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I’m Pretty Sure My Dog Was the Happiest Dog

So.  Even though I didn’t get to tell you about the most wonderfully delicious hot dog ever on Tuesday because I was distracted with 2 flat tires (no, not Fat Tires — flat tires. big difference.) and ended up turning hot dogs into a philosophical discussion on life, the post still spurred some interesting and impassioned hot dog comments.


I hope you didn’t lose steam, because this is the actual hot dog post.  I kind of love it when you comment, because it validates my existence or something.  And I look forward to reading every single one of them.


I love me a good hot dog.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s a rare occasion that you’d ever find one of those pink, plasticy, compressed impersonators that squeak when you bite into them sitting inside of my fridge.  I’ll eat those, yes, but that’s not a proper hot dog.  I’m talking about big, brown, juicy beef franks with real meat grease and manly grill marks.


See what I mean?

The best dog I ever ate purely for the meat taste factor was actually at a Five Guys restaurant.  Yep, a fast food joint.  Once I moved mentally past the oddity of a hot dog split lengthwise down the middle, the thing was gone in 3 bites flat.  It was insanely good, to the point where it probably didn’t need a single topping.


The great thing about hot dogs is that your options are really limitless when it comes to dressing it up.  It just never occurred to me how limitless until my brother took us to Happy Dog in Cleveland.


When he parked outside of the dark, corner bar, I was thinking, Great!  Pre-dinner drinks!

I definitely wasn’t thinking, Great!  Dinner!

Until, that is, I saw the menu.

I’m sorry once again for the blur.  It was pretty dark in there, and all I had was my cell phone camera.

For someone who’s terrified of making decisions, this menu was daunting, to say the least.  The first part was easy — I just had to choose between a veggie dog and a real dog.  Um… do they even know me?  (No, but they probably should.)

I checked the circle for the real dog and moved on.


So many things to try!

What’s Brazilian chimichurri?  And would it taste good with Oaxacan red chile and chocolate mole, topped with Polish ‘cwikla?

And is it socially acceptable to order a hot dog chopped with Korean kim chee, Greek feta cheese, and Marcella’s grape jelly and chile sauce?

Are we allowed to mix ethnicities, or is this a segregated hot dog joint?

Is this going to end up with me mixing a bunch of things I like but they don’t actually taste good together?

What’s more, if I don’t know what these things taste like alone, how am I going to know if they’re good together?!


Then, just when I started to break into a cold sweat, the server told me they had a suggestion menu.

My savior.

Among the suggested options were:

“Childhood Favorite”: ketchup, traditional yellow mustard, chopped onions, Spaghetti O’s, and nacho cheese.

“(no title)”: Bertman’s Original Ballpark mustard, killer steak sauce, bourbon baked beans, habanero pickled red onions, and Frito corn chips.

Justin ended up choosing the “Happy Dog Favorite” with Cajun mayonnaise – Remoulade, bacon spiked southern style beans, smoked Gouda cheese, and a sunny-side-up fried egg.  Or maybe it was the one with chipotle hollandaise, cheddar cheese, Nueske bacon, and a sunny-side-up-fried egg?  I can’t remember.  But it definitely had an egg.  And I’m pretty sure he ordered Gouda.


I ended up getting a bit fancy, choosing a title-less suggested combination of bacon-balsamic marmalade, pineapple-ginger chutney, caramelized onions, and French brie cheese.

And then I died.

And then I came back to life so I could finish the dog and name it “Sweet ‘n Savory a la Bacon with a ‘Stache.”  I’m not sure why.  It just works.

And then I died again.

I still have dreams about it.

My only complaint is that the bun wasn’t fantastic.  In fact, I had to finish the dog with a fork and knife, which is like… hot dog defamation, but what’s a girl to do when her brie is jumping ship?

Happy Dog really should invest in some sturdier buns, or even toast them to ensure they can handle the smorgasbord of deliciousness that gets piled on top, making even happier dogs.

After all, you can’t build a skyscraper on a soggy wetland.  Otherwise you get… I don’t know… The Leaning Tower of Pisa?

On the back of the menu is a simple choice of sides: tater tots or french fries, followed by a not-so-simple choice of dipping sauces and toppings.  I especially enjoyed the saffron aioli and the raspberry crunch mustard.

Just not together.

Pair your custom dog and tots with a Stella Artois (for me) or your beverage of choice, and the result is one happy dog.

Thanks, brother.  You know me so well.


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wow your writing talent just showed itself again you just turned going for a hot dog into a culinary adventure.. felt like I was watching “best thing i ever ate” on the food network.


You know, I completely forgot to mention it in the post, but Iron Chef Michael Symon actually featured this place on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” — a fact I didn’t realize until I looked at the “suggestions” menu. His favorite consisted of some kind of hot sauce, some kind of relish, and chunky peanut butter. Which makes me question his authority on food.

Kat Richter

I need to stop reading your posts on the bus– they make me so damn hungry!!! Loved the line about your brie jumping ship :)


Thank you! Or just start packing yourself a snack. ;)


I just had lunch, but now I’m hungry again.


My bad… I’m trying to fatten you up.


Hot Dogs! Now you’re talking! We are from Chicago, where there is a hot dog joint on every corner! Now on the west coast, we often find ourselves wishing we could get one without having to go to an amusement park or a ball game to get it! It seems they just don’t take the hot dog seriously out here……….


Yeah, it seems like people are a lot more health conscious on the west coast — don’t they understand that happiness is a key to health, and hot dogs are a key to happiness? Just sayin’… ;)

I’ve never been to Chicago, but it sounds like my kind of town!


This sounds awesome. Just a pity its across an ocean from me!


Definitely! But I’m sure you have a few things in England that I’d love to get my grubby mitts on… :)


I didn’t get in on the previous hot dog conversation, but as a girl from Rochester, I have to say that there is no better hot dog than a Zweigle’s pop open. And the proper way to eat it is on a garbage plate. Still looking at that list of toppings, it looks like a definite place to stop. Vodka sauerkraut? Bok choy cola stir fry? I have a feeling I’d need elastic waist banded pants to visit there. Looks delish. Thanks for sharing.


Oh, yes. You really shouldn’t eat for the entire day before you go. And Zweigle’s pop open? Haven’t heard of it, but it’s officially on my list because it’s the best. name. ever.


I didn’t think I liked hot dogs until daisyfae and I went to Crif Dogs in New York. Wowzah!!


I have STILL not been to New York city. I know… for shame. But I’ll remember Crif Dogs when I go. ;)

Nick H.

So, I am reading your blog; twice in one week! That hot dog place sounds amazing. Do they offer a free EKG scan at the local hospital? Is there a waiver you have to sign acknowledging that you just took 2 weeks off your life? There should be. All we have here in RIchmond is a place called City Dogs. Not impressed. They are open til 3am which is helpful when leaving the bar after last call, but there dogs are nothing special. I love your writing by the way. You have a cynical side that I just identify with so well. I told Catherine we need a weekend getaway, so maybe we will come visit soon! Take care!


Ha, that’s fantastic! Maybe I just need to keep talking about food to get you to stick around…

And really, Chef, you should know — when something is really good, calories don’t count. ;)


You know I’ve never been much of a hot dog fan, but I love a good Nathan’s hot dog on a summer day. Maybe I’d like them more if they were – special – like the ones at this restaurant? It’s worth a try sometime! They looked delish – and creative!


Definitely. Once you get into crazy gourmet toppings, there’s nothing not to like!

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