Once upon a time there was a chain of 14 Hot Dogs joints. These tube steak houses even had a race car with their brand, "Tex Barry's Coney Island". Not Coney Island of New York nor Detroit or even Worcester, the last two of these 14 Tex Barry's are in Taunton and Attleboro, Massachusetts. Recently at 11 am in Attleboro all the bolted down swivel seats were full. Arthur Bombardier, the proprietor and his Aunt Rita are as friendly as can be and recommend their griddled Kayem dogs on steamed torpedo style rolls dressed with the works. In this case the works = yellow mustard (not brown) + green relish (not too green) + teeny dice of spanish onion and a meat sauce. This sauce is not a chili but rather spiced finely ground beef and known in upstate NY as a Michigan Sauce or in the Ocean State's NY System, a wiener sauce. Michiganders call em Coneys dressed this way but the taste is different. The whole thing is a departure from the typical Yankee New England split top and toasted roll but is a classic in it's own right. Arthur pairs two dogs in a plastic oval basket with coffee milk which turns out to be excellent advice. Aunt Rita rings it up with change back from a 5. Art says 300-600 of these forced meat magic wieners fly out the door of this tiny lunch spot daily at $1.60 a throw. The clientele claim Art knows your order if you are a regular and the congenial atmosphere supports this.
Three regulars at the counter and for some reason not in school were setting up on hot dogs, perfect golden straight cut fries and sodas. Indelible memories are being digested in this 1927 ruddy red barrel roofed Worcester Lunch Car set along a canal in the downtown of Attleboro. One grey haired youngster who lives locally comes by twice a month for a fix of perfect franks and burgers. Just down the counter proudly displaying his second hot dog of the morning, Howard who lived nearby when he was 8 still makes a 80 mile round trip to Tex Barry's and now brings his grown children who share in the stuff of places that resist change and keep that "back in the day" feeling going. And then there's the TBCI challenge. How many can you eat in 20 minutes? Break the record and it's all on the house. 20 year old John Petrarca is the new record holder. He ate 17 1/2 dogs and we're told is doing fine.
A meal, a snack, a place to skip school where the folks are very cool and memories hang out. Rush here before Food Television comes and spoils it. The big neon hot dog outside this bright red diner is the unmistakeable sign of simple pleasures.
Tex Barry's Coney Island
31 County Road
Tex Barry's Coney Island
31 County St, Attleboro, MA 02703