they are forced to wear some kind of protective sleeve now.

                                                                                          2. The seasonal places in Western Mass are starting to open up. These are often attached to farmstands, and often include Polish food as well as the usual hot dog stand fare. If you get out that way, try Skip's in Gill (on Route 2, https://plus.google.com/1141997022655...). Really nice people and some of the best onion rings I've ever had (oh, and the dawg was fine too).

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: LilBrownBat

                                                                                              I took a bike ride out Rt 2 to Troy NY and back. I stopped at the Mobil across the street coming and going. i had just eaten or i would have gone in. it smelled awesome from across the road

                                                                                              1. re: Locutus

                                                                                                If you go all the way out to Troy, hit up Famous Lunch which has little mini dogs akin to the NY system wiener style (with 'zippy sauce'). I don't know how much they cost these days but I'm sure it's still under a buck.