Summer’s fleeting, so we feel obligated to chow down as much charcoal-grilled food as we can.
Louie’s Original Foot Long took over the space at 1893 Niagara St. that was previously the site of George’s American Diner, and opened in March. The new location replaces the long-time one on Elmwood Avenue that was destroyed by a fire in 2013.
Old photos on the walls pay homage to the past while the menu keeps up with the times, serving an all-natural ground chicken burger as well as vegetarian burgers and dogs.
Big band music was a balm to our Friday night frazzled work week nerves. The super sweet waitress had a cheery disposition to melt even the most tired grouchy customers, like us.
A hard work week deserves some love, which arrived in the form of two thick and creamy chocolate shakes ($4.29 regular/jumbo $6.29) served in frosted metal cups. We can’t imagine what the jumbo size entails. And darn, our computer-tired eyes didn’t see the Elvis shake of chocolate, peanut butter and banana.
We did order Louie’s signature loganberry iced tea ($2.69 medium) that’s thankfully not too sweet.
While Louie’s certainly does serve hot dogs, the large menu is filled with other specialty sandwiches. Under the heading of beef falls everything from the Louie’s original burger ($6.89) and charcoal-broiled bologna ($5.29) to the ultimate steak sandwich ($7.69) and black and bleu steak sandwich ($7.29).
Chicken selections include chicken in the grass with dandelions ($6.89) and a honey-barbecued chicken breast ($6.59). Pork includes the Luigi Italian sausage patty sandwich (big, $7.25; little, $5.59) and a pulled pork sandwich ($7.59).
Three versions of turkey burgers ($5.29-$5.95), and three vegetarian burgers ($4.95-$6.25) round out the menu. A veggie dog ($3.09) promises to “taste like our regular hot dogs.”
Read the menu closely to see all the options. Other Italian sausage sandwiches and Polish sausage with kraut ($5.79) fall under the beef heading. "From the Charcoal Grill” has a couple of rogue burgers, including the Big Buffalo Burger ($6.29).
We struggled because we wanted to try everything, then settled for a Papa Louie burger ($6.89), a foot-long ($4.79), Italian sausage and dandelions ($6.29), plus an order of sweet potato fries ($3.79) and the intriguing potato buttons ($3.35). We were told the buttons are the ends of the potatoes that don’t make the cut for the curly Q fries. Our waitress said nothing goes to waste.
Be prepared to use lots of napkins.
The Papa Louie was a big half-pound burger topped with sautéed mushrooms, melted mozzarella and A-1 steak sauce. It was messy, but really juicy and tasty with lots of mushrooms.
The foot-long was everything it was supposed to be: perfectly grilled and topped as ordered with ketchup, mustard and pickle.
The Italian sausage link with dandelions was garlicky, but soggy from the dandelions. We envisioned fresh sautéed dandelions, but these were more like really cooked greens to the point of mushy.
The flavor was good, but it was served on a thin white paper hot dog boat and we were forced to drip all over our food tray. Pressing the water out of the dandelions might be a better way to serve them. We didn’t notice the freshly grated Romano as noted on the menu. All being said, it still tasted good, especially the added garlic. All rolls were super fresh.
Both fries were ample. They could have used just a tad more time in the fryer to avoid the slightly raw texture a fresh-cut fry can sometimes have. A little salt and vinegar helped the buttons. The sweet potato had a nice helping of honey butter. It was all good.
Louie’s Niagara Street location has recently opened for breakfast serving “eggs, cakes, omelets, wraps, breakfast bowls and plates.”
Maybe a stop before work would improve our disposition.
Address: 1893 Niagara St.; 877-DOGS (3647)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
History: Original Louie’s (1951) is still at 69 Grand Island Blvd., Tonawanda.
Price range: $3.09 hot dog to $16.99 double chicken fingers.
Everyday special: Buy five hot dogs or cheeseburgers get one free or buy 10 get two free (10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday).
Dietary: No special gluten-free menu. Vegetarian burgers and a hot dog.