There are currently two tastes in this world which I do not like. Aside from wine and olives, however, pretty much anything is fair game for entering into my belly.
I am told that it wasn’t always this way. Before the days in which I’d boil my own chicken livers and grill up Bison testicles, I eschewed the flavor compounds of All-American staples like peanut butter and jelly, American cheese, and even hotdogs.
Actually, I’m told that I detested hot dogs, which is probably why my earliest memories of Ted’s revolved around grilled chicken sandwiches. In any case, the Western New York institution is famous for its Sahlen’s Hot Dogs, which come in three varieties my family has always raved about (Regular, All Beef, or Jumbo Footlong.) Cooked over an open charcoal flame right in front of you, all of Ted’s sausage offerings develop a blistered, smoky char with a signature taste and crisp snap. The signature Buffalo hot dog is matched only in reputation by the local chain’s hand cut fries and onion rings. And milkshakes. And burgers. And Chicken sandwiches.
Ok, so they do everything good.
I know I must have tried Ted’s hot dogs at some point in my childhood, but my only distinctive memory came from an experience two summers ago when my dad and I checked in. I got an All-Beef dog at the time, and while I liked it, I remember concluding it tasted “like a hot dog,” and chalked up the experience as just a nice lunch with my dad. All this, I should add, after building up the Ted’s experience as the end-all, be-all of meat-in-tubular-form experiences a human being can experience in life. Talk about a letdown.
I don’t know what it is about Ted’s, but there’s a lure in my mind and spirit that attracts me to the chain every time I’m in the area. Maybe it’s the repressed sense of not carrying about nutrition, or maybe its memories of childhood experiences that drive me, but for whatever reason, I concluded that I truly had to eat at Ted’s while on a recent trip to Buffalo. Thankfully, I had two hungry cousins of college-age to take help make that urge become a reality.
My cousins Michael and Nick went with a footlong dogs and fries (I made them promise to share) and I got a regular dog. After watching my dog grill up by a surely man who said it “would not be cool” if I took a picture of him grilling my dog after I asked (he allowed me to take a picture of the hot dog, however) I was asked about what kind of condiments I wanted. The girl was patient enough while walking me through the toppings, and I finally decided on ketchup, mustard, diced onions, a pickle, and Ted’s signature hot sauce.
Total price: $2.30 plus tax. Slightly more than a Sonic hot dog, and (I hoped) totally worth it.
Not only was it totally worth it, it was, quite simply, probably the best tasting meat-in-tubular form experience I’ve ever had. Granted, there haven’t been a lot, but somehow, the recent trip to Ted’s seemed to capture everything I had ever looked to the chain for, but never experienced on prior visits.
Its starts with that casing, which has a deep charcoal taste and blistering snap, yielding to a salty-fatty-chewy interior. The hot sauce has a great flavor that’s far from just ’hot,’ while the bun’s malty and soft sweetness do a nice job at providing a mesh point for all the flavors. The fries are a winner as well. Oh who am I kidding, these might just be my favorite fries on the planet. Oh who am I kidding (again) they were DAMN PERFECT. Skin-on, crispy, with a fluffy interior and almost no noticeable surface oil, they’re the kind of fries that should be eaten plain, with only a slow chew to allow the sugars to breakdown and an earthy sweetness to develop on your tongue.
Buffalo is one of the town’s with a lot of iconic foods. Wings and Beef on Weck get all the attention, but any true Buffalonian will tell you the town also has some of the best hot dogs in the country, all thanks to Ted’s and their winning combination of charcoal grilling and Sahlen’s franks. Should you ever find yourself passing through for a Bills game, you’ve got one local chain you’ve just got to hit up.