Hot dogs are one of those foods that really define a person, I think. People either think they are disgusting tubes of processed meat, or they love them with a nigh-religious fervor. Personally I, like all right-thinking people, fall into the latter camp.
I mean, what’s not to love? Sure, they’re not the healthiest dinner choice in the world, but what sausage is?
Here in Boston we are fortunate to have some world-renowned hot dogs. There are Fenway Franks, of course, and Spike’s Junkyard Dogs (yeah, they originated in Rhode Island, but we lay claim to more locations now.) These are good dogs, to be sure. Fenway Franks have the weight of history behind them, and Spike’s has a variety of toppings to test your hot dog imagination. But for my money, only one venue can claim the spot of top dog, and that’s Boston Speed Dog.
It sure as heck isn’t due to the atmosphere. Boston Speed Dog is a hot dog cart in Newmarket Square, literally sitting in the center of a parking lot for several meatpacking companies, fishmongers, and fruit wholesalers. The walk across this parking lot if you visit by T, as I did one day this summer with my intrepid co-workers, is nothing short of harrowing – giant trucks barreling in and out of the lot, giant drivers honking and leering aggressively out their windows. However, the slog is worth it, because these hot dogs are amazing.
To start with, they are huge, 8 inches and a half pound each. This is good, because you’ve traveled a long way for them.
Add to that the magical process whereby they are cooked – simmered in apple cider and brown sugar, then grilled. These puppies are sweet, salty, and savory all at once, and they have a terrific snappy skin.
Mustard, a house-made, cranberry-based relish, BBQ sauce, onions, and chili sauce – it sounds and looks like a big mess but it is so, so good.
All of that sweetness is balanced out by the spices and smoky taste of the dog and the tang of the onions. I can’t see getting it any way other than fully loaded.
There’s only one tiny table to sit at, but we cheerfully shared with two young men, one of whom was an enthusiastic proponent of the Speed Dog. He seemed to have been coming there since he was a wee tyke, since he knew current owner, Gregg Gale, and seemed to remember the original Ezra “Speed” Anderson. He’d clearly been several times over the summer, and expounded on his theory that you needed to embrace the messy nature of the dog. He chuckled wryly and said, “It’s not a great date place.” I disagreed, pointing out that you could learn a lot about a potential paramour if they were willing to sit in a meat-packing plant parking lot, eating the messiest hot dog known to man. That said, I’d save it for a fifth or sixth date – and bring lots and lots of napkins.
Special thanks to Karleigh Rose for the pictures on this post!