Louie's Original Footlong Hot Dogs, an Elmwood Avenue standard for 25 years, is back on the West Side.
A day after opening at 1893 Niagara St., a visit found the flavors true, the fries still addictive and new offerings like the Big Luigi, a sausage sandwich that pretty much requires the use of both hands.
Owner Angelo Turco was staffing the counter, and greeting old customers who came by for lunch.
The restaurant is his return to year-round business after fire knocked out the Elmwood store in 2013. The original location remains open seasonally, at 69 Grand Island Blvd., Tonawanda.
The new place adds some choices to Louie's time-tested menu. The footlong dog ($4.79) is still going strong, topped with the works – mustard, spicy relish, onions and pickles – or Texas style, with mustard, onions and a sauce resembling Greek-spiced beef chili.
The signature loganberry ice tea ($2.95 large) is ready for pouring.
Additions include the Big Luigi ($7.25), a half-pound Italian sausage patty topped with capocollo, provolone, roasted peppers, sautéed onions and spicy sauce. Its heft makes it a both-hands proposition, and its combination of charcoal-tinged char and ooey-gooey debris might make you wish you were eating outside. (You can wash up in the bathroom afterward.)
Cajun onion rings ($4.09), another new offering, were plenty crunchy but not noticeably spiced.
There's also a quarter-pound Little Luigi ($5.59), a third-pound chicken burger ($6.59) and a chicken breast given the Luigi treatment ($6.89).
Louie's kept its oats-and-mushroom-based vegetarian burger ($4.95), and even has a vegetarian version of bacon to add ($5.95).
The thin, crispy curly fries ($3.35) remain exemplary. Add pepperjack cheese and beef gravy for a luxe version ($4.09).
Dandelions are in the house and puckery good, having been simmered in chicken stock and garlic to leach out much, but not all, of their bitterness. Get the Romano-cheese-dusted greens on a grilled Italian sausage ($6.29) to balance the richness.
Customers can step up to the counter and order for lunch and dinner. After the restaurant gets going, adding delivery is a possibility, Turco said.
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Sunday. Phone: 877-3647 (-DOGS).
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