When discussing the best hot dogs in New England, you can expect Flo’s roadside stand to come up early and often. The Route 1 mainstay in Cape Neddick, Maine, is a longtime favorite of both locals and tourists, who flock to Flo’s each summer during the precious 4 hours it’s open (from 11 to 3 every day except Wednesday) to line up, load up, and chow down. Family-owned and operated since 1959, Flo’s recently earned another bout of national praise when it was named the best hot dog in the Northeast by Readers Digest, but for proof of popularity, you really only need to look at the long line snaking out the door on a summer Sunday.
At Flo’s, both the bun and the hot dog (the natural casing kind, of course) are steamed, and the “House Special” dog comes dressed with mayo, Flo’s signature zippy relish, and a shake of celery salt. As you might expect, it’s mostly the unique relish that set’s Flo’s apart from the rest. Dark brown in color, it’s chutney-like, and flavored with a sweet and spicy combination of onion and molasses.
At one time, Flo’s fans had to wait for visits to Cape Neddick to get their fix, but now, jars of the signature condiment are available at local stores, online through Flo’s Web site, or at the stand itself. We recently got our hands on a jar and had to try re-creating the famous “House” dog at home in New Hampshire.
The result? For simplicity’s sake we boiled the dogs rather than steaming them, and the buns (steaming over the boiling dogs) didn’t achieve the pillowy, warm softness you’ll get at Flo’s, but the mayo-relish-celery salt combination was spot on. A cold Moxie helped make it a more authentic Maine dish.
As with all regional foods, you’ll find both the loyal faithful and the “You call this the best?” skeptics that can’t imagine a hot dog without their favorite condiment or topping, but I think what it all boils down to (semi-hot dog pun intended) is that you tend to love what you grew up eating or looked forward to on vacation, and for many New Englanders and visitors to the Cape Neddick stretch of the southern Maine coast, that’s Flo’s.
Are you a fan of Flo’s Hot Dog Relish?