No, no, they aren't in Salem, but who from Salem hasn't been west on Highway 18 headed toward Lincoln City? About six miles before the coast, you pass through the tiny crossroad known as Otis: home of the Otis Cafe, a gas station with stop and shop and... Pronto Pup.
If you haven't been stopping to pick up a yummy sausage on a stick dipped in cornmeal dough at every chance... then you gotta get a new habit! It's a little yellow building tucked aside the gas station, with indoor seating via a handful of tables that are straight out of my memories of 1970, and a small outdoor eating area of wooden picnic tables on a covered deck.
You can't miss the sign... and the only connection to the south of the border fashion chosen by the mustachioed mascot is the availability of knitted hot sauce bottle clothes--I'm not kidding--which are made by a great grandmother according to the sign that hangs nearby.
Pronto Pup is a comforting childhood memory of trips to the coast for many... because they've been there since the 1940's... no joke! This year is my first with Pronto Pups, but I'll tell you it's a must-stop with every trip out to the coast. The fact that I sped on by for three years before ever stopping is truly sad! So many missed opportunities!
The location is clean... mostly. It's no frills, and the menu is actually pretty diverse... a diverse array of all things battered and fried, that is! Together my sidekick Scot and I have tried the Pronto Pup, the German sausage pup, fried pickles, mozarella sticks, beer battered fries, and our favorite... the Jalapeno Cheddar Pup! It's all been yummy. The original Pronto Pups are great in pairs, but the other sausages are huge and one will fit the bill for average appetites. Turnaround is fast so if you're eating in you can always sample one and decide if you want another.
I bet you will.
The dogs are large and moist, mildly flavored and locally made. The coating is flavorful and light, hand dipped right there in front of you and quickly fried to a crisp outside with a moist interior.
The staff is down home, nice and helpful, and aside from some kids helping at the counter the same two or three people run the show every single time we've visited.
There are seasonal and healthy options offered as well: a few weeks ago when we stopped by, they were offering fried squash; a summer squash was cut into thick sticks, battered and fried. ;-) A few fellow diners tried it while we were there, and the feedback was positive, uttered through full mouths!
You can buy a bag of the coating mix so you can make your own Pronto Pups at home, but they won't be the same, I'm sure. And every man needs one of the sexy bright yellow Pronto Pup t-shirts as well. (Yes, Scot has one.)
If if you haven't stopped, add a little tasty fun to your summer trips to the beach and grab a Pronto Pup!
And yes, you can make your own dirty little jokes about the size and shape of the pups.