As one who lived on Nicoll Street in the late 1980s and owned the historic Eagle House on View Street in the early aughts, I've had an abiding fondness for the Upper State Street neighborhood, considered to be part of the larger East Rock Neighborhood. Some of New Haven's more interesting restaurants have resided there, including fondly remembered Basel's (bouzouki music, Greek dancing, dolmathes and shashlik), Hatsune (yakitori and sushi) in its second of three incarnations and Annie's Firehouse (blueberry chicken).
Upper State Street remains as interesting and diverse as ever. At its southern end, one finds upscale restaurants like Goodfellas, L'Orcio, Da Legna, and Christopher Martin's as well as renowned Modern Apizza. At its northern end, one finds a quirkier selection that includes upscale Portofino as well as Café Diesel, State Garden Chinese, Tlaxcala Mexican Grocery, J.P. Dempsey's, c.o.jones, Cave à Vin, Marjolaine Bakery, and next to it, Jordan's Hot Dogs & Mac.
Jordan's, which opened in September 2012, is barely larger than a food truck or stand. It's a little smoky inside, the flavor of roasting hot dogs wafting to customers' noses, making the negligible wait seem longer than it actually is. About 30 percent of Jordan's business is delivery, the rest carry-away. There are no tables, but I manage to perch on a folding chair and watch the customers come and go. Couples. Singles. A big order for a nearby office. There's even a pair in bright yellow shorts from IKEA.
Personable owner Corey Spruill, a New Haven native, named the place for his four-year-old son Corey "Jordan" Spruill, who "likes his hot dogs with mac and cheese," says Spruill. Internet research has convinced Spruill that his restaurant originated the combination.
The hot dogs, which start at $3.50 (grilled all-beef) and go as high as $8.30 (Chili Mac Dog Supreme), are from Hummel Bros., even the Red Hots, and the rolls, which Spruill browns first, are New England-style jumbo buns from Restaurant Depot. Hot dogs are served with a pickle spear and a bag of potato chips. Foxon Park sodas are a welcome extra.
There are just over a dozen hot dog combinations on the menu, or you can create your own. I'm especially partial to the chili mac dog ($7.30), a 10-inch Hummel dog topped with the slightly sweet home-style chili and gooey mac and cheese. You can also get sides of chili mac ($4.50), chili ($4) and coleslaw ($1.25). And that's pretty much the entire menu. Sweet and simple.
Jordan's Hot Dogs & Mac is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday. There are no tables; the food is delivery or takeout. Payment is cash only; there's an ATM in the laundromat across the street.