Lately, I’ve heard a lot about Blackie’s Hot Dog Stand, a roadside dive that’s been open for 90 years and counting. Blackie’s came up in casual conversation twice; the founder of this site, Stephanie Webster, heard about it from a friend, then a friend of mine mentioned it. Shortly thereafter, Visit Connecticut posted a list of “8 Classic Summer Drive-Ins” with Blackie’s being one of the featured haunts. Well, now I had to check it out. That’s no coincidence, that’s a sign!
I like hot dogs, and I like legendary dives, so I didn’t mind the hour it took to get to Blackie’s. Once you pull off the highway and make your way to Waterbury Road, you can’t miss the place. It’s a throwback to a very different era, and its octagonal structures at each end make it that much more memorable. In fact, little has changed here since it first opened in 1928, except for a larger kitchen and added storage during a renovation that took place 11 years ago. Blackie’s owners, the Blackman and Flavin family, have preserved the building’s charm throughout its existence, keeping its old-fashioned look (and neon signage) intact, diner-style counter seating and all. There’s a whole section on Blackie’s website that details its backstory and history. Seriously, read it, it’s fascinating)
What you should also know about Blackie’s is ordering etiquette.
It goes something like this: “Two and a birch.” That translates to two hot dogs and a birch beer. (On draft, by the way, so old school!) Some regulars won’t say a word, they’ll just flash fingers for however many dogs they want.
Don’t worry, though, the folks at Blackie’s are super nice, so if you screw it up, it’s no biggie. But…it’ll make you look like an O.G., even if you’re not one, rookie. Oh, and don’t ask for fries, they don’t have ‘em, not now, not ever. Blackie’s answer to not having fries, even to this day, is simple, “Tradition.” They suggest ordering another dog in place of their non-existent fries. They do have UTZ Potato Chips, ice cream, milkshakes, and burgers. That’s pretty much it. Simple. Classic. Perfect.
As a newbie myself, I was told a common order is either three dogs and a birch, or two dogs, one cheeseburger (or just say “one cheese”), and a birch. I went with two, a cheese, and a birch, all for under $10.
The burgers, if you’re wondering, are solid. The fresh ground Angus beef gets a daily grind, and hits a hot griddle, producing a juicy, medium temp, no frills burger. You should absolutely get one if you’ve never been here.
Let’s get real, the hot dogs are the star here. Always have been, always will be. Each all-beef link is Blackie’s own recipe that are made by Martin Rosol’s Meats in New Britain. The dogs are kissed in hot oil, resulting in a snappy casing, and served on a lightly toasted fresh roll. Toppings? It’s DIY! But hand-in-hand with Blackie’s famous dogs is their cherished hot pepper relish. It’s pickle-less, tame upfront, and a pleasant spice on the back end that lingers just a bit. Load those dogs up with it, and don’t be afraid to spoon it all over your burger, too.
Two, a cheese, and a large birch, crushed in a matter of minutes. And on the way out, I purchased a jar of relish, because this way, when it runs out, I can do this all over again.
Blackie’s Hot Dog Stand
2200 Waterbury Road; Cheshire
(203) 699-1819; http://blackieshotdogs.com/
FYI: Blackie’s is closed on Fridays. Even though the Catholic Church says meat is OK on Fridays, Blackie’s kept the tradition.