I hadn’t heard about Chris’ Hot Dogs until we got to Montgomery. I was telling someone about the glorious pulley bone at Martin’s, when they asked “Have you been to Chris’?” A quick search found out that they were a Montgomery institution that I’d never heard of – open since 1917.
The next afternoon for lunch, we headed downtwon. Reading the roadside marker out front, I found that Christopher Anastasio Katekis opened on May 1, 1917. And his family has been churning out chili dogs, from this location for 101 years. They provided curb service well into the 1960s. We walked in during the lunch rush, while Alabama was playing in the second round of the NCAA tournament. You can guess where all of the televisions were tuned. We took a seat at the long counter that backs up to the glass block wall that creates the dining room.
The menu was not terribly complicated – burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, chicken salad and chili. With the focus on combos of dogs and burgers. They were busy, and to say that the service at the corner was “spotty” would have been overly generous. The young man who was, theoretically, our waiter (and is one of Chris’ grandsons) kept walking by without making eye contact. We eventuallyreceived our fries long before we heard them call the order for our burger and dogs.
The fries were hot, but were nothing else to write home about. Frozen food service crinkle fries. Without any special seasoning or double frying. or anything. But the chili dogs were the stars – and we awaited their arrival. My beloved had a chili burger and chili dog.
I had a chili dog and a chili cheese dog. This is the chili cheese dog – the cheese is a slice of American cheese laid in the bottom of the bun before the boiled dog is added.
I’ve eaten a lot of great chili dogs. This wasn’t one of them – the chili was thin. runny and without much flavor. The hot dog wasn’t anything special either. And, according to my wife, the chili on the burger didn’t add much. At least it was historic…