John Takes A Stand In Norton.
You’d think that once you drive by a hot dog trailer like the one shown here–bright red, flames on the side, tents all around it with picnic tables, colorful flags and a big banner that reads “HOT DOGS” flapping in the lofty summer breeze– it would be hard to forget. But I had forgotten it. Norton Hot Dog Stand has been dishing out the goods in this location for three years. In that time I know I’ve driven by it more than once because I’m down that way a couple times a week to see Boy. Chances are I even told myself I should stop there sometime. Until now, I hadn’t–and for that I would like give myself a firm retrospective kick in the behind.
On this day hunger was driving me to a “legendary” hot dog joint in Attleboro (the subject of my next post, actually) and my route took me down Route 123 in Norton. When I got near the area where Norton Hot Dog Stand is parked, it did come into my head. But I wanted to get to the other place, a joint I’ve been meaning to hit for some time, so I drove past. No more than 50 yards down the street, however, my sacred duty kicked in. I could not drive past it once more. It needed to be tasted.
I worried, to be honest. My last two dog outings were, quite simply, not good. They involved microwaves. It left me shaky. I knew I was in the right place when I asked the cashier if they microwaved their hot dogs and she gave me look like I’d asked if they had hamster on the menu.
“I’ve gotten a couple of microwaved dogs lately,” I said.
“Here?” she said, and I’m pretty sure that if I’d said yes, there was gonna be a killin’. She showed me the side-by-side steamer they use to keep their Kayem dogs going while standard buns take on a nice softness on the other side. I know that in past posts I’ve railed a bit against steamers, but at NHDS (pardon me for abbreviating) it looks like they do a brisk enough turnover that the dogs aren’t staying there long. They’re also suspended, not just sitting on a grate, and when she opened the door to get out my dogs, they were still dripping with juice. The buns were warm and soft and not overly damp.
That last sentence, by the way, will draw to this site a whole host of visitors who aren’t actually interested in food.
But we are, so let’s talk hot dogs. I ordered a pair. At NHDS you pay $1.35 for your naked dog, and then load up on a la carte toppings that range from 15 cents (raw onions) to 85 cents (bacon). So a two-topping dog is still going to come in under the three bucks mark. I went for one with melted cheddar cheese, fried onions and bacon and another with chili sauce and jalapenos.
This is the tough part of the review for me. I quite like the dogs here and I’m most definitely planning to go back often. But it wasn’t until after I’d ordered and sat down with my dogs that I realized I’d loaded them with two things that can absolutely ruin a dog for me: cheese sauce, aka EZ Cheez, and chili.
I should be savvy enough by now to detect EZ Cheez at 100 yards (which I believe Milkbone can do) but I opted to give “melted cheddar cheese” a chance to not be EZ. As you can see, it sure was.
However–and this is a big however–you need to get in tight on that bacon. It was still a little soft, just the way I like it, glistening a bit with flavorful grease. And there was a lot of it. I’m pretty sure that when I popped open the little styrofoam container, I made a noise like a kid at Christmas. A girl kid who really likes bacon. I think that often we come to expect our hot dog bacon to be stiff, reheated stuff that you have to hide under a dog or no one would eat it. (You know who you are, you heartless bacon abusers.) Not here, though. This bacon more than made up for the EZ Cheez, which I won’t be ordering again. NHDS offers straight-up American, and I’ll play it safe with that next time. Along with the bacon, the bed of fried onions under the dog were buttery-sweet and perfect.
I have to half-ding NHDS on their chili dog. One taste told me the stuff was fresh out of the can. That being said, it wasn’t bad. The brand is Chef-Mate and NHDS has recently switched over to the variety with beans. Look at the photo, though, and it’s clear who’s the star of this show. Big, thick tires of jalapeno. Seeds and all, just the way I like it. Honestly–it gives them more heat. And believe me, these puppies gots teeth. Along with the mild heat of the chili, this one had me taking a second to let the lip-burn cool off between voracious bites. With a good homemade chili, this would be an unstoppable dog.
The trailer is fully appointed–fryolators, griddle, the works. They also offer burgers, homemade chicken salad, fresh onion rings, and more. And like Town Line Take Out, they also apparently pride themselves on good seafood. (A gentleman sitting near me had a walloping mound of calamari.) The service is great and the folks inside are friendly. I’m not usually much of a talker, but I had a very nice chat with the ladies of NHDS and they even directed me to a couple more HDJs in the area. And there’s just something wonderfully saucy about an older woman wearing a tee shirt with a hot dog on the butt, emblazoned with the words Go ahead, take a bite.
I had been looking for a place in Boy’s area to catch a Real Good Dog and I’d have to say that right now, Norton Hot Dog Stand is it.
33 West Main Street, Norton MA.