With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hartford Food Guy Reviews: Woody's

We've written about our fondness for Woody's before in our Sad City Lunch Guide, but with baseball Opening Day (and a snowstorm) upon us we thought it would be appropriate to have the Hartford Food Guy give us a real in depth review of Hartford's favorite hot dog spot.

On another Opening Day note, Mr. Trophy, a Hartford business for 50 years has agreed to sponsor with two trophies the Sad City Fantasy Baseball Championship which features Councilman Cotto, Chion Wolf, CT Law Blogger's Ryan, J.Mac from HPSU, Jumper, and Hakaan playing against Sad City readers for the title.

With games slated to start at 1, Woody's might be a great place to grab a dog and see the first pitch today.

Two things convinced me to start writing this blog. The first was Anthony Bourdain, or more accurately my talent (I think) for wrtiting in a style similar to the way he narrates No Reservations. While I don't pretend to know even 10% of what he knows about food, I do think I can weave background history and obscure information into a narrative at least as well as he can.

The second was Adam Richman and his show, Man vs Food, and more particularly the fact that he filmed part of an episode at Woody's in Downtown, Hartford. I do at least pretend to know about as much about food as Adam Richman and the fact that he chose to film at one of my favorite palces convinced me that there was an audience for the type of writing I do on this blog.

Last weekend my wife was out of town so I spent a chunk of Saturday afternoon at Woody's. Unlike even Broasterant (see below), Woody's isn't a restaurant. It is really an indoor hot dog truck with a small sports bar attached to the back. That is in no way an insult, as Woody's is one of the best hot dog establishments around and it is certainly my favorite by a very wide margin.

Several things make Woody's stand out. The first are the dogs. They are good quality, reasonably priced, and fast off the grill - a great combination. The second are the people. Woody, his wife Cindy, and their crew are hard workers who not only serve up dogs at a fast pace and keep up a lively banter with their customers, they are also excellant people. The third is the place. Woody's is crammed with whacky trinkets, Hartford nostelga, interesting Miami Dolphins memorabilia, and (now) pictures of Adam Richman and other Man vs Foodparaphenelia. Put it all together and you have a great little spot at which to have a dog (or two) and a casual conversation with friends on both sides of the counter.

While you won't go wrong if you order a simple hot dog, the stars of Woody's menu are its 12 specialty dogs, known as Woody's Posse, led by the now world famous (thanks to Adam Richman) Deputy Dog, which is a hot dog with BBQ pulled pork, BBQ sauce, and Cheddar Cheese on top. I've had almost the whole posse and on my most recent trip I had a Deputy Dog and a Philly Dog (a regular hot dog slathered with cheese, mushrooms, and grilled onions & peppers). The Philly is very tasty and the condiments provide a nice contrast to the dog, but the Deputy Dog is really the king of the menu (or at least the sheriff of the posse). The pulled pork is locally made, fresh, and outsanding and the BBQ sauce and cheese do wonders for both the pulled pork and the dog (:> x 10). I also like Reuben Dog (hot dog with Thousand Island dressing, sauerkraut, & Swiss cheese).

Woody's also has 2 kinds of delicious (and amazingly unhealthy) curly fries, "regular" and "Cajun." I like the Cajun fries as they have some sort of spice/seasoning which gives them a nice kick.

Woody's also serves up a number of soft drinks (including locally made root beers, cherry sodas, and other specialty sodas and colas) and a good selection of beer, so you can compliment your dog(s) with just the right beverage. They also have other menu options (burgers and the like) but why anyone would go to Woody's and not order one of their delicious hot dogs is a mystery.

Thanks to Gary's love of the Dolphins and the addition of the sports bar, Woody's is now also a premiere Sunday afternoon spot in Hartford during the Fall and you will always find all the NFL games (especially Miami's) and a good crowd. It's a nice addition for the city and a good money maker for Gary and Cindy.

The next time you are Downtown, head over to Woody's and have a Deputy Dog, or a Dogfather, or just a good old fashioned plain hot dog. You won't find a better dog for many, many miles and you'll instantly become part of the fast growing Woody's Posse (thanks in no small part to Adam Richman and Man vs Food); two pretty good things.


  1. Did you see the autograph Adam Richman gave to woody's? It's on an inkjet printed zantac advertisement. What a douchebag.

  2. Not to disparage the fine folks at Woody's (how can you not love Gary?), but Woody's dogs couldn't hold a candle to Rosco's Big Dog. God, how I miss that place.

  3. Lol, and so it continues - the Woody's/Rosco's rivalry. I will say this about Rosco's, even though it has been gone for a while, it still has some very ardent supporters. That should tell you something.

  4. I like Woodys and think dogs are equal to Rosco's however I do think they should extend their hours of service past 6pm. It'd be great to have a couple of drinks and dogs while watching a night game.

  5. Where *is& Woody's? Work on your "who, what, where, when, how?" basics of journalism. Helps to know where the joint is with a restaurant review.