Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bratwurst Festival Day

Here at dogsontheroad, we celebrate all kinds of hot dogs.

Well today, August 16th, is National Bratwurst Festival Day.

If you happen to be in or around Bucyrus, OH for the next few days, make plans to head to the 2012 Bratwurst Festival.

If you can't make it to Bucyrus today, well simply go out and get yourself some brats.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Essie's Original Hot Dog Shop

Pittsburgh, PA

The city of Pittsburgh is home to several schools and universities that share the cities quarters with sky scrappers, sports arenas and businesses.  One of the most popular eateries in the city is Essie's Original Hot Dog Shop or simply known as 'The Dirty O' to locals.   When you walk inside, you aknow you are getting genuine food that matches the blue collar style Pittsburghers enjoy.  I ended up with two dogs this day.  The first being just their own original hot dog, which is made out of all beef.  Though it was cooked on the grill, this dog did not have many frills.  A blue collar city giving you a true blue collar food- the hot dog.  The second, was called a Superdog which was wrapped in bacon and american cheese slices.  The bacon was also cooked up on the grill, next to the dogs so the flavors of the two melded nicely together.  At Essie's your mustard option is only brown mustard.  So if you don't like this option, take a hike.  There is a reason that this is one of the top hot dog restaurants in the USA, it is because people come over and over again.  It was packed.  The picture does not do the crowd justice as people were sitting at every table and others simply got their order to go.

Atmosphere- They have a lot of options for food and beverage here.  The above picture is of the hot dog counter and menu.  Directly in the back is the sub sandwich line and where you also get fresh cut fries.  Your beverage options could also include one of 400 beers that they serve!  I kid you not.  Though we did not have any beer, you could get a few of the beers on tap, but take a sixer out the door with you, or bust 'em open and drink it in the restaurant.  It is cramped greasy spoon-esque quarters, but that is what makes it a TRUE hot dog place.  B+

Value- Though the dogs were all beef, they cost just a tad more than the average hot dog prices at other places.  The Original Dog was $3.49 which is a fair price, but more or less just an average hot dog at that price.  The Superdog cost $4.94 and most of that mark up was for the bacon and cheese, although it was also a quarter pound dog.  The Superdog is priced just about right for being a $5 dog.  B-

Side Dish Jody says...I tried the Italian-o sub sandwich.  It was tasty, but nothing specific jumps out about it.  Ham, Italian meats, lettuce, onions and dressing on a hoagie roll.  However, I did order a medium fry for our table of three adults and three children for our table to split.  The suggested serving was for 2-3 people, and we couldn't finish the plate between the six of us...but they were delicious!  B-

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Johnny's Lunch

Cranberry Township, PA

Most hot dog joints are a labor of love from a lone entrepreneur.  Every once in a while though, one of these joints sprouts up in a new location to add a second restaurant.  True hot dog chains though are fairly rare but we happened to find one.  May I introduce you to Johnny's Lunch.  Currently (as of July 2012) located in six states, plus the Ukraine, Johnny's has been around since 1936.  Johnny Hots are the original dog which is a Sugardale hot dog topped with the original Johnny sauce which is meat based and topped with onions and mustard.  I tried one of these on the day and it was very good.  I also had a Big John Classic which is an angus beef 1/4 pound dog and topped with the same suace, mustard and onions as the Johnny Dog.  There truly is something that much better tasting from an angus beef dog versus an all beef hot dog.  Extra gold stars for the upgrade in meat!  I give hot dog places props for using family recipies or homemade sauces when someone could easily head to a bulk store and pour a chili sauce straight out of the can.  I also got a spicy buffalo dog which is a 1/4 pound angus dog topped with a blue cheese sauce, buffalo sauce, onions and American cheese.  The sauce was very runny and slid off the dog to easily.  Thicken that sauce up and let it stay on the dog and bun by covering it with the other toppings first.

Atmosphere: Set up as a mock 50's dinner, you can eat on swival counter seats, or in a booth.  If you order a kids meal, it comes in a cardboard carrying case that is a 50's classic car.  The marketing sense to give these to kids is great and they make a sturdy toy to bring home as well.  Though very few, if any, pieces of decoration were authentic 50's garb, the reproduction pieces still added a good touch.  B-

Value: We have had cheap dogs, and to expensive dogs.  Sometimes when we have been to places we get the special of the day, but at Johnny's, every day you can order a Johnny dog for less than a buck.  Yup, .99 cents will get you a Johnny dog.  Even the 1/4 pound dog options are around three bucks.  The company started off by wanting to feed people without breaking the bank, and years later that company philosophy still sticks.  A

Side Dish Jody says... I had a quarter pounder cheeseburger and split fries with the family.  It was a basic cheeseburger that tasted as if it had been pulled out of the steamer and required coleslaw on top of it to add flavor.  The french fries tasted delicious however, and there were many non hot dog options though none of them stood out as spectacular.  C+