Camping near Lake Placid a few weeks ago, I found myself deep in serious hot dog country. Almost every town and intersection along the two-lane highways that wind through the Adirondacks seems to have a roadside cart selling hot dogs, tacos or gyros with a table and a few plastic chairs set up. The grocery stores are filled with natural casing Sabrett, Mackenzie, and Hoffman franks, and even top-split New England style buns in a few places.
Another surprise is that Michigan hot dogs—a variation born in Plattsburgh, 50 miles north of Lake Placid—are everywhere, from gas stations to local diners and even the snack bar at the Olympic bobsled track (for $70 you can go down half a mile of the track in a bobsled on wheels).
Woody's is a trailer set up in a parking lot directly across from the Olympic Center in the center of town. Michigans—made with homemade sauce piled onto natural casing Nathan's or neon red Glazier franks—are just the beginning. There's also Karl Ehmer Brats and a "sausage of the day" that could be anything from buffalo chicken to duck sausage with foie gras.
The standard dogs are kept warm on a 7-Eleven-style roller, but you can order them grilled if you're willing to wait a few minutes. I tried the sausage of the day (wild boar that day) which came on a decent sesame roll. I'd like to go back on a day when she has something more exotic. What really rocked my world was the Michigan. The homemade sauce was just spicy enough and the perfect consistency—not so wet that it spills all over your hands, and not so dry that it looks like a pile of ground beef.
The self-serve toppings— different variations on relish, NY-style red onion sauce —are all made from scratch. There's also nacho cheese and kraut available. Mustard choices include yellow, whole grain, and horseradish for the brats. Or try Woody's burger made with local, grass-fed beef for less than $5, on a white or whole-wheat bun.
Woody's is also home to might what be the world's first and only veggie Michigan hot dog. The vegetarian sauce has the same ingredients as the traditional Michigan sauce (but with fake meat replacing ground beef) piled on top of a jumbo Lightlife brand Smart Dog. The sauce was actually pretty good. Veggie hot dogs tend to be pretty awful, especially texture-wise, but my vegetarian friends were happy to have something to eat other than french fries.
As it turns out, the owner herself is a vegetarian. I have to give her kudos for making some great meat sauce and carrying all sorts of exotic game meats despite her lack of eating it. She's also somewhat of a local celebrity after appearing as a contestant on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire earlier this year.
Woody's is a great place to stop for a quick bite in the area, although I'm fairly certain they are only open in the warmer months, so no reindeer brats after a few runs on the Olympic Ski jump. It's really a great concept, serving traditional dogs as well as gourmet and veggie options, in a comfortable, no-frills setting.
Woody's Brats & Hots
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/.
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