There are a handful of places in the city that formidable locals will consider “institutions”; flying under the tourist radar and that Montrealers are proud to call their own. Be it restaurants like Moishe’s, Schwartz’s or the Orange Julep, or spots like the Tam tams on Sunday, that corner of the Guy Concordia metro underpass that always smells like pee, or spending a good part of your Saturday afternoon trying to cross the Champlain bridge; the city has packed with unique Montreal experiences that are unrivalled by any other city.
I was out with my dad one day, we were in the area and I asked him when was the last time he went to Decarie Hot Dog. He took a minute to think about it and he dropped something on me that was so monumental that shook me to my core, vegetarians watching PETA videos for the first time had an easier time accepting their philosophical revelation… My dad, who grew up in Montreal from the age of 5, had NEVER been to Decarie Hot Dog.
We pulled over for lunch and we each had one of the only two specials that they offer. The place is a mix of diner/greasy spoon; the bread and butter of the place is made from “steamies”, golden fries and nostalgia.
Montrealers take their hot dogs seriously to the point where it borders on religion. A classic preparation of being steamed along with the buns, the hot dogs are topped with sauerkraut, mustard, onions and relish – no ketchup – and is called “all dressed”. A toothsome frank that snaps at each bite, the sweetness of the supple steamed bun compliments the sharp toppings; there isn’t flowery writing that can encompass the simplicity of this classic Montreal meal… Ermahgerd, herd dergs.
The baskets at the French fry station drop faster than Miley Cyrus’ chicken butt twerks when a 2 Chainz song comes on the radio. The oldschoolers here at Decarie Hot Dog subscribe to the fluffy French fry school of preparation. Home cut fries see a quick flash fry and are served almost immediately. Served plain, salt and vinegar are on the counter top for you to help yourself.
The difference between the two available two trios are the fries; regular fries or poutine. Topped with cheese curds who’s squeak resonates through your skull, it’s doused in a brown gravy and served in a take out container.
There’s something comforting about a freshly assembled diner dog, could it be the fact that your fingers dimple the soft bread? These franks aren’t homemade, aren’t imported from some artesian deli somewhere in the Southwest area of the city; they are the same kind you buy, as the buns are the same as the ones next to the sliced white bread in your local grocery store. So why is this meal of steamed hot dogs and french fries so popular? It’s the tradition of it, the ritual of going out to get a hot dog. Whether it’s a treat, a quick bite, or even a moment that’s shared between a father and son for the first time in the course of a busy day, there is always time for a hot dog.