In Search of Chili Dogs, Part One

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Hi everyone, Katherine Curry again, guest-blogging today about chili dogs instead of ice cream.

There’s a hot dog underneath there, really there is.

When Liz gave me the okay to embark upon my ice cream project for Small Bites (thanks, Liz!), I realized I couldn’t possibly make what could be multiple ice cream stops in one day and do each place justice.  Ice cream fatigue was bound to set in.

So, how to round out a trip to a new ice cream place, and make the often long drive worth it?  (Another consideration: I needed to avoid being so famished that I’d eat four bowls of ice cream and slip into a butterfat coma.)  Fitting in a light, quick meal beforehand would do the trick, and why not make it a place I could blog about as well?

And, sigh, thus was borne the hot dog/chili dog project.  If anyone from Alka Seltzer or Lipitor is reading this—would you like to sponsor this endeavor? The goal is to seek out the best hot dogs & chili dogs in the area, so be sure to leave your suggestions in the comment box!

The other day, I set out to visit three Westchester dog spots with Roadfood author Michael Stern, an expert on both hot dogs and ice cream.  We stopped first in Tarrytown, at Lubins-n-Links, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it small place on Main Street.  The sign out front at least clues you in.  Liz visited last winter and made a fun video about it (scroll down to the second picture to get to the video).

And what’s on the menu at Lubins? Phew, what’s not on the menu?

Fortunately, we visited on the early side of lunch, before the shop gets busy.  Lubins-n-Links is so small that, when it’s filled with people, it’s kind of like being in an elevator that happens to serve great food.

The Links, a.k.a. hot dogs,  come with an array of toppings so multitudinous it takes a newcomer many minutes to take it all in.  Regular toppings available at no extra charge include the mainstays: ketchup, four kinds of mustard, relish, plus mayo, diced onions, horseradish sauce, and more.  Trust me, there’s more.  Specialty toppings, for a quarter each, include sauerkraut, sweet onions, a NY style red onion sauce, homemade chili, cheese sauce, and more.  Lots more.

We ordered a dog (Lubins uses Sabretts) topped with the chili and cheese and raw red onion.

Soft potato roll, plump dog, a meaty chili with a very gentle heat — and a bargain at $2.75.  But, as Michael Stern pointed out in his own review of Lubins,  the chili is so mild that the addition of cheese tempers the chili’s heat too much.  I think next time if I want cheese, I’ll try the “Piggy Dog,” which is just crumbled bacon and cheese.  How could that be anything other than delicious?

We tried another link with just the special Jubee’s onion sauce, which the board says was “handed down from Grandma,” and is a mixture of “onions and shallots in a spicy, tangy sauce.” Really spicy, in fact, and sweetly complex with a tingly heat. Lubins incorporates the sauce into a plethora of specialty links (the “Regulation Link” has chili, cheese and Jubee onions), but to fully appreciate the flavors of this relish, sample it solo the first time you go.

The nice folks behind the counter gave us a little sample of the Lubins, which is buttery soft, flavorful slow-cooked beef chuck, kind of like pot roast of the gods.

A non-hot dog note: When I visited Lubins solo last fall, I was unaware of what a Lubins was versus a Link, and ordered a Lubins by mistake. When my order came up, I was crestfallen, but the intoxicating smell of the meat told me to forget about the mix-up and eat.  Delicious and luscious — although the meat is so soft I’d prefer a crustier bun for contrast (maybe just a potato roll toasted up would do).

If you go, bear in mind that there are no seats inside this tiny storefront — there’s a small window counter where two diners can stand to eat their dogs, plus a little bench out front, and then, out back, a courtyard with tables.

Have you been to Lubins?  What’s your favorite combo?

More on chili dogs soon — next up: Port Chester.  Leave your chili dog joint recommendations in the comments box, please!

The 411 on Lubins-n-Links.

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6 Comments

  1. Katherine, I’m a huge fan of Lou’s, a hotdog truck in Pelham across from the Target & Bed Bath & Beyond. After being in LA for 12 years and getting to enjoy the legendary Pink’s Chili Dogs, it was such a let down coming back to NY and having so many subpar chili dogs. After stumbling across Lou’s one day I’ve found what I was looking for. Best chili dog I’ve found in NY so far. Give it a try, it won’t dissapoint.

  2. Katherine Curry on

    Thanks for the tip, Anthony– I will definitely check out Lou’s! Wonder if it’s any relation to Lou’s Texas Chili, which used to be in White Plains.

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