Pull off the highway and prowl a business street that runs through any Texas town and I guarantee you’ll find several options for chicken fried steak, barbeque and tacos. But if you’re looking for a really good hot dog stand, head back to the highway because you’re taking a major road trip.
Texans eat hot dogs alright. Heck, we invented 7-11 stores, billion-dollar sports stadiums and truck stops big enough for their own zip codes. Yeah, Texans bite dogs. But I’m talking about joints devoted to building and serving great hot dogs.
As you drive north, way north, you pass a line where people just do dogs right and where people eat them every day of the week, ballgame or not. They eat them regularly because they’re so consistently good. One of those places is Buffalo, NY.
Like tacos in Texas, there’s a Ted’s Hot Dogs pretty close by if you’re in the Buffalo area. Their dogs are charcoal grilled, with real lump charcoal. No gas grills or convenience store rollers. The cook takes your order directly, then grills to order right in front of you. Want your dogs charred? Tell them to “burn ‘em.” They pile on the chili, onions, relish and extras as you call them out and you watch the assembly of your hot dogs down the line on their way to the cashier. They are addictive dogs. Hamburgers are available, but most people go for the hot dogs.
There’s another great hot dog option in the area, Old Man River. It sits across the road that edges the Niagara River. It’s in Tonawanda, NY, north of Buffalo. Old Man River has a broader menu with sandwiches, barbeque and a seafood shack, but a long list of hot dogs leads the menu. It’s an institution in the area with a quirky interior and plenty of outdoor tables where locals and visitors enjoy long summer days along the river.
These Western New York hot dogs have good universal hot dog taste appeal. There are no regional twists really, like Chicago dog’s sport peppers, tomatoes and neon relish. Just good dogs.
Ted’s Hot Dogs / Seven locations dotted around Buffalo / www.tedshotdogs.com
Old Man River / 375 Niagara Street, Tonawanda, NY / www.oldmanriverwny.com
POSTSCRIPT—There are a lot of great local diners, grills, taverns and restaurants in Western New York that serve up legendary pizzas, wings, subs and roast beef sandwiches. I’ll give you a tip on pizza if you’re in Williamsville, NY, north of Buffalo. Laporta’s Pizzeria has been in a strip center next to a supermarket for more than 25 years and Pat Laporta has made most of the pizzas himself since he opened. Lots of take-out, friendly dining room and great pizza.
Laporta’s Pizzeria / 485 West Klein, Williamsville, NY 14221 / www.laportaspizzeria.com