It’s a strange phenomenon. The weather warms up here and there and we suddenly hunger for hot dogs and ice cream. Our last hot dog was when, early October?
The craving worked in our favor as we had to feed three teen boys dinner after a recent UB Bulls afternoon basketball game.
Scanning the surrounding area on Google Maps, we found there was Nina’s Custard on Millersport Highway which is open year-round unlike many hot dog/ice cream joints not named Ted’s.
The place is cute, with a funky-island-vibe-meets-1980s-décor. Think mauve with fake palm trees and an awning to mimic the outdoors.
The woman at the counter couldn’t have been more patient as the teens — stuck in their perpetual teen stupor — stared at the menus.
A sign behind the counter lists the standard items — a hot dog ($2.69), footlong ($3.94), cheese dog ($3.20), Texas dog ($3.20), Kosher dog ($3.95), quarter pound hamburger ($3.85), cheeseburger ($4.30), half-pound hamburger ($6.25).
Next to the register a sign posts “Panina’s” (cute). Served with chips and pickles, a basic cheese panini runs $5.39; a tuna, tomato and cheese or chicken in the grass is $7.59. A panini special (half-panini, small soup or macaroni salad and a regular drink) is $8.
We ordered from a third combo meal sign. All combos include straight or seasoned waffle-cut fries and a regular fountain drink. A hot dog combo is $6.95, a hamburger $8.10, chicken fingers $9.25, etc. (Add $1.10 for a shake.)
For comatose teens who aren’t prone to thinking, the combos were a boon. For adults hampered by mathematics, all prices include tax. A win-win.
The teens went basic with two cheeseburger combos ($8.55), a grilled chicken sandwich combo ($9.80) and for Sig O, a footlong combo ($8.20). Kid fun meals are $4.59 to $5.29 for hot dog, burger or chicken fingers.
I went with a specialty burger combo ($9.80) — a jalapeno burger with Swiss and cheddar. It wasn't an easy decision. The Texas cheeseburger with onion rings, hot sauce, mayo and lettuce; the Rose’s with Swiss cheese, lettuce and Mama Rose’s sauce; and the chili burger with Texas sauce, cheddar, mayo and onions sounded just as good.
Nina’s dresses your dogs and burgers. Again the darling woman was patient with the teens who said, “I want everything on my cheeseburger.”
“Onions? Relish?” Oh, well, not everything.
We found seats and our order number was posted in a jiffy on an electronic board.
Cheeseburgers came on super fresh Costanzo rolls with lots of lettuce and tomatoes. The nice portion of grilled chicken also was on a fresh roll. My jalapeno burger had a good bite from the jalapenos with lots of cheese. The footlong was a perfectly charbroiled Sahlen’s with ketchup and zig-zagged mustard topping. Everyone had tons of hot fries. All really hit the spot. (I couldn’t stop eating the waffle fries.)
For those watching waistlines, we saw a large grilled chicken salad ($7.29) go by.
Soups are $3.79 (minestrone, chili and soup of the day). With Lent coming up, we noticed a fish sandwich ($5.39), garden burger ($5.39), tuna sandwich ($4.75) and tuna salad ($7.29) on the menu.
Surprisingly none of the kids wanted ice cream, but I had to try the custard, because after all we were at Nina’s Custard. My chocolate custard baby cone ($2.10) was the perfect ultra creamy way to usher in the hot dog-ice cream season.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Ice cream: Cones, sundaes, arctic swirls. Nina bars, turtle bars, ice cream sandwiches, pies, cakes.
Gluten-free options: No