Next to New Jersey, Connecticut has the most diverse hot dog offerings in America. Locally made wieners come grilled, steamed, deep-fried—and the toppings are out of this world. For those who crave heat, the Nutmeg State is home to the famous Kuhn’s chili of Fairfield, a meatless brew of epically incendiary proportions, served to great acclaim by Danny’s Drive-In (Roadfood.com review) of Stratford. Pepperheads also crave Mel’s Hellish Relish, also of Fairfield, the ultra-fiery condiment used almost exclusively by Rawley’s (Roadfood.com review). Less spicy and thus more flavorful is the hot pepper relish at Blackie’s (Roadfood.com review) of Cheshire, which adorns their deep-fried franks, custom-made by Hummel of New Haven. This relish, also sold by the jar on-site, is made from a family recipe with vinegar, peppers, onions, salt, and spices—that’s all. But its bold taste and addictive spice make it the perfect topping for Blackie’s snappy dogs. And as Michael Stern instructed us, a thin mantle of mustard is suggested for optimal relish adherence!
With its old-world architecture, Blackie’s looks like a building of yesteryear with its garage doors and diner-style stools at the counter. And with old-world customs, it is still closed on Fridays, as the Blackman and Flavin families who own it are devout Catholics. They don’t serve French fries, but they do have delicious white birch beer on tap.
Bruce: Love that relish! And they have an interesting way of cutting the dogs before they cook them, so they get all weird-looking and gnarly, with lots of satisfying crusty edges (and don't they finish the dogs on the flattop?), especially if you get a well-done dog:
I felt a little bad for them, because after the Pepe's extravaganza, Blackie's was kind of anticlimactic. It seemed to me that people were still on a Pepe's high and weren't really focused on the dogs and the place. I think it was here, though, that another customer at Blackie's, not on the tour, caught wind of Jane and Michael's presence and went nuts, as if a fan had just bumped into Elvis. I think it's the guy talking to Michael here:
If I lived nearby I think I'd be here twice a week.
Chris: They cut them? I always thought that the wieners just ripped open in the hot oil, like at Rutt’s Hut. And yes, they do finish them on the griddle to crisp them up, which I love. Sadly, they don’t toast/grill the buns, which would push Blackie’s to the forefront of Connecticut’s best hot dog.
And I agree with your tour assessment. I’ve been to Blackie’s many times and absolutely love those dogs, but it didn’t help that the Pepe’s experience was so pleasurably overwhelming—and for me, at least, paralyzing to my appetite. I think Blackie’s would’ve been better appreciated on a hot dog-only tour of the state. Now that would be a spectacular trip to take! The short list in my head grows as I type…