March 28th, 2011
Good Dog Hot Dogs: Eat Well and Live Long
In 5 Words: Sriracha, Texas-Made, Encased, Dogs, Sunshine
Houston is really getting into the street food game lately. Every week seems to host a new truck opening: some good, some not so good, and some that are amazing. With a little skepticism about the newest food truck to open, this weekend’s experience not only set me straight, it made me overjoyed to have this rolling purveyor of encased meats in our fine city. I’m talking about Good Dog Hot Dogs.
When they announced that they would be running the truck around a few different locations in the Heights and Montrose I gathered a group of friends to check it out. We settled on snagging the dogs at Buchanan’s Native Plants around noon on Sunday. The blue and white bus was sitting on a slab within the nursery. We set up shop on one of the concrete tables amongst budding, potted plants and lay in wait for the right time to strike.
Good Dog Hot Dogs is owned and operated by Daniel Caballero and Amalia Pferd. Amalia studied at the Culinary Institute LeNôtre and she showcases her culinary talent in every hot dog and corn dog that comes out of the truck. Daniel was working the window, expediting orders, and making floats. The menu is chalked onto a small blackboard. Giving it a quick perusing, our mouths were already starting to water.
We placed our order and waited no more than ten minutes for our names to be called, our orders thrust out in the simply-branded individual boxes. After the first bites around the table, we agreed that the wait was well worth it. Honestly, Good Dog could have delayed us thirty minutes and we would have been just as happy. The fair is that good.
The first thing you notice on these dogs are the buns. Locally made at Slow Dough Bread Company, the buns are hard to describe. They’re fluffy, yet gooey. Crunchy, but still soft. They’re a pillow for your hot dog and an amazingly tasty vehicle directly to your mouth. Buttered and grilled on the outside, they also carry a subtle sweetness. If push came to shove, I’d probably eat the bun by itself and be gleeful.
But we’re not here for the just the buns, are we. All natural and imported from central Texas, you can tell these hot dogs are top of the line based solely on their casing. This is only the tip of the iceberg. With the premium, 85% beef, 15% pork dog as a foundation (all beef dogs are available on request), Caballero and Pferd go to town with their artisanal, self-made toppings: sriracha ketchup, whole grain mustard, dilled jalapeños, slaw, sauerkraut… this list goes on.
With four of us in our group, we managed to order every hot dog on the menu, save two. We somehow skipped the “build your own,” classic Good Dog and the New Yorker. It seemed like the Ol’ Zapata was the most common choice. The bacon, muenster, caramelized onions, tomatoes, jalapeno relish, ketchup and mayo combination of condiments was too good to pass up.
With only a couple of days under their belt, the Good Dog Hot Dogs team didn’t show too many wrinkles in their operation. They ran out of bottled water, but let’s be honest, you’d rather be enjoying a beer at your favorite drinkery when the short bus pulls up. Other than that, with a busy crowd of plant-buyers, they held up nicely, smiling all the while they slung dogs in buns and then out to already smiling customers. Let’s just hope those smiles last as the Houston heat creeps closer to 100 degree days.
If you’re not chasing down Good Dog Hot Dogs tomorrow, we’re not really sure what’s wrong with you. Sure, you vegetarians out there might have a hard time justifying trekking down carnivorous fare, but rest easy, they have a tofu dog coming soon. The rest of you need to get out there and find the white and powder blue bus with its retro-branding and hot dog offerings. In fact, we’ll give you some reasons to check it out right now. Let’s call it a “visual menu.”
Sunshine Dog – $4.25 (right)
Pickled red onion, cream cheese, dill relish and mayo.
Chi-Town Dog – $4.75 (left)
Tomato, pickled peppers, dill pickle slice, sweet relish, mustard and celery salt on a poppy seed bun.
Sloppy Slaw Dog – $4.25
Apple and horseradish slaw, Swiss cheese and mustard.
Ol’ Zapata Dog – $4.75
Bacon, muenster cheese, carmalized onions, tomatoes, jalapeños relish, ketchup and mayo.
Chillin’ Dog – $4.50
Beef and chorizo chili, pickled jalapeños, diced onion, mustard.
Fried Corny Dog – $4.00 (peeking out on the right)
Served with sriracha ketchup and short bus mustard.
The New Yorker – $4.00 (not pictured)
Sauerkraut and whole-grain mustard.