You know a hot dog is great when you’re willing to drive more than an hour outside Washington to get it. We’ve been commuting to Purcellville, Virginia for our dog cravings at co-owners Lionel Holmes and Pamela Swanson’s Haute Dog & Fries, but the trip just got much shorter with the launch of a replica Haute Dogs in Old Town, Alexandria.
Unlike at many designer burger joints, the tastiness of the hot dogs doesn’t rely on extra-fancy ingredients like foie gras and short ribs. You’ll find all-beef Kayem hot dogs—the same brand hawked at FedEx Field during Redskins games—and a bun commissioned from a local bakery. The key is that both meat and bread are griddled on a hot flattop, with the bun getting the same swipe of butter and resulting crust you’ll find on a New England lobster roll (which the menu also features, along with sliders, fish and chips, and nachos.)
Toppings range from classic combinations—chili and cheese, the Chicago-style mix of hot peppers, relish, and celery salt—to less conventional creations such as the Monroe: caramelized onions, mango, pineapple, and jalapeños. Make sure to try two other unusual items: the simple, meaty lamb sausage from Loudoun-based Fields of Athenry, and the dessert Eskimo dog—vanilla ice cream scooped into a cinnamon-sugar bun and drizzled with caramel and fudge. Vegetarians can also find meat-free savory items, such as a tofu dog and a veggie-stuffed bun with slaw, cheddar, and chipotle mayo.
Holmes and Swanson aim for a neighborhood vibe with a cozy interior, free wi-fi, and a kids’ meal with a smaller dog or slider, fries, and a drink. Takeout is always available, but you’ll be able to linger over a meal with beer and wine as soon as this week. Hit up the slideshow for tantalizing shots of the wieners on offer.
Haute Dogs & Fries. 610 Montgomery St., Alexandria; 703-548-3891. Open Monday through Saturday 11 to 9 and Sunday 11 to 7.