Walking through the garage style doors of Blackie’s in Cheshire, CT is like time warping into decades past. Patrons lounging at the counter have already ordered with confidence and are enjoying their hot dogs with iconic, secret recipe hot pepper relish.
As a newcomer to this restaurant and old-fashioned “hot dog stand,” it might serve you better to explain that it’s your first time. In terms of etiquette, it’s encouraged to say something like “I’ll have two—and a milkshake.” The number, of course, refers to the amount of hot dogs. However, some rebels and against-the-grainers might grab a burger to switch things up.
Hotdog lovers statewide swear by this restaurant that serves an authentic menu of dogs, burgers, chips, milkshakes, and soda that has not changed since 1928. Starting off in 1925 as a gas station, Mary and Art Blackman served hot dogs to hungry customers who quickly developed an affinity for the their unique and consistent style. Three years later, the Blackman’s were slinging more hot dogs than gas and decided to become the full-time dining facility and hang-out spot it was destined to be.
The octagon-shaped towers on the sides were later added to accommodate more people, and a 1945 fire prompted a renovation that resulted in the twin garage doors “which allowed a little more elbow room and cooling breezes in the evening.” It’s unique structure and candy-stripe look paired with the old-school fluorescent signage beckons from the quiet street. The wide doors invite diners to sit and order while overlooking the counter, registers, and open kitchen.
The Sights and Sounds of Blackie’s
While reading the unpretentious menu, placed high on black letter board, you’re sure to hear the click and fizz of the soda fountain echoing off the wood panel. Stay at the counter or head to a table in a small but comfortable side area surrounded by local awards, newspaper clippings, and little league sponsorship plaques. Red and white gingham curtains will make you nostalgic for a time that you probably never lived in as you enjoy a homemade milkshake or classic birch beer with your hot dog.
Minimalist Blackie’s is famous for their hot pepper relish (it’s also available by the jar for $6.50 a pop), they provide ketchup and their signature brown mustard—but that’s it. It certainly works, because some purists still want nothing between their mouth and a Blackie’s hot-oil dog. Like Alexa Blazas of Naugatuck, who forgoes the condiments and a drink so as not to interfere with the taste of the plain hot dog.
“I love the taste of a Blackie’s hot dog because of the meat, alone. My family loves the relish, but I prefer it plain to get the full effect.”
It’s no surprise that people love a plain Blackie’s dog—Blackie’s purchases all of their meat from the popular Polish meat wholesaler, Martin Rosol’s of New Britain. And Blackie’s hot dogs are born from a custom recipe. Alexa insists that this is both good and bad. “The only problem is you’ll eat a Blackie’s hot dog and find yourself immediately getting another.” She says an easy way to avoid this is to always get at least two right off the bat.
Interestingly, Blackie’s doesn’t serve french fries—and for no real reason. As their website puts it, “Blackie’s has never served fries, and for no real reason. Why not enjoy another dog?”
Blackie’s has been featured in best-of lists statewide and regionally, has appeared in documentaries, and remains an undeniable staple of its community. The Cheshire Herald has featured Blackie’s several times and the restaurant is a regular sponsor of recreation sports teams in town.
Hire Blackie’s Hot Dog Stand to cater your party, stop by for dinner with the family, or just swing in solo for a taste of some original “fast food.” Don’t worry, they’re not going anywhere. As they say on their website, they’ve been family owned and operated since the beginning, and they “plan on being around for at least another eighty years.”
Interested in Going?
Blackie’s is located at 2200 Waterbury Road in Cheshire. They are closed on Fridays all year long. From January to March, they are open from 11am to 7pm; from April to December they are open from 11am to 8pm. Parking and seating can be limited, especially around dinner time and on weekends, so if you’re planning on going with a large group you may want to plan for an “off” hour.
Want a great dog but don’t want to drive to Cheshire? Check out out list of the best hot dog joints in CT.