The second stop on our Hot Doggin’ in Maine Tour brought us to the naturally breathtaking Down East Maine Coast. We were out near Acadia National Park in the Schoodic Peninsula community of Winter Harbor, Maine.
Winter Harbor got its name because the harbor doesn’t freeze in the winter time. The rocky Maine coastline makes for some wonderful scenery. The many inlets, coves, and harbors in this part of the Gulf of Maine make for great hiking, biking, and kayaking. It’s also a wonderful place to ride around in a convertible with the top down.
Seafood is what many locals and tourists crave while visiting this community.
At the head of the harbor in Winter Harbor, this stone sculpture sits in the tidal flats. About 400 feet from this spot is The Fisherman’s Inn Restaurant, which is only open for dinner.
During the day, the parking lot of the Fisherman’s Inn turns into Nui’s Delicious Dogs.
Nui’s Delicious Dogs is a hot dog cart!
Two time Maine Chef of the Year, Carl Johnson, is the owner of both the Fisherman’s Inn AND Nui’s Delicious Dogs. Carl is a bit of a local business tycoon in Winter Harbor; he also runs the Sunset House Bed and Breakfast with his wife Kathy and Grindstone Neck Smoked Seafood with his son Mason. A couple of years ago, Carl found it increasingly difficult to make lunch service profitable. Cranking up a full service restaurant for lunch created a lot of extra costs due to staffing and overhead, so Carl decided to simplify lunch service by creating casual curbside dining in the parking lot. Carl jokes that he has his little hot dog business supporting a 4,000 square foot restaurant.
Carl’s daughter-in-law Nui (for whom the cart is named) and her husband, Carl’s son Matt, operate the hot dog cart. EVERYONE in the family works in the restaurant during dinner service. Carl is the chef, Kathy is the hostess, Mason cooks, Matt makes drinks, and Nui waits tables.
On the hot dog cart, they keep things simple: Maine Red Snappers and Pearl, All Beef Franks.
Nui will grill the buns upon request. Get a load of that quarter pound Pearl crackling open on the flat top!
This IS Maine, and since they’re only 400 feet from the head of Winter Harbor, you’d expect to find Lobster Rolls on the menu. Each roll has a quarter pound of new shell claw and leg meat. You can get them plain or with mayo and celery salt.
As for the hot dogs, other than the home made, all beef , chili and cheese, the condiments are self serve. They have brown and yellow mustard, the red stuff for the kids, onions, sauerkraut, Carl’s Hawaiian Relish, spicy pepper relish, and Carl’s “Chicago Style” relish.
I don’t know how Carl got the relish so green without real Chicago River water, but this stuff looks spectacular when paired with Red Snappers- almost like a Christmas tree.
Before long, Nui and Matt were slammed. The customers were three deep all around the cart. It was a pretty fun and friendly crowd.
“Mr. Maine” made an appearance too!
We took photos of peoples dogs. Here’s Two LOADED Pearl Chili Dogs with cheese and Onion Crunch.
Here’s Nui dressing up a couple of Maine Red Snappers.
Mrs. Hotdogman broke with tradition by having a chili dog with bacon, NACHO CHEESE, and Onion Crunch!
Mrs. HDM chowed down!
I got a chili dog with Hawaiian relish, cheese and Onion Crunch. Carl’s home made chili is out of this world. It’s a mild, all beef chili with the consistency and texture of a Coney Island Sauce. It is very good!
Time to CHOW DOWN!
Even Nui got into the act!
Nui confessed to being a bit nervous about being on film, but once she got used to the idea, she turned out to be a big ham!
The Johnson family is a hardworking, fun loving family that’s making it happen in Winter Harbor. ALL THUMBS UP for Nui’s Delicious Dogs! Mrs. HDM and I fell in love with Down East Maine and we plan to return next year. It is beautiful country (and the lobster tastes better in Maine!)
For the rest of the story, check out the video: