Located a short, pleasant walk uptown from campus on West Main Street, City Dogs is a great place to get a drink. Its food, though somewhat uninspired, is edible, the staff kind and accommodating, and, of course, the bar fully stocked. And while nothing more than the walk home reminded me there may be better places to grab a quick lunch in the area, catching the game on any one of their six flat-screen T.V.s’ sure is a blast.
Upon entering the building I was impressed by the clean wooden interior. It was a pretty day, and if the mood had struck me I could have dined on the tree-screened patio and enjoyed the modest mid-day bustle of the city. Unwilling to brave the flies, I instead chose a spot across from the long, empty bar.
Taking in my surroundings I was pleasantly surprised by the selection of beer on tap, which includes a City Dog’s house ale. But the rest of the view bored me. The spartan décor seems designed to draw the eyes inexorably back to ESPN.
The waitress was all smiles when she brought my menu which revealed a basic overview of the country’s most iconic dogs, as well as other typical bar staples. Standouts include the Sante Fe, replete with salsa, guacamole and tortilla chips, the Hawaiian with BBQ sauce and pineapple chunks, and of course the Coney Island Chili.
All dogs are priced under 4 dollars with the exception of the Richmond Original which is an affordable $2.25. Both vegan dog and chili substitutes are available for every selection, as well as all beef Vienna frankfurters. Le’chayim!
I ordered two chili dogs, the Cincinnati and the Richmond Original, and cheesy tater-tots. During my short wait I decided to investigate the facilities. Though functional, I decided this was not a place I want to be caught with a case of the downtown push-downs, and was most likely on a cleaning schedule of whenever the dishwasher feels like it – not very often. After a thorough hand washing I returned to my seat just as my food arrived.
The Richmond dog, topped with mustard onions and chili, was nice and disappeared promptly. However I found the Cincinnati disappointing. If you’ve ever had one you know they’re topped with onions cheddar cheese, and finely ground, heavily spiced chili. This chili, which should’ve been the star of the dish, was frankly (heh!) underwhelming. I detected allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg, but they were fairly subdued and the overall taste was bland. My tots were lacking in cheese and overly crispy, though when doused in the ubiquitous Sriracha chili sauce they were just fine. After my meal I treated myself to a chocolate shake, which was lovely.
As a place to eat my lunch, I don’t think I will be returning to City Dogs soon. The food simply isn’t cheap enough to warrant its quality. If, however, I find myself out on the town and in search of a yummy mug o’ beer and, perhaps a little live music (the Former Champions perform every other Thursday) I would have no problem stopping by and having a grand time.
City Dogs has both uptown and downtown locations at 1309 West Main Street, and 1316 East Cary Street, respectively.