Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Perciful's Famous Hot Dogs

Dad tested and found to be right.

Growing up, Dad always said that the best footlong chili dogs were at Perciful's drive in in Little Rock. We didn't eat out a lot when I was a kid and Perciful's was gone by sometime in the early '70's so I don't personally have many memories of them. When I saw that a hot dog stand with the same name was opening in the East End community, going out towards Sheridan, I was curious if it was the same people. So I checked it out.

I popped in to their sparkling clean location at 20400 Arch Street, (yes, it's quite a drive out there.), and asked the man at the counter if there was a connection. "Of course," he said, "the originals were run by my uncle and my dad." So I asked if it was the same as it was back then and an older man in the back called out to me, "I'm still making the same chili recipe I made when I was sixteen years old on Roosevelt!"

Which led me to the ultimate test: If I bring my dad in, will he be able to tell the difference?

"Bring him in!" was the answer.

So, last week I took dad, with mom in tow, to eat at Perciful's. Dad and I got the Perciful's Classic, figuring that would be the fairest test, and mom got the Frito Chili Pie. After a couple of bites, dad nodded and said that it was pretty much the way he remembered it. And mom said the Frito pie was excellent. So I guess it all passes the litmus test of time and authenticity.

The chili has just a hint of a sweet taste, somewhat akin to the Greek chili that you find in Cincinnatti (or at Leo's on Kavannaugh, for that matter) and has the texture and consistency of the old hot dog chili sauce that could be found at drive-ins and dairy bars across the South in the era prior to fast food chains. They serve the dogs in the old fashioned chipboard sleeve like in the old days and they can be had with any combination of toppings from "naked" to smothered in cheese and jalapeno peppers. The old fashioned chili sauce is on the mild side, so if you need more pep for your taste, the jalapeno option may be the way to go. But I would suggest trying the Classic first and then adjust on subsequent visits to your taste.

I haven't tried the fresh baked pie yet, but it's tempting me...

Moderate pricing, good food, bright and clean atmosphere, and friendly staff - I give this a hearty recommendation.