Like the grilled cheese, the hot dog is a simple comfort food that yells for endless possibilities. I wanted to spotlight two spots, Stuggy’s in Fells and the Haute Dog Carte at Lake and Falls Road, that serve up all-beef dogs with unique toppings.
Stuggy’s seating is limited, with about four bar stools, so you’re better off finding a bench outside to eat. In the summer it’s great to eat outside and watch the activity around Fells. Nevertheless, Stuggy’s offers an impressive menu, featuring traditional all-beef dogs, bison sausage dogs and turkey sliders. The fries and old-fashioned sodas are pretty good, too.
Go for one of the specialty dogs or sausages – such as the Carolina Slaw Dog, which piles Stuggy’s chili and cole slaw inside of the hot dog, rather than on top. By splitting the dog down the middle, the beefy chili flavor blends well. The chili offers generous portions of beans, meat and cole slaw. Try the Motor City Coney dog with chili, melted cheddar cheese and diced raw onions. Nothing is better than melted cheese on meat, nothing.
Unlike Stuggy’s, the Haute Dog Carte is a roadside stand. Although it may be small, Daniel Raffel’s food cart packs an impressive array of gourmet hot dogs. I love the signature dog, a ¼ pound black Angus hot dog topped with tomato and onion jam. Better yet, Raffel cores a French roll and stuffs the hot dog, along with the toppings, inside. Raffel also offers a Chef Dog, where a local chef determines the toppings weekly.
On my visit, I enjoyed my hot dog on a nearby bench, en plein air, while cars zipped by. The stand is next to Bonjour Bakery, so you can grab a pastry for dessert, too. In the winter, Raffel continues to sell his gourmet dogs, Friday-Sunday, 11am-2pm.
Depending on what kind of atmosphere you’re looking for, Stuggy’s and the Haute Dog Carte are both great options.