Flo’s Hot Dogs (Guest Post by Kelley Kipperman)
Guest post and all photos by the lovely Kelley Kipperman
I wish I could say that I grew up on Flo’s hot dogs, but I really didn’t. The first time I ever visited that tiny room (basically a shack with a few coolers, pots of boiling water, and a few wooden stools near a small narrow counter) was when I was in high school, I believe. Living on the New Hampshire seacoast, one would think differently, but I didn’t even know that Flo’s existed until my dad suggested that we try it one day. He’d never been there either, but had heard great things. Flo’s steamed hot dogs are sort of a secretive hidden gem on Route 1 in Cape Reddick, Maine.
Literally a 12 x 6 foot room in a small red, wood paneled building on the side of the road with a modest sign out front, it’s so easy to pass by Flo’s without even noticing it. I’d apparently done so for much of my life, as my family would drive up Route 1 from New Hampshire through Kittery, York, and Ogunquit, to vacation on the beach during the summer. Now I don’t only notice it when I pass by it, I actually don’t pass by it. It’s a necessity for me to stop in.
As simple as simple can get, Flo’s has a teeny tiny menu – teeny and tiny, but unbelievably effective. It consists of three things: hot
dogs, small bags of Lays potato chips, and cans of soda (including Maine’s own Moxie, my personal favorite). The menu has two options for hot dogs on it: “The House Special” and “The Loaded”. “The Special” is what I most often get, and would recommend for first time Flo’s-goers. Once you hear the ingredients you might cringe, but I urge you to order it and prove your initial reaction wrong.
“The Special” is a steamed dog on an old school supermarket bun, and has Flo’s own famous relish (which is a dark brown, onion-based relish, as opposed to the bright green pickle-based relish that we’re used to), some mayonnaise, and a sprinkle of celery salt on top. The richness of the mayonnaise is used basically to turn Flo’s relish into an aioli, and makes it taste sweet and savory at the same time. It’s hands down the most delicious hot dog I’ve ever had.
The “Loaded” dog is a steamed hot dog, again on that doughy, densebun, with Flo’s relish, regular green relish, chopped onions, yellow mustard, and celery salt. This dog is equally yummy, and perhaps a tip of the hat to the classic Chicago dogs. This combination of condiments makes Flo’s relish have a little bit of a bite to it, and is also unbelievably delicious.
Ordering at Flo’s is a little bit tricky, because it’s one of those places that has the art of churning people through its small room as
quickly as possible down to a science. As soon as you step through the old rickety screen door, you better know how many hot dogs not only you want but your entire party wants collectively, how you want them, and what kind of chips and soda (if any) you’d like with them. I wasn’t around back then, but I’ve heard it’s been that way since Flo’s opened in 1959.
The restaurant is open for only 3 hours a day (noon to 3pm), 6 days a week (Wednesdays off), and sometimes less if they get so busy that they run out of hot dog buns before the third hour is up. And boy, are people bumming when that happens.
The dogs are $2.50 a piece, and well worth it. I treated Marguerite (for her second time to Flo’s) to lunch and for both of us to get 3
hot dogs, 2 bags of chips, and 2 cans of soda collectively it was about $12.50. I think I’d pay much more than that.
Overall, I’d highly recommend Flo’s for anyone traveling anywhere near the Maine or New Hampshire seacoast. Actually, I’d highly recommend it to anyone anywhere. Of course, every Flo’s experience is made better by going there and getting to eat your meal at one of the sunny outdoor picnic tables (there is no indoor seating option, really) with someone or several people who mean a lot to you. You can certainly enjoy good food by yourself, but enjoying good food in great company always makes a meal that much better.
Thank you to Marguerite for asking me to contribute to her blog. She’s one of those people who makes every meal that much better.
Flo’s Hot Dogs: http://floshotdogs.com/
1359 W. City Ave. Cape Neddick, ME