M any childhood pleasures—like eating paste, or playing leapfrog—lose their luster as we age. Others don’t, and Jordan’s Hot Dogs & Mac, located on upper State Street, proves it.
“My son Jordan used to like hot dogs cut up inside of his mac and cheese. That’s how it started,” Corey Spruill says. After asking around and finding that the kidtastic combination also appealed to adults, Spruill opened Jordan’s in 2012.
The cookery’s namesake is now 7 years old, and, according to his father, “almost tired of hot dogs.” For this adult, however, the appeal is still going strong. I tried three dogs: the New England ($5), the Bacon BBQ ($5.25) and, of course, the Mac Supreme ($7.80).
The New England comes with sauerkraut, onion sauce and hot relish beneath a zigzag of yellow mustard. It was a classic dog, elevated by touches of brilliance. From the local favorite Hummel Bros., it was butterflied and grilled on each side, packing extra char and caramelization into each bite while also offering a place for the toppings to nestle. The toppings were served warm over the dog and proportioned so that the dish was plentiful but not over-burdened. If sauerkraut is sliding down your wrists at Jordan’s, you’re probably doing it wrong.
The Bacon BBQ option is Spruill’s favorite and the restaurant’s bestseller. The dog I tried was glazed with thick barbecue sauce, smothered with melted cheddar and studded with bacon. The barbecue added a heady sweetness to the dog that played well with others.
The Mac Supreme, the one that started it all, is surprisingly restrained for what it is. When you create a macaroni and cheese hot dog, it seems you have a choice between making it a gut-buster or keeping it more buttoned-up. Jordan’s does a little of both, delivering quantity and quality. The mac and cheese is simple and rich—not overly cheesy, but composed and well-suited to its role as a topping. The Mac Supreme also comes with bacon and pickled jalapeños to add smoke and heat.
Tiff Spruill, Corey’s wife and business partner, makes the macaroni and cheese in-house, but when Corey asks if she wants to give away the recipe, she says only that there are five different cheeses involved and sharp cheddar is one of them.
The recipe, as it turns out, isn’t only hers to protect. “It’s originally my mother-in-law’s,” Tiff says. “When I took it over it stayed the same—I didn’t want to change anything.” Corey says that his mother, who he remembers “slaving in the kitchen for so long making that mac and cheese,” is happy her special dish is now on display at Jordan’s.
On all three dogs there was an extra touch that made them particularly memorable. That perpetually overlooked companion to the hot dog, the bun, is perhaps the very best thing at Jordan’s. New England-style buns, which are cut across the top as opposed to the side, they’re closer to really good sliced bread, painted with butter before being toasted on the grill.
The result is a warm, fatty bun with char marks along the side—sturdy, tasty and oddly unique. You might wonder why hot dogs would be served any other way after having the buns at Jordan’s.
Corey and Tiff agree that the appeal of Jordan’s, other than the buns and the novel macaroni and the well-matched toppings, is as simple as the palate that inspired the menu: “Everybody loves hot dogs,” they say. Tiff’s love has led her to make up new menu items, her favorite of which is the Chili Mac Dog Supreme, which is as bombastic as it sounds. “I was feeling greedy,” she says with a laugh when asked about her inspiration. “I wanted a little something different—something sweet, spicy and salty.”
That kind of flavor play is right at home at Jordan’s, where food is still fun.
Written and photographed by Sorrel Westbrook.