In between consulting with a hair and make up gal who charged $400 for her services and visiting a bridal store that threatened a $100 rush fee for simple alterations, I gladly dug into some (relatively) cheap hot dogs at The Slaw Dogs. After being gouged left and right, the gourmet wiener shop felt like a sanctuary where brides-to-be could be properly fed without being nickel and dimed. What a relief.
When I arrived at noon to meet up with Pat of Eating LA, the restaurant was packed to capacity with lines snaking out the door. The positive LA Times write up and Jonathan Gold’s endorsement must be bringing in the crowds because the location isn’t stellar. North Lake is no Colorado Boulevard.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to dressing up Slaw’s array of all-beef, natural casing, turkey, veggie, and kosher dogs. On hand are forty-five custom toppings including roasted garlic, pasilla peppers, kimchi, and truffle oil. I was mildly tempted to build my own dog, but decided otherwise because too many choices make me anxious. [See: "Paradox of Choice" by Barry Schwartz.] In addition to fancy hot dogs, the restaurant also serves salad bowls and burgers.
Pat ordered a basket of Belgian Style Fries ($2.99) to pair with her dog. The skinny spuds proved to be fine vehicles for the gourmet dips (roasted garlic mayonnaise, chipotle mayonnaise, Sriracha aioli) that owner Ray Byrne brought to our table. Eaten alone, the fries tasted under-seasoned.
My beer battered onion rings ($3.99) were bogged down by excess oil, but nicely flavored and slightly crunchy. The rings were “light, crispy, and not too oily” on Abby of Pleasure Palate’s recent visit, so it’s a distinct possibility that I got a botched batch.
Pat settled on the “Cali” market dog ($5.49) with kumquat chutney, habanero pickled onions, grilled onions, and curry ketchup. She chose a natural casing “Snap Dog” to go with the market-driven fixings. A hefty punch of spice was the first to register, followed by a jolt of raw onions. The dog wasn’t as snappy as we had hoped, but the loveliness of the kumquat chutney made up for it. The bun, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired.
Pat’s son thoroughly enjoyed the Picnic Dog ($4.99), which included barbecue sauce, two onion rings, potato salad, and a pickle spear. He was pleasantly surprised by how well the tangy sauce and goopy potato salad gelled together in between the flimsy buns. Compared to The Astronomer’s nightmarish Lord of the Rings hot dog at Pink’s, this one looked much more palatable and manageable.
I went with the Thai Slaw Dog ($6.59) with chicken sausage, spicy peanut-coconut satay dressing, cilantro-carrot slaw, crushed peanuts, and Sriracha aioli. The entire package was straight out of South East Asia, and it was mostly delightful. The chicken sausage surprised us with its oomph, while the slaw was zesty and fresh; however, the lightly toasted bun once again left us disappointed.
Lastly, we split the A.B.L.T Dog ($6.29) with double bacon, chopped romaine, tomato, avocado, and roasted garlic aioli. We loved the ripe avocado and savory bacon, but desired a more pungent garlic aioli.
From innovative fixins to tip-top customer service, there’s a lot to like about The Slaw Dogs. However, the bread situation is really holding it back. If I might make a suggestion, a custom-made brioche bun from Euro Pane would solve the problem deliciously. Until then, Italian sausages on the grill will be my go-to source for a local wiener fix.
The Slaw Dogs
720 North Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91104