How does a place become an institution?
In the case of Taffy’s, the photo above the door inside the teeny building says it all – a lonely hot dog stand, circa 1940s, sits amid open fields.
Celebrating its 65th anniversary, Taffy’s is still owned by Nellie Eliah (age 96). Her son Rich runs Taffy’s, which was named for his dad. (And no, they don’t serve candy.)
Taffy’s survived suburban sprawl and continues to serve one of Western New York’s summertime favorites – charbroiled dogs.
Get in line, order and find a space amid the cool, canopied wooden swing seats to wait for your name to be called. (Have no fear: A long line moves quickly.)
The delicious Sahlen’s red hots (regular $2.30, footlong $3.49) come with your choice of condiments, including Taffy’s own tangy and hot sauce and “imported” pickles from Illinois (An inside joke on the takeout menu’s “Ode to Condiments,” written by a former employee). New this season is the Quadzilla ($8.99 with fries), a giant one-pound stacked burger hybrid.
For those not playing “Man vs. Food,” burgers are available as regular ($2.59), cheeseburger ($2.75), quarter-pound ($3.99) and “Super” half-pound. ($5.25). All come with lovely green leaf lettuce and tomato, if requested.
My turkey burger ($5.25) was delightfully juicy and came on a Costanzo’s roll, as did my dad’s thick-cut bologna and onions ($4.25). Wheat rolls are available for health sticklers, but why bother when the fresh-cut fries and milkshakes are part of the mix?
Straight ($2.39), curly ($2.29) or sweet ($2.29) fries are cut everyday (family size $3.79, cajun $2.29). But one potato choice is never enough. We added a cup of buttery potato spuds ($2.59) with sour cream (Dig to the bottom for all the melted goodness).
For seafood lovers, a healthy basket ($7.89) comes with lightly battered shrimp, scallops, fish and fries. It was pretty darn tasty and would be a great “sub in” for a Friday night fish fry.
Other foodstuffs include Italian sausage ($4.49, link or patty), grilled chicken breast ($5.25), fried fish sandwich ($5.25) and a BLT ($3.75). Hoagies/subs (chicken finger or Parm, steak, chicken or steak Greek, and clam roll) are $5.25. A veggie dog is $1.99 and veggie burger is $5.25.
Fried sides include cauliflower ($3.99), clams ($3.39) and onion rings ($3.25). Bummed that they were out of mushrooms ($3.39), we went for zucchini ($3.39). Crunchy spears served with ranch dressing served well in their place.
There’s even cool stuff for the pooch: Puppy cups ($1.75) come with vanilla ice cream and a biscuit.
And what about those milkshakes? Made with real milk and cream, you’ll go batty trying to pick one. There are more than 100 varieties ($4.49, add $1 for extra thick) – from “Fruit Moo’s and “Chocolate Moo’s” to “Silly Moo’s” and “Coffee Moo’s.” In the end we went with a fruit sparkler, a “lighter version” that’s not made with milk. Called a Sunrise (strawberry and orange sherbet), we sipped the cool and creamy concoction listening to oldies and watching the sun set on a beautiful summer day.
Taffy’s Red Hots
Where: 3261 Orchard Park Road (corner of Southwestern Boulevard; 675-0264)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily (seasonally)
Extras: Cash only. Outdoor seating. Limited indoor seating. Parking in rear. Enter at the light on Orchard Park Road