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Hot diggity dog: Burkett's Deli is a treat

August 01, 2011

By Anne Chovey

Special to The Herald-Mail

Burkett's Deli, located on Locust Street in downtown Hagerstown, is a surprising place.

Many places calling themselves "deli" would more appropriately be called a sub or sandwich shop as that is what they offer.

Burkett's, though, in true deli style, offers much more.

I had driven past Burkett's but never stopped in until recently, when it was too hot to cook and I had a couple of people to feed.

I had placed my order by phone, but it was not quite ready so I had the opportunity to look around.

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As I came in the front door I saw a couple of tables and chairs and a long counter with stools along the right wall.

The counter had a wide assortment of hot sauces lined up on it. There was a counter on the left with the register and one along the back wall where orders were placed.

The back counter was a case full of meats and cheeses, which you could buy by the pound.

In between the counters were shelves of groceries, bread and canned goods. There was a huge assortment of hot sauces and similar items.

A refrigerated cooler held drinks and gallons of milk as well as some fresh produce. There were russet potatoes for sale in a big bin.

This was a real deli.

Burkett's has cold sandwiches and subs in six- and 12-inch sizes in the usual variety with prices ranging from $3.99 for a six-inch cold cut to $5.99 for country ham. There are also salads and soups.

But what really got my attention was the second page of the menu.

This part had hot subs, both six and 12-inch, and hot sandwiches, regular and "stuffed."

Among the regular offerings were a grilled PB&J for $2.99 and thick fried bologna for $3.99.

The "stuffed" sandwiches include double meat and choice of fries, breaded mushrooms or onion rings added to the sandwich.

I tried to envision a double-meat rib eye steak with breaded mushrooms or a reuben with fries on it (both $8.99).

There was a section devoted to french fries: fresh cut, cheese, gravy, chili and "crabby" ($1.99 to $6.99).

Another section of the menu was dubbed "The Burger House." Burgers could be served on a roll or six- or 12-inch bun.

There were lots of burgers to choose from: The Mayor, which was three burgers, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing ($6.79 to $16.99); The Buffalo Burger with buffalo sauce, jalapenos, pepper jack cheese and ranch sauce ($5.69 to $10.69) and The Brunch Burger: bacon, sausage, egg any style (they recommend "dippy") for $6.79 to $14.79.

But wait, there is more!

"The Dog House" had hot dogs in ways I had never seen before.

I couldn't wait to try a couple. A single dog was $2.99 but you could get two for $4.99.

I picked The Seattle Dog: cream cheese, brown mustard and sauerkraut and The Deputy Dog: bacon, cheddar cheese, mustard and cole slaw.

I was picking up dinner for my friends Pap Ricka and Mack Aroni. Pap wanted (I know you will be surprised here) a six-inch turkey sub from the cold menu and a six-inch buffalo chicken and cheese sub from the hot one.

Mack has a big appetite and I briefly considered getting him The Burkinator, a 12-inch double cheeseburger sub with four pieces of bacon.

When I looked on the website, there was a challenge that if you can eat The Burkinator, a plate of chili cheese fries and a 32-ounce drink it is free and you get a T-shirt to boot. Hmmm.

Maybe his appetite was not THAT big.

I decided to get him a pizza burger, which is topped with pepperoni and provolone.

I threw in an order of onion rings for good measure.

On the way home, I sampled the onion rings which were fresh out of the fryer. They were the old-fashioned whole rings -- not the chopped, formed kind. Great!

Pap was pleased with his turkey sub which he found fresh, if unremarkable. He was more impressed with the buffalo chicken sub. The chicken was moist and the sauce spicy. Mack enjoyed his pizza sub, but found it to be like any other pizza sub.

I hit the jackpot with the "dogs." The meat had been grilled, which melted the cream cheese on the Seattle and the cheddar on the Deputy.

They were each loaded with the salad part, sauerkraut on the one and coleslaw on the other that allowed me to briefly pretend that I was eating healthy.

The combination of flavors was unusual and delicious. And for $2.99, each dog was meal in itself. Pap kept eyeing my plate jealously so I shared and he gobbled up the rest.

I am glad to have discovered Burkett's. It is so convenient to have a place downtown to stop in for bread and milk and to pick up some meat and cheese.

And I can't wait to try another dog from "The Dog House."

Next time, I'll get one for Pap, too.

Anne Chovey is a pseudonym for a Herald-Mail freelance writer who reviews restaurants anonymously to avoid special treatment.

Burkett's Deli

3 1/2 (out of 5)

Food: 3 1/2

Service: 2 (the restaurant is designed to be self-service)

Ambiance: 3

Value: 3

Address: 23 N. Locust St., downtown Hagerstown

Phone: 301-745-4431

Hours: 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Food: Sandwiches and subs, soup, fries and salads. No real vegetarian options.

Bathrooms: Clean and large and accessible.

Parking and handicapped accessibility: Ample parking in the public parking lot outside the restaurant. No accessibility issues inside the restaurant.

Reservations are not necessary.

Website: http://www.burkettsdeli.com

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