Chestnut Ridge Road heading south out of Orchard Park eventually turns into Herman Hill Road, where at the bottom of the hill sits George’s Hot Dogs.
Established in 1967, George’s is like many favorite local hot dog joints; while the fare is the usual, the total experience is what makes it special.
In George’s case, the shady, parklike setting – complete with picnic tables and playground for rambunctious kids – makes it the perfect summer gathering place. (For fun, count how many times parents tell their tykes, “You have to eat first.”)
The line is often out the door, literally. But have no fear, the system works like a clock.
Containers (for shakes, fries, etc.) are conveniently displayed so you can gauge your stomach’s capacity. Order, pay, watch your slip whir down the funky zip line and keep moving. Eventually, you’ll catch up.
Of course, the stars of the show – hot dogs ($2.80 reg./$3.85 footlong), hamburgers ($2.35/$2.60 with cheese) and the like – are charbroiled, as they should be.
Condiments – ketchup, mustard, pickles, onion, hot sauce, relish – are help yourself. You can’t go wrong with anything from the hot dog family.
The “Big George” ($4.35), “Double Big George” ($5.50) and “Bacon Big George with Cheese” ($5.25) burgers are served on a toasted Costanzo roll with one “extra” like lettuce and tomato, mayo, peppers and onions or cheese. Additional extras are 65 cents or two for a buck. A Garden Burger runs $5.60, a Turkey Burger is $5.85.
Tired of eating from the “linked” food group, I went for the Italian Sausage Patty ($4.80) and was pleasantly surprised. The nice, big juicy patty came topped with stringy, melted mozzarella and grilled peppers (red and green) and onions on a toasted Costanzo. It oozed all over the place and was delicious.
A friend’s Chicken Sandwich ($6) was a tender, marinated grilled breast served on a Costanzo, with tomato, shredded iceburg lettuce and just the right amount of mayo. A Grilled Chicken Club ($6.95), Deep Fried Chicken Sandwich ($4.60) and a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich ($4.60) make up the rest of this department.
Significant Other’s Chicken El Grande Burrito ($6.35) was tasty, with chunks of spicy chicken and the requisite shredded iceburg and tomato.
Straight and curly fries ($2.75 small/$3.75 large) are fresh-cut and delicious, as they are cooked to order. Equally addicting are the sweet potato fries ($3.35) with their puffy crisp exteriors. Onion rings ($3.25) were a little disappointing; we think they were the frozen variety. Not bad, just mundane.
Traditional milkshakes (one size, $4.10) are nice and thick, and come in limited flavors, but who really orders anything but chocolate or vanilla anyway?
For those suffering “hot dog fatigue,” George’s has other options, including Chicken Souvlaki ($8.50), Garden Souvlaki ($4.35) and Greek Salad ($5.25), made with iceburg/romaine mix. Other Mexican selections include a Beef El Grande Burrito ($4.45), Beef/Bean/Cheese Burrito ($4.45), Garden Burrito ($3.60) and Taco Salads (veggie $5.35, beef $6.95, chicken $8.45). A Fried Bologna runs $4.60; Grilled Cheese $1.75. Kids Fingers (two) come with a drink, applesauce or Go-Gurt for $4.45.
There is one secret, free item on the menu: freeze pops. Youngsters who behave on the playground can come and ask for one. Parents take note: The kids are asked if they were indeed, good. A little gem to keep in mind.
And while George’s isn’t in business to break any culinary barriers, it excels in feeding busy summertime diners, including those headed out for another whirl down the corkscrew slide.
George’s Hot Dogs
Where: 5808 Herman Hill Road, North Boston (648-0320)
Hours: Open daily, seasonally, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Extras: Cash only. Indoor/outdoor seating. Clean bathrooms. Diaper changing station.