#1 – Monster Dogs
10th Ave. and Pike Street
The first cart I visited was Monster Dogs. I ordered a dog topped with barbeque sauce and grilled onions. Monster Dogs offered the spiciest dog I tested, though I would imagine that topping the dog with some cream cheese would help. Although the taste was overpowered by the spice, the dog had a full-bodied flavor.
Best Veggie Dog
I must preface this review with an honest admission: the best vegetarian hot dog that Capitol Hill has ever seen briefly graced the city in October 2011, when Po Dog featured a short-lived and utterly divine kim chee dog. Despite my tireless campaigning, that kim chee dog is now lost to the sands of time, but Monster Dogs manages to fill the void rather nicely. The cart’s use of hearty dogs made with field roast, rather than soy, elevates their vegetarian fare, which tastes like a sad, spongy afterthought at most hot dog joints. In true Capitol Hill style, it’s essential that a dog be loaded up with add-ons. Ask for cream cheese and onions, and be sure to add plenty of sriracha and hot mustard at the condiment bar. A balance of heat, creaminess and some sweetness from the caramelized onions, Monster Dogs’ veggie dog is a refreshing departure from the typical vegetarian option. In fact, if I close my eyes I can almost pretend it’s a kim chee dog.
#2 – Comet Dog
10th Ave. and Pike Street
Second stop was Comet Dog, directly across the street from Monster Dogs. The Seattle Dog was the dog of choice at this stand. This dog had a much milder, typical beef frank flavor similar to any hot dog you’ve had at a picnic or sizzled on your grill at home. The cream cheese and onions added flavor, but not nearly enough.
#3 – Po Dog
10th Ave. and Union Street
Po Dog differed from my other stops. Po Dog is not mobile like the others, but its location and popularity made it a must-taste. Their gourmet twist of scallions instead of onions didn’t satiate my palate in the same way as the traditional Seattle Dogs,. However, the bun was the best bun of all. Po Dog is worth the visit if you’re game to eat the Deep Fried Danger Dog or the Texas Dog instead.
#4 – Mad Dawg’s Hot Dogs
12th Ave. and Marion Street
The last destination on our hunt was nearby Mad Dawg’s Hot Dogs. Currently located behind The Chieftain, Mad Dawg’s grilled me up a beef Polish smothered in caramelized onions, sauerkraut and barbeque sauce, making it somewhat similar to Monster Dogs. The cart offered a solid and flavorful dog that I would like to try with cream cheese—they were out when I visited—next time I drop by.
WINNER: #5 – Cart in the front of the Shell Station
Broadway and Pike Street
The hot dog stand outside of the Shell Station was the next to attract my taste buds. With more options than the other stands, it was hard to stick to my Seattle Dog-exclusive duties, but I was able to stave off the myriad options and complete my mission. Low and behold, it was the best dog I had yet to try. You can’t ask for a much better dog than this. The onions were grilled to perfection, offering a sweeter flavor than the other dogs and expertly complementing the subtle spice. The cream cheese was warm and sweet, making this dog everything I could ask for. Despite my full stomach, this was the only dog that I desperately wanted to keep eating. Bonus: this stand also provided heat with its three fireplaces and a pimped-out street meat atmosphere made unique by the addition of LCD screens, brightly colored lights and a well-stocked condiment bar to the large cart.
Kevin may be reached at email@example.com