“Oh everyone would be in love,-Oscar Brand, The Oscar Mayer Wiener Jingle
everyone would be in love with me!”
There is no denying that outdoor grills are firing up all over your neighborhood, they most certainly are in mine. Amidst the heavy perfume of honeysuckle and the mossy-green smell of the river comes the stomach-growling aroma of burning charcoal, sizzling and smoking from the drippings of some juicy, meaty morsel – BBQ chicken, pork ribs, steaks, sausages, shrimp, hamburgers and , oh yes, hot dogs. The sumptuous smells of summer would not be complete without the almighty frank.
Ne’er-do-wells and party-poopers have gone about bashing the name of the magnificent wiener and its questionable ingredients, but I don’t care. Turn up your nose all you like, but don’t tell me you’ve never loved a hot dog. Perhaps you’ve enjoyed it slathered in mustard and relish, heaped with sauerkraut or drowning under a mountain of cheese-clotted chili, but you liked it and quite possibly, there was a really great memory to go along with it.
If you are sitting home alone salivating from the aroma of beautifully grilled frankfurters drifting over the fence from a barbeque to which you were not invited, don’t fret! There are a ton of places in the Crescent City where you can get your “dog on,” as a matter of fact, quite a few more than you might expect – other than the ubiquitous Lucky Dog carts on Bourbon Street.
One of my all-time favorite burger joints in the city, GB’s Patio Bar & Grill features a simple, whole beef frank served on a soft white bun, smothered with savory chili and freshly-grated cheddar. They even offer chopped red onion and sweet relish on the side for those who really want to top it off. With a dog in one hand and a cold beer in the other while relaxing on their breezy, brick-lined patio, you’ll be having your own private barbecue for one.
Another terrific spot to find a good coney just happens to be located in the same neighborhood, just down Carrollton Avenue. An ever-popular sports bar with several big-screen TV’s and a vast selection of bottled, foreign and domestic beers, Cooter Brown’s also has a pretty generous grill menu for your average tavern featuring several different dogs. The most interesting wiener interpretation is their Creole dog, a thick link of spicy Creole sausage is dressed with chili, cheddar cheese, tomatoes and green onions.
What about house made sausages? After all, what else is a hot dog but a sausage on a bun? One of the finest places to taste the “real deal” would have to be over on Banks Street at the Crescent Pie & Sausage Company. Though I thought for sure I would see more dogs on their menu, they do offer one of Bart’s handmade, beautiful bratwurst with pickled cabbage and mustard on a soft, French bun.
Another hand-rolled, beautiful link of beef can be found at Cochon Butcher on Tchoupitoulas Street where they make everything in house. Not only is their “all beef” coney their own creation, all the fixin’s are too! From the tangy, fresh coleslaw to the rich mustard, the only thing Cochon doesn’t make is the soft, La Louisiane bun.
I’d be totally remiss if I did not mention Dat Dog, the newest, hot dog sensation that recently opened on the Freret-Jet less than a block from Cure. Admittedly, “the world is a better place” with an array of authentic sausages, from kielbasa (from Poland) to crawfish (from the swamp), but it gets even better with an wide selection of toppings including all the usual suspects, plus a few eye-openers like wasabi, guacamole and andouille sauce. Mixing it up a bit, I had the most delicious kielbasa cradled by sauerkraut, cheddar cheese and Creole mustard in a steamed and toasted, sourdough bun. By the way, their Golden Brown Fries are deep fried, batter-dipped bliss.
Whether its O-S-C-A-R or C-O-C-H-O-N, now is the perfect time to bask in that childhood favorite. It’s okay, I won’t tell anyone.
*Article originally published in the July 2011 issue of Where Y’at Magazine
**Crescent Pie & Sausage Company is closed