Portland’s wiener scene has upped its game. The new generation is diverse: ballpark franks dressed up in trashy, delicious condiments, four-star sausages carefully emulsified with seafood, and all-local hot dogs, simmered in hoppy beer.
This city isn’t the first to explore the hot dog/sausage medium (Hot Doug’s in Chicago and Dog Haus in California to name a few), and this isn’t the first time they’ve peaked the charts. The hot dog trend, like burgers and artisan pizza, moves, unpredictably, in crests and troughs. One thing’s for sure though—Portland is having a hot dog moment.
In true Portland spirit, the city’s trendsetters are strictly collaborative. “There’s no wrong way to do hot dogs,” says the duo behind Stray Dogs, a roaming, citywide pop-up. “We enjoy them standing outside of Costco just as much as we like eating Naomi Pomeroy’s foie dog at Beast.”
The Pop-Up: Stray Dogs
As Eat Beat first reported in December 2014, two celebrated New York chefs, Peter Cho (The Breslin) and Johnny Leach (Momofuku Ko, Clyde Common) put their brick-and-mortar dreams on hold and emerged, three nights a week, with mahogany, deep-fried chili con corn dogs and show-stealing “Fun-Yums” (Funyons meets Cool Ranch Doritos). In recent months, they’ve paired with every major player in town, from Ava Gene’s (Toulouse sausage, lamb braised Borlotti beans, herbed breadcrumbs) to Le Pigeon (garlic sausage wrapped in emmentaler and ham, steamed in a baguette and topped with an endive & black truffle slaw). The next Stray Dogs pop-up is at Café Castagna (1758 S.E. Hawthorne Boulevard), March 16, 6 - 11 pm.
The One-Pot Sausage: Clutch Sausagery
After Ken Norris’s well-regarded seafood spot, Riffle NW, closed in 2013, he began work on his dream sausage spot. Norris’s approach? Take classic comfort food and stuff it into a pasture-raised casing. That means bacon cheeseburger filling with spicy ketchup and mustard aioli or pad Thai chicken (rice noodles included) with peanut and Thai chile sauce, topped with cilantro and peanuts. We especially love the branding, bursting with sexual innuendo. Timberland Town Center, 230 NW Lost Springs Terrace, #22; 11:30am–8:30pm; 503-746-6322
The Dive Dog: Donnie Vegas
Two Ned Ludd alumni, Benjamin Artaiz and Jeremy Wilson, just opened their late-night Las Vegas-inspired hot dog bar on Northeast Alberta. The former Luddites are offering six, minimally bedazzled $4 hot dogs (the wildest flavor, Dog Japon, features cream cheese, scallions, and Togarashi seasoning) with cocktails on tap, from a hyper-local Moscow Mule to a carbonated White Russian with Stumptown cold brew. 1203 NE Alberta St; Wed-Mon, 4 pm- 2:30am
The Franchise: Hop Dog
You know hot dogs are a thing when serial franchiser Micah Camden is involved. The trend-surfer hopes to do with hot dogs what he’s done with burgers (Little Big Burger), doughnuts (Blue Star), fried chicken (Son of a Biscuit), and ramen (Boxer): a few simple options, done well, with counter-service and cheap beer. His “hop dogs,” will be made locally, boiled in beer, and offered in relatively tame flavors like Classic, Chicago, and Greek, with a few rotating specials (think a banh mi and tikka masala). SW Stark St and 12th Ave; projected opening: May