Spike’s Junkyard Dogs got its start in 1991, when David Drake opened the original Thayer Street location in Providence, R.I. There are now nine franchises across Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Their slogan is “World’s best Hot Dog, maybe better!” Team Hungry Native paid a visit to the Branch Avenue location in Providence, to put that to the test.
All of Spike’s dogs start out with a freshly baked French roll. They are lightly toasted, crusty on the outside with a warm and chewy interior. The dogs themselves are specially made just for Spikes, and definitely jumbo sized, the ends sticking out of the large rolls. They are 100% beef, and taste it. Big, plump and meaty, Spikes dogs are available with almost endless toppings in many creative combinations.
We started with a dog covered in their “Rhode Island Grinder Topping”, which consisted of chopped tomatoes, onions and pickles mixed with a bit of oil and a healthy dose of oregano. With a taste that was equal parts hot dog and Italian sub, this combo was zesty and little bit spicy.
The décor at Spikes is decidedly kitschy, with lots of hubcaps, chain link fencing and assorted bulldog paraphernalia. It might be a bit much for some, but it is fun, and they have their own brand of Root Beer! KD and her college friends used to skip class and drive into Providence to visit the original Spike’s and get their hot dog fix.
Next up was the MexiCali Dog, which sits on a layer of salsa and is covered with melted cheese and topped with hot peppers. The beefy flavor of the hotdog was cut a bit by the spicy peppers and flavorful salsa, and the cheese held everything together nicely.
The Junkyard Dog is Spike’s signature offering. It features Spike’s own mustard, tomato, hot pepper slices, scallions and a pickle spear. It’s kind of like a Providence version of Chicago’s iconic dog, with a mix of “Junk” that comes together in an almost perfect way. The sharpness of the pickles and hot peppers along with the tanginess of the mustard lightens the dog in an unexpected but extremely tasty way. If you can manage to eat six or more Junkyard dogs in ninety minutes, you’ll get your picture on the wall, in what’s called The Kennel Club, as well as a free meal.
Spike’s offers cheap, fast food that doesn’t sacrifice quality or portion size. The dogs are huge, and prices start at fewer than three dollars. At lunchtime, the parking lot of the Branch Ave restaurant was filled with work trucks of every kind, always a good sign when one is looking for a reasonably priced, yet filling, meal.
Editor’s note ~ At Hungry Native, our restaurant reviews are by no means comprehensive, we may have visited a particular place many times, or perhaps only once. For the most part, we focus on specific dishes. We try to judge restaurants for what they are, rather than compare them directly. No review should be taken as a blanket endorsement of an establishment but rather a guide to what we found especially good or interesting.
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