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Sunday 29 May 2011

Nathan's Famous Hotdogs, Airdrie Alberta- a little taste of Americana in Canada... just north of Calgary

Rating 6/10
Its been a little while since I've had an authentic Nathan's Famous hotdog hot and fresh from a grouchy old coot at a Nathan's stand in New York, so when they finally opened up a franchise spot in Canada, I was looking forward to characteristic springy snap these hotdogs are known for. Besides, Americans pride themselves on historical staples like Nathan's which has been opened since 1916, so have to have a bite of tradition! Airdrie is a tinny town just north of Calgary, Alberta, and its proximity to the bigger city (a food scene hot spot) makes for cheaper rent while still able to attract foodies with a car out to them.

With a large sign matching some of the eclectic signs at the original New York location (I personally like the hodge-poge of new and antiquated signs at the NY location), the interior is a bright, colourful take on your standard fast food counter, with a large mural depicting the original Nathan's on Coney Island. There's a large condiments counter with historical facts about Nathan's where you can dress your hotdog with standard ketchup, mustard, alongside a basin of shaved onions and sauerkraut. The soda dispensers are self serve, with plenty of kids running up to it to create their own sugary sweet creation. Staff are dressed in bright yellow uniforms and food is brought to you at your table with a smile and a Southern accent.

Being a wet gloomy morning, we go with Nathan's Famous chili cheese dogs to warm us up. The hotdog arrives smothered in a velvety processed cheese sauce with bits of chili peeking out here and there. We notice right away there's something different.. The NY version has a bit of ketchup added to the chili cheese dog, and although the flavors were similar to what we remembered, the crisp snap of the casing when you bite into the hotdog was missing, and it just wasn't the same.  Maybe its the distance the hotdogs have to travel up to Canada, or the chili, cheese sauce and hotdogs are prepared differently... But its missing that deeply satisfying taste found at a typical Nathan's over the border.

I was dining with my fellow foodie who recently made a hotdog pilgrimage to the very first Nathan's Famous at the original flagship store at Coney Island and his thoughts echoed mine.  Maybe they're missing a crotchety old man grumping at customers they're doing it wrong and you have to pile on this and that condiment for New York's best hotdog, or lacking the two street vendors good naturedly griping that they and not the other guy has undoubtedly the best hotdog... despite the Southern drawl from one of the friendly waitstaff, it just wasn't the same.

For $4-5 a hotdog, its close, but I much rather grab a real Nathan's Famous hotdog the next time I'm in New York for $2 and have a taste of American history. And I'd have to agree with a little girl who was asked by her mom as she was leaving, what she thought of Nathan's. She cocked little her head, and replied "I dunno, but its different".

Nathan's Famous
Address3001 130 Sierra Springs Dr SE Airdrie, AB
Phone (403) 948-6632
Hours open daily for lunch and dinner
Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon


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Elsie said...

Wow, thanks for letting me know about Nathans! Next time I'm in going to Cross Iron Mills, I should try it!!! Great review! said...

Whoopie daisy.. got too excited and initally put this post in the wrong place.. now its int he right place!

You heard it here first! Got a tip off.. there is going to be 5 cent (yup.. just one nickel!!) hotdogs at Airdrie's newest Nathan's on Sept 17, 2011 to celebrate the grand opening of Alberta's newest Nathan's. You can also go watch, get pics taken adn autographs from Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, winner of the Nathan’s Famous Women’s Hot Dog Eating Championship Belt this past July 4 in Coney Island, NY by devouring 40 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Hot dogs will be 5 cents each from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (limit 2 hot dogs per customer). Face-painting, free hats and balloons will be available for children and families. WHEN: Saturday, September 17, 2011 WHERE: Nathan’s Famous 3001-130 Sierra Springs Drive Airdrie, Alberta TIME: Sonya Thomas availability 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. So go, bring the family, meet a champion hot dog eater, down a couple hotdogs (maybe not 40 lol!)

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