NJ Dining: Hirams

Hiram’s Roadstand
1345 Palisade Ave, Fort Lee, NJ
(201) 592-9602

Having recently read the Munchmobile’s results regarding the top NJ dogs and their glowing review of Hiram’s chili dog, I had to go see what the fuss was about for myself.

As a former resident of the Cliffside Park/Fort Lee area for nearly five years, I am quite familiar with the dogs at Hiram’s. Of course, anyone who knows me well is aware I was more of a Callahan’s fan, but I certainly respected Hiram’s — you really kind of have to, considering the characters that walk in there, which includes guys like Tony Bourdain (who featured it on his New Jersey homecoming episode of No Reservations).

But lets get into what fundamentally separated the two places. Hiram’s uses a blander Thumann’s dog (which is essentially a bologna stick) whereas Callahan’s used (well, technically still uses if you count the Route 46 Little Ferry branch and the Hasbrouck Heights location) a Sabrett Pork and Beef hybrid that is more heavily spiced, and I am definitely in the heavily spiced camp. Both dogs were deep fried. That being said, and after consuming numerous Hiram’s dogs over the years, I had never had their chili dog. I needed to rectify this shortcoming, and quickly.

The Hiram’s parking lot. While both Hiram’s and Callahan’s both served alcohol, Hiram’s was always the more seedier (and much smaller) place in my estimation, attracting bikers and questionable characters of all types. This is not a dig at Hiram’s — everyone likes it that way. Of course, in this photo you can see more respectable vehicles parked alongside, and that’s because Callahan’s, which was always the more family-oriented place, is now a empty lot.

The view behind the counter.

The Menu.

Hiram’s dining room, which is usually populated with rowdy inebriated types. Again, not a dig — that’s why we love the joint. The Star Ledger Munchmobile describes Hiram’s as a “Hot Dog Roadhouse”. I’d say that’s a perfect description.

The Hiram’s chili dog. I have to say, the Munchmobile folks really nailed this one on the head. I practically want to kill myself for never having had one of these before — the spicing on the chili is just perfect, with a nice beefy flavor. It’s a perfect compliment to the firm but somewhat bland deep-fried Thumann’s dog, which is begging for some seasoning. In fact, I’d have to say that this is the only way I’m going to have a Hiram’s dog from now on. It just doesn’t seem right without the chili.

I loved this chili dog so much I just had to show it from another profile.

Hiram’s, at night.

15 Responses to NJ Dining: Hirams

  1. […] What you’re looking at is how Callahan’s appears now, from the perspective of Hiram’s parking lot. Hiram’s (which got top honors in Chili Dogs in the recent Munchmobile survey) and Callahan’s enjoyed a hot dog rivalry spanning over 55 years. Both had their devoted fans, and some of us even enjoyed going to both places in sequence to compare and contrast, over and over again, much like the Pat’s and Geno’s cheesesteak rivalry in Philly. The site is now being developed for a Bank of New Jersey branch. Yeah, like we need another bank. There’s one across the street, and another Bank of New Jersey a mile away. […]

  2. Thad says:

    As a Jersey transplant, I’m glad I found your blog! Entertaining stuff and great memories.

    You say the Hiram’s dog is blander; I say the opposite, the Callahan’s dog is too rich/too busy. Hiram’s dog is like a deep fried baconsicle to me and that’s good.

    The Hiram’s/Callahan’s debate was a major one in my family. Me and Dad-proHiram’s, my sis and Mom-proCallahan’s. We’d park the car in either lot and split into the two factions. To me, Callahan’s is all about the glitz-different sized dogs, a toppings bar, franchising ambitions and a pretty take-out packaging design/logo. Hiram’s has one size of dog, that soup warmer full of kraut, generic take out wrapping and one of the counter guys for some reason, always talking on that pay phone(probably placing some bets down).

    It’s a great food debate for Bergen County. Thanks for giving Hiram’s some “props.”

  3. John Fox says:

    Great job again, Jason. I love the pictures. There are many places that serve the Thumanns dog for deep frying. Among them, Hirams, Rutts Hut, Johnny & Hanges, Goffle Grill, and Libby’s. There are others. In my experience, the better places leave them in the oil longer. At Hirams you just ask for a dog “well”. This particular dog is favored by people who serve chili dogs or Texas Weiners because it is mild and doesn’t overwhelm the chili, or at Rutts, their unique relish. The mild tasting dog and the toppings complement each other well. I’ve had the Callahans dog next to Hirams on a few occasions. I prefer the Hirams dog. The Sabrett beef/pork dog used by Callahans is also used at the Hot Grill in Clifton. The Windmill also uses this dog, but grills rather than deep fries it. I loved the chili at Hirams as well, but my vote for first place (I was on the Munchmobile’s S.W.A.T. Dog Team) for chili went to Pappy’s Diner in Totowa. Same Thumanns dog, similar chili, which was a great mix of sweet and spicy.

  4. susan says:

    I lived in the apts behind Hirams only until I was about 2 years old, but whenever visiting nj my parents always had to stop at Hirams. My grandparents had their first date there. My brother can remember my Dad taking him to Palisades park and then to Hirams. I don’t know what Callahans taste like. We never went, although only across the street. My Dad always says Hirams is better. I live in ny but anytime I cross over the bridge no matter where I’m going, I have to stop at Hirams, and buy extra to bring home to my Dad.

  5. […] which is commonly served deep fried at several well-known New Jersey hot dog restaurants (such as Hiram’s)  and subjectively scored very high (8 or 9 among our judges) when grill cooked as well as deep […]

  6. John Fox says:

    I just saw the show on the Travel Channel where Anthony Bourdain comes back to New Jersey. The first 5-10 minutes shows him eating at Hiram’s. Good piece. Jason, you mentioned that you regret not having a chili dog at Hiram’s previously. Well, they were not available when you lived in the area. The older man who owned Hiram’s (Joe Barnao) sold it several years ago to 2 guys who were/are long time employees. They added it to the menu shortly after buying the business.

  7. steve g says:

    As a person who has been going to Hiram’s for 42 years and never set foot in Callahans there is no comparison. Dont forget about the made to order cheeseburgers which are great!

  8. Don says:

    I ate at your place 23 years ago, dont ever chickenshit out and sell the place…Im comin back, best dogs in the U.S. from South Texas

  9. Steve says:

    I rarely take the time to write reviews, especially when I didn’t like the food, but after tasting a Hiram’s dog I felt compelled to warn the public.
    I just moved to New Jersey from Chicago and I was so excited to find that there was a Hot Dog joint around the corner from my apartment called Hiram’s. I stopped by the other day to try out the menu only to find that their hot dogs were absolutely terrible. It tasted like a warmed up piece of old ham.
    Please don’t peg me for one of those biased Chicago-Style-hot-dog people. I like a Nathan’s dog or Hebrew National just as much as the next hot dog fanatic. This Hiram’s dog however, didn’t measure up in the least. I also ordered a cheese dog too and the cheese just looked like a melted Kraft Single. The cheeseburger I tried was far too small for the price and came with only onions and pickles (Tomato and Lettuce not an option). The french fries and onion rings were really good, and the Birch Beer (if you’re into that) was on tap and delicious.

  10. This is my favorite place to eat in the whole country and I’ve seen most of it. My parents grew up in North Jersey there and I was raised on Hiram’s.
    I still drive three hours (one way) just to bring my wife and kids down to Hiram’s for burgers and dogs. We won’t eat at the places around us in Upstate NY, we wait for the trip to Hiram’s. And it is sooooo worth it. I will be eating there until it kills me. God Bless Hiram’s!!!

  11. Alexander says:

    let me tell u, this place is amazing i eat chiledogs and i love it this place is my favorite place to eat in the whole country, when i live in new jersey every oportunity i go to Hiram´s jajaja, but now im in guatemala city and i miss this place, i hope Hiram´s come to guatemala for one time, Viva Hiram´s

  12. […] 1930s, and still going strong today. This is a great roadside hotdog stand. They also serve beer. NJ Dining: Hirams Off The Broiler [+] Rate this post […]

  13. rob says:

    There were no motorcycles in the pictures, only “respectable vehicles” in the lot…? I hope to meet you one day and i’ll be sure to point you out to everyone. That’s not a dig at you, i just don’t like fagits…

  14. O Callahan’s, our secondary hang-out, how we miss you. A Bank! Our joint with the great dogs, gone. How did this ever happen? So, we the Union Hill High School class of 1962 came to pay homage as part of our official 45th reunion. President-for-Life Bernie Halloran presided as we gazed into the sky above that blessed site. As the sounds of bag pipes played from the 8 speakers of a 2001 Honda Accord V6 couple, there were many, strong and world-wise, who cried. We miss the hot fat squirting into our mouths, the garlic taste, the Yoohoos. Gone, but not forgotten.

  15. […] to Off the Broiler’s Jason Perlow, Hiram’s is most famed for its chili dog, which I had yet to sample. I was also surprised to […]

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