When you think of mobile food vendors these days, the flashpan of food trucks immediately comes to mind, but in bigger cities, of course, it’s nothing new. As flashy food trucks have found their way on onto the Dayton food scene, you see a lot of aggressive marketing and colorful vehicles. Mobile businesses thrive on the hype. Then you have places like Hearts Hot Dogs. It’s practically invisible online, and you won’t find it on Facebook. But this old-style hot dog and burger cart offers a menu of classic Midwestern favorites as simply as possible. It’s a little old fashioned, but it’s also well-liked, and damn reliable.
Heart’s Hot Dogs is a very simple grill trailer; it serves the simplest lunch items, hot dogs, burgers, and fries, Vienna sausages, and some sandwiches. The burger is a third-pound chopped steak creation made extra thin to grill faster, and topped with cheese if you like. It’s served between a hoagie bun. What’s in it? That’s really up to you. Toppings, veggies, mayo, ketchup and barbecue sauce, are in the little box on the side of the cart. Top it any way you like.
The ‘dog creations are a little fancier. There are a few toppings for the hot dogs and sausages, but the most distinctive is the classic Chicago-style hot dog, the favorite classic topped with mustard, onions, relish, a pickle, tomato, sport peppers and celery salt. It’s a good local approximation (sans the beef dog) it reminds me a lot of the dog stands you find in Windy City. Even the fries were good; simply fried and served, I’m told, the “small” version is ample and the “large” version is huge. Again, you salt them, and there is also what appears to be a cheese fries option.
The real charm of the truck is that it’s run by a very friendly fellow who seems to know just about all of his customers. The truck is always parked on the 200 block of 2nd street downtown; placing it right next to the Federal Building as well as the Montgomery County courthouse. A lot of the local government employees seem to love the place, it’s speedy food, so from about 11 a.m. to 1 p.m, there’s almost always a line of people from nearby. All told, Heart’s is one of those rare little spots where the food comes quickly, the people are great, and the flavors are there. This is the kind if eatery that always flies under the radar, the kind you only find if you really know where to look. Give it a try.
- The little cart is consistently at the same place; the 200 block of 2nd Street in downtown Dayton, always for lunch.
- The burgers are great; you build them yourself, but more importantly, this stand is very convenient.
- Prices here are near-unbeatable, so it’s a good lunch on a dime.