Past Weeks' Dogs
All along Route-87 in New York from the Hudson Valley to the Canadian border, almost every town has a hot dog place or two. Many of them have been around since the 1930s or 40s and still serve dogs in the Texas Weiner-style. Pete's has been going since 1932, weathering the storm of a changing town, a changing ownership, and the closing of the meat packing plant that made Newburgh's signature Temple Hill brand "snappy" dogs. But Pete's has remained unique.
They use natural casing Boar's Head dogs and offer more options than the standard "Texas-style" Greek hot dog joint, for example, there are two different chili-type sauces.
The chili is actually a spicy "bean sauce," deep reddish-brown; a loose sauce with no whole beans, but I'd guess it also contains finely ground meat and a tomato product (delicious with the dog). Pete's Texas sauce is a thicker, milder Greek-style meat sauce that's equally good.
With a nod towards New York City, toppings such as sauerkraut and red onion sauce are available, as well as add-ons such as bacon bits and shredded cheese. Newburgh is actually a small city, about 70 miles north of New York City, right on the Hudson River, which flourished in the first half of the century but since then, has been hit with waves of decline. It's one of the poorest areas in New York state, but it's also full of historical landmarks. A surreal place to say the least.
The small town architecture has been preserved for the most part, although many of the storefronts are abandoned or have new lives as smut shops and dollar stores. Pete's is right across the street from a boarded-up diner.
The atmosphere inside Pete's definitely reflected the town outside. Walls were lined with historical photos and crazy hot dog art. The place was empty except for us. Our dogs were served quickly and efficiently, but the dining room was eerily silent and still—you could hear a pin drop, actually.
Maybe the 9 a.m. part had something to do with it. Or maybe this town is just really strange. David Lynch would be in heaven.
The dogs were delicious and Newburgh looks like it might be home to some more hidden culinary gems. Among the crumbling storefronts we spotted a few pizzerias and Italian bakeries (that look as old as Pete's). Some grocery stores and taco trucks have sprouted up, courtesy of the recent surge in the local Mexican population.
Somehow I think cultural tension might be a barrier to my dream of walking into one of these 80-year-old hot dog joints and seeing the Latin American line cooks cranking out bacon-wrapped natural casing dogs on a steamed bun topped with Greek sauce, roasted jalapeños, and pico de gallo, alongside the Texas Weiners and chocolate milk. Give it five years.
Pete's Hot Dog Stand
293 South William Street (corner of Route-9W) Newburgh, NY 12550 (map)
Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.