May 24, 2012

Relish This: Blackie's Hot Dog Stand - Cheshire, Conn.

Oh. So. Good.
Perhaps it's the refreshingly rare birch beer fountain soda. Or the bold, distinctive spice of their famous homemade hot pepper relish. Or those familiar red countertops and the wonderful lack of pretense.

Whatever it is, my summer days are never complete without a visit to Blackie's Hot Dog Stand in Cheshire, Conn.

This fine establishment has been serving up simple, yet consistently fabulous burgers and dogs for 84 years now. So let's just say that they know what they're doing.

Today's Stefcations Highlights:
  • What You'll Find: Old-school hot dog and hamburger stand that has stood the test of time.
  • Where You'll Find it: 2200 Waterbury Road, Cheshire, Conn.
  • When to Go: Every day throughout the year, except Friday. Open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. from January through March and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. April through December.
  • What It'll Cost: A couple of bucks apiece. Cash only!

Blackie's serves as something of a generational landmark for my family. Not only have my brother and I been coming here since we were kids, but my father spent his childhood chowing down here, too.

I picture him as a teenager, standing at the very same counter with his friends back in the day, ogling hot rods in the parking lot. With Dad having passed away before either my brother or I had reached our own teenage years, returning to his former hangout has long had special meaning. Meanwhile, my grandparents, now both in their 80s, are still quick to request their favorite meal - a hot dog topped with Blackie's relish - whenever we tell them we're on our way for a visit.

So with the warm weather having finally arrived, I recently took a ride out with friends (one of them a Blackie's newbie) to get my fix.

Blackie's never disappoints.
Ordering food at Blackie's is simple: Step up to the counter and choose between hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and/or hot dogs. (I believe the hot dogs are a beef-and-pork variety made by Hummel, if you're curious about that sort of thing.)

There are no fries to be had; that's just how it's always been. However, you can opt a personal-size bag of potato chips.

Condiments are self-serve. There's ketchup and mustard, but if you're up for some serious heat, scoop yourself some of the hot pepper relish. It's got a satisfying zing and is seriously delicious, particularly when paired with a hot dog. Personally, I always eat my Blackie's hamburgers plain, and my Blackie's hot dogs with a good helping of the hot stuff.

If you find yourself as obsessed with the relish as most of Blackie's loyal fans, you can also purchase a jar to go. We have some on hand in our fridge at home, which is always handy for cookouts.
Hot dogs are serious business.

And to drink: Milkshakes, cartons of chocolate milk, and the usual fountain sodas - save for one rather unusual choice: birch beer. Sorta similar to root beer, except clear in color, it's what I choose every time, and it always hits the spot.

In all the times that I've been there, I can't say that Blackie's has ever let me down. The video games and jukebox that my brother and I used to love to play as kids might not be around longer, but beyond that, virtually nothing else has changed. And I think Dad would have appreciated that.