Dogged: Hot dog adventures

Hot Dogs: Though Wine Country doesn't even register among the top hot dog consuming spots (New York is, not surprisingly number 1 with LA coming in second) a handful of doggeries have opened in recent months to rave reviews. Uh, especially among local chefs who among their most rabid fans.

hotdog.jpgUPDATED: Though it’s hardly a newsflash, the Bay Area just isn’t known for its hot dog culture. Outside of backyard barbecues, Brats, foot-longs and chili dogs were almost unheard of if you traveled north of Modesto or west of, well, Chicago. Maybe it’s the fact that sauerkraut and relish can be so darned hard to pair with wine.

But we’re evolving. Though Wine Country doesn’t even register among the top hot dog consuming spots (New York is, not surprisingly number one with LA coming in second) more and more doggeries are popping up around the county to the delight of foot-long aficionados, New York transplants and, oddly enough, local chefs who are among their most devoted fans. Go figure.

Top Dog: Taps
If for no other reason than the 30-plus beers on tap and their heart-stopping fried bacon dog (with mayo), this Petaluma newcomer gets a howl-out. Housed in the former Petaluma Hotel courtyard, the spot is still trying to figure out if its a sports bar (flat-screen tvs dominate the wall above the bar along with some good-natured rowdiness on Sunday) or a family restaurant (with plenty of stroller-setters as well). The menu of specialty dogs (BLT, Seattle dog with sauerkraut, cream cheese and mustard, Reuben and Buffalo), Italian sausage and steak sandwiches match the hoppy-heavy selection of craft brews. Fries are standard-fare, but bonus points of small-production root beers for non-drinkers. 205 Kentucky Street (beneath the historic Petaluma Hotel), Petaluma, 763-6700. Open daily.

Roy’s Chicago Doggery
Folks got a little concerned when Mike’s left the Petaluma stockyard. The french fry-free burger institution, however, begat one of the county’s best hot dog spots, serving up Chicago-style Vienna dogs with serious fixins, from kraut and mustard to the Windy City classic of peppers, onions, celery salt and relish, to chili dogs and, of course, the famous Home Wrecker, a 12-inch half-pounder loaded with toppings that dares you to even try. And fries. Glorious fries. 84 Corona Rd, Petaluma, 774-1574. Closed Sunday.

Charlie’s Serious Chili Dogs
Newly relocated from Rohnert Park, Charlie Timmsen’s minimal set-up at the south end of Santa Rosa Avenue features Casper’s Hot Dogs with steaming chili inspired by SoCal’s Cupid’s Hot Dogs. So far no fries or other frills, but $3 for lunch ain’t bad.
3444 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa. No phone. Open weekdays from 11am to 3pm.

David’s Hot Dogs: Old school rules and a soda fountain featuring Dr. Brown’s, Faygo, Egg Creams and root beer floats (the perfect dog accompaniment). A fiver will get you anything on the menu, from the simple Windsor Dog ($3.50) with just mustard, relish and onions to a Chili Cheese ($4.500), Chicago Style (with green relish, tomatoes, pickles, peppers and celery salt, $4.50), the South of the Border (with guacamole, tortilla chips and pico de gallo) or the Mock Ruben (mustard, Swiss and sauerkraut or cole slaw, $4.50). Don’t miss the mini dog for kiddos. 716 McClelland, Windsor, 707.836.1196.

Code 7-Mealtime:  Taking its name from the police code for “Mealtime”, this hot doggery recently re-opened in a yellow Victorian in downtown Healdsburg. It’s a simple affair: Straightforward dogs, sodas, chips, coffee and pie. Always pie. Dogs are thin and snappy, with all the fixin’s or without. Law enforcement get free refills on the joe. Consider it the safest lunch spot in Wine Country. 60A Mill Street, Healdsburg, 433-3377.

Walnut Park Grill: Lots of raves for this central Petaluma stand that’s SoCo’s answer to Taylor’s Automatic Refresher.  131 4th St., Petaluma, 776.4737

Hot Dog City: Now under new management. 631 4th St, Santa Rosa, 579-4885.

Happy Dog: A trip down memory lane for south-county folks, this spot’s been serving up doggies to local weiner fans for years. 18762 Sonoma Hwy., Sonoma, 935-6211.

And of course, I’d be remiss in not mentioning the under $1.50 (before tax) Costco dog that many locals say they can’t live without. It’s a different dog than you may remember, however, and no longer Kosher. In 2009, Kirkland-brand dogs replaced the old Sinai Koshers after the plant was closed.

What’s in Hot Dogs, anyway? Contrary to what you might have heard, hot dogs don’t contain lips, ears, eyeballs or snouts. Instead, most hot dogs are made with cuts of muscle — stuff you’d probably use in stew. They can be made with beef, pork or poultry but if your dog includes anything, well, weird like heart or kidney the package must be labeled as “variety meats” or “meat by-products” so read that label. Also look for things like “All Beef” which must be made with a single species rather than a mish-mash. Finally, ask or look for information about nitrites or other additives that just aren’t good eats.


38 thoughts on “Dogged: Hot dog adventures

  1. I think David’s Hot Dogs On the Green in Windsor is the best. From the Chili Cheese to the Chicago Dog you can not miss. The have Italian Beef also if that is your way to go.I love all the old sodas they have.

  2. Roy’s Deep fried Chili dog, the best damn hot dog and my new favorite. My girl had the true Chicago Dog and loved it! The comical banter was great from the staff and the owner, joking with a bull horn, about “NO” ketchup on a hot dog to a customer was classic. Can’t wait to go back and will be telling my friends.

  3. Taps (new multi-tap…that’s a lot of beer, my friend) has the best dog I have ever had. It is called the Reuben Dog and it is exactly what it sounds like. It is a reuben dropped onto a dog and it is magnificant. And don’t forget to ask them what they have on their hand-pump. If you like beer then you will love just about anything that is cask-conditioned…which is what gets served out of a hand pump.
    For more dog choices in Petaluma, try the Walnut Park Grill for a bacon wrapped Niman Ranch dog along with a good selection of burgers, wraps, salads, etc.
    Also, Roy’s at the Yard is quite good.

  4. come on…their hot dogs!!!! My favorite is Hot Dog on a Stick in the mall..yum…can’t wait to try code 7, next time I’m in the mood.

  5. Come out to the west county in Monte Rio to DON’S
    DOGS-He offers regular,Polish,Hot Link,Chicken,
    Casper’s,Chili.There is a Cafe attached to the
    Rio Theatre-DINNER AND A MOVIE-Call for times

  6. Charlie’s Serious Hot Dogs in RP is terrific, and should be be a food feature in itself. We always have to get a chili cheese dog and a reuben dog and split them so we can have some of each. OH, and chili fries. It’s an out of the way place, but it’s Sonoma County’s best kept secret in hot dogs!

  7. I LOVE coscto hot dogs…..they are good, cheap and come with a soda!!! for quick,easy and good….not to mention their pizza is good too.

  8. How could you not mention Charlie’s in this article, what an injustice. The best hot dog place in the area, by far. The commenters were right, not a big selection, but you don’t need a big selection when going to a hot dog house. Charlie’s is a must for any chili dog fan.

  9. Caspars? I love Caspars……… Thanks now I know where to get them…. 4bucks seems ok to me for that quality of hot dog! I’m on my way to Code 7…..

  10. Yes, October 21, is the last one for Uncle Bills,
    then I’ll have to wait till April, darn…….

  11. Uncle Bills Gourmet Corn Dogs participates in the
    Sonoma Farmers Market every TUESDAY on the Famous
    Sonoma Town Square, however this coming Tuesday will
    be the last until April.
    Uncle Bills participates in the weekly farmers market
    in Windsor on the beautiful town green, every Thursday
    June through August, not long enough to get my fill
    of his corn dogs…..

  12. I was really underwhelmed by Code 7–tasted like Caspar’s dogs. Plus $4.00 for a (plain) footlong?? Not worth it. Sorry.

  13. Uncle Bill’s Corn Dogs are REALLY good, wish he had a permanent location! Anybody know where he might be next?

  14. If you want the best hot dog on a stick–try uncle Bill’s world’s famous CORN DOG”S—–they are the best–

  15. I love Serious Hot Dogs in Rohnert Park, near Cotati Blvd and Snyder Lane, behind the Shell Station there. They are “seriously” good and while not a large variety, if you love chili dogs, it’s a great, reasonable place for a quick bite. And they have milk shakes too. Soul food.

  16. from what i’m told, code 7 uses only fresh,never frozen dogs and sausages. sure makes it worth it…can’t beat the atmosphere either. good people,good eats.

  17. CODE 7 in Healdsburg is the BEST!!! Good for you dogs, onions, nacho cheese on them if you want (yum yum!) and chips and pie – who could ask for more!!!
    Check them out!! You won’t be sorry.

  18. Superburger has an excellent hot dog on the menu, it’s called a Schwartz Dog and it is split in half and then grilled.


  20. How come nobody mentions Costco’s hot dogs? I think they are pretty good. Can’t beat um for the price….including a drink. Could also be mentioned in the “cheap eats”……However, “Caspers Hot Dogs” in the east bay is by far the best ever. Used to eat them when I was a kid living there. I think they still are in business.

  21. Anyone ever go to Charlie’s Serious Chili Dogs in Rohnert Park? His place is hiding behing the Shell gas station on the corner of East Cotati and Snyder Lane. He doesn’t have a large variety of choices, but what he does have is pretty good.

  22. Natasha is correct, Don’s Dogs in Monte Rio is a very good stop for lunch or a quick snack and a walk down to the river. Eat outside and watch other dogs do their thing in the lot next door.

  23. the Dog House in Bodega Bay is for tourists, it is too expensive for most. we live near the town of Bodega and used to go there but after spending nearly $25 for two hamburgers (with one regular soda and a water) we have not returned.

  24. the article is correct: there are no quality dog huts in Northern Cal. When I bought my first motorcycle in 1964 at Honda Van Nuys I had to wait for the shop to assemble the bike. It was lunch time and directly across the street was a Cupids hot dog stand. Their regular chili dog was the best, and to this day there is no substitute, over the years must have consumed hundreds of the tasty meals in a bun. Wish there was one up here, makes me hungry thinking about it.

  25. The Dogs at D’s Diner in Sebastopol are probably the best I’ve ever had in California. They’re split and grilled as well.

  26. The dogs at Fourth & Sea in Petaluma are “split and grilled” One of the best I’ve had.

  27. Housed in the big Quonset hut that houses the Rio theater,on the corner of Hway #116 and Bohemian Hway,Don’sDogs/Cafe Rio has fabulous hot dogs! There are many kinds from straight-up all-beef,Polish,Louisiana hot-links and turkey. Basic dogs($3.50) come with tasty sauerkraut,plus your choice of add-it-yourself condiments like jalapenos,red onion,relish,ketchup and of course several kinds of mustard! Add great chili and cheese for $1.50 or so more-YUM! Buns are warm and in nice weather you can sit on the big deck which has great river and old bridge views.Cafe also offers full-service Peet’s coffees,herbal teas etc.

  28. Don’t forget the Dog House in Bodega Bay, right next to the Post Office. We always take the kids there after a day at Doran Beach. Yummmmmm!

  29. Hi Heather,
    you are not updating on the Petaluma360 web site
    Don’t know if it is a glitch with the new page. I read you daily

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