There are a lot of hot dog places in this town -- not a bad thing, in my opinion. In fact, as I see it, you can never really have too many good hot dog places strategically located throughout a city ... good being the key word.
You may think to yourself, a hot dog is a hot dog. How can you screw up a hot dog? Cook up the wiener, throw it on a bun, add condiments of your choice and you're good to go.
But as any experienced hot dogger will tell you, that's simply not true. The quintessential dog comprises many different elements and fortunately or unfortunately, the way of weeding out the good from the bad is through trial and error. You gotta taste 'em.
This is a very gratifying method until you stumble upon a bad dog. It can really ruin an afternoon. Believe you me, a bad dog stays with you a lot longer than a good dog. But you takes your chances.
A few weeks ago, I took my chances at a relatively new hot dog spot in the downtown area, simply called Hot Dogs & Other Goodies. If you spend any time in the downtown vicinity, particularly lunch time, then you've probably walked or driven by this place dozens of times. It sits right on the northeast corner of Colorado and Wahsatch, downstairs from Holey Rollers and next door to El Taco Rey.
As the name suggests, hot dogs make up a portion of the menu. They are the Vienna all-beef variety and come dressed six different ways, including your basic Chicago and New York styles.
Unique to this particular hot dog establishment is the salsa dog, an interesting variation. The salsa is homemade, or at least doctored up enough that it doesn't taste like it comes from a jar. It soaks into the bun nicely, similar to ketchup, but gives the dog a tad more zing.
The only suspect item on Hot Dogs & Other Goodies' menu would be the bagel dog. I haven't actually had one yet, but best I can tell, it's a hot dog on a bagel with your choice of toppings. Truthfully, that may be one that I never get to sampling. The element which pulls the whole hot dog package together for me is the soft bun.
Buns should be warm, steamy, somewhat moist and buttery. But above all, they should be of the poppyseed persuasion. And those are exactly the kind of buns Hot Dogs & Other Goodies offers up: steamed poppyseed buns -- warm, buttery and fresh.
The standout dog is, of course, the Chicago Dog. Nothing is prettier than a Chicago dog when made up properly. From the light green cucumbers to the nuclear green relish to the red, chopped tomatoes, all topped with bright yellow mustard, it's a real looker. And it tastes damn good.
Hot dogs are not the only fare on the menu. The other "goodies" are standards like the Polish, the bratwurst and the Italian Beef, side dishes like potato salad, coleslaw or a variety of chips. And 20 oz. drinks are only 99.
Unless you order two of everything, your whole meal is likely to stay under $5, a bargain these days. The only thing that might take you up over five bucks is a spontaneous order of any of the various advertised ice-cream treats. Trust me -- all you have to do is look at any of the pretty pictures of ice-cream concoctions hanging on the wall. That's how I ended up with a Wonder Bar: a slice of cheesecake covered with ice cream and chocolate.
I'm glad I took my chances on this little deli-style, order-at-the-counter operation. It's a nice addition to the downtown lunch grind. Especially for dog lovers. It's a little off of the beaten path, but then so are a lot of the better things in life.