A Hamburger Today

Newburgh, NY: Old School Chili Dogs From Pete's

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[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

With my in-laws safely dropped off at the outlets in Woodbury on Black Friday, Hambone and I had the whole afternoon stretched ahead of us like an open road. Obviously the only course of action that made sense was to punch "Hot Dogs" into the on-board, high-tech, annoyingly cheerful-but-a-great-listener navigation computer in the Serious Eats Edge on loan from Ford and see where Cassandra (as I call her) wanted to take me.

We headed to Pete's Hot Dogs in Newburgh, about as old school a hot doggery as you can find in this country.

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Though Hawk has previously reported that Pete's has been around since 1932 serving Texas-Wiener style dogs (amongst other options), I think their lineage (wienerage?) is actually more closely tied to Michigan Hot Dogs, which use steamed wieners and buns instead of the fried dogs you find in a Texas-style (which, for the record, have nothing to do with Texas).

Michigan hot dogs originated further upstate in Plattsburgh in the 1920's and were named after the style of chili sauce served on Coney Island hot dogs in Jackson, Michigan. That's right, the dogs in New York are named after Michigan, while the dogs in Michigan are named after a neighborhood in New York City. Confusing, right?

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Hot Bean Chili on a dog

I'd argue that as far as flavor goes, the hot bean chili that Pete's serves on top of its great snappy steamed Boar's Head all-beef natural-casing franks (the natural casing winner of our beef frank tasting) is a very close relative of the traditional Michigan sauce, except that finely chopped canned beans are used in place of ground beef (whether for flavor or financial reasons). Close your eyes, and the two sauces could be blood brothers. The sauce is especially tasty with a spoonful or two of chopped onions.

It's not too often you see a Michigan-tasting sauce served atop an all beef New York-style hot dog, but it's a great combination nonetheless.

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Texas Chili on a dog

Closer to a Texas wiener is their Texas chili, done in typical Greek-style with plenty of cinnamon and warm spices. Any fans of Cincinnati chili will dig this one.

Given that they were serving New York-style beef franks, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try one with sauerkraut and was not disappointed. Their kraut is served hot and plentiful with good spicy brown mustard.

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Prices have gone up a bit from the 5¢ originally charged for the dogs but at under $2/dog, they're still a steal.

My wife ended up finding me an awesome Le Creuset lasagna baker at 40% off, which makes two great deals in one day. Not bad for Black Friday.

Pete's Hot Dogs

293 South William Street, Newburgh, NY 12550 (map)
845-561-0211

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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