914 Eats! Walter’s Hot Dogs in Mamaroneck

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If you’re reading a food blog it’s probably safe to assume that, like me, you believe that food is more than something we mindlessly stuff in our mouths as fuel. Food is memories. The taste of Italian Ices, licked from a wooden spoon during a hot childhood summer day, the aroma of your grandmother’s meatballs lovingly simmering for hours, the texture of the first bite of your wedding cake, these experiences create clear markers in our lives. Because of this, the origin of one’s favorite food is often as important as the food itself. If your favorite food is pizza, it wouldn’t just be any pizza. It would be the pizza that was most familiar, most a part of one’s life. This too makes sense as, in the words of a famous psychiatrist, “We begin by coveting what we see every day.” Hence, to return to pizza, if you grew up in Brooklyn it might be Sicilian from Spumoni Gardens, if you grew up in New Haven, CT, it might be white clam pizza from Frank Pepe. Obviously, choices may vary by region. A Rochester, NY native might crave a Garbage Plate from Nick Tahou’s, and a Buffalonian might choose wings from Duff’s over the more famous Anchor Bar.

Westchester is fortunate to have its own share of talented food purveyors as well as a distinct regional flair. In this column I will endeavor to find the most memorable dishes that are unique to Westchester county, the dishes that have made a lasting impression on our minds and palates. The difficult part for me would be deciding upon which local favorites to choose. Some may indeed be simple foods like the aforementioned pizza, others may well be extravagant dishes dreamed up in the minds of our talented Westchester chefs. Of course, memories and tastes being unique to every individual I expect there could be different choices, disagreements and suggestions from any food lover in the county. For that reason I encourage, indeed I implore you, our faithful readers to suggest your favorite 914 Eats!

914 Eats, Chapter 1: Walter’s Hot Dogs, Mamaroneck, NY.

Photos by Brandee Dallow

If the idea of purchasing a hot dog (or four) from a roadside pagoda seems incongruous to you then you are definitely not from Westchester. After all, Walter’s has been churning hot dogs out of its copper roofed pagoda since 1928 (and selling hot dogs since 1919). During the summer months intimidatingly long lines stretch well down the block as fans wait to place their order at the window.

As you draw closer you are met with the smell of the dogs, sizzling on the grill. At this point, the most patient of people can begin to get a little testy as stomachs inevitably begin rumbling. Walter’s is not the most orthodox of hot dogs. They’re served split and grilled in “special sauce”. I tend to love the snap of the casing yielding when I bite into a hot dog, but I make an exception for these. There is another secret weapon at play as well, Walter’s mustard. Made from an original recipe it is, in a word, spectacular.

You overhear two basic conversations as you stand in line. The first is along the lines of, “How many are you getting? I don’t know, I was going to get four but I really shouldn’t, maybe I’ll just get three. How many are you getting? Four? Okay, I’ll get four too.” The second is how you’re getting them and this is where things can get heated. I get both Ketchup and mustard, considered blasphemy by some. However, I find the vinegary pop of the mustard and the sweetness of the ketchup combine with the buttery hot dog and toasted roll to create a near perfect food. So easy to eat are these gems that your first is usually gone before you even realize it. This is why I’ve never seen anyone order a single hot dog at Walter’s.

A trip to Walter’s isn’t complete without an order of curly fries.

Salty, crispy and piping hot, they are a perfect accompaniment. However, this too has led to arguments when discussing classic 914 Eats. Is it choosing one food or choosing one place?! Since I’m writing this rather than debating it I will declare myself the final arbiter: it’s one food. So if you’re going on any sketchy ocean voyages or three hour boat tours, you’d better get your fill of curly fries now. And while you’re at it, wash the whole thing down with an egg cream.

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17 Comments

  1. Walter’s is great – but I only discovered them as an adult. If you lived in the White Plains/Armonk/Mount Pleasant area, you got your dogs (and burgers, etc. ) from the Little Spot in North White Plains. Best chili dogs in the area! Great onion rings and fries too. You should check it out.

  2. Thank you Lynn! That is exactly the type of reader feedback I was looking for. If The Little Spot (or is it just Little Spot) winds up in a future edition of 914 Eats you can expect a shout out.

  3. Corinne Tomassetti on

    I’m from Harrison originally and moved to Colorado back in the 1970’s. On a visiting trip to NY in 1995, my father insisted we go to Walter’s as he was born and raised in Mamaroneck and sincerely missed these hot dogs. My then 13 year old son would never eat a hot dog after convincing himself that they made him sick, when in fact, he had the flu. My Dad proceeded to order his normal 4. I watched my son salivate as he watched Grandpa devour one, then two, and as he was about to attack #3, my son stopped him and said “Can I try it?”. Within seconds, we were back at the stand ordering 2 more for my son. I’m sure it’s something he’ll never forget. I still try to replicate them here (unsuccessfully), 1800 miles away just to being me back to that little stand in Mamaroneck. Thanks for the article and a bit of nostalgia.

  4. Thank you for that wonderful story! My exact ruminations of food being memories played out in real life. They now sell their incredible mustard which might make replicating them a drop easier. If they won’t ship to Colorado let me know and I’ll send you some!

  5. walters is decent. its overrated because there 100 yrs old and its something for high school kids to do. walters are no different than what you grill at home. lets keep it real here.

  6. After hearing about Walter’s for years and always meaning to get there, I recently found myself driving by on the way to an appointment that I would be early for so I took the chance to stop. I got two w/ mustard. I wanted onions but they don’t serve them. I got fries too. First, I’m not a fan of the split hot dog because it denies you that satisfying snap when you bite through the skin. Second the flavor and texture of the ‘meat’ was not great. A little mushy and kind of tasted like bologna. I’ll take my 2 year old son there when he’s old enough to ‘get it’ but only because its an historical local food destination…and I secretly hope he doesn’t love them. Ahh well, the hot dog though quite humble is a highly subjective preference.

  7. I will always remember Walter’s, which I pass every day on the way to work, as the last place I ate a meal that wasn’t gluten free :(. I was diagnosed Celiac an hour later..

  8. As I mentioned, I usually enjoy the snap as well. I forgive Walter’s the split and the mushiness you mentioned as, to me, a perfect junk food practically liquifies as you eat it. As if after you take a bite someone hit puree on a blender. The Whopper is a good example. You barely need teeth after that initial bite. But, I understand your objections. That’s why this subject so often leads to discussion/debate/heated arguments.

  9. @Mike

    The beauty of the English language, especially in America, is that it evolves over time. As new waves of immigrants come to our shores seeking freedom and opportunity they bring along their native tongues, and Americans are quick to incorporate those tongues into our vernacular and even create entirely new expressions based on them.

    From reading your comment I’m assuming that Mike is recently arrived on our shores from the small Eastern European nation of Noideahowtowriteistan. Welcome to America, Mike, and good luck learning to speak our language.

  10. I grew up eating and loving Walters hot dogs. I now live in Massachusetts and when I get back to Westchester, I plan my trip around Walters. When I go, I call all my out of town relatives to rub in the fact that I am at Walters. It’s pure jealously. I have been at Walters when bridal parties have stopped on their way to their ceremony – one quick dog or two before the “I do’s”. My last trip to Walters, two days before Christmas I ran into two groups of Walters “virgins”. I can’t stop myself from breaking in when I hear the questions wondering what to order. Minimum of two dogs if you are not hungry and you have to have the mustard! 914 Eats! you started with the best, it’s all downhill from here.

  11. Walters dogs haven’t deviated from absolute perfection in the 40 years I’ve been going, but back in the day they didn’t serve curly fries. They were straight, narrow and delicious. Come on, keep it real Walters!

  12. Sioux-per-man on

    CARP – WOW!!! This site knocks Walters out of the Park.

    Can’t wait to see what it does for your site :)

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    Don’t forget Crockpot’s (slow cookers) are a great way to save money;
    My Crockpot (slow cooker) black beans are the easiest to make, taste great and are super inexpensive and healthy.
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    several hours of cooking time to complete.

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