Great Food Search: Hot Dog!

Aug 28, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Terrance V. Mc Arthur, The Great Food Search

by Terrance Mc Arthur

When it’s summer in the San Joaquin Valley, it’s hot…so, why not have a hot dog? The Great Food Search has gathered a tasty pack of the frankfurter kind. Let’s take a bite.

Wienerschnitzel—120 S. Clovis, Fresno—For many people, this chain is their idea of hot dogs. We tried—

• Texas BBQ Dog—Bacon, BBQ sauce, grilled onions, shredded cheese
• Chicago Dog—Tomato, fresh onions, pickle spear, peppers, French’s mustard, celery salt
• Junkyard Dog—French fries, chili sauce, American cheese, French’s mustard, grilled onions
• Kraut Dog—Sauerkraut, French’s mustard

The Texas and Junkyard dogs were the standouts; the BBQ sauce worked well with the onions and bacon, and chili cheese fries on top of a frankfurter is heaven waiting to happen.

Wienerschitzel Madness! BBQ Texas, Chicago, Junkyard, and Kraut Dogs

Foster’s Freeze—630 Academy, Sanger—The Chili Cheese Dog came in a clear plastic case, a jewel-box arrangement that made it into something special—reminded me of Snow White in her glass coffin, but it’s a reasonable chili dog with a good amount of cheese.

From Sanger: A Foster’s Freeze Chili Cheese Dog in its crystalline carrier

Sanger’s own Chuck Wagon Cheese Dog and Chili Cheese Dog. How messy can you get?

Chuck Wagon—1203 Academy Ave., Sanger—If a place has thrived in Sanger for at least thirty-five years with people coming out of their way to buy what they’re fixing, they must be doing something right! We bought the Cheese Dog and the Chili Cheese Dog, and oh! how messy they are! Ten-inch franks with cheese and onions and ketchup or chili. I buy that chili by the quart to take home. There’s no indoor seating, and Covid has currently scared away the picnic tables. Some people eat in their cars, like a drive-in movie without Tom Cruise on the screen. Don’t expect to eat there on Wednesdays. They’re closed then, which seems to be a Sanger thing. Go figure.

Brown Bears Hot Dogs—7040 N. Fresno St., Fresno—Benjamin and Jennifer Chu-Raya graduated from a food truck to an itty-bitty establishment in the parking lot behind Chili’s at Herndon and Fresno. The menu is on the wall and on the website, and it is overwhelming! The franks are hefty, seven-inch torpedoes of taste, made to Brown Bears’ specifications. The buns are fluffy fellows, and then you get to the toppings on the twenty varieties! Imagine—Bacon, cole slaw, egg salad, pineapple, fried chow mein noodles, Korean BBQ sauce, flaming hot Cheetos, kim chi, pastrami, sauerkraut, crab, scrambled eggs, and chile verde! These are gourmet dogs, American Kennel Club quality!

Brown Bear Hotdogs’ A & PM Dog. There really is a massive frank under all that breakfast goodness!

The place is near Kaiser and a lot of medical offices, and is very popular, even if they don’t do any advertising. One morning, we ordered the A & PM Dog (which has apparently replaced the Szechuan Dog on the menu, but not on the website menu) and the California Dog. The A & PM is topped with scrambled eggs, chile verde sauce, tomato chunks, and cheese; a breakfast dog that reduced my wife’s vocabulary to “So good, so good.” The California Dog is like a sushi hot dog, with cucumber, tomato, crab meat, avocado, and a dousing with wasabi sauce; surprising the unsuspecting mouth with new and exciting taste after taste. The Chu-Rayas’ motto is “simple, fast, and very good”—and it is! They even have veggie dogs! The prices may be higher than the average dog, but they throw in a canned soda with the order. I look forward to trying the Pastrami Dog and the Egg Salad Dog. Wow!

The Brown Bears California Dog. Wasabi Sauce, crab, and avocado on a hot dog? Wow!

The Verdict—I am amazed! I expected the top dog to be Chuck Wagon and their Chili Cheese Dogs, again, but NO! Frankly, the Wiener of the Month is Brown Bears Hotdogs! So many doggone choices, and such cur-ality!

Bonus Home Recipe—Momma’s Favorite—Slice 2 hotdogs into half-inch coins. Place in a microwave-safe bowl or container. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese until you think “That’s too much,” then add some more. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, remove, squirt generously with catsup (or ketchup) for the zing. Enjoy.

Until we eat again.

Check out more food articles and more of Terrance’s Great Food Search column in our Food Fun section. And check out a KRL staff profile this week on Terrance!

Terrance V. Mc Arthur worked for the Fresno County Public Library for three decades. He is retired, but not retiring. A storyteller, puppeteer, writer, actor, magician, basketmaker, and all-around interesting person, his goal is to make life more unusual for everyone he meets.

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