I love hot dogs. Well, I love food in general but my statement still stands! Whether it be cheap gas station hot dogs (YUM), ballpark franks (YUM), or even some awesome Nathan's Hot dogs from Sam's Club (YUM) I do enjoy me a good hot dog.
Luckily where I live there is not only a surplus of gas stations, but apparently TWO great hot dog places. One is Hot Dog World and the other is The Great American Dog. Today I'm covering the latter.
This place is relatively new to the area as far as I know and is going up against the big name in town Hot Dog World. Considering Hot Dog World is the de facto best hot dog in town for , burger, and fry place in town it is always good to see some competition. But is The Great American Dog competition? Let's wander on in and find out.
Right off the bat you get a different atmosphere than Hot Dog World. Where Hot Dog World almost always has a line out the door and very local feel to it, The Great American Dog is rather, well..
empty. Also, 'Murikah.
I'm not counting either of those against it, but damn if it isn't a bit jarring. At least I get most of the place to myself and plenty of time to look over the menu, which, if you notice, is massive.
Hot Dogs? Check. Burgers? Check. Fries and Onion Rings. Double Check. Hell, there is so much food that I cut off ends of the menu and missed the Daily Specials board. And their board started growing extra posters to fit all the food too!
The seafood baskets were calling my name for sure, but I came on a mission to hot dog so hot dog I must! I ordered a Carolina Dog, a plain hot dog, a side of onion rings, and a drink. Speaking of drink, they had Cheerwine!
If you have never had Cheerwine I'm sorry. It is a Cherry flavored soft drink that isn't super sweet like some juices but also doesn't feel as heavy as other dark sodas like Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Since everything here is made to order I got to spend some quality time with my Cheerwine. But some silly soda was not the reason I was here.
Cue O Fortuna from Carmina Burana.
The OM-NOMING is upon us! But we mustn't be hasty. Let's ease into this and savor it. Onion rings are a good place to start.
According to their site, their onion rings are hand breaded and cooked to order along with their chicken tenders and seafood. And I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed them. They weren't 95% deep fried batter or hush puppy mix that most onion rings are and weren't over cooked. They were almost like onion strips with a light crunch on the outside and a then your onion on the inside. Also whatever they used wasn't to strong or powerful like hush puppy batter so you really got to taste the onion inside.
Verdict: The onion rings weren't super greasy or super filling so all in all a great complement to the hot dogs, especially with some ketchup. Whatever they use to bread these onion rings is great since it allows the onions flavor to take point and adds a bit of crunch and flavor.
The Main Dish
Now for the main course(s). The hot dogs themselves! Apparently all their hot dogs:
- Use premium cuts of meat (no sawdust here!).
- Have natural casings (nice snap when you bite in, and once again, no sawdust.).
- Are grilled.
That last one is really interesting considering their main competitor boils their hot dogs and it is the middle of winter so getting anything grilled right now is a plus.
First up the Carolina Dog:
This puppy is topped with coleslaw, chili, mustard, and grilled onions. I could have gotten plain cut onions instead of grilled but I despise the texture of uncooked onions so grilled it was.
A few bites in and I had a good impression of this dog and how I felt about it.
The grilled onions mixed in really well with the chili and slaw and didn't stick out like onion can be prone to do. The slaw itself was cool and not ice cold and had a bit of sweetness in it. My money is on it being made there and not scooped out of some frozen bucket. It wasn't overly runny or watered down and the cabbage was chopped well enough where you weren't eating strips of cabbage like a wet noodle. The chili was pretty much just beef in some chili sauce but wasn't super greasy or messy. But it also had the unfortunate effect of being right on top of the mustard which greatly overpowered it in my opinion.
I am not a fan of mustard but I had to give this dog a try in it's "natural" form. The mustard for me stuck out like a sore thumb and really detracted from what was a good dog. Also, the bun was nothing to write home about and feels like a missed opportunity. There's nothing technically wrong with it, but it's just there holding everything together. Not bad, not good, just there.
Verdict: All of these toppings complement each other to give the dog a unique identity without overpowering each other. Except the mustard. Would eat again sans mustard.
And last but not least, a plain dog with ketchup.
Yeah, yeah, yeah I should've started with this first to get a good baseline on the other dogs but I didn't. This dog really helped bring to the point the grilled and natural casing of the dog. To me a boiled hot dog has its flavor all over. You can lick it and taste the juices since it literally cooked in them. A grilled dog on the other hand tries to keep that on the inside and tightens and dries the outer casing so all the flavor remains inside the dog. When I bit into this the casing has resistance and is unwilling to give up the tasty morsel inside. When you do bite through you get the softness and juices of the hot dog meat and it's like a small reward for chewing. And boy is it tasty!
Once again though, the bread is just there. Being bread.
Verdict: Plain, simple, and delicious, this dog exemplifies what qualities make their hot dogs special: the grilled hot dog.
The Overall Verdict
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by The Great American Dog. I was expecting some greasy American food and what I got instead was a refreshing take on an American classic. Hot dogs don't have to be greasy and sweaty from sitting on a conveyor all day or boiling in water and then don't have to be just a dog. They can be a sum of all their parts instead of just a dog with toppings. They can be great.
OVERALL VERDICT: For the price and what you get, The Great American Dog does a good job of showing why the hot dog is an American Classic. Will nom again. But hold the mustard.
4/5 Hot Dogs.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed one of my many food adventures. I luckily have the graces to live in a place with a HUGE foodie interest so that means plenty more where this came from if you guys would like. Presidents come to the area just for our BBQ and I live near Beer City USA four times over. So as long as you have an appetite you will find something new and great to eat.
Where will I be next time? Checking Hot Dog World and seeing how their dogs stand up? Trying the newest beer at the Asheville Brewing Company? Or maybe enjoying some authentic tacos at Los Gallos? Suggestions are welcome!
Until next time, onward and om nom nom!