John Has A Nearly Perfect Day
It was just one of those times when everything came together. I recently switched from working as a contract writer to taking on a full-fledged gig, which meant I could finally take a lunch break without listening to the incessant dinging of the lost-wages meter. It was a perfect May day, sky as wide and blue as you could ever want, temperatures hovering in the mid-Oh-My’s. The car windows were down and the radio had just segued from The Ramones requesting sedation to Devo fretting about not getting any satisfaction. And there, smack in middle of the parking lot at Hingham Bathing Beach, was a cart with a sign reading Steamed Hot Dogs.
Like I said in my last post, it’s the time of year when hot dog carts seem to come up like early spring blooms. One day it’s a parking lot. The next, poing!, a shiny steel cart with a condiment rack loaded with mustards and hot sauces has grown through a crack in the pavement. I love that.
We spend a lot of time on this blog looking for places that elevate the “lowly” hot dog, and it’s a job we take seriously. But honestly? Sometimes simplicity is the way to go, especially when you can pair it up with a view like the one you get here. This is Hingham Harbor, looking out past Hull and Nantasket Beach to the clear blue Atlantic beyond. Set against this sort of backdrop, even the “lowliest” of dogs would taste better. Luckily for me, this cart serves up a good, honest, no-nonsense dog.
Don’t come here with your fancy-schmancy expectations, friends. You’ll be dressing your dog with mustard (yellow or brown), ketchup (if you’re that sort of godless heathen), relish, onions and sauerkraut. Period. They steam Old Neighborhood dogs here–I assume it’s the natural casing beef-and-pork frank–and the yummy little fellas take to it extremely well. The casing maintains a little snap, the ends just beginning to ambitiously burst out. (I do need to ask if he’s willing to give them a quick finish on the flat top, on which he does sausages with peppers and onions. Do the math. Then drool.) You can get your roll steamed if you like, but I’m going to demand that–the first time out, anyway–you get them in the grilled roll. Split-top, generously bathed in butter and toasted on the flat top to a golden brown that will have you making Meg-Ryan-restaurant-scene sounds.
Oh, and the reason I called this a “nearly” perfect day? It’s because I forgot my camera the first time. Which only meant I was going back. So the dogs shown above are from round two, on an equally gorgeous First of June, a pair simply loaded with crisp Boar’s Head sauerkraut, fresh onions and brown mustard, all of which is bottom loaded to let the dog take its rightful place on top. The daily special here is a pair of dogs however you like them, little bag of chips and a soda for $6. Dogs on their own are $3. If I’m to be honest, as I said about Caswell’s, the straightforwardness of the dogs makes me question the three-buck tag but a) I’m painfully cheap and b) when you throw in the chips and soda, it feels more reasonable. Lord knows it hasn’t stopped me from shelling out the six bucks both times.
With this place just a 5-minute drive from my office, I have a feeling I’ll be paying this guy’s mortgage by the end of the summer. He’s parked here most days, weather permitting; on ball game days he drags the cart up to Fenway. Lucky Red Sox fans. All the other days? Nearly perfect for me.
Classic Hot Dog Co.
Hingham Bathing Beach Lot