Dallas has a reputation as a bad town for hot dogs, and that doesn’t just mean the quality of the products. Multiple restaurateurs have experimented with dog-based menus and kitchens before giving up. Brian Luscher, who owned Luscher’s Red Hots in Deep Ellum from 2014 to 2016, says he thinks it’s because Dallas’ favored working-class hand-held meal is the burger.
But we’re going to keep trying to make hot dogs happen.
With an increasingly global supply of tube meats in buns, Dallas is becoming a great place to grab the iconic summertime snack. Don’t believe us? Try hitting the spots listed here.
The All-American Dogs
Think a classic hot dog is just meat, bun, and ketchup? A variety of American styles are on offer at Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House (even a Cali dog with black beans and avocado), all with housemade wieners. Life’s Good Tavern, new on Greenville Avenue, offers up a bacon-topped “San Fran” dog. New York Sub uses all-Texas beef, including a glorious New Yorker with sauerkraut and brown mustard and a native Texas chili cheese dog. The chili cheese dog at Angry Dog in Deep Ellum, meanwhile, is so famous they named the bar after it.
Chicago or Bust
Chicago-style hot dogs—with tomatoes, pickles, spicy sport peppers, and lurid green sweet relish—are a genre all their own. In Chicago, hot dogs are a working-class food consumed in blue-collar settings. “Weird strip malls, inside convenience stores, mobile homes that they converted,” Luscher told me when I asked where to find Chicago’s best examples. “Lumber yards, concrete plants, gravel yards—guaranteed there’s a hot dog joint on the way there. There’s gonna be a Mercedes parked next to a white work truck.” (Here’s the full interview, from January.)
Dallas’ two best examples operate in the same fashion. In a former car mechanic shop in Garland, you’ll find the efficient takeout counter Chicago Style Dog’s, which uses poppy-seed buns and Vienna Beef sausages with righteous snap. A few miles up the road, the TJ’s Dawg House food truck pulls up most lunchtimes in a Lowe’s parking lot, then heads over to Four Bullets Brewery for dinner. For $5, tax included, you can add all the toppings yourself at a little buffet bar on the truck’s side.
Luscher, a Chicago native, still makes his iconic Red Hots for a few restaurants—find them at Thunderbird Station in Deep Ellum—while Goodfriend makes an “Ode to Luscher” with its own housemade sausage and all the classic Chicago toppings.
Chicago Style Dog’s, 3225 S. Jupiter Rd., Ste. 100, Garland.
TJ’s Dawg House, generally at Lowe’s, 501 S. Plano Rd., Richardson, for lunch, and Four Bullets Brewery, 640 N. Interurban St., Richardson, in evenings; check social media
Dogs of the World
- Hotto doggu: Japanese- and Korean-style hot dogs are specialties at Okaeri Cafe in Richardson. The spice lovers’ choice is a filling, flavorful dog topped with kimchi and spicy sauce.
- Icelandic hot dog: The petite, semi-deconstructed appetizer has become a favorite at Rye. It’s a two- or three-bite morsel of Wagyu beef frank plated with fried shallots, Icelandic mustard, and housemade rye bread (or rugbrød, if you can pronounce that).
- Salchiqueso: Find some Venezuelan styles at Mordisko y Salsa in Carrollton. Many are loaded up with cabbage, mayo, and shredded potato sticks. The salchiqueso adds an enormous wedge of cold, fresh cheese.
- Shuco: A Guatemalan hot dog style that has room to fold in a second type of sausage, plus cooling cabbage and guacamole. Isabel’s, in North Dallas, uses a real baguette-like loaf rather than a classic hot dog bun.
Isabel’s Guatemalan Restaurant and Bakery, 5528 Alpha Rd., Ste. 103.
Mordisko y Salsa, 3648 Old Denton Rd., Ste. 114, Carrollton.
Okaeri Cafe, 312 N. Greenville Ave., Ste. 100, Richardson.
Rye, 1920 Greenville Ave.
Is Bigger Better?
If you want to find out, the spot is Cold Beer Company, where each tube of meat weighs in at eight ounces—and that’s before you top them with things like Texas queso. (I’ll be honest: I haven’t had the heart to try one yet.)
Cold Beer Company, 3600 Main St.
The Top Three Hot Dog Joints in Dallas
To sum up the above with my own personal favorites: if I had to narrow this list down to three essentials, I’d choose Chicago Style Dog’s, New York Sub, and Okaeri Cafe.
This story originally appeared in the June issue of D Magazine with the headline, “Sun’s Out, Bun’s Out.” Write to [email protected].