Excellent | Worth a Detour
Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom
Casey’s is generally considered to be the oldest hot dog restaurant in Massachusetts, and one of the oldest diners of its kind anywhere. It was first a restaurant in 1890 when the diner operated out of a horse drawn wagon. In 1922, the Caseys upgraded to their current digs, a rig built by the Worcester Lunch Car Company. It is currently the oldest remaining diner from that manufacturer, the forger of many iconic New England dining cars. For these qualities Casey’s is on the National Register of Historic Places. Aside from those feats, it might be the last place in the world still advertising Sanka decaf coffee on the menu.
The diner is still in the Casey family. There are only eight seats. Behind the counter is a virtual antique show: a tiny griddle, an ornate silver coffee urn, the old copper steamer that houses split top buns, and the tin bath in which franks float.
Frankfurters are the things to eat. Almost everyone sitting in the diner or walking up to the little take-out window orders them. They are snappy natural casing dogs from the Old Neighborhood company. Buns and condiments are all standard. It isn’t the ingredients or any specific aspect of the squirt-bottle preparation that makes these hot dogs great. Nor do they look like much: a lifeless dull beige from long simmering. But still, they’re good: snappy, plump and, if you order them “all-around,” pretty tangy. “All-around” means yellow mustard, sweet relish, and a handful of minced onions.
Burgers are more culinarily evolved, cooked to order on the griddle. We made the mistake of order ours with peppers, which adds the jarred ones used on sausage and pepper heroes at street fairs. Watery peppers removed, the burger is tasty, if ultimately anonymous. It doesn’t have the unique pedigree of the wonderful hot dogs.
We got pie, because the atmosphere insisted that we stayed for something more. It is ordinary store bought stuff, but it bought us more time in historic car, so it was worth it. Unfortunately, the coffee here tastes like coffee must have before the war.
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||No|