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 Hot Dogs in Rhode Island

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John Fox

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  • Joined: 12/3/2000
  • Location: Union, NJ
Hot Dogs in Rhode Island Thu, 07/14/11 6:06 PM (permalink)
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.

    Re:Hot Dogs in Rhode Island Fri, 07/15/11 9:07 AM (permalink)
    Not all "New York System"-style places have the really short hot dogs.  Wein-o-rama has fairly long ones (here's a review I did of them a few years ago: )  As a son of a RI native, I was brought up with celery salt being a standard hot dog condiment.
    I keep meaning to check out Spike's.  Thanks for the info.

      Re:Hot Dogs in Rhode Island Fri, 07/15/11 12:12 PM (permalink)
      Spike's is a regional chain with locations in MA, RI and one in CT.

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        Re:Hot Dogs in Rhode Island Fri, 07/15/11 12:54 PM (permalink)

        Spike's is a regional chain with locations in MA, RI and one in CT.


        That is correct and I remember just a few short precious years ago when it was an "only in Rhode Island" local chain

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          Re:Hot Dogs in Rhode Island Sat, 07/16/11 8:39 AM (permalink)
          John, I'm sure you've done your research, but I'll also suggest Olneyville NY System for Hot Dogs, and Stanley's for Hamburgers for your next trip. Both are excellent, we stopped on the way to and from a wedding in RI last summer.


            John Fox

            • Total Posts: 2313
            • Joined: 12/3/2000
            • Location: Union, NJ
            Re:Hot Dogs in Rhode Island Sat, 07/16/11 9:03 AM (permalink)
            I know of Olneyville and would have preferred to go there, but time was limited. Next time I'll definitely go.

              Re:Hot Dogs in Rhode Island Sat, 07/16/11 11:50 AM (permalink)
              For what it's worth, in the Rhode Island meet-up last year the first choice for hot dogs was:
              Wein-O-Rama – 1009 Oaklawn Avenue, Cranston, RI
              We were Travelin-man'd, and so we went to Olneyville NY System.  Maybe wanderingjew can opine on their relative merits.
                John Fox

                • Total Posts: 2313
                • Joined: 12/3/2000
                • Location: Union, NJ
                Re:Hot Dogs in Rhode Island Sun, 01/1/12 9:16 AM (permalink)
                I was back in Rhode Island last week to spend Christmas with my daughter. Hot dogs were not on the agenda as I would suppose most places would be closed for the Holiday. But before we left on Monday I passed by the Moonlight House of Weiners on my way to get coffee. They were open so I stopped in at about 10 AM. There were dogs on the grill and despite having breakfast shortly before, I ordered 2. They come with mustard, onions, meat sauce, and celery salt.
                The dogs  (or weiners as they're called) were very similar to what I had last trip at New York Lunch. Same small franks, very similar meat sauce which is easy on the spices and slightly sweet. The brand of hot dog is Grote & Weigel, same at both places. This time I asked to see the bag. This is not the same Grote & Weigel beef/pork frank that we are used to in New Jersey. Not only are they small and skinless, but the recipe is different. On the bag it said New York brand and the ingredients were pork, beef, and chicken. I don't like chicken or turkey in hot dogs, but it was listed last, so there is less of it than pork and beef. No wonder these dogs are so mild. But they are really a holder for the meat sauce and the celery salt. While I prefer a traditional Jersey Texas Weiner to the New York System style weiner or "gagger", I did enjoy my dogs. The frank itself is not great, but everything together including a nice steamed bun was good.

                Interesting that Grote & Weigel makes several different recipe frankfurters; all unique and for different styles of dogs. Their all beef natural casing frank is similar to the beef franks we enjoy in Jersey and is served at Father & Son. Then you have the very mild pork/beef/chicken frank served at many Rhode Island establishments; the more flavorful pork/beef dogs labelled Texan Brand on the bag and served at the Plainfield area Texas Weiner joints in Jersey. And finally the special recipe frank (which in my opinion is their best) served at the Galloping Hill Inn.
                On the way home I stopped at a Stop & Shop to buy a few loose franks not available in Jersey. I got a Kayem, a Maple Leaf (which I never had before) and a Saugy's; all beef/pork and all with a casing.
                The Kayem was ok; I've had it before. I liked the Maple Leaf better. Better still was the Saugy. It's actually made in Rhode Island. Flavorful with a slight peppery taste; similar to Sahlens. I don't know why more hot dog restaurants don't serve this brand. Definitely one of the best dogs I've had in this style. Could be that Rhode Islanders prefer the milder dogs. Or the places serving the weiners don't want a spicier dog like Saugy competing with the meat sauce. Price also could be a factor.
                  Holly Moore

                  Re:Hot Dogs in Rhode Island Sun, 01/29/12 6:30 PM (permalink)
         publishes a great list of Rhode Island hot dog places.
                    Holly Moore

                    Re:Hot Dogs in Rhode Island Fri, 02/24/12 9:16 AM (permalink)
                    Great article on the history of Saugy Dogs. http://www.ediblecommunit.../rhodeside-diaries.htm
                      carlton pierre

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                      • Joined: 7/12/2004
                      • Location: Knoxville, TN
                      Re:Hot Dogs in Rhode Island Sat, 10/27/12 10:46 AM (permalink)
                      I found a really neat little place in the heart of downtown Providence RI this week.  Coffee King @ 66 Fountain St., about 2 blocks down from all the big downtown hotels.  George there makes really good NY System weiners, meatloaf, burgers, sandwiches, coffees, and a really fun guy.  Only 2 - 3 tables so it's small but a really fun place to hang out and the food is awesome.
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