Thursday, May 12, 2011

Chowing down at the Galloping Hill Inn

The Galloping Hill Inn in Union is a classic, founded in the '20's at a confluence of roads aptly called Five Points. It's the quintessential hot dog and beer kind of place, and when I was a kid, it looked like something you'd find on some rural road -- whitewashed exterior with ordering windows on both the street- and parking lot sides of the building, and a porch with picnic benches. The ordering process is not for the hesitant: customers crowd the broad (8-10 foot wide) window to shout out their orders as the counter guys randomly call "next." Often chaotic, but efficient. There's also a small dining room with waitress service. I can't really offer any commentary on it since I've never actually checked it out.

Like most road joints, atmosphere is half the experience at Galloping Hill. For years, the place was clad in whitewashed clapboard, eliciting the feel of a stand on a backwater thoroughfare. Sadly, they appear to be going for a diner look now, with enamel walls, chrome accents and faux-pressed tin ceilings above the porches. They've also totally enclosed the back-side counter area to create a quasi-interior seating area with benches and a dining counter for the walk-up clientele. That's a welcome addition in my book, as it gives you a quick option for those cold winter Galloping Hill visits.

Fortunately, the quality of my standard order hasn't changed a bit: a 'complete' hot dog (kraut and mustard) and cheese fries with a generous amount of the tasty yellow stuff. Yum. This is a classic tube steak -- nice snap when you bite into it, no gimmicks, though in my opinion, the roll is better suited to a cheesesteak or chicken parm than to a hot dog. Everything always tastes fresh, and given the traffic the place gets, nothing sits for long, anyway.

Five Points is a very busy intersection, so you can't really blame the Galloping Hill guys for moving the transactional part of the business to the back of the building for safety. When my sister and I first started going there in the mid-eighties, we'd eat our meals on the street-side porch and count the near-miss accidents. While we never actually saw a collision, we heard one once, first the screech of tires and crash of car against car, then the very loud string of obscenities expelled by one of the drivers. Jersey road food ambiance -- can't beat it.

1 comment:

  1. Used to be known as Petersons....in the '60s was a family outing to go for hot dogs! Piled in the family car---5 of us-----I was the middle child and had to sit in the middle of the back seat! We ate in the car...hot dog with kraut and order of crisp, salty French fries in one of those boat shaped cardboard dishes. My favorite part was the little crispy pieces in with the fries. Continued to frequent the place straight through college at Newark State/Kean College. Breakfast was at White Castle also in Five Points and lunch/dinner at Galloping Hill. Another great meal was to be had at the Chestnut Tavern down the road a piece! Mangia! Union wasn't short on places to eat even for the college student!

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