July is a very special month for me because it’s my birthday! And before you get any ideas about that, I’m a Leo not a Cancer, which—as I’m sure you realize—is a very important distinction. Last year, I was seriously going through some stuff on my birthday, and as you may expect, I found myself at a truck stop gas station somewhere in Alabama, drinking blue Icees and eating hot dogs while listening to the Best of the Judds. In honor of that, and the 4th of July (I guess), this month is all about hot dogs!
Dat Dog (various locations)
Dat Dog is the gold standard of NOLA hot dogs; I expect a lot from them, and they usually deliver. I’ve never ventured into the weirdo dogs (the alligator with crawfish etoufee, a turducken dog with hummus and wasabi); it feels like gilding the wiener lily. I always stick with the same thing— smoked sausage with creole mustard and sweet relish—and I’ve never been disappointed. So I was faced with the conundrum of trying to figure out if, for the purposes of this review, I should go with the old favorite or try something wackadoo. I ultimately decided to concoct the nastiest sounding dog and order that as well as my old favorite. I got a duck dog with guacamole and mayonnaise. It was vile, like every aspect of it was horrifying, but I bet someone would love it. The regular dog was predictably delicious. So, if you’re like me, and you like your weenies basic, Dat Dog delivers. And my guess is if a crawfish dog with andouille sauce and ranch dressing sounds good to you, then you’d probably be into this place as well. Also, the buns here are perfection. The music is always awful, so there’s that to consider if you’re dining in.
9/10 Gilded Lilies
Race Trac Gas Station (various locations)
Ah, the gas station hot dog roller thingies. You know what I’m talking about, the metal machine that endlessly, and mesmerizingly, rolls wiener after wiener, in an eternal ballet of meat byproducts. I have literally no clue how they work (is it steam? Are the metal bars hot?) and I honestly don’t care. It’s really hard for me to pass by one of these and not just stare, hypnotized by its infinite dance. This is a solid gas station hot dog. I like that the buns are kept warm, and that you can add nacho cheese to your dog if you’re feeling adventurous. There’s also roughly a zillion drink options. What more can you ask for? Also, these hot dogs are 99 cents.
8.5/10 Eternal Ballets
Dreamy Weenies (740 N. Rampart St.)
I’ve been to Dreamy Weenies a number of times, but had only ever tried their corndogs. Like Dat Dog, they have a lot of “wacky” options which seem superfluous to the experience. I’m sure someone wants red beans and rice on a hot dog, but that someone isn’t me. I can’t even imagine why I’d want grits on a hot dog; like what’s the point? The atmosphere is cute and I like that you can see the Armstrong Park sign across the street. I don’t understand why the drink station is so high up (I literally had to fill my soda above my head), but they do have herbal iced tea which is nice, assuming you can reach it. On to the dogs! I got a traditional, dressed only with creole mustard and relish; my dining companion ordered the “Arabi” which was a beef kabob wiener with a curry sauce and roasted garlic. She made the better choice. One bite of hers and I wished I hadn’t ordered the boring version. I’m rethinking my aversion to weirdo hot dogs, y’all! Dreamy Weenies also has halal, kosher, and vegan options, which is great information to store in your mental rolodex in case you’re dining with a friend who has special dietary concerns. One thing to note, however, is that while I think Dreamy Weenies is equally as good as Dat Dog, they’re also slightly more expensive.
9/10 Sky High Drink Stations
GB’s Patio Bar & Grill (8117 Maple St.)
This hot dog tastes exactly like what you’d get if you boiled up some Great Value brand wieners, put them on a Bunny Bread bun, and threw some off- brand chili on top. It’s not bad, per se; it’s a classic children’s birthday party hot dog that just happens to come from a frat-bro pub. If that’s your thing, this is your place. Oh yeah, their hot dogs come with fries that taste exactly like those frozen Ore-Ida ones that come in a red bag. You can get a better dog at a gas station for roughly 1/7 the price, and you won’t be forced to listen to Third Eye Blind.
1/10 Birthday Party Hot Dogs
Costco (3900 Dublin St.)
You know what? You could do worse than Costco if you only have $1.50 to spend on lunch (including a soda with free refills!). These hot dogs are basic but tasty, and it’s genuinely fun to turn a knob to dispense condiments. I mean, it’s a hot dog from the Costco cafeteria. Should you bring a first date here? Maybe not (unless they happen to be hella cool), but I can’t pretend I haven’t stopped in and enjoyed one before buying 10 pounds of hummus, 6 dozen batteries, and 1,000 trash bags.
8.75/10 Condiment Knobs
Siberia (2227 St. Claude)
I love Siberia and accordingly, I eat there roughly twice a week. They have, hands down, my favorite burgers in town, so I was thrilled when I saw that they were offering a kielbasa dog on a pretzel bun as a special. How could that be wrong? Well it was. And it kills me to have to say it. The sauce was straight up gross. I don’t know what it was. It tasted like a cheesy mustard and scraping it off helped the situation, but not by much. The bun was good, but overwhelmingly salty; the kielbasa just wasn’t my taste. It was too much sausage, too much sauce and it was just an overall disappointment. The real slap in the face is that I could have been eating my beloved Reuben sandwich, or a Black and Blue Burger, some pierogis, or anything else on their delicious, amazing menu. Sigh.
2/10 Siberia, I love you SO MUCH, and I know you can do better
Lucky Dogs (food cart, various locations)
When I was a kid, my mom worked at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, and the highlight of going to visit her at work (besides getting to play office and stealing fancy pens) was getting a Lucky Dog for dinner after. Lucky Dogs are so New Orleans; I feel like I’m in A Confederacy of Dunces or something. However, I haven’t had one since I was in middle school. No time like the present! This cart was parked right off Bourbon on Street and Philip Street, so obviously I can’t complain about the surroundings. I know locals love to throw shade at the Quarter, and I’m no exception. It’s so easy to be like, “Ugh, I can’t find parking, there’s too many tourists, it smells funny, wah wah…” But let’s be real here for a minute, the French Quarter is gorgeous and it’s fun to walk down tiny streets, window shopping, drinking a big soda and eating a hot dog. Lucky Dogs taste exactly like I remember from when I was little. The bun is sweet, the wiener is salty, and the whole thing is perfect. No complaints.
10/10 Fancy Pens
I tried to go to Motown Coney Island (I love the idea of just taking two random places and stringing them together to make a name: Chi-Town Seattle! Denver Venice Beach!) and New Orleans Famous Hot Dogs, both on Broad Street; however, neither were ever open when I went. I drove by on different days at different times (I tried six different times in all) and no luck at either. Either both of these places have closed down, or they just have really impossible hours. Either way, you win some, you lose some.