As I said in our review of Lockport’s Reid’s, our goal this summer is to finally cross several hot dog stands off our restaurant wishlist. Last weekend Alli and I decided to drive down to Hamburg to finally check out Red Top, another hot dog stand that we’ve heard several people rave about. As we visit more of these neighborhood hot dog stands, Alli and I are starting to doubt how special a hot dog stand can really be. We aren’t visiting these restaurant with years of childhood memories or any nostalgia; when we visit a restaurant like Red Top or Reid’s, we are really just experiencing the atmosphere and food with a clean slate.
The restaurant is 67 years old and there haven’t been a lot of updates. There is no dining room, just a covered outdoor dining area with a couple picnic tables and their cash register definitely shows some age. They only take cash and their menu is hand written on a dry erase board and nothing on the menu costs more then $5.15. We arrived on a rainy Saturday afternoon, and aside from being a little chilly from the wind, the outdoor dining was dry and clean (ish).
- Restaurant Type: Hot Dog Stand
- Cuisine: Hot Dogs/Hamburgers
- Location: Hamburg
- Prices: Everything is under $5
Alli and I weren’t extremely hungry, but I had been craving a cheeseburger since seeing a picture of the new farmhouse burger at Carmelo’s the day before. For only $17, we ordered fries, some onion rings with cheese, a double cheeseburger, a hot dog with cheese, a small drink and a large chocolate milkshake. Alli’s family had told us their fries were a little different and they were right. They are more like fresh cut chips rather than a traditional fry. They were pretty unique, fried just right to a nice crunch on the outside but thick enough to have some actual potato flavor and texture inside. The onion rings were OK but tasted like every other onion ring that comes in a frozen bag. The cheese sauce came right from a pump but tasted better than I was expecting.
We read online that they use Wardynski’s hot dogs. It was a pretty standard char-grilled dog, not much more to say about it than that. I thought my double cheeseburger was actually pretty great. The burgers themselves were juicy and had a nice char on the outside. I wasn’t a huge fan of the do-it-yourself toppings bar, it was pretty messy and I was super nervous about bugs getting in the ketchup. The milkshake was pretty bad and basically tasted like chocolate milk with a hint of ice cream. From talking to other people who eat at Red Top, the quality of the milkshake definitely depends on who’s making them.
All-in-all our trip was not that memorable. The food ranged from bad (milkshake) to great (hamburger) and I could maybe see myself stopping back if I was in the area and wanted a quick and cheap bite. I definitely can understand why people enjoy Red Top; this hot dog stand has some character and I’m sure people in the area who grew up eating there look forward to it opening for the summer (similar to how other southtowners do for Taffy’s in Orchard Park). Is it worth a trip? Maybe not, I think near-by George’s and Ted’s serve food that’s better and for around the same price. But if you are near the lake in the southtowns and don’t feel like driving to Orchard Park or Angola (BTW, Connors is our next hot dog stand to visit), then I guess it wouldn’t kill you to give it a try.