Helpful ReplyHot!A summer tour of Connecticut's roadside burger/hot dog stands

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Double Chili Cheeseburger
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Re: A summer tour of Connecticut's roadside burger/hot dog stands 2017/08/27 16:23:32 (permalink)
Blackie's, Rte. 70, Cheshire, est. 1928

The ongoing 84 construction, which currently brings traffic through Waterbury from either direction to an obstinate halt, has a way of liquidating my patience and keeping me from more southwestern destinations like Denmo's or the Bethel Hot Dog Palace.  That happened again today, when, due to having to go into the office for a few hours, I wasn't able to get on the road as soon as I would have liked, and my lunch was delayed past 1:00.  However, I'd never gotten around to having a burger at Blackie's, so I consoled myself with the fact that I would still be getting a new experience.

On previous visits, I hadn't noticed this sign over one of the doorways, advertising a now-departed brand of hot dogs:

I love, love, love the unique seating arrangement here.  Whereas most stands deliver your food through a window and then have you fend for yourself - or, if you're lucky, provide a handful of chairs and tables (and don't get me wrong, if you're after a particular type of experience, this is all integral!) - at Blackie's, you just stroll in and sit down immediately, with the summery outdoors right behind you.  

Blackie's remains the only place where I've seen condiments provided in this fashion; my perception is that it used to be more common.  Michael Hoffman once mentioned that Howard Johnson's used to keep their brown mustard in countertop jars with spoons.

Turns out their trademark relish works just as well with beefy burgers as it does with porky hot dogs... maybe even better.

Good - darned good.  Enough that I may have to get it every time.

Of course, I couldn't sidestep the hot dogs entirely.

Beautiful, isn't it?  Of course I loaded it up with toppings seconds later, but I wanted to show that glistening, beckoning, humble work of meatcraft.

This was easily the most inexpensive of all the stands that I'd been to this summer: a hot dog, cheeseburger, and bottle of water came to $7 even.  Also, the menu was the simplest: no coleslaw, mozzarella sticks, fried veggies, or jalapeno poppers here.  Potato chips are the one and only option for a side.  They reminded me of Louis' Lunch in their dedicated adherence to their original offerings - and perhaps they're even more impressive, as their prices have remained low and they don't really have a Louis' Lunch-sized reputation.  In a field where the appeal of many establishments comes from the illusion of "time standing still", Blackie's may, in some meaningful ways, come the closest to actually doing that.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
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Re: A summer tour of Connecticut's roadside burger/hot dog stands 2017/09/03 08:06:09 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby joerogo 2017/09/03 09:38:03
Denmo's, Main St. S off Rte. 6, Southbury, est. 1978

Summer and the eating-outdoors weather that comes with it are fading, but I figured I could squeeze in one more roadside experience.  I therefore pushed through the Waterbury-clog on 84 and finally headed to Denmo's.

A broad menu, similar to Harry's in Colchester.  Not shown is the seafood section, with clams and lobster roll.  Chicken had a large and tempting presence, but again, I stuck with my usual picks.  If you look closely, you can see differences in fonts - their original items use a font that was extremely popular in the '70s and '80s.

I never, ever get tired of this classic layout.  

A cheeseburger with fried onions, pickles, ketchup, and mustard, a foot-long with chili and fried onions, tomato orzo soup (one of three available, the others being clam chowders), and root beer.

The dog was excellent, a split and grilled Hummel on an appropriate bun; the chili was tasty and balanced, not as standout as Heibeck's but more than enough to work both as a topping and in its own cup; the onions were fried to just the right spot in between tender and firm.

The burger was indeed charbroiled as advertised, a nice break from the griddle-frying that I'd become used to.  Oddly, the fried onions were on the bottom.  Now, there's no written rule that you have to place them on the cheese... but man, they sure work better that way.

Addictive soup, a thick and creamy tomato orzo.  Now that I think about it, it would have been a great dipping substance for fries.

Special note to their spicy relish, which was so good that I actually emptied my first cup and went back for a second.

As you can see, Denmo's, like many of these places, is in the upper tier for price.  One thing stood out to me: $4.79 for the soup, and then a $0.25 surcharge... why? You'd think the chowders, which contained seafood, would be the premium ones.  Unless the surcharge applies to all of them.  I dunno.

And so, unless I somehow manage to get out to the Bethel Hot Dog Palace within the next twenty days, I close out my summer tour of Connecticut's roadside eateries.  With the exception of Clamp's, I only had one meal at each, but this was enough to start compiling a list of who does what best.  There's as much subtle variety to be found in this category of food as there is in pizza, grinders, or anything else that this state does fabulously.  The unavailability of Pilot House kept nagging at me, and it will be the very first place that I check in on when next summer arrives.

For anyone that doesn't have an entire season to cavort around stuffing burgers and hot dogs into their face-holes, I would say that the most substantively authentic/anachronistic experiences can be found at Clamp's, with its tiny, anonymous house-shack nestled in between a somewhat-remote highway and a wooded area, and at Blackie's, with its stubbornly simple menu and low prices. 
post edited by Ketteract - 2017/09/03 08:13:14
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Re: A summer tour of Connecticut's roadside burger/hot dog stands 2017/09/03 22:14:16 (permalink)
There are far worse ways that you could've spent your summer...
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