Heid’s has been around over 100 years and as long as any living human can remember, hot dogs have been its claim to fame. For a while there were branches of the original, but today only this one remains: a fast-food dog house with some tables inside and picnic tables outdoors under a tent.
The menu is totally wienercentric. Hofman brand franks (since 1879) made of beef, pork and veal in Syracuse are quickly grilled, a process you can watch after placing your order. They are handsome sausages with a delicate casing and plump, muscular insides. In the old days the one and only available condiment was mustard. But since John and Randall Parker started running Heid’s back in 1995, the topping choices have expanded to include chili, onions and ketchup.
The beverage list is a short one, including milk shakes, sodas, beer and chocolate milk.
Heid’s has been a Syracuse institution since 1917, and the Heid’s history goes back as far as 1886. The Texas Hot (coney) with chili sauce, mustard, and chopped onions is a specialty of the house. They get a nice crust from the flat top grill; the only thing missing for me is a “snap.” They’re made from pork and veal, according to the griddle man; I think I’m more of a beef hot dog fan. But the combination of chili, mustard, and onions is magical! The chili has a lingering heat and I love it. No beans here, just spicy meat. The Freihofer’s roll, a local favorite, is soft, yet holds up well to the dog and toppings.
They say they make their own baked beans. These do taste homemade; they’re slightly sweet and just soft enough, and they pair well with the Texas Hot. To wash it all down is another local favorite, Byrne Dairy chocolate milk.
A couple of interesting notes: Heid’s didn’t offer ketchup until November of 1991. They had been selling Hofmann hot dogs exclusively since they opened in 1917, but there was a rift between the two companies for about four years starting in 1993, and Heid’s stopped selling Hofmann brand products altogether. Thankfully that rift was mended and their long time fans have once again been enjoying the taste they and their parents (and their parents’ parents) grew up on.
I really like and respect that they make their own mustard, chili sauce, and baked beans, and that they stick with local products such as Freihofer’s, Byrne Dairy, and Hofmanns. Heid’s opened up a number of franchises locally for a few years in the mid-1990s, but today only the original remains and it truly is a classic gem.