Pat's Hubba Hubba
is a famous late-night greasy spoon
chili spot located at 24 North Main Street in the village of Port Chester
in Westchester County, New York
. Located near the New York and Connecticut border, Hubba's caters to the local bar scene by staying open until 5:00am on the weekends, and at least 3:00am on weeknights.
The restaurant was originally known as "Texas Hot Lunch" and was owned by Edna Kaplan and operated by Mildred Meade (affectionately known as "Millie"), an elderly woman peppered with a cranky personality who served blazing hot chili
with a complementary plastic gallon bleach jug (label torn off) of water. Pat Carta bought the storefront location of the former Texas Hot Lunch in 1989 and changed the name to Pat's Hubba Hubba, the same as his original restaurant in Cos Cob, which he closed shortly after taking over Texas Quick Lunch. He expanded the menu from simple chili and chili hot dogs to variants including the most popular dish -- chili cheese fries (a throwback to the thick "fries Texas" previously sold by Texas Hot Lunch (described by ESPN
.com columnist Bill Simmons
as the "best drunken late-night food ever"
). By the early to mid-90s, Pat opened a second location at 820 Cove Road in the city of Stamford
in Fairfield County, Connecticut
. A third location followed, also in Stamford, at 189 Bedford Street(now closed and gone), in the heart of the busy downtown bar district. Unlike the hole-in-the-wall vibe of New York Hubba's, these new Connecticut locations were designed more like a traditional diner. Eventually, Pat sold the Port Chester Hubba's to his longtime friend and co-worker Carlos, and he closed down the 3rd location in downtown Stamford. Currently, Pat still owns the Stamford location at 820 Cove Road and it operates with the classic name Pat's Hubba Hubba. Hubba's in Port Chester is now under Carlos' ownership, and the name has been changed to just "Hubba". But the original menu and vibe remains. However, most will agree that you have to go to Port Chester for the true "Hubba Experience."
Chili and ambiance
The main ingredient in most of Hubba's offerings is the chili, which is made with ground beef
and hot chili peppers and little else. It contains no beans, tomatoes, or vegetables of any kind. As the chili cools, a viscous red oil precipitates out and eventually coagulates into a thick orange/red wax. The chili is prepared in what can only be described as a huge vat, which is visible from Main Street, through the front window of the restaurant. The inside of Hubba's is long and narrow, like a bowling lane. There's 13 counter stools bolted to the floor, where you can sit at the counter, but during peak hours, it's a standing room only crowd. Decently cheap menu items are written in marker on paper plates, tacked onto the wall. At the Port Chester location, many menu items are written differently on separate paper plates. Perhaps the most charming aspect of Hubba's decor
is the wallpaper of dollar bills. Patrons are encouraged to sign dollar bills and tape them to the walls and ceiling, creating a unique atmosphere consisting entirely of greenbacks. The writing on the bills ranges from pride in the local high schools and community to hilarious drunken designs. It's fun to read the walls as you're eating, or to contribute your own bill.
Beverages from a soda fountain are available for purchase, but Hubba's famously carries no ice. Regulars know that the best bet is to order free Hubba Water. It's pink water, which can be very amusing when you're drunk
. Hubba Water is basically water with a drop of fruit punch included. The origins of this unique drink go back to when the soda machine broke. Legend says that the fruit punch leaked into the water, thus creating the Hubba Water of today. If you're not washing down Hubba Chili with some free Hubba Water, you're not getting the true Hubba experience. Hamburgers
and hot dogs
can be ordered Texas and California style, which is some kind of variation in the toppings. Texas style includes chili and onions. California style consists of lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. But basically, you want everything covered in Hubba chili and cheese. Many argue that the only toppings one should order are chili and cheese. Hubba's most unusual dish is arguably the chili cheese clams - fried clams covered in Pat's signature greasy chili and melted cheese. Additionally Hubbas offers chicken parmigiana with chili and cheese on top.
Many observers have commented on the eclectic nature of Hubba's clientele, that it's actually a microcosm of the melting pot that is Port Chester, New York. Peter Applebome of the New York Times
describes Hubba's as "where the yin and yang of suburbia north, with addictive regularity, get to face down both ennui and intestinal distress." Students and area bar patrons mix right in with the large local Hispanic
population. During the late night hours, it can be very rowdy and fun. The Frank and Steve can be spotted feasting on a delicious order consisting of a chilicheese hotdog wedge and a large chilicheese fries in addition to thier Ben and Jerry's 1 pint cinnamon buns tub of ice cream. Hubba's has become a legendary food spot for the residents of Westchester and southern Connecticut. Check out Port Chester for the original experience and atmosphere. Check out Stamford for a more varied menu and perhaps higher quality food from the owner Pat.
One note of contention among frequenters is the name by which the restaurant should be called. While most areas call the establishment by its present name, "Hubba's," certain communities, such as Mamaroneck
, still cling to the name "Pat's." Often times, this causes much confusion when participating inter-community activities, as one person may not be aware of the other name.
- "Everybody Comes to Hubba's. O.K., Maybe Not the Health Food Crowd" by Peter Applebome, New York Times, July 10, 2005; Section 1; Column 1; Metropolitan Desk; Our Towns; Pg. 25 (click here for article's associated slideshow)
- "In the Wee Small Hours in the County" by Nick Ravo, New York Times, November 29, 1998, Section 14WC, Page 19
- Bill Simmons, ESPN.com, June 17, 2005
- Bill Simmons, ESPN.com, June 17, 2005 Cached Google page with the Pat's reference intact.
- Love Song to the Might and Majesty of the Chili Dog, Steve Bunche, June 26, 2004
- Pat's Hubba Hubba mentioned on metafilter.com