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Mar 30, 2009 12:19 PM

SF Chili Dogs and Root Beer Floats

So friends of ours have sent us a note that they plan to come to visit from overseas (Amsterdam) and one thing they totally crave (expatriate Americans) is Chili Dogs with a Root Beer Float.

So Chowhounds, what is the best SF venue to get the best of both?

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  1. There is an A&W across Highway 101 from the Marin Civic Center in north San Rafael. You could also find both items at a Mel's Diner.

    5 Replies
    1. re: DavidT

      God, no ... not A & W ... .swill, swill, swill, swill, swill. Granted I haven't tried that particular location, but the one in Pinole is ... swill.

      1. re: rworange

        I'm not a rootbeer person, but I'm mighty fond of A&W's coney (chili) dogs. Add a side of Fried onion rings and you've fulfilled your cholesterol requirements for the day.

        1. re: Sharuf

          Actually Sharuf no. An A&W chili cheese dog with extra cheese sauce and onion rings has only 53 mg. of cholesterol, about 20% of the suggested daily total. However they have almost 1/2 of your daily calories intake and 90% of your sodium, 770 C and 2100 mg. Na.

          1. re: wolfe

            Silly me, forgot the root beer float with additional 330 C and 15 mg. cholesterol.
            Happily, though, you can get it with diet root beer.

      2. In the same location? Nation's? They're all over.

        Separately for the chili dog, might check out Rosamunde Grill. Not only can you get a straight up American frankfurter but all kinds of chili dogs. Otherwise there's: What's Up Dog (small local chain) and Let's Be Frank.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ML8000

          Same location? Weinerschnitzel(sp?), Fuddruckers, Fosters Freeze or Dairy Queen also.

        2. I'm not sure "best" has its usual meaning in this context.

          If they're from Chicago, Fleming's in Vacaville might be worth a detour.

          Maybe Miller's East Coast?

          How about Whiz Burger?

          Miller's East Coast Deli
          1725 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Flemings Chicago Style Deli
          179 Elmira Rd Ste C, Vacaville, CA 95687

          Whiz Burgers Drive-In
          700 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

          9 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Thanks Robert, I guess I wasn't being very specific.

            I think best in terms of taste -- while a chili dog isn't in the realm of a curry or a perfect french sauce, there are elements that make one more special than another, I'd think. The quality of the chili (made onsite or forever bubbling on a hot plate), whether the dog is grilled or boiled (and a Farmer John 12-pack or artisan made), the quality of the bun (i.e. Safeway vs. Tartine-quality) -- and this is speaking from someone who would celebrate the 5 Chili Dogs for $3 at Weinerschnitzel as a teenager. :o)

            Root beer floats same type of thing -- though with two ingredients it's not as difficult. Not necessarily looking for Humphrey Slocombe ice cream in micro-brew root beer (though if they had that I'd try it) but something more special than a chain's version.

            If a chain is deemed to have the best, then certainly I'd be up for that and certainly he would be too -- just looking for a good way to satisfy his craving that he'd really enjoy. For me, that would be great flavor throughout.

            1. re: stomsf

              Check with the folks at West Side Cafe, Vallejo. Chili dogs not sure of float.

              Gumbah's Italian Beef (see West Side Cafe)
              138 Tennessee St, Vallejo, CA 94590

              1. re: wolfe

                I think the request was for the city. I did have a good classic chili dog in Vallejo at Sacs Tasty Dogs. Nothing trip-worthy, but they make their own chili, use Schwartz hot dogs (steamed) and have a nice bun. A little better than Caspar's. No floats though ... could go to Liled's for that.

                However, in SF, Mel's and Max's might be ok, but they have been going downhill for years. They would be better maybe marginally than chains.

                What about Mo's in North Beach ... one of those places I have had forever on my to-try list. They have Schwartz hot dogs, they make their own chili and they have root beer floats. Also there's that All American burger joint ambiance about it. Anyone had these items at Mo's?

                While I'm not wild about the burgers, Holy Grill in SOMA might be a consideration. They do try to put out a better product. Anyone had the floats or chilidogs there?

              2. re: stomsf

                Ok -- with that criteria I would suggest;

                1) Go to Rosamunde and get a knockwurst (well-grilled) with chili and raw onions. While Rosamunde changed hands a few years ago they still sell very good sausages.

                2) Try Mitchell's for your float. They are not on the the highest end of the bell curve like Bi-Rite or Humphrey Slocombe, but they offer the full range of soda fountain creations and make their own ice-cream. Tropical flavors a specialty.

                Mitchell's Ice Cream
                688 San Jose Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Rosamunde Sausage Grill
                545 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                1. re: Calvinist

                  +1 to the Mitchell's suggestion. Way more appropriate for an expat ith nostalgic yearnings.

                  Though I have not sampled it, I see that Joe's Cable Car has chilli dog on the menu, as well as a chilli burger. Joe's does a mean burger, and the camp decor might also suit the nostalgic mood. Their shakes are also highly recommended in an old-school kind of way.

                  Joe's Cable Car
                  4320 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                  1. re: Calvinist

                    Right around the corner from Mitchell's is Al's Good Food. I've never been, not sure if they have a chili dog, but it sure looks like a place that serves a good chili dog. Anyone been to Al's?

                    Al's Good Food Cafe
                    3286 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                    1. re: virtualguthrie

                      I've eaten there once and will not be going back. Al's was awful. What a waste of calories. It was mediocre at best.

                      If you like really greasy, reconstituted Sysco food, then by all means check it out.

                  2. re: stomsf

                    You might wnat to check out Bill's Place in SF's Richmond district. While they specialize in burgers, they also have chili dog on the menu. Great milkshakes and ice cream floats

                    2315 Clement St, San Francisco 94121
                    (Btwn 24th & 25th Ave)

                  3. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Just had a chili dog from Miller's East Coast Deli (to go). Hot dog good with a snap, however--- I think it was cheese sauce or American cheese, not real cheddar. Bun was good quality, soft and had taste.

                  4. If you're looking for a hot dog with snap topped with homemade chili, then head to Hot Dog City in downtown Santa Rosa. This place is very serious about quality. The root beer is Thomas Kemper on draft and served in a chilled mug. I don't know if ice cream is available for making a float. Here's my post on the chili dog.

                    Edited to add: Found an online menu, and root beer float is on there.
                    Hot Dog City has some sidewalk tables, so on a nice day, this is a cheap dining al fresco experience.

                    Hot Dog City
                    631 4th St Ste 1, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Bette's Ocean View Diner on 4th Street in Berkeley.
                      I know they do a great chili dog at Bette's to Go. I'm not certain if it can be had to eat in.
                      And "yes" to the root beer float!

                      1. re: Oakland Barb

                        They are on the on line menu,$12.

                        Kaygetsu Restaurant
                        325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                        1. re: wolfe

                          Wow, a $12 chili dog? That's like a $25 burger.

                          1. re: ML8000

                            Chili dog and root beer float are $12. Still Wow.

                    2. I just walked by Chenery Park in Glen Park and they have a root beer float on their dessert menu. It's made with Thomas Kemper root beer, so it's probably pretty tasty.

                      Chenery Park Restaurant
                      683 Chenery Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: srr

                        No chili dogs though. For root beer float only and no dogs both Magnolia and 21st Ammendment have them and both make their own root beer. And, uh, there's always Ghiradelli, tho who knows how good that might be.

                        1. re: srr

                          As a RB geek..Thomas Kemper tends to be too wet for a RB float. Dry RB tends to work better since it holds up to the ice cream better, better interplay if you will. Syrupy RB and quality IC, gets goopy. Sorry, enough RB geek talk.