For years, Harry Sirinakis, his father and grandfather have been told that they serve great hot dogs, the best people have tasted.
But Harry's Main Street Restaurant in Westminster never received any sort of official recognition for having the best hot dogs in town.
Now it has.
Baltimore Magazine, in its "Best of Baltimore '98" issue, named Harry's as having the best hot dog in the metropolitan area. Six other Carroll County businesses also made the magazine's "Best of" list.
"It was our first time for competing and for winning," said Sirinakis, the owner. "We truly never had an award to put with people telling us we're so good."
It was a daunting task to compete with other hot dogs from so large an area.
"We were ultimately concerned with doing it right and winning," he said. "We're in Westminster and everybody else was in Baltimore, so we were concerned about the quality of the hot dog."
But luck was with Harry's. Using an apartment in Baltimore about 12 minutes away from the judging site, Sirinakis and his staff grilled the required 20 hot dogs in skillets on a regular stove with makeshift steamers to warm the the rolls.
They made practice runs to the site, checking to make sure the hot dogs were their edible best.
"The stipulation was that we could not stay around, not talk to anybody, put your name on the bottom of the container and you had to be there when they said, or they wouldn't let you in," Sirinakis said.
The competition was based on a plain hot dog, to allow the full flavor of the meat to be judged. But Harry's standard hot dog comes with chili, mustard and onions.
"We sent 20 plain samples, wrapped in fine linen for preserving the rolls and we sent a box of condiments with them to try afterwards," Sirinakis said. "We even gave them a ladle for the chili. We spent some money, because we wanted to win."
The judges did not know who provided the condiments until after the judging, but Sirinakis was later told they were a big hit.
So, how did Harry's get to be part of Baltimore's Best?
"One of our editors is a huge fan of Harry's," said Max Weiss, editor of the special issue. "They're kind of legendary and they've earned their reputation."
Although "Baltimore's Best" focuses on Baltimore and and Baltimore County, Weiss said, "If something's great and really worth driving to, we'll include it. Our readers care so much about quality that they will travel for what they want."
The other Carroll County businesses on the "Best of" list were:
Best Company to Work For and Best Hardware Store: Lowe's of Westminster. Ken Haines, manager at the time of judging, who has since been promoted to a larger store, was credited with making the store the best place to work. For shopping, it earned accolades for its 150 happy employees and its selection of 44,000 items.
Best Continental Restaurant: Rudy's 2900 of Finksburg. The restaurant was noted for its "showy presentations, sinful sauces and courtly service, right down to the finger bowls."
Best New Restaurant: Baldwin's Station in Sykesville. New owner Stuart Dearie has added concerts Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons to his well-prepared American food.
Best Vintage Toys: Main Street Toy Company, Westminster. The store offers such toys as Mrs. Beasley dolls, a Wonder Woman phone, a life-size Lone Ranger cut-out, and 1950s robot toys.
bTC Best Innkeeper: Dorothy and Richard Mollett at Antrim 1844 in Taneytown. The couple has won accolades the past 10 years for Antrim's "stunning period interiors, its sprawling and luxurious grounds, and its world-class cuisine."
Best Veterinarian: Dr. John Kabel at Airpark Animal Hospital in Westminster. He was picked for "his magic touch with the giants
Pub Date: 9/06/98