Dave’s Dogs may not immediately stand out from within its fairly nondescript shopping center surroundings. Although it lacks the garish yellow paint of the more familiar Wienerschnitzel, the building is noticeable in its own unique ways. Paying a visit to this new hot dog grill, however, will clear up any confusion about why this nondescript restaurant is so often packed with customers despite its recent opening.
Upon entering, the most attention-grabbing aspect of the restaurant is the impressive selection of the hot dog menu. It begins with a base of 18 different topping combinations available with a standard hot dog and includes free-of-charge customization options for customers who prefer a vegetarian or turkey alternative. There are also jumbo or specialty sausages that can be substituted in for an added price, as well as continuously evolving “Dog(s) of the Week” for people looking to try something new.
What’s more, the hot dogs make up only about two-thirds of the huge menu board which stretches over the order and pick-up counter. Dave’s Dogs offers a wide selection of other classic comfort foods, such as chicken wings, tater tots, and three different kinds of french fries.
Additionally, there is a relatively large drink menu for such a casual restaurant. In addition to the ever-present soda fountain, their selection includes drinks such as kombucha and horchata ready to serve out of a tap, as well as Jarritos-brand fruit-flavored soda and glass-bottled Coca-Cola glistening in a refrigerator by the register.
I decided to order the Mac N’ Cheese Dog, a choice which looked particularly dense in flavor. Featuring bacon, parmesan, and spicy mayo in addition to, of course, the mac and cheese, the Mac N’ Cheese Dog is carb-loaded and heavy. At $5, it is affordable and certainly money well spent.
My friend who joined me on this trip to Dave’s decided to order the Santa Barbara Style Dog as well as the Kraut Dog. The first includes avocado slices, bacon, grilled onions, tomatoes, and an assortment of condiments. The latter features a mountain of sauerkraut as its primary topping, complemented by grilled onions and mustard. These items are priced at $5 and $4 respectively.
The relatively low prices at this hot dog joint are a distinguishing feature which attracts a large clientele of students since the aforementioned $4 and $5 hot dogs are the rule rather than the exception at Dave’s. Out of over 20 choices on the hot dog menu, only four items were priced higher, at $6 a piece: the Pastrami Dog, Taco Dog, Pulled Pork Mac, and Buffalo BBQ Chicken, all of which contain more meat than other options.
Don’t let the prices mislead you into low expectations regarding quantity or quality. When the hot dogs were brought to our table, I was surprised to notice both the abundance and the visual appeal of the toppings.
The most striking and appetizing looking dog was the Santa Barbara Style, where two carefully-placed and thick slices of avocado were joined with an artful drizzle of ketchup, mustard, and a pale cream sauce. The Mac N’ Cheese Dog and Kraut Dog each carried a plentiful serving of their respective primary topping, as well as neatly arranged lines of sauce which were enough to complement the hot dog nicely but not excessively. Thus, eating the hot dogs was not as messy of a task that I had to be worried about.
All of the hot dogs turned out to be just as delicious as they looked.
The distinctive, sour flavor you would expect of the Kraut Dog was present in full force, while the Santa Barbara Style did a particularly good job at living up to its name. Its thick array of condiments all come together to form a distinctively Californian flavor profile. It helped that the avocado was very fresh. The Mac N’ Cheese Dog was the best in this regard, with decadent mac and cheese good enough to enjoy on its own and crisp bacon, all topped with spicy mayo and parmesan which added a slight kick to the masterpiece.
I would highly recommend Dave’s Dogs to even the mildest of hot dog enthusiasts; this restaurant has expertly created flavor combinations which are bound to impress. On top of that, the prices are hard to beat for such a filling meal, which makes this restaurant certainly worth the visit.
Dave’s Dogs is located at 132 South Milpas Street, Santa Barbara and 149 S Turnpike Rd, Santa Barbara.