Friday, August 7, 2009

Angry Dog

Dallas, TX

How does that line from Romeo & Juliet go? A rose by any other name is just as sweet? Well Angry Dog decided to put the name of their restaurant on it’s award winning hot dog and it didn’t have the 'angriness' I was hoping for. Though it is served on a plate topped with mustard, chili, cheese, and grilled onions it was neither angry coming in, or going out… if you know what I mean. It is recommended that you eat this dog with a fork and knife, and in that I agree. It was a tasty kosher dog that is for sure. If you do decide to eat this dog without a fork and knife, bring a bucket and bib to catch the leftovers. For the multiple awards that this Angry Dog won, I say kudos to the voting panel. You have my vote as well. B+

Atmosphere- Located in an area that is trying to be refurbished, it has a great backdrop. Once you step into what looks like a ‘hole in the wall’ door, you are greeted to wall to wall patrons, shoe horned into tables beneath a very high (maybe 18 feet) ceiling. If the fire marshal comes to eat here he must be bribed with angry dogs because there is NO WAY this place was below its posted capacity. Everyone seemed happy, and judging by the busy bussers, they were happy. One more thing, even if you don’t have time to eat at Angry Dog, you have to use the Men’s restroom. I can’t tell you why, just walk in and you will instantly know why I sent you in. B

Value- Though fries came with the angry dog, and though it had some mighty tasty chili and awesome grilled onions, $5.95 seemed reasonable. But it’s still a hot dog buried under all that wonderful goo. Would I pay the $5.95 again? Absolutely. Was it worth every penny? It was indeed. But I just can’t get over the fact that it’s still a $5.95 hot dog. Oh I’m sorry, a $5.95 angry dog. C-

Side Dish Jody says...Wide selection on lunch menu, but I got a good ole' American Cheese Burger. The burger was pretty standard as were the fries, but I enjoyed seasoning them with the provided chili seasoning. Womens restroom had greasy floors and smelled strangely of vomit. C

The Hot Dog Shop

Houston, TX

Nestled along a long row of factories and manly men workplaces, this is definitely a blue collar hot dog place, as hot dog places should be. I ate at a randomly odd time of about 3 in the afternoon so I couldn’t get a good demographic on the clientele. One could assume though that many workers from the nearby industrial places ate here frequently. I had a pair of dogs- one was a regular hot dog and the other was a Chicago dog. The dogs were Vienna Beef which is a great brand to start with. Even with after starting with this kind of dog, it kind of went downhill after that. You get to name your own toppings out of the twelve they offer which is a cool gimmick, and more toppings were offered than I normally see. Just because you COULD do something in life, doesn’t mean you SHOULD…which includes Chicago dogs. Three things make a good, true Chicago dog- poppy seed bun, toxic colored relish, and celery salt. 0 for 3 at this place on those items. C-

Atmosphere- Don’t be fooled by the name of The Hot Dog Shop as this is definitely a bar that serves food. But this place rocked as to an atmosphere! When you first walk in, you are at the counter to order and you see the grill and all the employees behind it working on your dog. As you wander back into the establishment, you see a full bar complete with darts, pool, dance floor and the latest version of Golden Tee. But the two true high spots would have to be the room that was built in or added on JUST for bar shuffleboard or the ongoing darts league that is sponsored there. Truly unique and totally fits the location and a classic hotdog. A-

Value- At $2.79 for my hot dog and $3.09 for my Chicago dog I was disappointed in the bang-for-your-buck aspect. Though compared to the rest of the menu, the dogs themselves were the cheapest items to eat. If you can’t find a hot dog near the bottom of the price menu, something is wrong. They hit this dead on in proportion to the other food items. B-

Side Dish Jody Says…I ordered the fried chicken finger sandwich but decided to turn it into a buffalo sandwich using the giant pump operated red hot tabasco sauce dispenser. Lots of self serve condiments including lemon slices for your water, but the opportunity of cross contamination of germs was there. C


Myrtle Beach, SC

If you have ever been to Myrtle Beach, or even if you have never been to Myrtle Beach, you can visualize a touristy spring break beach-type town where people cruise the strip and patrons venture in and out of all the local trinket stores. On the main corner of this downtown strip sits Peaches with its marquis advertising ‘World Famous Footlong Chili Dogs’. Now, I am a sucker for the slogan ‘world famous’ so of course I checked it out. This footlong was cooked before my eyes on a grill top as the smell permeated through the smell of beach sand and salt water. I must say it was a good dog but the overload amount of relish really took away from the dog. It wasn’t quite a sweet relish, but a little more tang than the typical dill. If I am talking more about the relish than the chili on top, its not a good thing. B-

Atmosphere- Very few vacation destinations have a hot dog stand on the main corner of 'the strip'. Full frontal sliding glass doors allow you to eat in the air conditioning or have the doors open to catch the ocean breeze while you people watch. Inside at the counter could sit maybe 15 and the limited booths could hold another 20 or so. But this was more designed to get the dog and walk, than dine in. But with the strip in the background and the vintage feel of the building, I would recommend sitting down to eat. The shops aren’t going anywhere and the cruisers will be back in three minutes. B+

Value- Outside of the carnivals or the occasional vendor special, you don’t find footlongs that often. So the rarity of a footlong for $3.60 I considered quite the bargain. Plus, any topping you wanted on it was included. No extra charge for chili, cheese or other toppings. A loaded footlong was the same as a plain footlong. Reach in your wallet and gladly slide the money over. A

Side Dish Jody says…Jody was at home in the snow, while I was out on the beach eating dogs. They did have mighty tasting looking hamburgers and onion rings though.


Johnson City, TN

This particular Pal’s is located directly across the street from the East Tennessee State University campus. However, I did see another Pal's just outside of town. So I am not sure if this is a chain, or just a particular college town joint with a few locations. Here, a dog is a dog. You order a dog and it automatically comes with chili, which is a good start, but it just lacks something. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. All I could say is that it’s missing ‘something’. I imagine hundreds of college students and townies pound these all day long, but it wasn’t that memorable…other than the 15 foot hot dog on the roof. C-

Atmosphere- A drive through hot dog stand is a pretty rare commodity, so they get bonus points for that. To be on or near a college campus and survive for many years is a nostalgic bonus too, but I got the feeling that when alma mater come back to ETSU the first stop isn’t Pal’s. There is no internal dining, just a kitchen and drive through windows. Have I mentioned yet the giant hot dog suspended on the roof? C

Value- For what I would consider a ‘fast food dog’, it was a very good bargain at $1.49 each. They for sure mass produce dogs all day long and the attention to detail was not evident. For the most part though at a buck and a half you can only have so many thrills and frills. After all a hot dog wasn’t invented to be frilly. A-

Side Dish Jody says…Side Dish Jody was at home while I was visiting Pal’s, but you can see the entire menu when you look at the picture and Side Dish Jody wouldn’t have been impressed.

The Dam Dogs

Rockford, MI

The name derived from the original building which overlooked the river and dam in town... clever bonus points. The owner has since moved the restaurant a few buildings away, negating the clever bonus points. Each of the dogs offered were a combination of mustard, ketchup, relish, onions, chili and cheese for the most part. There are a few specialty items here and there but more or less the same dog just with different names. My two 'Rockford Dogs' came with so much relish on top that after eating the dogs, I had a bakery paper soiled with a concoction I dubbed “hot dog salad”. Too many toppings take away from the taste of the dog, which was at least all beef. C-

Atmosphere- Hanging on the walls overlooking the twenty or so available seats were ceramic and metal reprinted signs. The bead board ceiling reminded me of a breezeway and Northern cottage feel, but the décor of the interiors did not blend or mesh. Authentic and vintage signs would go great, but not the motif I would have gone for when the ceiling and shape are more rustic looking. This would be a great place to hit for a quick lunch, or pick up a bunch of dogs to hit the road, but it pales in atmosphere to the other place in town. D+

Value- Maybe I have been spoiled by getting bargains for my hot dogs on my journeys, or perhaps the la-ti-da feel of Rockford rubbed off on the price of the hot dogs here. I paid $3.00 each for my Rockford Dogs, and perhaps some of the hot dog salad was included in that price as a option for dessert. Perhaps one of the coolest things I have ever seen as a form of payment was here. You can pay in cash, credit or even I.O.U’s. Yes I.O.U. According to a newspaper clipping that hangs on the wall, they have never been stiffed. A very low grade was raised solely because of the I.O.U to a respectable B-

Side Dish Jody says… I didn’t actually eat anything at this restaurant but chose to go along for the ride. If I were to have eaten there my non-dog options would be a “walking taco” consisting of Fritos, chili, jalapenos, cheese and onions or nachos either plain or deluxe. None of these options seemed to be anything special, just left over hotdog condiments. D

The Filling Station

Comstock Park, MI

After weeks and months of passing a marquis that reads ‘The best chili dogs in town’, (strike one) it was finally time to dine and put this dog to the road test. Upon entering, the electronic menu digitally advertised World Famous dogs (strike two). The phrases ‘best’ and ‘world famous’ are lofty phrases that should not be lightly tossed around. Boiled dogs on plain buns with no secret recipe makes these dogs special? Well I guess that every college dining commons and elementary school cafeteria serve thousands of ‘best’ and ‘world famous’ each week then. C

Atmosphere- This cafeteria style restaurant was adorned with hundreds of old license plates, authentic road signs, gas pumps and gas globes all done very tastefully to combine with many modern amenities. Some of the booths were equipped with their own private TV screens and others with sound dials to watch the main TV. Being caught up in the simple atmosphere made you forget that this restaurant was located off of one of the busiest most congested roads in Northern Kent County. Take home a collector’s t-shirt for only $5 too. And no tipping either, just leave your tray. B

Value- Shocking, simply shocking. Upon ordering my platter entitled ‘3 dog special’, I wondered how this place was making a high enough profit margin. Their loss was my gain as the platter of 3 chili dogs came to $4.95. Just like in the infomercials though, but wait there is more. This platter also came with a 16 ounce beverage, plus they had Dr. Pepper on the fountain. 3 dogs, and a soda for $4.95. It doesn’t get much better than that. A

Side Dish Jody says…I had the dry regular burrito which was a gigantic flour tortilla filled with at least half a pound of spicy ground beef, generous portions of beans, lettuce, tomato, onions and cheese. Although this was a tasty burrito, there was nothing spectacular or notable about it. It was a great value however. For $3.99 I had more than enough for two meals. B-

The Dog Pit

Grand Rapids, MI

Whoever decided to open a hot dog restaurant in the center and heart of downtown Grand Rapids hit the target with a perfect bulls-eye. The entire menu consists of six dogs, your soups of the day and any ‘specials’. That’s it. A simple menu for what was made to be a simple food…a hot dog. I partook in two dogs, both the Big Dog and the Chicago Dog. Though the toppings were bountiful and the dogs were boiled perfectly, the dog itself was lost amongst the coverings. Just putting tomatoes and celery salt as the last two toppings on a dog does not make it a Chicago dog, nor does it make it an acceptable imitation. This ‘Chicago dog’ would go over in the windy city about as well as the Cubs moving to Las Vegas. C-

Value- Before walking into The Dog Pit, I had to do a double take at the sign which read ‘All dogs $2.00.’ No matter the toppings, or selection it is just one price. Two bucks each…unless you eat twelve or more (read the sign inside) or dine on a Monday (3 dogs for $5). If you are going to pay one price, you might as well get as much bang for your buck as you can. Two bucks = two thumbs up for a price. A-

Atmosphere- Conveniently located within walking distance of many of the downtown office buildings the Dog Pit is an easy in- easy out stop for a dog. Ample seating is inside and the industrial looking décor of the building is offset by the hard wood floor which I am assuming is original to the turn of the 20th century. Sit yourself at a high top table, pull up a bar stool to the counter, or sit at a booth and view outside. While you are dining, reach into the ice bath of beverages and pull yourself out a Stewart’s Root Beer or other beverage to wash down your meal. B-

Side Dish Jody says…Although they offer a soup of the day, I chose to try the interesting Dog Pit Nachos. With the choice of Doritos, Fritos, or Tortilla chips as your bed it is then topped with chili, cheese, tomatoes, onion and jalapenos. The serving was very generous with the amount of cheese and the taste was good, but the temperature of the chili was just warm and I would have preferred it to be piping hot. C

Jammers Chicago Style Classics

Yours Truly

Beachwood, OH (outside of Cleveland)

First off, Yours Truly is not known for their hot dogs, they are known for notso fries which I will explain later. This was a destination raved about for years from Side Dish Jody, so I was pleased that when we went to dine that there was a dog on the menu. Upon ordering my hot dog with the works, I was surprised that it came with a fork and knife. Yes it truly was that sloppy, and the only way you were going to keep clean from this dog was by using the fork and knife provided. An abundance of chili, cheese and other fixins’ streamed over the sides of the bun and pooled onto the plate. Adding to the local flavor was Bertman Ballpark Mustard. Apparently this has been the mustard that Cleveland has used at it’s sporting venue’s for baseball and football dating back to the 1940’s. Local is great and makes an average dog seem more hometown-ish. C+

Atmosphere- When I stepped into this quaint Victorian looking parlor with a capacity seating of about 25 people. I was shocked that though it looked like everyone was on top of each other like a New York City subway, you had as much room as you wanted for space like a Florida Marlins home game. Your choices for dining included cozying up to the counter top ala vintage soda fountain days, or sitting in a small booth opposite the grill. No real frills or theme inside, but not much room for it either. C-

Value- At first upon gazing at the $6.95 price tag, I was aghast, even for a ¼ pound all beef dog. But upon its delivery to me, the 350 pound gentleman sitting next to me asked what 'it' was. When I told him it was a hotdog his eyes bugged and proclaimed, "Holy Cow that’s a hot dog?!"... my sentiments exactly. A fair price for the umpteen thousand calories I was about to cram in. B-

Side Dish Jody says...Although this was not the same Yours Truly as the town that I grew up in, it had the same menu which includes all day breakfast and a variety of burgers and sandwiches. But the real reason you should come to Yours Truly is for the notso fires. A large plate heaping with coin shaped cottage fries smothered in a variety of cheeses, handfuls of bacon and a generous dollop of sour cream. This appetizer was just as good as I remembered from growing up in my youth. A

Red Hot Inn

Grand Rapids, MI

Having a theme or play on words in your restaurant name is almost a given if you specialize in hot dogs. But to use a throwback word like ‘red hot’ made me smile and reminisce to those who delighted in red hot’s decades before me. Sticking with the reminiscent throwback theme, this a-la-carte restaurant allows you to add a portion of this or that. But how can you fill up with so many other dishes when there are hot dogs readily available? Is a-la-carte dining not your thing? Use the drive up window to take your order wherever you are going. The trio of ‘picnic dogs’ that I had were true red hot’s. Living up true to its name, they were red in color and hot in(n) the bun. B-

Atmosphere- I was on a mission to get food in my belly so the only view’s of the inside was from the drive-thru window. Here is what I saw: Lots of booths filled with people in them, and two signs out front reading ‘Free Wifi’ and ‘Smoke Free’. No smoking and you can surf the net while packing down a dog or more. Topping it off, it sits on one of the busiest corners in North East Grand Rapids so the traffic can back up in the parking lot, just to get a red hot. C-

Value- Your options include four different kinds of dogs. But whether you want a red hot with the bare basics or one loaded with chili and cheese you pay the same price. Any dog you want with any kind of fixings for the price of $1.89 each. A commitment to red hot’s at a roll-back price. That is truly a value. A-

Side Dish Jody says…Nothing. Side dish Jody did not put Red Hot Inn to the road test.

The Corner Bar

Rockford, MI

A hot dog is a simple food that people have tried to perfect over the years. The Corner Bar has tried to perfect it with their ‘World Famous Chili Dog’. When a restaurant advertises anything as ‘world famous’, a connoisseur can’t help but try the sample out to put the product to a test. Test results are back and I am not sold. Though it is true professional hot dog eaters have visited this establishment and it seems to be a local icon, the chili paste that is topped on each dog has a very dry taste and texture. Chili was made to be robust and potent. I will not claim to know much about chili, but to me chili is chili. If you want a meat paste, go hit up a dry taco shack. C-

Atmosphere- Out of all the places you have ever eaten a hot dog, how many places give you the option to dine in, or take it with you? Well, to take it with you is truly defined at this place where outside there is a window solely for those who choose to walk away with their hot dog without ever stepping inside The Corner Bar confines. However, by venturing inside to eat, you see the tag line ‘Home of the hot dog Hall of Fame’. All over the walls are the thousands of people who have eaten more than a dozen dogs in a sitting to have their name’s etched amongst the immortals. Any place who can boast of literally thousands of people eating dogs, that is a great atmosphere to relish in…pun intended. A

Value- One is given the option of hot dogs or all beef dogs, which is a good start. Regular dogs start at $1.59 and add just .30 for the all beef version. No fancy toppings or plentiful chili portions here, but $2 for an all beef chili dog is a steal. A-

Side Dish Jody says…You cannot go to The Corner Bar without eating one of my all time favorites, deep fried dills. These thick cut dill pickles are beer battered and deep fried with a side of ranch dressing. I have tried many of the entrees to go along with the pickles, but what always brings it home, is time and again the deep fried dills. B+


East Grand Rapids, MI

I have never been to Mecca, but I imagine it is someplace like this shrine in East town. A place where have’s and have-not’s flock to order an iconic yesterdog. This place is so popular that it even made the silver screen as ‘Dog Years’ in the American Pie movies. When looking at the menu your food options ONLY include hot dogs, chips and soft drinks (unless you visit in the winter). By ordering a yester, kraut, ultra, cheddar or veggie you are speaking the language of locals. The dogs are boiled, so they are thin, but the flavor that is packed into them by way of the condiments make my glands salivate even thinking about it. Steaming their buns makes for a softer wrap, while the relish is unique in texture and shape and as far as I know found only in West Michigan. A

Atmosphere- Like stepping into a mix between a general store, antique shop and museum, this is a one of a kind place. One wall consists of photos all over the world with people and celebrities adorning their Yesterdog t-shirts. While none of the furniture or décor has been purchased since JFK was in office. Aim for the tip target behind the counter too, the staff loves seeing coins fly over their heads, I kid not. B+

Value- I had three yesters and at $1.70 a piece which works out to about .35 cents per bite (excluding licking the plentiful portions of extra toppings sloshed over on the bakery paper). The specialty dogs go up a bit from there but there is nothing wrong with paying under two bucks, which includes tax, for a hotdog from a restaurant. A-

Side Dish Jody says…If you go to Yesterdog in the winter time, I highly recommend the delicious chicken noodle soup. It is made with large chunks of fresh vegetables, and wide egg noodles. If you happen to visit in the non-winter season, you are out of luck and should visit the Pita House across the street. B+/F (soup/no soup).

Skinny Legs

Coral Bay, St John. USVI

When you picture a burger place in the islands, this would be your stereotype. Complete with a horseshoe pit and darts in the back , Skinny Legs overlooks a bay of water where locals come to get their meal. Everyone at the bar seemed to know each other, and the wait staff was great when they served me a mighty tasty cheese-dog. This ¼ pound all beef dog came with a melted slice of cheese over the top of it. The interesting thing about this dog was that it was sliced partially into quarters between the bun. No frills about this cheese-dog, as it was served with a side of potato chips. If you are looking for fries to go with your meals, you are in the wrong place. Meals come without fries here. It sure did hit the spot after a ‘rough’ day at the beach though. B

Atmosphere- As the wind from the bay gently blew through this entirely open aired restaurant, I sat at a picnic table and chowed down. The most interesting thing about the night I ate the hot dog was that it was movie night. Apparently on Monday nights, every TV in the restaurant broadcasts a movie for patrons and locals to watch. It was a great way to kill a few hours in the evening for the cost of dining in the elements. B+

Value- Everything on St. John costs more than it would back on the mainland, so I had to take that into consideration. $5.00 is a great deal for a hotdog at a ballpark, but not from a restaurant where the waitress wore flip flops and a halter top. All things considered with prices on the island, it was a fare price. C

Side Dish Jody says…A very good burger to eat. Make sure you ask what the burger of the day is, as it changes each day to whatever the cook wants to make. If you feel like having water, use the self serve large orange coolers. B

Vie's Snack Shack

Coral Bay, St.John. USVI

You have heard the saying…'When in Rome, do as the Romans’. Well while in vacationing on St. John we were told about the legendary Vie’s Snack Shack. An icon amongst the USVI, Vie herself works as she would say ‘when I am here we are open, when I am not we are closed’. I watched Vie literally take a dog, made out of who knows what, out of a package and put it in her toaster oven to cook. She then pulled a bun out of the freezer and thawed it for me. I was NOT impressed one bit by the hot dog at Vie’s Snack Shack. Just because you serve a hot dog does NOT make you a hot dog place. D+

Atmosphere- Vie, the sole proprietor, has made her tiny 6x6x8 shack into a legend amongst island travelers. The only places to eat your meal on site are in chairs around card tables outside, but it is literally across the street from a stretch of beach that Vie apparently owns. It’s hard to beat taking a hot dog to the beach while vacationing in the tropics. B

Value- After seeing outrageous prices all over the island from $5 for half a gallon of milk, to over $6 for a box of cereal, the $2.50 Vie was charging for an American hot dog seemed quite the bargain. Once I got passed the fact that what I was eating wouldn’t even meet my minimum standard at home, I finished off the dog and went on my way unimpressed. B+ (relatively speaking)

Side Dish Jody Says…Although the garlic chicken sounded very tempting, she was all out of it when I ordered. I was however terrified of the wild chickens running around while I watched everyone else eat. D

Pat's King of Steaks

Philadelphia, PA

I went to Pat’s in search of a true Philly’s cheese steak. Actually, we went to Passyunk Corner and looked at both the menus of Pat’s & Geno’s to decide where we would dine. Pat’s won my business because they offered hot dogs as well. Going someplace in search of a hot dog is much different than going to a hot dog place. To my knowledge, not known for their dogs, it was a pleasant surprise. I put a little too much relish on the dog which took away from the grilled flavor but all the taste was packed inside. When at the Passyunk Corner, go to Pat’s and grab a dog. B

Atmosphere- How can you not like a TRUE American-Iconic landmark. The only one in the World, Pat’s has strict rules of how to order and what to say. Don’t worry there is a sign for all first timers. Just remember it’s “WIT”…you will get the idea when you order. Seating is plenty and has outdoor tables only. And one final thing…beware of the hungry pigeons. B-

Value- This one truly made my eyes bug-out. Street vendors, county fairs and concession stands BEWARE of the low prices on this dog. At $1.60 for an all beef dog, it is hard to top this price. A

Side Dish Jody Says…with much anticipation about what my parents have told me about cheese steak, I was somewhat disappointed by the blandness of this steak. It was a great chewy roll with thick slices of provolone cheese, but I can still feel all the grease in my gut. C-