There is a place called Gus’s Hot Dogs.
And it is a place of legends.
It’s a fairly unassuming spot, and, if you drove past it and looked at the condition of the building, you might think it’s not even open. The line of people usually standing at the window would indicate that this place is indeed open and that they’re doing something great, something brilliant, so to speak.
What they make is as simple and humble a street food as you’re going to find. In line with what the other local hot dog shacks and diners do, they put griddle-warmed mini hot dogs, mustard, chopped raw onion, a house-made meat sauce on a lightly steamed bun. Each dog is $0.65.
It kind of sounds like what you’d call a chili dog, but what makes this different is that the meat sauce is thinner than a bona fide chili.
The size of each hot dog is practically three to four bites. The place is set up for volume, so they’re not exactly measuring and meticulously placing the toppings, but, magically, each bite carries the essence of the experience. The bun starts to soak in the spices of the meat sauce, and, with each bite, the snap of the dog and the bits of onion serve as the textural counterpoint to the soft bun. All of the toppings come together to bring a wide range of flavors. The spices from the meat sauce meld with the yellow mustard.
Gus’s Hot Dogs is located at 212 25th Street in Watervliet, NY, just seconds off of NY Route 787.