A Connecticut Hot Dog Tour: Capitol Lunch
Last week we kicked off our month of Connecticut Hot Dogs with Blackie's, one of the finest examples of the state's unique "hot-relish" style, but this week we're moving on—to meat sauce. Capitol Lunch has been serving their signature, "secret recipe" Greek style meat sauce since 1929.
Capitol Lunch's famous sauce is extra thick. You can actually see the ground beef, unlike some places that cook, grind, and even puree the meat into oblivion. Cappy's sauce is also available to purchase by the pint to take home.
The dogs (they use Martin Rosol natural casing franks, made literally down the street) are grilled (but not charred) and quickly slipped onto a freshly steamed bun, slathered with mustard, heaping mounds of their famous sauce and piles of freshly diced white onions. There's no plain dog on the menu; they all come with mustard, sauce and onions for $1.65 a piece. French fries and onion rings are $1.30. The only other things on the menu are burgers, pie, and drinks.
Cappy Lunch, as it's known to locals, started as a shoe shine shop that sold hot dogs to get people in the door. They switched to an all-hot dog format in 1929 and moved a handful of times to accommodate more customers. Although the dogs and sauce, and even the prices, don't seem to have changed much in 80 years.
But this isn't a relic of a bygone era struggling to survive, championed by a few nostalgia buffs. Capitol Lunch sells 700 to 1,500 dogs a day, churned out with lightning speed by an assembly line of hot dog cooks. Seems to be a recurring theme with Connecticut: old-school, small town joints that might be near abandoned in other places, replaced by dollar menus and airport-sized strip malls, but are still going strong here. They're still as much a part of the community as they always were.
Stay tuned as Hot Dog of the Week features two more Connecticut hot dog stands in September. We'll have short video clips of each stand. Or just go ahead and order the documentary, a must for every hot dog lover and a steal at only $7.99. CToriginals is also offering a combo deal: an 11x14 giclee print of the Connecticut Hot Dog Tour artwork along with the DVD for only $29 plus shipping.
About the author: 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/.