I have an insanely long list of reasons why I completely love this area with all my heart. Growing up only a stone’s throw away in rural Moscow, Pa., it was the ultimate treat to go anywhere near downtown Scranton (Nay Aug Park to see the animals, The Globe to get toys, Cedar Bike Shop for skateboard equipment) or Wilkes-Barre, (even though I remember it taking my father close to an hour to drive the family to The F.M. Kirby Center to see Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom). I would look at the storefronts and stare at the guitars, or look up in wonder at the buildings that seemed to stretch on forever toward the atmosphere.
I’ve since grown up. I’ve seen many bigger buildings and visited many bigger cities (even some that are, gasp, financially stable). After relocating back to northeast Pennsylvania, I fell in love with our area all over again; the change of seasons, the rich history, the local art and music scene and the passionate people that fight to make this a better place.
That being said, I’ve never had a Texas Wiener until late last week.
Who would have thought that our area, Scranton in particular, is one of the nation’s hot dog meccas? I’ve been to a lot of places, even Texas, and never once did I cross paths with the elusive Texas Wiener. I wasn’t interested and the thought of craving one seemed silly. It’s just something that wasn’t part of my life.
In the summer of 2013, Coney Island Lunch’s Texas Wiener was voted No. 3 in FoxNews.com’s “America’s best hot dogs.” The same wiener also appeared on the Daily Meal’s 35 best hot dogs in America list, coming in at No. 24 in the online food publication’s article. So the staff here at electric city and diamond city decided to have fun with this idea. Why not kill a bunch of birds with a bunch of wieners (can I even say that?).
Our director Kevin Brislin ran around town to four different places that serve Texas Wieners. Our staff conducted a blind taste test by sampling each dog and sharing our deepest emotions about the sauce, the dog itself and the ever-important bun. Totally scientific, right?
The competitors were: Keystone Restaurant, 130 N. Main Ave., Yankee Lunch, 800 Pittston Ave. Coney Island Texas Lunch, 200 Cedar Ave. and Coney Island Lunch, 515 Lackawanna Ave.
The tightly wrapped wiener from Keystone Restaurant had a good bun, a tough hot dog and the onion was a tad too abrasive for our testers.
Yankee Lunch’s wiener had an enjoyable hot dog, a bigger serving of sauce with a tangier taste and better onion texture.
Coney Island Texas Lunch, 200 Cedar Ave. was the most expensive of the samples and our taste testers felt it fell a bit flat on the taste buds with an overall average reaction.
The Coney Island Lunch, 515 Lackawanna Ave. took home the top honors as the staff’s blind favorite. The sauce was solid and not overbearing which complemented the far superior bun and hot dog.
After the last bite went down the hatch, the votes were tallied and the results came in. Fourth place: Coney Island Texas Lunch. Third Place: Keystone Restaurant. Second place: Yankee Lunch. First place: Coney Island Lunch.
What doe this mean? Absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, but I finally ate four very different samplings of the famous Scranton Texas Wiener and had a ton of fun along the way. I even scored some bad breath as a lovely parting gift.
Up next: My first Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour or a pierogie blind taste test? What should it be?
— tom graham