dapper dog in the castro....it's a different kind of wiener
Oh, The Castro. I used to live near there round Duboce Park way a number of years ago. These days I don't get down that way very often since it is like on the other side of the city from where I am now and we know how San Franciscan's balk when they have to venture outside their own hood. But, my barber is still there and I also like to hit up the Castro Theater for one of their entertaining double features or film festivals every now and then.
Usually, I'm running late and don't necessarily have time to stop and eat before a show, however, I'd noticed the relatively recent addition of Dapper Dog (what is with these no website places!) to the street and thought, I need to try it sometime. Well, sometime rolled around recently during one of those film festivals, so I made it a point to be early enough to try several of their offerings on more than one occasion.
Their menu is a list of variations on a hot dog, meaning it is all about the toppings. There are a variety of "themed" hot dogs to choose from a basic classic to a reuben, a cubano, a philly, etc. And those names mean exactly what you think--hot dog versions of those classic sandwiches. Once you pick your preference you then choose between beef, chicken and (ugh!) veggie dogs. I'm straight up old-school for hot dogs and picked beef every time. Maybe those other ones are good, but they just don't scream hot dog to me. I'll leave that choice up to you folks.
Try #1 is the Salty Dog--Niman ranch all beef hot dog with crumbled bacon, mustard and pickle spear on a toasted Acme roll for $6. These things are pretty big, I'd say an 8-9 inch hot dog, a real two-hander (yes I'm sure there are double entendres galore to school boy giggle at but that's all I'm gonna do today, the rest is up to you). So for price and size, it's a pretty good deal on this one.
The hot dog itself is a real classic plump, juicy, meaty and smoky dog. Just biting into it give a mind flash of childhoods and state fairs. The bacon was plentiful adding a little bit of crunch to it. I've never really been a big fan of pickles on hot dogs, I know in some cities it's a thing, but I'd always skipped it. It does add an interesting vinegary crunch and for the most part I was okay with it, though not totally sold on the idea and would probably skip it next time. The bun is nice and thick and bready. Good for soaking up the juices of the wiener itself and helping hold the whole thing together and not get too soggy like a standard store bun would do.
I did enjoy this dog, but it ain't called the Salty dog for nothing. The beef, the bacon, the mustard and the pickle make this very much a sodium bomb. I put some ketchup on it to add some sweet and help break things up, but if that isn't your thing, you may want to skip this one for something else, even though I know it is hard to pass up bacon.
Try #2 is the San Francisco Dog--grilled onion, red, green and yellow peppers, mozzarella cheese and spicy brown mustard for $7.50. Yeah, I'm honestly have no idea why this is a San Francisco dog, the guy behind the counter was real sure either, but whatever I guess. Seems closer to a Philly cheesesteak, which they do offer but it comes with the steak meat too. The cheese is more melted cheese sauce he ladled over it then plopped the onions and peppers on top. I will say, they don't skimp on the cheese!
There is plenty to go around here. It was another big dog and with all that beef, cheese and bread, it was quite filling. Again, I added some ketchup to this as a flavor addition and even a little bit of sriracha just to kick it up. While the bun did hold up well, with all that cheese it became a little bit of sloppy eating. You'll probably need a fork to get through it, even if it is blasphemous. For the cheese lover in you, this is a satisfying dog.
Try #3 the Bahn Mi Dog--sliced cucumber, pickled carrots, jalapenos, cilantro and sriracha mayo for $7.50. I am a fan of bahn mi and the idea of this sound good, though I'm not sure it lived up to what I or my taste buds were expecting. I think what didn't work for me was the beef hot dog with the bahn mi ingredients, I didn't think they were good compliments to each other. Maybe this is one instance where a chicken dog may have been a good alternative. While by themselves all the items were fine, together they didn't work taste wise for me. Maybe it was the hot dog and mayo or pickled carrots? For whatever reason, I'd choose something else next time.
Outside of the bahn mi one, I'd say I'm a fan of Dapper Dog. You get giant beefy wieners on thick large buns and an array of styles to suit your cravings of the moment. And it won't break your wallet. I'm sure these make great drunk food considering all the bars in the area, but I'll say they make good anytime food too. Whether you are grabbing a quick bite before a movie or bar hopping they are a savory alternative to the burgers and pizza slices elsewhere in the area. And even if you aren't doing those things, they are good to get, then sit out front and watch the neighborhood people parade, it's like dinner and show for one low price. More than worth it.