There’s something going on here with hot dogs. Seemingly overnight, hot dogs meant for a sit-down meal (not, say, an overflowing paper plate of Fritos) are appearing on menus across the city.
Dallas’ new trend has nothing to do with dirty water dogs—those raunchy franks hanging out in a deprivation tank of their own juices you find in New York City—or the kind you’d find at Wild About Harry’s. recently closed (RIP) with grated cheese and chilli.
And while Dallas has lost plenty of no-fuss dog joints over the years, we’re suddenly home to twenty party dogs, meat-packed trimmed to new.
In the lobby of the Highland Dallas, the hotel on the corner of Mockingbird and Central, Knife serves a Frank 44 Farms, brilliant from the grill, for $9. For $4 more, they’ll treat themselves to Akaushi Beef Chilli. On SMU Boulevard, you’ll find a Chicago-style dog for $11 at Julian Barsotti’s new bar Farewell horses.
“I’m so curious if it’s going to have traction,” Barsotti says of their dog. It consists of flat-grilled Viennese beef frank, garnished with Marconi peppers straight from the pot, celery salt and mustard. No tomato. “We just did it because we love it.”
If you prefer something less rough, something less old-fashioned, keep an eye out for Dallas chef Misti Norris’ traveling pop-up concept, rainbow cat. A recent installation at Cosmo’s featured the Unicorn Dog, made with homemade sausage and topped with pickled summer peppers, slices of mushroom mayonnaise and sticky rice shaped into a bun. The Rye restaurant on Greenville Avenue features a love letter to an Icelandic-style hot dog. It’s local Wagyu-style beef with mild mustard, remoulade, onion and fried shallots on rugbrød (a Danish rye bread) for $7.
All of this is coming to diners in Dallas after a series of hot dog joints have gone up and down over the past two decades. Luscher’s Red Hots was a gem in Deep Ellum during its short life which ended in 2016. Wild About Harry’s closed in 2021 after 25 years in business. Lakewood once had a place called Jerry’s Wood-Fired Dogs just off the busy intersection of Gaston and Abrams, and Singleton Boulevard was once home to a Hofmann Hots.
So there are questions. Have we lost the traditional hot dog forever to the glamor of a hot dog sitting in the middle of a larger upscale bar menu?
Even an iconic Chicago company Portillo’s, which is expanding into D-FW this fall, touts its Italian beef sandwiches rather than its famous hot dogs. Portillo CEO Michael Osanloo, who plans to open 18 to 20 restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth over the next five years, told reporter Sarah Blaskovich that his restaurant is “not a hot dog restaurant. “. He pointed to this part: “It’s an Italian beef place. If people come to Portillo and they eat one thing, I would tell them to have a beef sandwich. (But for those who want a hot dog, there are seven different styles on their menu.)
And there are still antidotes to dog sitting in town. Try New York Submarines franks, 100% Fort Worth beef snappers that won’t cost you more than $10 (even with a fresh grape soda).
“By the way, Chicago dogs don’t have chili peppers on them,” says Andrew Kelley, a Chicago native and owner of the New York Sub. His $6 Chicago Dog sports all the classic toppings, including Slimer-green relish, if that’s your thing. It’s prodigious, slamming with streams of beef juice. “I can’t sell you a $17 martini, but you can get a $2 Delaware punch.”
A Texas classic lives in angry dog, who splits and blisters their dog on the griddle, then smashes the hot dog under a heaving blanket of chilli and shredded cheddar cheese. This is the only dog in which it is acceptable to use a knife and fork. In fact, check that: Burger House has been serving fork-and-knife chili dogs — the kind of plastic in the carton — for pocket change for seven decades.
And in marvelous darkness, hidden away from shame and light, Mike’s Gemini Twin Lounge serves “rolled-to-order” hot dogs. That means they’re right there on the bar, constantly swirling and burning at the same time, and under $6. Mike’s Gemini uses Texas Chili Company franks (all beef and brisket) and offers all the store-bought condiments a weary soul desires.