In 2010, I put hot dogs on my Sweet 16 food trends list for 2011.
Not only had food trucks specializing in “haute” dogs popped up, like Short Leash in Phoenix, but high-end restaurants were embracing the ballpark standard, tucking it between filet mignon and grilled snapper.
I figured it wouldn’t be long before brick & mortar doggy joints popped up.
And they did. In September of 2011, Top Chef alum Richard Blais opened HD1 in Atlanta.
I would venture a guess that a haute hot dog joint has opened recently in your city, too.
HD1 seems to be holding its own, and the menu is still mostly dogs of all barks of life. Reports of two-hour waits on weekends means Bangers, located on the trendy, pub-populated Rainey Street near downtown Austin, is doing a bang up job.
The others have had varying degrees of success, receiving lukewarm receptions from both critics and customers.
Situated in prime uptown Dallas real estate, The Bowery “temporarily closed” on December 26, noting on their Facebook page that they are relocating. When I dined there recently, my server said they had already re-tooled the menu since opening last summer, dropping the less successful dogs, and adding more burgers and sides.
The Brat Haüs in Scottsdale also revamped it’s menu within six months of opening, dropping the pup count down to 9 from an opening high of 13, expanding their sides and salads, and adding a whole new section of entrees, like meatloaf and fried chicken and waffles.
The menu at Handlebar & Grill in Tempe, which opened last September, has already been reprinted at least once, dropping a dog and tweaking a few other items. The emphasis is now (maybe it always was, but it seems even more so now) on the beer side of the equation — not the sausages, even though Handlebar is smart enough to leave the sausage making to Schriener’s, arguably the best sausage maker in town.
It seems that, at least for some restaurateurs, haute dogs aren’t hot enough.
I have a theory as to why. One word.
Hamburgers. Yep, as much as Americans *think* they love hot dogs… and they do — on street corners and at ballparks, state fairs and Costco… they just can’t picture themselves eating a hot dog on a regular basis, even if it is gussied up with root beer braised onions or velvety mac ‘n cheese.
The hamburger, though, is a totally different animal. And we simply can’t get enough of the latter, gussied up or not.
What do you think? Do you eat hot dogs weekly or on a regular basis? Would you rather eat a hot dog or a hamburger?