Tag Archives: hot dogs

Mile 100 – Shorty’s Lunch, Washington, Pa.

Shorty’s Lunch, Washington, Pa.

It seems like almost every old city has at least one hot dog/hamburger/lunch place that has survived downtown for decades, despite the general decline of downtown areas in the U.S.

Washington has Shorty’s Lunch, tucked along West Chestnut Street downtown. Shorty’s has been around since 1932, and the eight booths inside haven’t changed. Like Coney Island in Cumberland, there is a bar/counter along one side of the dining area, and the booths line the opposite wall, making Shorty’s a pretty packed place with just a relatively small crowd.

The menu is pretty simple, with hot dogs and hamburgers being the staple. The grill sits in one of the front windows, so anyone walking along West Chestnut can see the rows of hot dogs being cooked inside. A hot dog with everything (which is what I inadvertently got) has a mustard base, and is then layers with a type of chili sauce and onions.

An “everything” hot dog.

I actually had no idea of the reputation Shorty’s has in southwest Pennsylvania. When I was in Washington, I just picked Shorty’s because it was one of the only older-looking restaurants downtown – and hot dogs always sound good. But as I started to look for background information online, I saw that Shorty’s had been featured in a number of publications including the Pittsburgh media (Shorty’s has its own Wikipedia article, which links to most of that information).

It’s not surprising that Shorty’s has a dedicated customer base – not only is the food good, but people seem to be generally protective of their old hot dog establishments (For me, I’m always going to be biased toward Coney Island in Cumberland, and will defend that it has the best hot dogs of anywhere – despite that there are just as many equally-great similar places).

Shorty’s is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Parking is available along just about every street in downtown Washington. Because the menu is so simple, you’ll probably have whatever you order in less than a minute. Take-out also seemed to be a popular option at Shorty’s. It is located at 34 W. Chestnut St., between Main Street and Jefferson Avenue.
Shorty's Lunch on Urbanspoon


Mile 75 – Fiddle’s Confectionery, Brownsville, Pa.

Fiddle's Confectionery on Bridge Street in Brownsville, Pa., located under the Intercounty Bridge.

During my time in Brownsville, I struggled to find an older, historic eatery that was not part of a chain. I drove what seemed like all over town looking for a place that is local, along (or near) the National Road and has a significant historic connection.

Enter Fiddle’s Confectionery – almost hidden under the Intercounty Bridge that runs between Brownsville, Fayette County, and West Brownsville, Washington County, over the Monongahela River. (It is important to note that this bridge carries the original National Road routing, versus the newer U.S. 40 bridge upriver.)

Fiddle’s isn’t actually a confectionery in the literal definition of the word. Instead, it is a full-service restaurant with a significant emphasis on an American favorite – hot dogs. For myself, I had the chili dogs, which were made up of a toasted bun, a hot dog split open down the middle and then loaded with chili. Of course, Fiddle’s does have many other options besides hot dogs, especially breakfast food.

What makes Fiddle’s special is the attachment the restaurant has to the community. Fiddle’s has been in operation since 1910, and although owners have changed, Fiddle’s is one of those restaurants that has retained a similar atmosphere throughout its existence. The booths along the front window of the dining area have been in use in the 1920s, and a dining counter is also still in use (though the arrangement of the restaurant has been moved around since the 1960s).

Chili Dogs at Fiddle's Confectionery, Brownsville, Pa.

In addition to the restaurant’s literal history, there’s something to be said about a community business that has weathered the ups and downs of the economy, and still operates despite the business’s home town losing roughly two-thirds of its population since the early 1900s. When I stopped by on a Friday afternoon, there were only three other patrons in the whole place, all of whom were older men who fit the stereotype of a former blue-collar worker in a Rust Belt town (though this doesn’t mean the crowd is the same all the time!). Even the location of Fiddle’s speaks for itself, as the restaurant is more or less under a bridge built after the restaurant’s home, and is smack in the middle of a town (and a region) with too many buildings and not enough tenants.

That being said, the simple existence of Fiddle’s, plus the great taste of the food, makes the restaurant a great stop along the National Road, if for nothing else than to get a nostalgic taste of a bygone time.

To get to Fiddle’s (101 Bridge St.) – which can be confusing for out-of-towners – turn on to Water Street from Market Street, which is one block east of the Intercounty Bridge (see the map). Follow Water Street around a left curve, and Fiddle’s will be directly in front of you. Parking is available under the bridge by turning left upon reaching Fiddle’s. To contact Fiddle’s by phone, call 724-785-2020. It’s also important to mention that debit and credit cards are not accepted. However, there is an ATM inside.

Fiddle’s is open all week; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Fiddle's Restaurant on Urbanspoon