Enrico and I were at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday, the first day game in Philly of the year—even if it didn't actually count. The scents and sites had us on sensory overload, and the smell of fresh cooked hot dogs was the most pungent, and we soon found out why. The stand that was selling the hot dogs for the Citizens Bank Park signature hot dog contest was directly below us.
After the starters had made their exits, we decided to venture down and sample the hot dogs to see what all the fuss was about. There was a decent line, but nothing too ridiculous. We decided to order the sampler, which included one of each selection, and split each one. The cost of this platter was $15; individually, the dogs ran $5.75.Here's what we thought of the offerings, followed by today's news on which hot dog won the popular vote.
Summer Hot Dog: An all-beef dog, topped with cucumbers, pickled onion salsa and ancho pepper sauce on a pretzel Roll. Enrico: To be fair, I think this was the most hastily put together of the three dogs we sampled. The pickled onion salsa was barely visible and I'm not even entirely sure there was any ancho pepper sauce on it. The pretzel roll clearly dominated this dog and not in a good way. I'd rather have eaten a standard fare ball park dog and followed it up with a Philly soft pretzel. Carbs are your friend. Also, if I wanted to eat cucumbers, I'd buy a salad.
Matt: Summer Dog was alright, but the pretzel roll didn’t do it for me. This one could have benefited from the mustard that was on the Olde Philadelphia. The cucumbers were thinly sliced and crispy fresh, and that was the highlight. Otherwise, a little bland here. I’m pretty sure something was missing on it.
South Philly Hot Dog: An all-beef dog, topped with broccoli rabe, spicy roasted peppers and sharp provolone on a crusty Italian roll. Enrico: Not a bad dog that tasted a bit familiar. That's because it is. It's basically a roast pork Italiano from Tony Luke's with a frank substituted in for the meat. This was my second favorite, and I'd probably try it again, but to me it lost its essence as a hot dog. The provolone and broccoli rabe overwhelm the flavor of the dog. I think we may have been shafted a bit on the spicy roasted peppers. Definitely didn't taste those in there. Tasty, but not what I want out of a hot dog.
Matt: South Philly Dog was hands-down my favorite. Right down to the roll, it was delicious. The rabe and prov weren’t overpowering, probably a little mild if you’re used to eating them. This was a damn fine ballpark lunch item, especially if you are looking for a lighter meal (not in the good-for-you sense of the word though).
Olde Philadelphia Hot Dog: An all-beef dog, topped with Amish pepper hash, dill pickle and yellow mustard on a poppyseed roll. Enrico: Clearly my favorite of the three. It's not too gimmicky. While the provolone and broccoli rabe are tasty on the South Philly, it overwhelmed the meat. The Amish pepper hash, and dill pickle are a subtle complement that adds to the flavor and the yellow mustard is what a hot dog should be eaten with. Being able to taste the delicious hot dog makes you feel like you're still eating a hot dog. And what can I say, like my girl Snookie, I'm a sucker for a pickle.
Matt: The Olde Philly Dog was also very good, coming in second for me. The unsung hero on this was the mustard, really tied the room together. The roll was great, as was the pickle. It could have used more Amish Pepper Hash though. Every one of them would have benefited from more hot dog meat, maybe a dog and a half per sandwich. The bun-to-meat ratio wasn’t quite enough, and I suppose that can be disappointing in any context. For the two of us to really be full, it probably would have taken eating the entire sampler individually rather than splitting it. That may say more about us than the hot dogs though.
AND THE WINNER IS...
The South Philly. The name alone probably got it a few votes given the location of the stadium, but we both agreed this was a pretty good hot dog. Michael Klein of the Inquirer reports that the South Philly took 46% of the vote, with the Summer Dog coming in second at 32% and the Olde Philly keeping it respectable at 22%.
Did you have any of the dogs this past weekend? If so, what'd you think?
Will you try the new "signature" dog out on the next homestand, or stick with one of your old favorites?
In any case, we're pretty lucky to have concessions be such a high priority at our stadium. Where else can you get so many great food and beverage options at a sporting event?