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Feb 2, 2010 11:49 AM

Petaluma: Roy's Chicago Doggery – The best lunch counter in the Bay Area that is serious fun … Italian beef and the “"Oh No You Didn't Dog"

I had a million things to do that day and the plan was to get the Chicago combo to go … a Vienna Chicago hot dog with a half-sized Italian beef.

The vibe was so wonderful I had to take a seat at the counter, watch the action and be part of the crowd.

Both sandwiches have to be eaten like Asian noodles, bent over the paper-lined plastic basket to catch fillings or juice.

The poppy seed roll of the Chicago dog was loaded with the requisites – mustard, neon green relish, tomatoes, onions, sport pepper, a dill pickle spear, and sprinkle of celery salt.

What was really great is they timed the sandwiches, Chicago dog first and then asking if I was ready for the beef and if I wanted it wet … or as was quickly added “Great pick, that’s the only way to order it”

The sandwich was served with a tasty pool of beef juice on the bottom of the basket. This really did require leaning over to eat it without sacrificing clothing. I’ve only had this sandwich once before … in Berkeley … and this was so far superior. Packed with thinly-sliced beef and made even juicier by dipping. The giadinera was so good I scooped from the juice the last bits that had escaped while chowing was in progress.

The menu has a number of types of hot dog combos, pastrami, fries, chips, shakes and soda. One of these days I want to try the creamsicle shake. There’s also a white board with customer-inspired hot dogs.

There is a daily dog and I was sorely tempted to try the dog of the day … "Oh No You Didn't Dog" Vienna all beef dog topped with Sweet Potato Mustard and Blue Cheese Cole Slaw.

However, I know I’ll be back till I try everything on that menu. Every time I’m on that stretch of 101, this will be a quick detour. Here’s another recent Chowhound report

Deep-fried Maxwell Street Polish Dog @ Roy’s Chicago Doggery in Petaluma

How can you not like this place with so much character and atmosphere … in every sense of the word.

It is located in at the livestock auction building. Though the auctions are Monday, on Friday a subtle essence of cattle wafted through the outside air. (no problem inside)

Drive into the dirt lot keeping an eye out for potholes. A white trailer is on one side and a bbq grill is next to the Roy’s.

Inside there are two counters with stools and a few tables along the windows. A few sports items and photos are on the walls. The place was filled with workers and families with kids.

The staff is as nice as can be. The young ladies at the counter call everyone and each other sweetie. The cook is busy building the dogs, slicing pastrami and working the fryer.

One customer only ate a bit of his sandwich. The ladies noticed and asked what was wrong. He said he didn’t like that particular item, but it was ok. “Oh no”, they said. “Pick something else”.. “no, no”, he demurred. A concerned friendly persuasion continued … something like my grandmother would do till she made you something you liked. As I drove off I saw the guy exiting with a couple of bags of food … and a drink.

I think most of Twitter banal, but I’m a fan of Roy’s which had me giggling and was worth reading. Even the info page on Facebook is funny.

General Manager: Mufasa

Culinary Team: Neat little elves

I have yet to read a negative comment about Roy’s anywhere, but I’d love to be there if someone asked to speak to Mufasa.

Roy's Chicago Doggery
84 Corona, Petaluma, CA 94954

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  1. The "Oh No You Didn't Dog" sounds like a rip-off of the Cosmic Dog at Jack's Cosmic Dogs in South Carolina. Not quite Chicago.

    Maybe it should be "Oh No You Didn't Just Rip-Off That Hot Dog Idea Dog" ;-)

    3 Replies
    1. re: Scott M

      I'm gonna send Scar and the hyenas after you. This is a great place that doesn't deserve any dissing for perceived sins.

      No ... they are not totally Chicago-focused. They do the classics and take off from there. One of the dogs a customer came up with had avocado, blue cheese and ... slaw, I think. I'm sure about the avo and cheese, but not the slaw. !

      There's a three dollar recession dog which has a hot dog topped with french fries. One could reference so many other places that add fries to burgers or gyros or whatever.

      There's a Buffalo dog with buffalo sauce, blue cheese and celery salt. The menu, as mentioned doesn't list all the dogs

      Twitter lists all of their, um, hump day (Wednesday) specials, a few of which include
      - Das Doogie: Natural Casing Sausage with stone ground mustard, creamy horseradish, kraut and a smattering of german potato salad on top
      - French roll, deli mustard, pastrami, italian beef, blue cheese cole slaw, fries, melted mozzarella, and a sprinklin of au jus.

      And even if this is the same dog as Jack's ... so what? It just seems harsh to call it a rip-off. Call it the Chicago rip-off that idea dog, etc. Could have just referenced Jack's without the slight. Maybe people who like that particular dog would be happy to get it locally.

      Grrrrrr... woof, woof, woof.

      1. re: Scott M

        Glad you liked it, aren't you glad you waited for drier weather before braving that parking lot?

        With these Chicago hot dog stands popping up out here using the same Vienna Beef products (hot dogs, gravy, buns, italian beef, etc.), they're sorta becoming commodities. A place like Roy's can stand out by creating combos, delivering loads of atmosphere and donating to the community. Did you notice the line-up of Torani syrup?

        I was given a buy one, get one free coupon cuz it was my first visit. It expired last month before I had a chance to go back.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Melanie, what is your line of work that enables you to try so many great places throughout the far reaches of the Bay Area and then write glowing reports to make us all jealous and hungry?

      2. Glad to see the space that was formerly Mike's At The Yard is in use again as a casual diner. Can't wait to check it out

        1. There's something wrong with the chowtubes, this post doesn't come up if you search on Roy's and Petaluma, though Google can find it...

          I went to Roy’s a few Saturdays ago; while I’m sure the poor weather (it had been raining) didn’t hurt I found it far easier to claim a few seats at the counter around 2pm than I have earlier in the day. I guess I was highly suggestible because after the requisite, classic Chicago dog (textbook execution by the Zen Master of hot dog cookery and assembly is the norm here) I got the day’s special- the BBQ Western chili dog. This was the same Vienna frank loaded in a poppy seed bun with chili and 2 strips of bacon crowned with 3 onion rings and a lashing of BBQ sauce. After three courageous (foolhardy?) attempts to grasp this beast to eat with my hands, I sheepishly resorted to the proffered knife and fork. In my defense, I did succeed in eating the final third or so like a human being rather than a barbarian.

          The chili is a straight-ahead rendition of topping chili. Its note of cumin played well with the sweet BBQ sauce, which in turn had its sweetness moderated by the bacon’s salt and smoke. The freshly-fried onion rings provided welcome crunch. Overall it was an amusing departure from my usual Chicago-centric choices, and provided incentive to explore more of their nontraditional dogs.

          My companion got the Buffalo dog, which she enjoyed but not as much as the one at Taps nearby. While Taps' beer selection is good, I just can't eat a hot dog anywhere else but Roy's when in Petaluma.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Pius Avocado III

            Thanks for the update.

            FYI, the default setting for the search engine is 12 months. If there've been no newer posts to thread, you'll need to select Advance search and pick an earlier time period to find it.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              The Italian beef was very good, the pastrami in the fridge is on hold. The OP doesn't make the point strong enough "It is located in the livestock auction building." There is a small sign at the entrance to the parking lot for Roy's which was not immediately visible to me coming from where ever I was lost but the big Petaluma Livestock Auction on the building is a dead giveaway.

          2. Roy's was just sold to some longtime customers so they can have more time with the kids.

            See 3-4 posts down. Sept 27th

            1 Reply
            1. re: drewskiSF

              That possibly explains the mild confusion today but as I said above the Italian beef was plentiful and tasty and with the dip on the side still ate well in Berkeley after a very rainy ride.

            2. Has anyone had their Lobster Roll? It's at the bottom of their sandwich menu.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                wow, nice price! $6.50 for 1, $10 for 2

                1. re: drewskiSF

                  Neptune's Oyster's is $25 with real lobster, cheap there, $8 a pound+ live here.
                  PS the pastrami sandwich was good with generous a supply of meat. My Reuben sandwich was a victim of the new folks "confusion" I noted.above. I expected and was charged for the pastrami Reuben but when I unwrapped it I had a hot dog with Swiss and sauerkraut, good but not what I expected. They owe me $4.50.