I learned good food from my mom. Fresh, gourmet, homemade. I learned junk food from my dad. Chewy white bread, soda pop, processed cheese. Somehow both worlds combined and here I am: a lover of the gourmet, a fan of Velveeta.
Dad had been saying lately how he wanted to find a good hot dog. So I proposed that we take a tour of Portland, trying different hot dogs and comparing them. He reluctantly agreed, not happy that I was going to take his picture and blog about him. But I convinced him.
My dad is kind of a tough guy. He likes to hike a lot. And really when I say hike a lot, I mean crazy hike. Mostly with my brother. The two of them hiked the Appalachian Trail about 10 years ago, from Georgia to Maine, hiking like 25 miles a day, and in the first half, my dad unknowingly had Lyme Disease while they were trekking.
That’s a story for another day, but anyway, he’s a tough guy, who in recent years has gotten all health-foody. He’s not above a day of gluttony every once in a while, though, as long as it doesn’t make him sick. I was a little worried that the Hot Dog Extravaganza was going to make BOTH of us sick, but we went for it, throwing caution to the wind in our risky venture. (At least we weren’t trying ALL the hot dog places!)
We started out at Zach’s Shack. I got the Chicago Style, with a pickle, tomatoes and peppers. Dad got New York Style, with chili, cheese and onions. The dogs here do snap, just as they say. And the flavors of the pickle + tomatoes + peppers were fresh and spicy. Dad liked his, too and immediately said he was up for another one. Good thing. Because next we headed to Nick’s Coney Island.
At Nick’s Coney Island, there was really only one choice. The Coney. The waitress said it would be like nothing I’ve ever had before. Like chili, without beans. “Just the con carne,” she said. “But way better.” Okay, bring it on. My dad had fries with his and I had chips.
The coney sauce was meaty, but like the meat had been cooked so long in the sauce that it WAS the sauce. It was a little spicy and very thick. The hot dog wasn’t as good as Zach’s Shack (it didn’t snap), but I think the sauce was better than Zach’s.
We were so full after the Coney dogs. But we’d said that we were going to go to three places, so we kept trekking and headed to SuperDog. (I get my endurance from my dad.) (That was a joke. I hate hiking. But I will endure a hot dog tour of the city with no problem.) My dad wanted to try a different kind of sausage, so we ended up getting just one, to go: a chicken sausage with grilled onions.
We took it back to my parents’ house and opened it. Just the sight of it made us want to gag, just because we were so full! So I feel like I can’t really give a good review of how it compared because well, we couldn’t eat it. My mom ate part of it and my sister, and they seemed to like it okay.
Maybe it should have been a three week tour of Portland Hot Dogs, with one place each Saturday, but it was fun and neither of us actually got sick, so that’s a plus. I got to hang out with my pops and that’s really what I wanted, more than any hot dog.
Happy Fathers Day!
(P.S. I unofficially declared Zach’s Shack the winner, but both Zach’s and Nick’s were very good and when I want a chili dog, I’ll go to Nick’s. Anything else, Zach’s.)