Mrs. Waffle did some research before our road trip vacation in New York State. And once I convinced her that Cooperstown was a must stop, she insisted that dinner happened at Dimaggio’s Cooperstown Hot Grill.
So first we visited the Baseball Hall of Fame. And then we set out for Dimaggio’s.
“The best food in town. Cooperstown, that is.” says their website.
DiMaggio’s is owned and run by the DiMaggio family, (yes, cousin to Joe) and is located on Route 28, directly across from the Cooperstown Dreams Park - bringing them hungry customers by the busload.
DiMaggio’s is obviously targeting families. Leaving aside their ice cream section, with their sundaes selection (banana split, chocolate chip cookie, strawberry shortcake and hot fudge brownie), their menu offers many options: New York Strip Steaks, Baby Back Ribs and all kinds of specialty salads, sandwiches and burgers.
Apparently, DiMaggio’s Eggplant Parmesan and Rice Ball are the talk of the town – but I was in town, and nobody mentioned it. Go figure.
But we were there for something else – we were there for Hot Dogs. Nothing goes with baseball better than Hot Dogs, and the Hall of Fame visit built up our appetites. And since Dimaggio’s logo is a hot dog, we had high expectations.
We studied the menu posted outside, right by the take-out window.
Dimaggio’s Hot Dogs come in 6 all-beef variations: The New York (red onion sauce and spicy mustard), the Chicago (yellow mustard, sweet relish, tomato, chopped onions, dill pickle, sport pepper and celery salt), the Texas (chili, chopped onions, American cheese), the Boston (spicy mustard, baked beans, sauerkraut and bacon), the Southerner (chili and coleslaw), nd the Cooperstown (cheddar, apple relish, sauerkraut and bacon). They also have two Bratwurst options, one with sauerkraut and mustard and the other one à la Cooperstown. You could also get a plain dog. But why would you?
When I said we had built our appetites, I wasn’t kidding. My plan was to sample two dogs, Mel was to go for one. But suddenly, Mel decided that she needed a little more and also went for an American classic: the Cheese Fries.
I was not going to argue. We walked in. You are hit immediately by the bright colours, the smell of french fries and the sound of a pre-teen baseball teams having a blast. I went to the counter to order, no line-ups.
A medium order of Cheese Fries ($5.25), one New York ($3.45), one Cooperstown ($3.75), one Texas ($3.95), and a pop – with free refills, which is always great! The staff told me I could go and pick a table, and they would bring our order out. Awesome.
We decided to sit outside – to enjoy some fresh air and a quieter environment. Across Route 38 the bright lights of Cooperstown Dream Parks were shining. Lots of kids having lots of fun dreaming about a not so distant future where, maybe, they could become baseball superstars. Just like kids like Bryce Harper, Matt Garza and David Price before them.
Lost in my dreams of my future Major League career, I was awoken by the arrival of our food. Mel was about to get up to get a refill, but the friendly staffer told her to enjoy the food – he would be right back with it. I’ve got to give them kudos for service, it was great, much better than one might expect in this kind of joint – and certainly putting fast food chains to shame.
The medium basket of cheesy fries was huge. I was so glad I had resisted the temptation to go for the bigger size. There was a good scoop of a gooey-cheese like substance, but the fries weren’t swimming in cheese sauce. Therefore, the fries were not mushy and were holding up firmly. Of course, the cheesy goo was very salty, but kind of addictive. I guess that’s the idea, isn’t it?
But we were not distracted by the sideshow.
We soon dug into the line-up.
Now, this is truly a one-of-a-kind hot dog. The apple relish is not overly sweet, it is totally different and refreshing. The rest of the toppings bring you back to more traditional dog flavours, acting as a bridge between the New York Cheddar, which of course goes well with apple, and the tangy sauerkraut, which mellows with the relish. The bacon came in big extras-crispy chunks, they couldn’t go wrong there.
The New York:
A truly delicious hot dog – if you like onions. First, they slowly caramelized red onions and finish it with some vinegar, to create their red onion sauce. They put spicy mustard on the hot dog and top it off with loads and loads of red onions. This one has bite: the spicy mustard has a good kick, the tangy sauce has a good punch, and everything is balanced by the sweetness of the onions.
The Texas is a classic chili dog. Melted American cheese is first layered down, and it is topped by a very healthy portion of meat chili. The chili has a deep, beefy flavour, with a hint of rendered tomatoes and subtle spices. Big, hearty red kidney beans gives the chili a more authentic Texas flavour. Finally, some chopped raw onions add some sharpness, although the onions are quite mild and didn’t take over everything.
The all-beef franks they are using were delicious, and they had a great snap to them. The buns were fresh, and lo and behold, they held together nicely even though they were under heavy attack from some heavy, moisty toppings. Bold flavours, quality products, great dogs. Add we got all that for less than 20 bucks!
If you go to Cooperstown, your experience will be complete with a stop at Dimaggio’s. But be aware that it is not open beyond the summer, so plan your trip accordingly!
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