“Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.” - Edgar Allan Poe

Who would have imagined the weight this quote would hold as I continue my country wide quest in search of the perfect hot dog? Another week and another public power struggle between the owners and MLBPA have left your resident food guy on the outside looking in- literally. This week’s adventure has brought us to one of my favorite baseball cities; Orioles Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore City, MD. Try saying that three times fast. Now it goes without saying that this beautiful baseball cathedral located a few blocks from the Inner Harbor is a treat for both baseball junkies and novice fans alike. With her burnt orange sunsets as day changes to night and the lights fill the stadium with a buzz you can’t help but feel like you died and went to baseball heaven. One of the best “foodie” ballparks in the league with BBQ, pizza, oysters and crab cakes readily available and the street festival on Eutaw Street along the right field gates.

Ummm… Do you guys want to take a break? Maybe get a room…

Very funny. This week is going to be especially hard because we may not be eating this from the green seats on the third base line, but we could have been. This week’s doggie destination “Stuggy’s World Famous Gourmet Hot Dogs” is located directly inside Gate H at the stadium and this would have been the perfect place to write a review and watch some baseball. This is Baltimore’s Dodger Dog and it’s supposed to be fantastic. Lucky for us we can travel to Stuggy’s original location, built in 2010 in the square at Fells Point. Started by a father and son and nestled on the harbor these guys had one mission: bring delicious hot dogs back to the hometown and from what I am hearing, they hit a home run. Toppings piled high and as unique as your imagination can run; jumbo lump crab, mac & cheese, Old Bay or chili just to name a few; these guys are rumored to be all about the flavor. The hot dogs are locally sourced 100% all-beef and served on rolls baked fresh daily and should be complimented with their award-winning duck fat fries, which makes me wonder how I am going to have room for a deep-fried Oreo-cookie to top it off.

Stuggys Stuggy’s storefront

You sure know how to paint a picture.

I’ve done this a few times now and I might be getting the hang of this. I don’t really know where to start with this place. It was a roller coaster of emotions I won’t soon forget. I decided to walk down from the Camden area, and it was close to three miles. It’s in a beautiful area, especially for the history buffs originally established in 1763 the stone streets and Civil War landmarks along the Patapsco River. It’s a block from the harbor and on a nice day the view is amazing. The Domino Sugar Factory is just across the water and Fort McHenry still sits atop of Locus Point. I know this is starting to sound like a high school history lesson, but I’m not doing the experience any justice by just telling you “I went to the city and ate a hot dog.” I want you to feel like you were here too. If I’m going to crush the country’s most unique meat sticks 52 times a year than I’d better tell the story that goes with the food.

As you walk up to this small, almost hidden hot dog stand you start to question if THIS is the place you’ve been hearing about. It looks like they are going through a renovation and the kitchen hasn’t been cleaned since Edgar Allan Poe was stumbling through the streets of Charm City drunk on abstinence. Truth be told, I’ve eaten off some questionable food trucks and street vendors in Mexico, so I typically don’t complain about the aesthetics of my dining choice and I won’t do it here. It’s about the food and the story and that’s what I plan on sharing. I ordered the “Crab Dog”- stacked with jumbo lump crab macaroni and cheese, a traditional hot dog and the duck fat fries.

Crab Dog The crab dog in all its glory

Well, this sounds delicious.

It was, initially. I mean dammit, look at these pictures. The bread was soft and perfectly toasted. You can see and taste how fresh it was. Sometimes the bread can really ruin the whole experience because it’s heavy and tasteless and you get filled up. Not here. They claim “fresh baked bread” and they deliver fresh baked bread. Next was the meat and I can confirm that this 100% all beef meat stick was as advertised. Now here’s where we can open up for discussion because they split my dog down the middle and I just don’t know how I feel about it. Sure, it can be considered easier to eat and maybe the crab mac and cheese sits nestled in there a little nicer, but I question if my hot dog became bologna at that point. There is something about sinking your teeth into the skin on a hot dog and feeling the snap as your teeth penetrates the skin and sinks into the soft center.

That’s what she said ::::giggles::::

Grow up, dude. You’re going to need to learn to take this seriously if you want the grown-ups to read your stories. Now, it was grilled- had a little char and tasted amazing. I always order a plain original with mustard because as much as I love unique toppings, I am still a traditionalist at heart. I could have easily spent the night with my legs hanging over the pier eating 10 of those bad boys.

Back to the Crab Dog, the mac and cheese was dry and that was disappointing. It might have been the only miss in a series of W’s not seen since the Nationals decided they could will themselves to a World Series win in 2019. Elbow macaroni and cheese sauce, lump crab meat and a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning rounded out this monster in a cardboard boat. I liked it - I really did - and I ate it quickly given we were in unfriendly conditions, which I’ll explain later. The duck fat fries were out of this world too. The grease was old and that’s okay because these hand-cut potato fries had so much flavor they didn’t even need ketchup, but I did grab some not knowing what to expect. Overall, If I ended the story here it would be a happy ending and you would add this to your list as you try and replicate #thefoodguys crusade to find America’s best hotdog.

So what was soooooo bad?

Well, for starters the venue. They offer no where to eat. You walk in and you order and once your food comes up they hand you a bag and it hits you… what am I supposed to do next? No counters or tables inside, which is only like 6x6 and nothing outside. No picnic tables or anything like the rest of the taverns and bars in Fells had. Luckily, I’m easy and I saw some benches across the plaza and beelined to an open one in order to get settled and dig in. That lasted all of 10 seconds; the sky split open with one giant crack of thunder and rain not seen since Noah built his ark, leaving my once viable table obsolete. Time to improvise.

I spotted a single step with a small awning above about a half block away and ran with my bag in tow. It didn’t provide the shelter needed to keep my dog dry, but luckily I had an umbrella and made a makeshift tent before stuffing my face. It was everything I hoped for and more. Aside from the dry mac and cheese it was the perfect combination of grilled beef, soft bun, juicy crab and greasiness. I started imagining this article I was about to write and I stuffed my bag in the trash and headed back to my hotel. I thought to myself, “worth the price of admission.”

Rainy day Anyone smell a wet dog?

Scene! Great job. It’s a wrap, people.

Not so fast. The walk back was the same three miles it was coming out. This time I walked through the Inner Harbor along the water and it was beautiful. With the sun setting and my belly full, I thought about how I was going to knock this review out when something hit me. Something wasn’t right with your guy, and my body started to warn me with all the signs you’d expect when you know shit’s about to go down, literally. Luckily for me I made it back to my hotel room, but I was worthless. The kid nicknamed “the Iron Stomach” by his mother as a child spent the better part of the night in the fetal position only getting up to crawl between the restroom and bed.

“Down goes Frazier!” Down goes Frazier!”

And he stayed down with a headache and the sweats - not the meat sweats, which I actually enjoy. I’ll spare you the details, but I can’t send you there in good conscience without full disclosure. I want honesty and trust in our relationship and I know you do too. Honestly, I blame the fries. I am a duck fat slut and order just about anything on the menu with those two words in the description, but I knew it was taking a risk. I could smell the grease and although it tasted great, I paid the price. Don’t worry, I am not easily deterred and I’ll be back at it next week at a new spot with a new dog in a new place.

Stuggys Menu Stuggy’s menu

We will be rolling out a new ranking system moving forward, as follows:

1 Hidden Gem

2 Worth the Price of Admission

3 “Bad Dog”

4 Golden Bidet

Until next time my friends, stay tuned and stay hungry!

Stuggy’s World Famous Gourmet Hot Dogs: 809 S. Broadway Baltimore, MD 21231 (410)327-0228

Rating: Golden Bidet

Major League Teams: The Baltimore Orioles

Minor League Teams: Bowie Bay Sox, Aberdeen Ironbirds, Frederick Keys, Hagerstown Suns, Delmarva Shorebirds & Southern Maryland Blue Crabs all play in the state.

Other baseball: The Birthplace of Babe Ruth & Museum is a must see. Eutaw Street where they mark every homerun to land (over 100) from over the RF fence and Orioles Park is also a great time- lots of statues and history.