I was introduced to Brooks' BBQ and chicken spiedies during my summers in Cooperstown, spoiled by bagels and pizza in NYC, and was no stranger to deep-fried pizza rolls from my college days in Potsdam. As I migrated to Albany, disco fries appeared on my radar and although melted shredded cheese/cheese whiz will never compare to the poutine curds of my childhood, the gravy fries and cheese concoction has grown on me. Even mozzarella sticks taste better with raspberry sauce. Albany has its share of unique regional favorites too and it was only up until recently that I went out of my way to try mini hot dogs.
We've passed Gus's Hot Dogs on numerous occasions but finally made an effort to stop by this iconic Capital Region institution. A weathered sign points to a little unassuming red shack. There's a line but it's fast-moving; it must be good if it's been around since 1954 right? We weren't exactly greeted by the friendliest counter service, but it had a soup nazi chef kind of charm. Surprisingly, there's more than just mini hot dogs so J and I threw in an order for a Greek burger (patty with meat sauce) along with a six pack of wieners with the works: smear of yellow mustard, meat sauce, and diced onions. Food here is cheap! At $0.65 per dog and $1.50 for a Greek burger, it's certainly a steal. The burger patty is thin but had a nice char, was seasoned well, and for the price it's something we would choose over McDonald's. The mini dogs came locally from Helmbold's and for its size had really good flavor and snap. If only red hots came in a mini version.
It's obviously all about the meat sauce here. It's comparable in texture to the North Country's michigan meat sauce, both a finely ground beef mix, but here the sauce is heavily spiced. I found the sauce to be a bit too bitter but J didn't mind. The experience of eating this regional food at a beloved landmark overshadowed some inconsistencies. It was just fun to take part in the Capital Region's food culture. Time to tackle the rest of the Tour de Mini Hot Dogs. Which is your favorite mini hot dog joint?