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Rhode Island Hot Dogs


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#1 John

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 03:56 PM

I was to Rhode Island last weekend to visit my daughter who recently moved there. Although I wasn't there to sample hot dogs, I managed to get to 2 places. There were 2 more on my list that were close to one of the 2 that I visited, but unfortunately one was closed for the weekend for renovations (Moonlight House of Weiners), while the other one (Main Street 2000 Restaurant) is now an Indian restaurant.

I went to New York Lunch first on Main Street in Woonsocket. They call hot dogs weiners or "gaggers", even "gaggahs". Most in this region consider a hot dog to be an all beef frank while a wiener is beef and pork. The product at New York Lunch is the same as what is served at New York System Restaurants. A tiny frank prepared on a griddle and topped with mustard, onions, meat sauce, celery salt and placed in a steamed bun. Coffee milk is unique to Rhode Island and is the preferred drink. I forgot to order one. New York Lunch is an old school diner that has been around for decades. The grill faces the window in this tiny storefront like many older places.

The frank was the tiniest I ever saw. Maybe 2 inches. I can't even guess how many to the pound. It was $1.13 with tax. The frank was a skinless beef and pork dog from Grote & Weigel of Connecticut. I got mine with mustard, meat sauce and celery salt but left off the onions. The frank was warm, not hot, and somewhat mild but good. The bun was steamed nicely and slightly bigger than the dog. There was plenty of meat sauce. It, along with the celery salt provided a unique flavor; different than the Texas Weiners I'm used to in New Jersey. While I prefer a good Texas Weiner, I enjoyed the New York Lunch wiener and would return. I only had one because I wanted to make room for the 2 other places that I didn't get to (see above), another place that I did get to, and the family barbecue planned for later.

The other place I went to was Spike's Junkyard Dogs in Providence. This would not be considered a New York System type restaurant. Spike's is a nice little place that loks like a typical fast food joint. I grabbed 2 dogs here; one with just mustard, the other with mustard and chili. The chili is a thin Mexican style chili with beans, not a hot dog chili. Unremarkable and not as good as the meat sauce at New York Lunch. The dog is all beef, skinless, and fairly thick about 5 to a lb. Although Spike's will not give out the brand, I found out that it is Mucke's all beef from Connecticut. A good quality beef dog that is well seasoned and is spiced more like a Chicago beef dog than a New York/New Jersey beef dog. Which means more paprika and less garlic.

The dogs are prepared differently than anywhere else I've been to. They are put in a convection oven and finished off on a roller grill. While I'm not crazy about roller grills in general, my dogs were definitely hot enough and tasted very good. They are put on a thick bun similar to a sub or hoagie roll. Not usually crazy about that either, but the bread was the right size for the dogs and thicker and chewier than your usual hot dog bun. Overall a very good beef dog, but one I would get without chili. There are a good number of topping combinations here.

The two places served different types of dogs, but I liked them both and would return. I enjoyed Spike's a little more than New York Lunch.
John the hot dog guy

#2 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 04:07 PM

Nice write-up! For those eager to try out more hot dog options, seek out Olneyville NY System (Olneyville in Providence or Cranston), Original NY System (Smith Hill in Providence), John's NYS on the Cranston/Warwick line... and a newcomer, East Side Creamery on Ives St in Providence. I may just have had two there yesterday. :wink:
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#3 karlos

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 07:31 AM

I love hot dogs and I love RI hot dogs (wieners). I used to go to Spike's and you are right, not a NY system place but tasty dogs nonetheless. I'm actually leaving today to spend a week in Narragansett and can't wait to get my fix at Olneyville. The last time I was there the wife insisted on waiting in the car- I didn't think it was so bad :smile: . If you ever get back and if you have a chance to grill for yourself, get some Saugy's hot dogs. Snappiest, crunchiest casing I've ever encountered and a very tasty hot dog. You'll find them in the deli case at Shaw's or Stop & Shop, I can't remember which. Chris, I'm going to try and get to those other places you mentioned, I only lived there for a year and frequented Olneyville exclusively.

#4 Holly Moore

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 07:51 AM

I had been looking for Saugy dogs for years. Finally got some at a function I attended in Providence. They were indeed as described above. What I don't get is why none of the Rhode Island hot dog places carry Saugy Dogs. You can order them online, but the go for $100 for 5 lbs - includes next day air shipment.
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#5 SylviaLovegren

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 08:41 AM

Had no idea there was a Rhode Island hot dog culture. Neat! Wish I could go sample.

#6 Chris Amirault

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 08:51 AM

Saugy's are consistently available at Shaw's and, iirc, Stop n Shop supermarkets. They show up now and then on restaurant menus, but Holly's right: there are no hot dog shacks proper featuring them of which I'm aware.
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#7 John

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 09:59 AM

I was in both Shaws and Stop & Shop. Saugy's were in both deli cases. A very good frank made from beef/pork/veal with a slight peppery taste similar to Sahlen's from Buffalo. While looking up Rhode Island hot dog joints before my trip, I came across at least one New York System type place that serves Saugy's. I forget where I found it; perhaps a review on Yelp or somewhere. If I come across it, I'll post it.
John the hot dog guy