Cheap Eats 2014: Don’t Forget the Dogs!

Blue cheese, mango-pineapple relish, and dill pickles are among the many creative hot-dog toppings at Haute Dogs & Fries.

Photograph by Jeff Elkins

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.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.