We planned a before-the-holidays dinner with a good friend recently … and told him to pick the restaurant! We’ve found over the years we’ve known him that he runs in a totally different culinary circle than we do–often centered in the U-District or Capitol Hill areas that we tend to avoid because of parking hassles–so it’s always fun to see what he comes up with when we say you pick!
This time, he introduced us to Po Dogs … a great new gourmet hot dog place with two locations in the Seattle area. Typical for my friend, one’s in the U-District (at 4736 University Way N.E) but we met at the Capital Hill location:
Parking sucks around most Seattle neighborhood restaurants, and Po Dogs looked like it was no exception. However, I hoped it was a good omen that–on a completely packed street–the space right in front of the restaurant was available when I came motoring up
The place looks like a lot of other Seattle eateries we’ve seen lately, like one local design firm had a hand in all of them. It’s built shotgun house-style, fairly narrow on the street side but running down deep into the block. The decor is mostly brushed stainless and concrete, with a long bar in the front of the place (where you order) with a colorful, hand-written menu behind it.
Several things looked interesting to us, but–needless to say–we avoided the Po-Campy–a hot dog topped with marshmallows, hot fudge sauce, and graham cracker crumbs–and the Pumpkn Po, topped with homemade pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Even I have my limits
We placed our order and found a table to wait. We met there at 9pm, and there were still a few patrons around. Apparently they’re open late: from 11am to midnight Mon-Thurs, and from 11am to 2:30am Fri and Sat … so that makes them very interesting as far as we’re concerned!
The first thing to hit our table were the fried pickles, served with a lemon aioli. They used a mandolin to cut garlicky dills into really thin slices–each roughly 1/8th of an inch thick–then dusted them with a seasoned flour and cornstarch mix (to make it extra-crunchy) and tossed them into the deep fryer until they were crisp and brown.
I’ve eaten fried pickles in quite a few different restaurants over the years–and all over the country–but these are the absolute BEST fried pickles I’ve ever put in my mouth … period! The outside was perfectly crispy, and there was just enough pickle inside to make them fried pickles … but not so much that it was just dill pickles with some greasy breading on them. They were crispy and salty and just plain delicious!
The rest of our food came together a few moments later. We got our fries, which were hot and basic:
And our waitress gave us two more choices for dipping sauces.
Left to right, they are the Lemon Aoili that came with the fried pickles, then the Chipolte Ketchup and Wasabi Aoili that she added with the fries.
I don’t like chipolte myself. To me, it tastes like burned rubber tires … but my husband and friend both enjoyed the Chipolte Ketchup. And the Lemon Aoili was good with the fried pickles–and the french fries–but the Wasabi Aoili just left it in the dust on both of them. It was seriously tasty, so I ended up just moving that closer to me
My husband and our friend both ordered the Deep Fried Danger Dog, described as wrapped in pepper bacon & deep fried — sauteed onion — topped with homemade spicy chili sauce.”
As always, my husband said “it’s not hot” … but he burned all of his tastebuds off at the nub years ago, eating things that were way too hot for mortal men. It was, however, really spicy and tasty … and they both said they enjoyed it
I decided to try something that others might find bizzare … but that I thought might be fascinating: the Seattle Dog, topped with cream cheese and sliced scallions.
The girl at the counter said that she likes her Seattle Dog with sauerkraut and brown mustard, so she added them on the side for me to try, too. However, I decided that I liked it just the way it came: covered in warm cream cheese and sliced scallions. I know it sounds weird, but it was awesome! From the taste, their hot dog roll was fresh-made (possibly even made in-house) … the dog was grilled, adding that taste profile to the dish, too … and the toppings were just creamy and wonderful!
I rarely finish an entire hot dog these days, but I ate most of this one!
Final score: Despite the fact that their menu says that you can choose between a 100% beef hot dog, a bratwurst, and a couple of other tubular meat choices … several of their dogs are made with one or the other … and they don’t allow substitutions. That was a little annoying to my husband–who really prefers a brat or sausage dog, rather than just a plain hot dog–especially since the menu in the restaurant says that you can choose. It’s only after you choose–and get your mouth all ready for what you wanted–that you find out it can’t be done.
However, beyond that … we really enjoyed our visit to Po Dogs … and I’ll give them an A- overall!