Heid’s of Liverpool: A Guru Review

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The nice weather’s back so I figured it was a perfect opportunity for an affordable, outdoor dinner at the iconic Liverpool hot dog joint Heid’s. For the most part, a hot dog is a hot dog but I still wanted to get a review up for you. You can’t go to Heid’s expecting more than a couple dogs, fries and maybe a birch beer (my favorite) but sometimes it just hits the spot. It’s a no frills, American dining experience that is always quite enjoyable–even though this was my first visit in about a year (thanks Foursquare).

I’m sure I don’t need to provide any history for 95% of you, but just in case… Originally a Liverpool meat market, Heid’s has been around in various forms since 1886. In 1917 it became the drive-in it resembles today and remains arguably the first of it’s kind–anywhere. While the original meat market’s dog has since been replaced with locally-made Hofmann’s, the recipe differs in some (secret) ways. Personally I’ve never quite understood the hype surrounding Hofmann’s dogs even though many love them. I sorta think that they are the Syracuse favorite by default–it’s not hard being the only show in town. Anyone who’s had a frankfurter from the Rochester-based Zweigle’s or Hartman’s Old World Sausage knows what I’m talking about. These thoughts aside, I was happy enough to order specialty dogs, cheese fries and a birch beer while enjoying the (probably toxic) breeze blowing from Onondaga Lake.

The menu at Heid’s is decidedly unadventurous–no Cinco de Mayo or foie gras dogs (sadly)–but still comprises everything you need at super affordable prices. Just $7 gets you two dogs, fries and a drink but you’ll also find Philly Cheese Steak, the kraut dog, Texas Hot, Italian sausage and a long list of sides–even fried pickles! It’s so affordable in fact that $7 is the most you’ll need to spend. Given that I was doing a review, it got a bit more expensive–and filling–this time (still only $10). While I love franks I simply can’t stomach coneys (contains veal) for some reason, just not my thing. In an attempt to get a good representation of the menu I ordered the Texas Hot, kraut dog and cheese fries. A Texas Hot–as I’m sure you already know–consists of a frank, onions, chili-like hot sauce and homemade brown mustard ($3.99). A kraut is much more than a derogatory Teutonic slur but also a delicious combination of frank, sauerkraut and that same delicious mustard ($3.39). Cheese fries are cheese fries.

I started with the kraut dog, which blends the meaty, salty taste with the earthy tartness of sauerkraut and mustard. I know many people hate sauerkraut but oddly enough I’ve grown fond of it. It lends some European tradition to an otherwise Americanized item. If you’ve ever enjoyed sauerkraut with fresh bratwurst, you know what I’m talking about. It’s just an old world flavor that can’t be beat. I’d really recommend the kraut dog if you have a penchant for old, fermented cabbage. The kraut dog isn’t anything particularly special but it has just the right amount of each simple ingredient, bringing out the flavor of the frank. A minimal and affordable item.

Next I got after my Texas Hot. I’m more familiar with the Texas Hot in Rochester, which features a much spicier frank–but Heid’s fairs pretty well in comparison. As I said, it came with a meaty hot sauce, fresh chopped onion and homemade brown mustard. It’s something for the heat lovers with the perfect amount of a surprisingly spicy sauce that compliments the sharp onion bite and strong, coarse mustard. Take a big bite and the ingredients blend together deliciously. It’s not overly salty or greasy even with the hot sauce and thankfully remains intact without soggy bun issues (gross). Like I said, I’m not a fan of Hofmann’s so this is usually my go-to. The beefy hot sauce really gives it that extra kick of flavor that Hofmann’s sausage simply lack. Highly recommended.

Another worthwhile option is the Mixed Double, which was famously featured (somewhat misleadingly) on Travel Channel’s popular Man v. Food. Basically you get a coney and a frank on the same bun. Top it with whatever you want and you’ve got quite the encased meat-based meal. You’ll also have a huge mess–albeit a delicious one. Might wanna grab a knife and fork for this one. Cheese fries are always pretty good at Heid’s, which feature a cheese sauce that tastes far less synthetic than you might think. They’re even good cold. I haven’t had the fried pickles but I think you should try them as well. Based on the delicious, refreshing pickles ($0.59) on the list of sides–they’ve gotta be good! The only other decision to make: chocolate milk or birch beer?

Somewhat tired Hofmann’s special recipe hot dogs elevated to greatness with a number of traditional and simple ingredients. Go enjoy an early dinner at Heid’s while it’s still sunny! I’m going with:

Heid’s of Liverpool
305 Oswego Street  Liverpool (Directions)
Now open year round
Sunday – Thursday: 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Disclaimer: All Guru Reviews reflect my OPINION based on a real experience at various Syracuse restaurants.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000435907726 Charlie Harper

    Haven’t been in Syracuse since 1991, but I remember eating at Heid’s since I was a little kid.  My favorites were one regular and one coney (white), and a chocolate milk.  I still have 2 of the little Byrne Dairy glass bottles with the foil caps… one chocolate and one white milk. 

  • Beth

    my favorite is the coney, I haven’t lived in Syracuse or Liverpool since 1986, but we stop there when we are in town. Also, excited Hoffman’s are going National!

  • Strict Gramma :)

    even tho that “brat” had her tantrum, eh? lol

  • http://twitter.com/penguinsonradio Joan Adams

    As the daughter of a butcher and a transplant to the area, I’m right there with you on not understanding the hype around Hofmann’s. They seem to use a high percentage of fat in their hot dogs and I don’t know what in their coneys. Eggs maybe? Something that doesn’t belong in any self-respecting weisswurst.

    That said, Heid’s seems like a nice enough place that I would probably go to often if they used better products.

  • scorereader

    How can you do an honest review when your premise is that you don’t like Hofmann’s hot dogs? Your affinity to Rochacha based hot dogs is a sign of where you’re from. The hype on Hofmann’s is not without merit, since the company is now shipping them around the country to grocery stores in mid-atlantic, southeast (including Florida) and Texas.
    Also, Hofmann’s may be the most popular in Syracuse, but it is not, by far, the only show in town. Leah and Steigerwald (sp?) comes to mind for instance.
    There’s a whole history of hot dogs,(german) meat markets, etc in Syracuse. Do your homework next time before making such a ridiculous comment!

    • SyracuseGuru

      First off I’m a born and raised Syracuse native with a degree from Syracuse University and a company named after my hometown. Second how is not liking something then giving it another shot then writing a positive review not honest? I don’t see any checks from Ballpark Franks sitting on my desk. As far as Liehs and Steigerwald, they do not have a hot dog restaurant like Heid’s. Honesty isn’t a concern, but giving people a look into my visit based on my experiences is about as honest as it gets. Notice how I’m the only one writing negative reviews in town.

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