Cheap Eats: Doggy Dogg
A visit to the roving wiener wagon's brick-and-mortar upgradeWednesday November 25, 2015 04:00 am EST
After four years of peddling his goods around ATL's various farmers markets and pop-up events, James Hammerl and his wiener parade finally settled down with a brick-and-mortar shop back in July. Although the sausage wagon still roams the streets at-large, this permanent home has given Doggy Dogg a chance to grow and evolve. Things like fully functioning kitchens and counter space have a way of doing that, I suppose. The kitchen brings a new cooking method to the dog(g)s, and the extra space means more room for other locally made goodies like brownies for dessert. Plus, even the most devout of street food devotees would argue that the ability to drink a cold beer alongside a spicy mustard-slathered brat is a definite upgrade.
LOCAL MOTION: While the operation itself is wee, Doggy Dogg is still very much a family affair. Almost all of the menu's fixings and extras are sourced locally, and many from folks Hammerl met on the farmers market circuit: Simply Seoul kimchi, Candler Park Market pimento cheese, Spotted Trotter sausages, Lupa's Kitchen kraut, brownies from Ashley Sue's Baked Goods, and bottled cold-brew coffee from Shay Latte. Even the exterior walls of the tiny building, once home to Peruvian chicken joint Las Brasas, is now bedecked with cartoonish doodles of anthropomorphic sausages, courtesy of local artist Kyle Brooks. Guess nothing unites a people quite like hot dogs.
HOMEWARD BOUND: There are, of course, plenty of perks that naturally occur in a cart-to-restaurant transition. In Doggy Dogg's newfound home, a miniature patio accommodates outdoor seating, a liquor license allows the staff to serve local beer, and other amenities bring certain comforts a food cart just can't offer, like a roof, air conditioning, and bountiful napkins. While the menu offerings remain true to the cart's O.G. roster of mix-and-match ingredients, the actual dogs themselves are a little different, too. The kitchen's flat-top grill adds a little extra char to the meat, and a semi-recent switch to sourcing bread from nearby Ratio Bakeshop has resulted in buns that are perfectly golden-crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and sturdy enough to stand up to the most sauce-smothered of wieners.
THE TRUTH ABOUT BRATS AND DOGS: As for the dogs themselves, Hammerl's done a hell of a job elevating the hot dog from ballpark weenie status, without forcing it into what I like to call the Shaved Truffle Danger Zone. His current menu brings international influences to an American classic in a way that's unfussy but totally delicious, and the new environs are giving him a chance to flex his creativity. To be clear, these dogs are no delicacies. These dogs are messy and sloppy and meant to be consumed with the gleeful fervor of a stoner at a late-night buffet. But with top-quality local ingredients like kimchi and pork belly (the Sharpei, $8), pimento cheese (the 404, $8), and jalapeño pesto (the El Perro, $7), they're decidedly different, and yes, maybe a little decadent. Speaking of decadence, a quick pro-tip: When the staff recommends you "add bits" to a dog like, say, the Doxie, obey them. Those bits are charred chunks of Spotted Trotter pork belly artfully scattered across a beef dog — and as any Lipitor-popping, carnivorous hedonist knows, two animals on your bun are always better than one. (If that's not how you roll, though, know that the menu does include the option to swap out the meat for veggie dogs.)