Remember when I mentioned how much I love hot dogs? Well, I took the ultimate test to prove that love by embarking on the Worcester Hot Dog Safari. We tried and ranked six different hot dog locations in the span of four hours. The struggle was real, but the safari was a great time. Read on to see my experience, rankings, and the winner of the safari!
We started off the day at Ralph's Diner in downtown Worcester where we grabbed our score cards and some merch. I got this great pin to add to my growing collection. All proceeds from the event went towards support for local food banks, which is a great cause!
We started our safari at the renowned winner of 2017's safari; Sully's Dog Shack. Famous for their 'Passion Dog' (which has pineapple on it!) and chili dog, we got off to a pretty good start. Sully's has so much character and care for not only the hot dogs but also their customers. It's no wonder they were the winners last year.
Our next stop: Grumpy's Dogs. This hot dog truck had great design and unique flavor options on its side. We decided to keep things simple and stick to each establishment's most popular dogs, so we went with their sauerkraut dog with spicy brown mustard - and it did not disappoint.
After that we ran down to Marty's Pub on Canterbury Street. They had your basic, run-of-the-mill offerings in terms of toppings, but all that said it was a pretty good hot dog. It's a casual spot to catch the game, have a beer and a dog; but if you're looking for more exciting options Marty's isn't for you.
Next was The Dogfather. I may be biased as I've been to this truck before, but they have the best chili dogs. The addition of mustard and parmesan cheese makes for the perfect combination. I'd love to make another trip back to try their other Godfather related flavors! The Dogfather ranked the highest on my list.
At this point we were in the home stretch, and definitely feeling it. We headed over to Lakeway Hotdogs in the old Spag's location. I used to work right down the street and had always wondered about their hot dogs - I'm so glad we got to try them as they were great and the owners were so friendly! They stayed open a little after hours for us to serve us their last few dogs. We ordered their BBQ dog with onions, and although the presentation doesn't look very promising, it was a great hot dog. Their BBQ sauce was tasty, and they even had their own homemade hot sauce (which I didn't try, but heard was very good.)
For the final leg of our safari we headed back to Ralph's to submit our score cards and hang out for the live band and winner announcement. We mustered (no pun intended) everything we had left to get in this one last hot dog: a chili cheese dog - and it was a great one to finish off with. Ralph's is a awesome space with a ton of character packed into it.
That concluded our hot dog safari. After much debate, here is my final score card and rankings:
1. The Dogfather - 34 pts.
2. Grumpy's Dogs - 33 pts.
3. Sully's Dog Shack - 32 pts.
4. Ralph's Diner - 29 pts.
5. Lakeway Hotdogs - 29 pts.
6. Marty's Pub - 26 pts.
Factors in the ranking were toppings, dog, bun, presentation, and value. For me, dogs that warranted a higher ranking were grilled and had toasted buns. I also used overall atmosphere and experience as my own factors as it definitely added to my opinion.
(Side note - if I could have it my way, Coney Island would be part of the safari and be my number one choice. It's a Worcester institution. But to keep the competition fair, they have been removed from the list as they were winning almost every year.)
The official 2018 Hot Dog Safari winner was Sully's for a repeat win! It was such a fun day, and I look forward to the next one. Although I'll probably be taking a hiatus from hot dogs for the time being...