Sunday, November 29, 2009

In the Dog House

Regular readers of this blog will think that when I’m not eating in a restaurant I am sitting at home watching people eating in restaurants on TV. The other day I saw “Hot Dog Paradise” on the Travel Channel for the gazillionth time. If you haven’t seen it, they visit such hot dog emporiums as Nathan’s on Coney Island, Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ (known for the deep fried hot dog), Super Dawg in Chicago, and Pink’s in Los Angeles. Somehow they missed Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield, CT—but Guy Fieri didn’t.

This had our mouths watering for a Chicago-style hot dog. If you are not familiar with the Chicago dog, you start with a natural casing Vienna Beef dog on a steamed poppy seed roll. It is then topped with mustard, onions, neon green relish, a pickle spear, tomato, and ultra hot sport peppers and sprinkled with celery salt. And NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use catsup!!! This is the royalty of hot dogs.

A trip to the computer told us that the only place in Albuquerque that sold a Chicago dog had closed. How could this be? What would we do? Head to the Dog House for a New Mexican dog, that’s what.

“The Dog House has been a staple in the downtown area since the 1960’s. A true city landmark with its animated neon sign.... Their hot dogs are spit down the middle and grilled. The favorites at The Dog House are the foot-long chile cheese dog with onions,the double chile cheeseburger, and the frito pie.” (From the Eat Albuquerque web site.)

A chile dog at the Dog House is not your ground beef chili type dog. These are topped with New Mexico red chile – meat free and bean free.

You can elect to eat in your car (they have a real car hop) or in the very small indoor dining area (seating for twenty in booths and another eight at the counter). But I had read that those eating in their cars are likely to get the red chile on their clothes and the car’s upholstery, so inside it was. We snagged the last booth and scanned the short menu. Choices were the foot-long dog, a half dog, a – as they spelled it – ham burger (single or double), chicken sandwich, nachos, frito pie, fries, tater tots, and shakes.

We each chose the foot-long with onions and an order of fries. While Chuck had the red chile put on his dog, having read that the chile was “incendiary,” I had mine on the side. The rather thin dogs were split and cooked on a grill; they were mildly spiced and served on a bun that contained virtually the entire dog. This is not always the case with foot-longs, and there is nothing worse than a too short bun. The red chile was interesting. I wouldn’t say "incendiary" but certainly spicy. And it was thick with the consistency of catsup.

When I see coated fries, I know that they came from a bag, but these were served hot, crisp, grease-free without any hint of old oil. And the red chile made a perfect catsup substitute.

I still crave a Chicago dog. Will I find one at our next stop down the road?

I don't know, but the Dog House was a delicious alternative and earns a 4.0 Addie score.

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