2200 East Second Street
Gulf Shores, Alabama
(off Highway 59, just south of the Intracoastal Waterway bridge)
In my entire life — and I've been 49 for more years than most people — I don't believe I have ever sought out a hot-dog place. I mean, I like hot dogs, but they're not my idea of a meal, really. Not like a burger, or a good plate of enchiladas, or pasta. So when I go out to eat, the idea of actually seeking out a hot-dog place on purpose has just never happened.
Today, though, I had to contend with this damned notion of democracy and majority rule, and hot dogs won. (I diplomatically abstained, having caused the entire discussion by reading aloud, a few days ago, some of the review comments made on the Dog House Grille's page on Urbanspoon.) So off we went.
|No, that's not Laura.|
At first sight, it wasn't inspiring. Set in a strip center on a secondary thoroughfare, a few doors down from another place that I vaguely recalled had received good marks, for what that's worth, the Dog House Grille looks to be your standard Early 21st-Century American strip-center eatery. Step inside, and you are immediately reminded of every sandwich shop you've ever been to. I can think of two non-chain places back home that, I'm sure, were laid out by the same architect (if architecture has anything to do with it). Walk to the counter and place your order with the reportedly attractive (or, to quote the review, "smokin' hot") young lady, and wait to be enlightened.
In addition to a wide selection of hot dogs and other sausage-shaped meats, the Dog House offers burgers and other sandwiches, and a full breakfast menu. (O! that I had known that this morning, when I settled for the local disorganized Hardee's franchise restaurant!) But we were there for the dogs, and dogs we had.
The Yeilding (sic) Frito Dog is a weiner with chili, onions, peppers, jack cheese and Fritos. Surprising, how good such simple things can taste. The chili was the flavour-maker, but the cheese, soft and sticky, was what really shone in the mix. The New York Dog is inadequately described on the menu as "mustard, grilled onions and sauerkraut," which simply doesn't do justice to it. The onions were not just grilled, they were caramelized in a way that most Cordon Bleu chefs hope to master. They were superb. The kraut was moist and tasty and completely unobtrusive — you know how sauerkraut can just jump up and shout and stomp its little feet and throw a tantrum; this kraut didn't do any of those things, it just laid itself back and surrendered itself for your enjoyment.
My choice was the Chicago Dog, a frankfurter topped with mustard, relish, big chunks of tomato, diced onion, a little celery salt that I could have done without, and hot peppers, served up in a soft bun with a pickle spear. Yes, this was worth driving a little ways to find. It was so much more than a mere hot dog, it was a meal.
Customers' pleasures at the Dog House Grille don't end with the main courses; the side dishes are fries, sweet-potato fries, and onion rings. We tried them all. The fries were good, but had more salt on them than I care for. The onion rings were sweet and crunchy and coated with a delicious batter. But the stand-out of the offerings was the sweet potato fries, crinkle-cut and lightly salted, which may be the best I've ever had. At least, I can't remember better ones.
And all of this came to around six bucks a person. I'd call that a deal.