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Artisanal Hot dogs in Houston

Having lived in New Jersey where I had a choice of at least 3 german butchers in a five mile circle of my house I miss good homemade hot dogs with plenty of garlic and natural casings. Does anyone know of anyplace in Houston or the burbs that has them?

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  1. This Jersey native (Paterson) would be interested as well.. I've settled on what I found to be the best restaurant hot dog in the city, IMHO and its found at Barnaby's on W Gray/or Shepherd. they are giant mutant dogs, sliced down the middle, grilled (not boiled in oil, like Jersey), all beef, w/plenty of snap and flavor.. Add chili, or cheese if you like ( I miss the "all the way" sauce ala Falls View/Libby's/Johnny and Hanges).. The soft bun serves as a nice pillow with a touch of sweetness. Add a little Guldens and wow,, you gotta dawg.. Fries are pretty tasty here too,, esp the sweet potato fries!

    1. What I would like to know is the NE style of bun and if anyone has it in Houston. That lobster roll/hot dog bun that's like a squat loaf of white bread that's cut real thick and then butterflied for use. I had many a lobster roll in Boston and some hotdogs outside Fenway that were all in this style of bread, but I've never seen it down here, anyone know where to get it?

      1 Reply
      1. re: MrTuffy

        I found Split top Hotdog/lobster roll at Fiesta and Randalls Kings Hawaiian brand

      2. Neither Houston nor Texas is hot dog country. The immigrant butchers who landed here specialized in coarse ground sausages, not frankfurter style. I don't know of any butcher in Houston that makes wieners although there probably is one.

        You can get Nathan's NC at Randalls Flagship, Boar's Head NC at Kroger SIgnature. City Eats up in Kingwood serves and sells Sabrett's and Zweigel's White Hots from Rochester. You can get franks from Andy's and Bobak's in Chicago at the Polish grocery store and Russian General Store.

        This guy imports Hofmann's from Syracuse and has them on the menu at a couple of places up on Sawdust: http://www.dougiedogs.com/ .

        Look on his site under how to serve; he has a bakery up on 249 that will bake the NE style split top rolls or a facsimile.

        That's about it.

        If you ever head out toward San Antonio on 90 or 90A, stop in some of the small town butcher shops (German, Czech). Some of them make their own wieners and may be to you liking but you're just not going to find anything like the options you had in NJ. Every part of the country has their specialties and frankfurters is not one of ours around here. Patek's and Maeker's in Shiner make skinless franks; City Market in Schulenburg makes a frank that I think is NC (have only had them once, a long time ago).

        Or consider trying pencil links or even breakfast links from some of these small butcher shops.

        3 Replies
        1. re: brucesw

          Thanks, I know about Randall's etc. But didn't know the polish deli sold dogs. The last time I was there they didn't have them. I'm giving them a try.

            1. re: James Cristinian

              City Eats is a great little restaurant. Some of the best dogs and sandwiches I've ever had. The owners are super nice and accommodating. If you are looking for a taste of the NE, and specifically NJ, this is the place to go to. Downside is that it's a tiny restaurant with only two or three tables.

              Also, years ago I lived in Western Massachusetts. The area had small hot dogs that were locally made. Two restaurants that come to mind are Theo's and the Hot Dog Ranch. Both were great. I wish we had those type of dogs here.

              I must also add that Patek's in Moulton has great sausage and hot dogs. Try their Suicide Sausage - great coarse grind laced with hot peppers.

        2. Give Moon Tower Inn on Canal street a try -- they've got artisanal dogs, made with a variety of different meats (lamb, wild boar, rabbit, duck) in natural casings and use prezel roll buns that can stand up to the hot dog. VERY tasty!

          1. Texas Highways Magazine had a really good article in the October issue about "haute dogs" in Texas. Although it is kind of silly to think the standard NJ dog could be haute anywhere!

            1 Reply
            1. re: houstontxgirl

              Central Market has a very good selection of dogs..usually just buy sabrett's or nathans. Former NY girl myself. Have been to Barnaby's many times but haven't had the hot dog yet...think I'll try that next time based on previous post above.

            2. Bumping the thread for an update and to see if anybody else has found any more good dogs in town. . Please excuse the long post but since being exposed to a bunch of posters from NJ a couple of years ago on another board who raved constantly about hot dogs in the Garden State I’ve become kind of obsessed with trying to find good ones here. I suggested in another post on this thread that this is not hot dog country but the situation does seem to be improving. These are some I’ve sampled since the last time I posted. I haven’t gotten around to trying the dog at Barnaby’s.

              The best hot dog I’ve (ever) had is the Old Zapata Dog from the Good Dog Food truck. They have a Texas made wiener with a natural casing, served on a lightly toasted New England style split-top bun baked by Slow Dough Bread Company. Garnishes include jalapeno relish, muenster, caramelized onions, crispy bacon pieces, a little bit of ketchup, and diced tomatoes.. Their Chillin’ Dog with a chorizo chili isn’t quite as good and I haven’t cared for any of their other ‘gourmet’ dogs I’ve tried.

              James Coney Island has added some ‘gourmet’ dogs to their menu, made with Hebrew National wieners (bun length?) and also served on a Slow Dough split top bun. Despite the fact it seems to be a larger wiener it’s lost in the oversized bun and in my two samples they’ve really over toasted the bun. They also tend to go a little overboard with the toppings, piling too much on. I’ve tried the Empire Dog with grilled onions and sauerkraut and spicy (I think) mustard. It’s a good juicy wiener though I wish it had a natural casing. The kraut was minced and there was just too much of the garnishes compared to the wiener. I also tried the Baja which had guacamole on it that tasted a little past its prime. There’s one other standard option but you can also ‘build your own’ from a list of about a dozen condiments, most of which are free. That’s what I intend to do next time.

              The Happy Endings food truck serves Asian fusion hot dogs. They use a ‘Japanese all beef wiener’ (maybe the Akaushi beef wiener from Heartbrand in Central Texas?), on a split top Hawaiian bun they bake themselves with some simple garnishes. I like the fact they don’t overdo the garnishes and the slightly sweet bun works well with the very juicy, garlicky wiener. I’ve had the Geisha which had wasabi mayo and katsu sauce plus bonito flakes. The thought of mayo on a hot dog was a little off-putting but the wasabi mayo made a good substitute for mustard; I could have done without the bonito flakes but otherwise that was a good dog. I’ve also had the Yamate which had toppings of ‘spicy cucumber relish’ plus kimchee. There was also supposed to be some soy sauce in there but I wasn’t sure I could detect it. Again, a good dog with the spicy cucumber relish a substitute for pickle relish.

              Ritter’s Frozen Custard, with a stand on Fry Rd. in Katy, serves Nathan’s. I went out there recently and tried one. I liked the Nathan’s chili dog better than the Sabrett’s I had at City Eats and better than most Chicago style dogs I’ve had. I wish I had a place that served Nathan’s closer to me.

              Finally despite the mixed reviews (mostly the positives seem to be on the the decor and the fancy coke machine which fascinates kids), I went to Jerry Built in Bellaire to try their Niman Ranch dog. It’s on the menu as a chili dog but I asked for it sans chili so I would be sure to be able to taste the wiener. The Eden organic mustard was awesome, the Wickles pickle relish likewise, and the bun from 3 Brothers bakery was almost as good as the bun from Slow Dough. Alas, the shriveled up, overcooked wiener was rather lost in the over-sized bun and too dried out to my taste.

              Generally I’m leery of the use of the term ‘gourmet’ when it comes to hot dogs. Also I don’t consider the use of a coarse or medium ground sausage on a roll to qualify as a hot dog. A hot dog should be made with a fine ground wiener or frankfurter type of sausage.

              The pictures are of the Old Zapata , Geisha, and Jerry Built dogs.. My camera crashed recently and my cell phone takes lousy pictures so I don’t have any of my more recent visits to JCI and Ritter’s.

              Anybody else found any others worth trying or what do you think of these.



              4 Replies
              1. re: brucesw

                I haven't tried any of these, but you mentioned in a previous thread, Sazon hot dogs on Blalock. It seems like Mexican hot dogs are a version of Chicago style, lots of veggies. I'll have to try tis and the Sinaloan estilo chicken soon.

                1. re: James Cristinian

                  I had forgotten about Mexican hot dogs. That may be worthy of a topic unto itself. I've had just three. The Sonoran at JCI was very good, a better quality wiener than their standard dog, grilled, with bacon, mustard. ketchup and mayo. I think you had a # of options including guacamole, refritos or frijoles, queso (fresco or American), salsa, etc. Was only on the menu for a short time for some reason.

                  At a taqueria on the east side written up by Robb Walsh I had a salchicha rioja, translated on the menu as 'red winnie.' A plump, bright red salchicha, a Mexican sausage with a texture like canned Vienna sausage, bacon wrapped, grilled, there was supposed to be some cheese but mine didn't have any, served on corn tortillas with grilled onions and avocado and a bowl of very good charros. Not what i was expecting and had to be eaten with a fork, but good. Walsh said this was a Monterrey style hot dog but I'm not sure he actually tried one himself.

                  Then from a taco truck outside a Fiesta I had a Mexican hot dog which was a Fud wiener, Fiesta generic hot dog bun, drizzled with mustard, ketchup and mayo, and I got chopped tomatoes and onions. I think I could have also added chopped jalapenos (giving me the color of the Mexican flag), and some cheese. Festive looking but utterly forgettable otherwise.

                  I think you can get salchicha at most carnicerias, maybe made in-house. I'm going to have to try that sometime.

                  Pictures are of JCI Sonoran and Taqueria Monterrey Chiquito's Salchicha Rioja.

                2. re: brucesw

                  Wow thanks for all the research! Glad to hear JCI is now serving Slow Dough! That's a win for everyone. Have you tried Sammy's Wild Game Grill? It sounds like their "sausage dogs" aren't what you are seeking in this mission, however.

                  1. re: Lambowner

                    Oh yes, I love Sammy's. My favorite is the Elk Dog. There are lots of good sausage sandwiches on a roll around town, called sausage po'boys or sausage dogs as Sammy does. It's just that I think the term hot dog, like the term chili, for instance, should be reserved for a particular reference, not just any sausage on a roll.

                    I think Sammy's dogs would be better on Slow Dough's hot dog bun than on the Pretzel rolls, which are a bit tough.

                3. I think Revival Market usually has at least one "artisanal dog" on their menu.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: DoobieWah

                    I've heard about that, too, but never gotten up there to try it. I'm guessing it's probably a coarse ground sausage since the proprietor is from Central Texas - not that that wouldn't be good, of course.

                    I saw today on eater.houston that Berryhill's Baja Grill has a Nathan's hot dog on the menu, served on the Slow Dough split top bun.

                  2. Revival Market has a sausage they call a hotdog...it's very good, but I'm from Long Island and that was not the hot dog I was looking for.

                    Happy Fatz makes Hebrew National hot dogs but they're all dressed with weird concoctions...and just don't make it for me.

                    The food truck someone mentioned had the best hot dog I'd had in quite a while...not Nathan’s but darned good.

                    Wait for it...

                    How much are you willing to spend on a hot dog experience? Two franks with sauerkraut and mustard and a side of well-done fries will set you back about $15 or so at Kenny and Ziggy's...but I'll say this much. It was definitely worth it!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: tarnis

                      I'm guessing that K & Z dog would be skinless?

                      The Revival Dog is great, one of my top 3 'hot dog experiences' in Houston, along with Good Dog and Sammy's.

                      Another pretty good dog is the 1/4# bison dog at Bubba's Texas Burger Shack on Westpark - natural casing, a little snap, juicy (not as dry as you might expect from bison). Like at Sammy's, I prefer the dog to the burgers here.

                      You can get it with bison chili but they don't thicken their chili in any way and it's quite thin; if they don't drain it before adding it to the dog, it'll turn the bun into soup in no time.

                      And as mentioned above, the Nathan's Chili Dog at Ritter's Frozen Custard on Fry in Katy is pretty good. It's a seasonal joint - may not be open yet for the year?

                    2. A Nathan's Famous stand has opened in the food court of Memorial City Mall (on the south side of the mall, away from I-10). Ken Hoffman claims in the Chron these are not the same wieners you can buy in the grocery stores but better. It's behind the Chron's paywall so I haven't read it and am not sure what the claim is but they do serve natural casing dogs here and most groceries only carry skinless Nathan's.

                      Being something of a hot dog fanatic and snob these days, I've been twice. There is nothing artisanal about this, btw (re: the title of this thread, which is misleading, I think). There are no 'gourmet' hot dogs or hot dogs with cutsey names, just the basics. There's also Arthur Treachers Fish Chips.

                      The chili on the chili dog is bad, the cheese is of the liquid variety and very salty; the two together, however, make for a tasty dog. You add your own condiments (onions, mustard, relish). The mustard is Heinz deli style for some reason, not Nathan's own, and the relish is in plastic pillow packs.

                      It's a better dog than JCI but also not convenient to me so I won't be hitting it up very often.

                      I have no idea if they plan to have additional locations.


                      3 Replies
                      1. re: brucesw

                        Nathan's is amazing as far as hotdogs go, but not this one. I didn't even consider mentioning it here(albeit you at least gave it a second go). They have natural casings, but they weren't cooked well enough...the girl at the counter just looked at me funny when I asked for mine well done. Texas just isn't a place for hot dogs IMO.

                        I mentioned Nathans was amazing? Yes, the original Nathan's that started it all in Coney Island(why does James Coney Island call itself that btw?). Not sure what I got here but the hotdogs were barely cooked, and I got regular French fries and not Nathan's fries. That's half the reason to break your diet right there.

                        1. re: tarnis

                          Thanks. I appreciate the insight from someone who knows more. I ate at the Nathan's in NY only once and it was about 40 years ago.

                          History of JCI and the name:


                          Coulda been Tom's. I think I've read the two immigrants had passed through/spent some time in NY where they had experienced Nathan's before eventually settling in Houston and deciding to open a hot dog stand.

                          1. re: tarnis

                            This seems to be a common problem with the Nathans franchises. They never seem to cook the hotdogs as well done as at the original location.

                        2. Bye the way Good Dog opened a brick and mortar store on Studewood in The Heights...


                          There hotdogs are made here in Texas, and all condiments are made from scratch in house.