Gastronomic Seduction :: Hot Dog Cascais. Legendary hot dogs.
They are officially called “Hot Dog Cascais”, but to those who know them since always they are “Guincho’s hot dogs”.
If you think that a hot dog is just a hot dog, or if you think that you have already tried the world’s best hot dog, think again. You will never know what that is, until you try one of these.
“Hot Dog” is more than a hot dog trailer. It’s a legend of Cascais’ life and an obligatory passing point for tourists’ and locals’ daily itinerary. They have been a success for more than 30 years, no questions asked!
A truly idyllic scenario. The ceiling from this restaurant is painted sky blue and all windows bow over the possessing Atlantic Ocean. Air conditioning is provided through purity of the wind and chandeliers, and the warmth for visitors both during the winter and summer, is offered by of sunbeams.
Accommodated near the cliffs of Mexilhoeiro beach, in Cascais, “Guincho’s hot dogs”, as most of us know them, were born on 6th July 1986. For those who have been following them since day one, you probably don’t need to do any maths… It’s been… almost 30 years?! Owners and customers are all the same, that’s for sure. All due to the conserving fresh air and brave ocean.
That includes Sally, a great partner and friend on this tasty trip. Not knowing who Sally is, is not knowing at the whole story. Sally was born in 1974 and has been part of “Hot Dog Cascais” since the first day. This charming and irreverent van is an original from those days, and is now pompously called “vintage” – even though it keeps the original style from old days. Maximum points for charisma!
Sally and the owners, António and Paula Novais, have known each other for three generations of regular customers. They started as friends with local youngsters who came here with their parents, that later presented them to their girl or boyfriends… then their children came and… life kept moving on, for everyone!
“We have customers that have been visiting us for precisely 29 years. We have customers that are in fact friends, some of them even work here with us” – Paula Novais tells us. “There are dates that start and end here. Wedding requests, bachelor’s parties… In all these years I think that Sally and us have seen it all” – she adds up.
Being on the route to Guincho’s beach, whoever practices or sees someone surfing on that beach always ends by stopping at the van at the end of the afternoon to relax, eat a hot dog or drink something fresh, while enjoying the sunset. It is also common to see many surfboards hanging around. The atmosphere couldn’t be more relaxed; “Good Feeling” is an expression that perfectly fits this scenario.
The climate and the surrounding landscape are part of nature at its best, both during summer and winter. The sea, sometimes calm, others rough, the colour pallet invites contemplation of the cliffs, vegetation and rocks. Guia’s lighthouse and the sunset are some of the highlights of this breath-taking scenario. Seagulls, with their regular daily presence, come mostly at the end of the day. Besides all this, the cycling and walking lane, that starts in Cascais and ends in Guincho, are a clear invitation for a visit, in the healthiest way possible. All together there are small-great details that make this place not just a spot for tasting some delicious hot dogs but, above all, an opportunity to enjoy great moments of beauty and quietness.
Seagulls are not exactly an altruistic presence – these skittish cliff watchers are used to taking a beak-full of daily crumbs and, by the end of the summer, they are used to eating from visitor’s hands, without any fear. “With a lot of patience and dedication we have learned that they are a species that, besides being suspicious, can be very gentle” – confesses Paula, with visible tenderness for her visitors.
But it’s not only the seagulls thatnever forget the taste of what they find there. There are some foreign customers, that, during many years, on arrival in Cascais during their holidays or business, go straight to the van, expressing how much they’ve missed it. The same happens to Portuguese people living or working abroad.
And, after all, what is the great secret of these “simple” hot dogs that have blown out and melted hearts and palates for nearly 30 years?
“Hot dogs’ secret is precisely that – a secret! It goes through the bread recipe, exclusively made by a baker just for us, the sauce combination recipe, also ours, and by the way, they have been made, always the same way, for nearly 30 years”.
For us, who have known for nearly 30 years the reason that so many locals, Portuguese and citizens from the whole world return to “Hot Dog”, there is one secret that can be revealed. The success of “Guincho’s Hot Dogs” is in its soul. The soul of those who them for 30 years with so much dedication and the soul of the location that hosts them.
The rest? You have to come by and try them out!
The simpler – with French fries and four sauces – the most emblematic, with white cabbage, purple cabbage, onions, carrots, French fries and cheese – a challenge to gravity and a test of skill, just to make sure you don’t miss the smallest bit. The boldest – with chilli, or even the vegetarian, only with vegetables, or the vegie dog with soy sausage; it’s your pick. What you really can’t do is visit Cascais without coming over for a bite. Go on, admit it, we’ve already opened your appetite.