Friday, February 11, 2011

Ted's Hot Dogs

The hot dog. Simple fare that garners cult followings the world over. Some people will tell you that it’s not about the hot dog, but the toppings on the dog: slaw in the south; sauerkraut and mustard in NYC; pickles, peppers and tomatoes in Chicago; chili and onions on Coneys in the Midwest. Not at Ted’s. The hot dog IS what it’s all about. The toppings are the icing on the cake (or the mustard on the dog so to speak). They have killer burgers, too, but their full name is Ted’s Charcoal Broiled Hot Dogs. You have to have a dog at some point. Ted’s is the ultimate summer destination where you can enjoy eating outside while all your cares seem to just fade away. Even in the dead of the world-famous Buffalo winter, Ted’s makes it feel like you’re enjoying a summer cookout in the warm comfort of their restaurant.

Charcoal broiling is the key. Start with a regular, jumbo or foot long. Then, your hot dog technician expertly grills it to perfection. Having eaten nothing but Ted’s or home-grilled hot dogs, I assumed that’s what you got when you ordered a hot dog. On one particular family trip to Maine, we went out to lunch at a lobster dock. My sister and I (at the time) did not eat lobster, so I ordered a hot dog. When I picked up the red and white checkered paper tray, I stared, bewildered, at my lunch. I remember telling the server, “This hot dog isn’t cooked. Can I get one that is?” She replied that it was indeed cooked; it was boiled. WHAT? Who does that? Where were the grill marks? I guess I ate it. I wouldn’t have wanted to waste money, but apparently it was decidedly unmemorable. Give me a “ripper” any day. The darker, wrinklier and ripped it is, the better! It has to have that crunch or snap when bitten.

Add your choice of a few simple toppings like mustard, relish, onions, ketchup, chili, kraut and/or their own hot sauce to complete your dog. Round out the meal with their signature curly fries and a loganberry drink. It does not get any better than that.