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Boston Hot Dog Co

November 11, 2009
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Salem’s a pretty crazy place during the run-up to Halloween, so I don’t know what I was thinking when I took my little brother Faisal there, but I did have two thoughts in my mind:  first, checking out all the people who get crazy excited about the opportunity to wear witch costumes; and second, hitting up The Boston Hot Dog Co., which has a vocal and loyal clientele in the North Shore area.

It’s become a bit of a joke to Faisal every time I threaten him with a hot dog excursion, but this is the first time I’ve taken him out to a stand.  I told him that he was going to have to help me review this place and he took it pretty seriously, although he still thinks I’m a little nuts.  Here’s Faisal posing with one of the draws to the Boston Hot Dog Co.–their huge assortment of toppings.  I didn’t get a proper look at the full range of condiments, but as best I can remember they had something like 15+ styles of dogs, so there must have been at least a couple of dozen toppings to choose from.  I remember they had three different types of relish, so that should say enough.

The woman behind the counter was great, taking time out to talk about their dogs–at least until the place got busy, which happened pretty quickly.  Before tending to the other customers, she convinced me that I needed to order one of their 1/4lb. angus beef hot dogs in addition to the other regular dog that I bought.  That’s the dog you see above, covered with chili, cheese, mustard and slaw.  The angus beef dog did quite a bit to boost the flavor, and was perfectly paired for the topping selection.  The chili wasn’t as spicy as I’d like, but that didn’t matter much because the slaw wasn’t too sugary and didn’t throw off the flavor.  After having a taste of the dog, Faisal was pretty jealous and wished he had gotten an angus dog, too.  Overall, the dog came together nicely with a hearty and beefy flavor, something much different than the light and spicy slaw dogs I’ve had before.

Since Faisal was my colleage in hot dogs for the day, he had to take an action shot of me taking on the slaw dog.  This was by far the messiest dog I had there, and when I stood up I found I had coleslaw all over my pants and the chair.  Maybe I shouldn’t get a bib for future visits . . . .

My next dog was a Chicago style, the flavor of which I found to be a little too sharp, because it was topped with dijon mustard which I’m not a big fan of.  The other toppings were fantastic, however, so next time I order one I’ll have to ask to substitute regular yellow mustard.  It’s sad, how I keep chasing the dream of finding a great Chicago dog in Boston, but inevitable none-the-less.

Faisal got himself a couple of dogs with chili, mustard, and sweet onion relish, which I thought were pretty amazing but his envy of my angus dog won out and he considered the slaw dog to be the best we’d sampled.  Faisal’s a little different than most thirteen-year-olds in that he’s not that into sweets, however, so the sweet onion relish probably wasn’t the best topping to choose.  I thought the blend with the hearty chili really drew the flavors together, and the frank was subtle enough of a flavor that the toppings won out.

After a couple of hot dogs, we went to the Peabody-Essex Museum to check out their display of recycled art, but on our way to the exhibit we caught a beatboxing tournament which provided us with quite a bit of fun.  The emcee was really haranguing the crowd, trying to get people to participate because at the time he only had two people on stage ready to battle it out.  In the end he got another handful of people, including a guy well past his prime who did the strangest of jigs while trying to imitate the Fresh Prince of Bel Aire.  Needless to say, he was booed off the stage and did his jerky dance while leaving.

The recycled art exhibit was pretty awesome.  Can you guess what this cute and cuddly bunny is made of?  If you guessed cigarette filters, you’re right!  I could snuggle all night long with this stinky little rabbit whose helped send off hundreds of smokers to their doom.

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