(image via reddit)
Last Tuesday was national hot dog day. Though there is a national something for just about every day of the year and I tend not to take these things too seriously For obvious reasons I knew I had to do something in this case.
Fortunately, Short Leash Hot Dogs, one of my favorite local food trucks, opened a brick and mortar restaurant on that very day. Sit...Stay promised to offer all of the favorites from their truck's menu in addition to some of the best of their Friday night Sit...Stay pop-up like concept.
The lady and I headed to downtown phoenix to grab a coffee and a spot in what we figured would be a line before they opened. After almost thirty minutes of waiting in the hot sun, they opened the doors. We headed in with about 40 people behind us. The space was great. A huge improvement over Tediberto's (the vegan-fast-mexican-food hipster cave abomination that preceded it). Tons of natural light, sleek design, great smells. It was a little warm (I was sweating like Bubbles in a Baltimore summer). I'm sure they would've done something about that if they could've. But who cares, anyway? It was hot dog time.
The service was lightning fast and friendly. They had a pretty solid selection of draught, canned, and bottled beer along with keg wine by the glass. Since I was driving, I opted for one of the many artisanal sodas they offered by the bottle. We fired our appetizer order right out of the gate. Less than ten minutes later, we had two baskets of deep fried goodness placed in front of us.
The scotch eggs were magical. panko-crispy sausage on the outside and just-on-the-soft-side-of-hard boiled eggs on the inside. The spicy-sweet mustard they came with wasn't even necessary. The corn dog bites were phenomenal. Jalapeño-Cheddar wieners with a golden batter that had the texture of a hush puppy beneath the crisp exterior. Corn Dog Heaven, I tell you.
Our entrees took a little bit longer to come out, as everyone in the restaurant had ordered by then. Though it wasn't any problem to us, the staff were very apologetic and took the time to check on us periodically.
When the goods arrived, a tear was brought to my eye.
Once upon a time, I went to Shady's when the Short Leash truck was there. I tried their special, the Sunny. It was the best hot dog I had ever eaten. I could barely contain my excitement when I saw it was present on the Sit...Stay menu. The Sunny is a transcendental piece of cased meat. It extends beyond a poultry (chicken) sausage on flatbread and leaps with gusto into the realm of exquisite food pairing. Grilled peaches and prosciutto cover the ever-winning sweet and salty base. Goat cheese adds texture and coolness that tempers the cloying sweetness of the honey and the spicy zing of arugula & black pepper. The sausage snaps and lets its smoke and salt provide a backbone for the whole piece. In my opinion, there is no finer dog than the Sunny dog.
The Bear was something else entirely. People had told me about this one. "Day, you gotta try the Bear form Short Leash. Crackerjacks, man, it's crazy." We opted for the spicy beer dog and let them top it with their signature peanut butter, smoked gouda, bacon, barbecue sauce, and crackerjacks. Sweet, salty, spicy, smokey. I was expecting a muddled mess, but it worked. The creamy peanut flavor and crunchy popcorn took center stage while the barbecue and gouda played the chorus. I could eat this dog for breakfast every day of the week and not miss cereal or eggs one bit.
Our final item was the Fried Green Tomato Stack "Salad". All I really need to say is that these guys know how to use a deep fryer. Firm slices of green tomato are battered and fried to the perfect texture. Roasted corn, bacon, avocado, and bleu cheese dressing top it off. It's really not much of a salad. Unless your idea of a salad contains more calories than a McDouble. They had some healthier options, but that wasn't why we were there. It managed to taste fresh despite it's obvious excess of oils. When I say it was my least favorite item of those we tried, it's like saying I Oscar Mayer is my least favorite brand of bacon. It's still bacon.
I can't wait to make my way back to Sit...Stay. The business Brad & Kat have built started in a trailer and has grown to one of my favorite hot dog destinations anywhere. They remain friendly and humble. Honest people, just trying to bring tasty hot dogs to the citizens of Phoenix. I've opened a restaurant before. I know how hectic and scrambled and chaotic it can be. I'm sure they felt that way but, from my seat, the place seemed to be running smoothly. That speaks volumes about their professionalism and passion for what they do. I'm glad I've been able to watch the Short Leash family grow for all these years. I look forward to being able to visit them in the same place (almost) any day of the week.
110 E. Roosevelt St.
(Day's Note: Kevi has her own review of the Sit...Stay opening day coming soon. Think of this as part one of two.)