Oh, the poor old hot dog, you might think—in the midst of the area’s early-2000s burger boom, it seemed to have been left behind. And to add insult, food trucks have nudged hot-dog vendors out of many a desk-lunch rotation.
But thanks to partners Pamela Swanson and Lionel Holmes, there’s a ray of hope. At their cheery twin cafes, Haute Dogs & Fries (610 Montgomery St., Alexandria, 703-548-3891; 609 E. Main St., Purcellville, 540-338-2439), the pair starts with all-beef franks made by Kayem, the vendor behind the offerings at FedEx Field and Fenway Park. (The menu’s other excellent sausages come from Fields of Athenry farm in Loudoun County.) What turns the dogs glorious, though, is the flat-top cooking method, which renders them juicy and perfectly snappy, and the griddled, top-split bun brushed with butter.
We could have these franks with a little mustard and relish and be happy. But it’s tough to pass up the more creatively topped options. Take the Duck, Duck, Dog, with hoisin, cucumber, and scallions, à la Peking duck. Or the Banh Mi, with its Vietnamese-inspired accents of Sriracha-spiked mayo and cilantro. Then there’s the mango-pineapple-relish-laden Monroe, a must for lovers of all things salty-sweet.
The burger may have a lock on most local appetites, but dogs like these should inspire a revolution.