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New Orleans Best of Dining 2012

Top Places, People and Discoveries

(page 8 of 9)

Concept of the Year | Hot (Dog) time in the old town tonight

In 2011 New Orleans experienced an explosion in the number of hamburger-focused restaurants that continues on today. That trend was followed in 2012 by another flare-up, but this time it was hot dogs causing the excitement.

As surely as Twelfth Night precedes Fat Tuesday, the Year of the Hamburger has been followed by the Year of the Hot Dog, and both of the meat-in-a-bun phenomena continue forward even now. Yet, New Orleans has been on this turf before.

Anyone who has ever walked the streets of the Vieux Carré at 1 a.m. after a night of doin’ whatcha’ wanna’ has enjoyed the unequaled (at that moment) gourmet experience of a Lucky Dog laden with chili, onions and mustard, purchased from a cart shaped like a bun enveloping a wiener, too-conveniently located on every Bourbon cross-street corner and accompanied by whatever liquid remained in your now well-worn go-cup.

Then there are the legions of families over many years that, for a special night out, have headed into a rustic Bud’s Broiler and ordered the Broiler Puppy, Nos. 7 through 9, with or without onions, chili, smoke sauce and grated cheese, noted as cheddar.

Those are the progenitors to a new generation of specialty hot dog and sausage dining destinations. The new breed of dog is custom-made to a chef’s specifications and ultimately placed on an especially-crafted-for-this-purpose bun.  

New Orleans has always loved her hot dogs. Maybe not like New York, Chicago or Milwaukee, but in their own way, hot dogs are embedded in the fabric of this town. It is just that we have never really seen restaurants passionately and singularly devoted to raising this friendly food to an art form.

Now we have. The first and maybe still top dog is Dat Dog located across from the original location. The menu here is simple, straightforward and delicious. Founders and operators, New Orleanians Skip Murray and Georges Constantine have kept Dat Dog fun – and always faithful to quality. Their motto: The world is a better place with Dat Dog. No one doubts it.

Along come Nasr Nance and Ahmad Shakir and their emporium, Dreamy Weenies, specializing in Kosher-style dogs with a heavy nod to New Orleans spice, but also something for the vegan and halal diner. It is an interesting balancing act for a hot dog outlet.

Then there’s Diva Dawg, Ericka Lassair’s Creole take on the trend with locally made dogs and brioche buns. Try the Red Bean Chili or the Sweet Fire Oyster Dog topped with andouille ketchup. Ya’ won’t find those on the streets of New York.

Even some of the new-wave burger joints, like Truburger, are into the dog act with tasty tubes and fresh locally made buns.

The dogs at the ’Dome are fun, but why wait for a Saints game to enjoy a great hot dog? Let us go get one now.

– T.M.

Dat Dog, 5030 Freret St., 899-6883, DatDogNola.com; Dreamie Weenies, 740 N. Rampart St., 872-0157, DreamyWeenies.com; Diva Dawg, 1906 Magazine St., 304-8777, DivaDawgNola.com; Truburger, 8115 Oak St., 218-5416, TruburgerNola.com

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