Name: Flo’s Steamed Hot Dogs
Location: Cape Neddick, ME
Meal: Steamed hot dogs and a Coke
Type: Hot Dog
Unbeknownst to me when I stumbled across this place in Spring 2007 but it turns out Flo’s is not only a New England tradition but has consistently been named one of the top ten hot dogs in the country for YEARS. What luck. I was on a business trip that left me with my days completely free so I took a day to drive up Route 1. My target was a lobster roll but I drove by this place going north and decided I would stop in on my way back that afternoon. What I’ve come to find out is that my experience was not at all typical. I parked right next to the building, walked in and took my pick of counter stools since I was the only one in there. Flo’s granddaughter was working that day, I believe Gail (the owner, Flo unfortunately passed away a few years ago) was on vacation, but I had a chance to talk to her a bit. I wouldn’t say they are naive about their fame but they definitely haven’t even thought of letting it go to their heads. While I sat and leisurely ate my hot dogs it was a stream of locals that came in, they were all greeted by name and the standard Flo’s question, “How many?”
I know what you’re thinking from looking at that picture, is that mayonnaise? Yes, and it works. But first, a steamed hot dog? I’ve had hot dogs prepared most ways before – grilled, fried, boiled, but never steamed. It turns out the hot dog isn’t really steamed, the bun is. A New England style hot dog (soft sides) bun is steamed almost to the point of saturation but never too much, being warm and soft it gives perfectly as you bite into the hot dog. The traditional toppings for a Flo’s hot dog is mayonnaise, celery seed, and their homemade hot sauce. On the heat scale their hot sauce isn’t too hot appearing to be made mainly of onions it has a sweet and hot taste to it.
I wouldn’t say that I love mayonnaise; I enjoy it, but the thought of french fries and mayonnaise like the Dutch eat intimidates me. That said, I have developed a taste for the tapas dish, patatas bravas so what do I know. In this instance, combining spicy onion relish, warm bun, and celery seed I think (and most food writers agree) that mayonnaise is perfectly fine on a hot dog. It provides both a little bit of creamy texture and sour tang to the meal.
I can’t promise that you’ll have the same experience I did at Flo’s but you should go nonetheless. Chances are you’ll have to grab a parking spot on the side of the road and wait in line for awhile, but you’ll still get the same payout. That payout is a slice of real Americana, one of the hot dogs in the country, and a simple meal that has been done well for generations now.