The hot dog is no mere meal. It’s more of a canvas decorated with toppings and condiments in a way that embodies the person who eats it. Most cities and regions have a personal take on the ballpark standard, and Cleveland restaurants have their own: the Polish Boy.
A nod to the city’s Polish population, the Polish Boy starts with a grilled or deep-fried kielbasa. Then, the sausage is buried beneath a mountain of crisp french fries, creamy coleslaw, and either hot sauce or barbecue sauce. The resulting sandwich is a delectable mess that demands a knife and fork, or at least a steady supply of napkins.
Where You Can Get OneA lineup of the best restaurants in Cleveland will cover a wide range of cuisines and styles of dining. Visit some of the city’s most inviting, un-stuffy spots, and you’ll likely find the Polish Boy. On the east side, Hot Sauce Williams delights families with fried chicken and other classic comfort foods. Its chefs top their Polish Boys with the restaurant’s signature hot sauce and authentic Southern-style coleslaw.
But some might argue that Cleveland’s best Polish Boy comes from a truck. Far away from the linen-topped tables of downtown Cleveland restaurants, Seti’s Polish Boys operates out of a fully equipped food truck, feeding hungry crowds with the titular sausage. Seti’s adds even more delicious richness by dousing the dish with chili and melted cheese on request.
If that’s not enough savory toppings, some spots, like B&M Barbeque, top their Polish Boys with tender chunks of pulled pork shoulder. This extra-meaty variation is known as a Polish Girl.
Approved by an Iron AppetiteBefore earning his spot in Kitchen Stadium on Iron Chef America, Chef Michael Symon cut his teeth and sharpened his knives in Cleveland restaurants. He’s moved on in the culinary world, but both the city and the Polish Boy have remained close to his heart. On a 2007 episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Symon took the host to Hot Sauce Williams to chow down on a pair of Polish Boys for some authentic local flavor. And when Symon appeared on the Food Network show The Best Food I Ever Ate, he gave that title to the Seti’s Polish Boy.
Photo: Polish boy by stu_spivack under CC BY-SA 2.0.