Memorable | One of the Best
Al’s Hot Dog Stand | Hot Relish Rules Wieners in Connecticut
Review by: Michael Stern
Connecticut Wieners Want Relish
Al’s hot relish rules. It rates with the best of Connecticut, a wienercentric state distinguished by its abundance of excellent relish toppings.
Al’s: Roadside Attraction
Hop off Route 8 and you come across this personality-plus eat-shack that exemplifies sleeves-up Roadfood. It is one-of-a-kind, staffed for the last several decades by family who take what they do quite seriously but offer it up with humor and charm. When you dine here, you will not mistake the experience for a meal in a common junk-food franchise. The decor itself dazzles in a surreal sort of way. Where in heaven’s name did they get their tables and chairs? I would guess the furniture is inventory from a going-out-of-business computer school. Or maybe a deep-state bureaucrat’s office. Anyway, it’s strange, and kind of fun.
What to Eat and How to Dress It
The big menu offers fried seafood, lobster rolls, lovely bacon cheeseburgers, BLTs, and Philly steaks. I come for the the hot dog. It’s a foot-long frank that is a bit shriveled and lacks the snap of my favorites. But it delivers satisfying pork-and-beef flavor. They prepare its split-top bun in the classic Yankee fashion by grilling to gentle crispness on each side.
Place your order at the window (or, in cold weather, at the indoor counter). When the food is ready, they call you to come get it. Now, go to the condiment table. Here you find a couple of mustards, ketchup, onions, pickles, and three kinds of relish. As I said, at Al’s, as in so many of Connecticut’s hot dog emporia, hot relish rules. Complex, peppery, slightly fruity, it is a wiener’s best friend. You’ll also find sweet relish and Hawaiian hot relish. The last one balances formidable heat with a shot of sweet pineapple. The hot dogs are long enough that if you are a first-timer, you can put regular hot relish at one end and Hawaiian relish on the other and you will have multiple mouthfuls of both to compare and contrast.
French fries are crinkle-cuts and well worth ordering. Milk shakes are the real thing. Dine at picnic tables outdoors, in the car, or at one of those weird tables inside (see accompanying photo).
Directions & Hours
- Monday: Closed
- Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Thursday: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Friday: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Saturday: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Sunday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||No|