But for something like the Wiener Shop, we have to raise our game here. Attention must be paid, deference must be shown to the weird and wonderful dogs served at the Gilman St. spot. Friends have been raving about it for months, and as a fan of the similarly-minded O.S.S. Madison, I had to give it a try.
Located next to the Cheba Hut on Gilman, which serves “toasted” subs (because, ha ha, marijuana), I kind of assumed The Wiener Shop would be sort of a downmarket, bare-bones carry-out place. In fact, it’s quite a charming little clean well-lighted place, with a giant blackboard for specials, exposed white brick and a license-plate collage on the front counter. On the wall are square panels in mustard yellow and ketchup red.
And you could certainly go for a traditional All-American Hot Dog ($3.50) with mustard and/or ketchup (but even that has sriracha on it). More fun, though are the 10 craft dogs ($4.95), served on either a Wisconsin-made wiener or a tempeh vegan dog courtesy of Bandung. They come on your basic white-bread hot dog bun, or a gluten-free corn tortillas.
You can get your Madison Shop Dog, with bacon, Wisconsin beer-cheese sauce, onion jam and tater tots. You can get the Charleston “Caviar” Dog, featuring pimento cheese, corn relish, mustard and onions. Or the San Francisco BLT Dog, with bacon, arugula, tomato chutney and peppercorn aioli.
Being Canadian, I had to go international with the Vancouver Asian Dog, which had a healthy bed of sesame ginger slaw, sweet soy sauce, avocado and wasabi mayo. I’m a fan of the Banh Mi at O.S.S. and that had a similar vibe, the sweet and spicy flavors balancing out nicely on the canvas of wiener and bun.
By the way, I’ve seen some complaints that the wieners at The Wiener Shop are just regular-sized hot dogs and not plump jump dogs. I think big, juicy wieners would overwhelm the other flavors in the hot dog, and like them just fine the way they are.
If the adventurous regular menu wasn’t enough, the Wiener Shop features a constantly updating list of specials, where the chef is allowed to get really nuts. Follow "weinershop" on Instagram to see what they’ve got — some go pretty fast. For example, last week they offered a pickled hot dog with avocado, relish, arugula and jalapeno-lime cream, and they announced on Twitter that they were only making five of them. Collect them all.
When I stopped by for lunch last Friday, they were finishing up their “summer dog” specials with a Peaches ‘N’ Cream Hot Dog, featuring peach-serrano preserves, bacon, Crave Bros. mascarpone, basil leaf and balsamic syrup.
It was fantastic. They actually went light on the bacon, which is unheard of around these parts, but it helped let the sweet peaches and creamy marscapone take center stage, the bacon adding just a savory note to the flavor. My only regret was that both this as the Vancouver Asian Dog were so good that I ate them as fast as a mustard-and-onions dog at the ballpark.
So if you’re a hot dog fan who is looking for something off-the-beaten-path, trust in The Wiener Shop. John Hodgman has been on a crusade on his “Judge John Hodgman” podcast that a hot dog should not be classified as a sandwich, but The Wiener Shop comes close to offering a persuasive counter-argument.
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