108 N 4th St.,Coeur d'Alene
By nature, hot dogs are kind of lighthearted affairs. They're associated with old-fashioned good-time fun such as baseball games, trips to the circus, and thrift store anniversary sales. Or at the very least, a happy lunchtime trip to experience the simplicity of Gittel's 3 for $1.69 hot dogs, fresh from the prongs of the spinny machine, served with ketchup and mustard only.
"My wiener is happy to see you." It's the saying printed underneath a cartoon dachshund on a silly shirt I picked up from St. Vinny's a while ago, but never really felt compelled to break it out of the closet and put it on until I knew we were going on our maiden voyage to the new Dangerous Dog in the former City Perk location behind the Moose Lounge near 4th and Sherman in downtown Coeur d'Alene.
It seemed appropriate, also considering the recent extremely silly controversy involving Rep. Anthony Weiner's wiener being tweeted and flashed all over every news outlet everywhere. Lately, the Wiener/wiener jokes are pulsating through every blog, office, and bar in the nation. This probably doesn't sound quite right to say in that particular context, but right now wieners are way hot.
So, with all the wacky hot dog flapdoodle going on, it's a bit wry that Dangerous Dog uses the tagline "serious sausage". And they're not just dicking around with the idea, either. Twenty two different dog options currently appear on their menu, and each one has something completely unique, creative and sometimes slightly off-the-radar going on. It's obvious that a lot of serious contemplation went into the idea of jazzing up the basic frank and bun arrangement, and all the brain strain apparently paid off.
As I sit here typing, I am currently in a haze of hot dog bliss after consuming a divine Dangerous Dog lunch consisting of the #7, the All Cheese Dog. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Cotija cheese, and whole grain mustard all layered nice and thick on a plump wiener on an intensely fresh-baked bun that was soft and doughy on the outside and crispy golden in the center. It was a fantastic way to spend my lunch break and very well worth every penny of the $4 i put into it. Cheese nirvana!
Today was actually my third experience with the Dangerous Dog, and like cheap no-prescription narcotics mail-ordered surreptitiously from overseas, I'm totally hooked. These folks do wonderful, creative things with the blank canvas of a hot dog, and really, downtown Coeur d'Alene kinda got a few notches groovier overall when they decided to open up their doors.
Jesi accompanied me on my first visit to the place last week, and we were captivated right away by the sparse, urban vibe of the interior. Retro 70s chairs, raw plywood floors, the abstract art of neighbor Stevin Scroggins hung high below the exposed, unfinished ceiling. Indie-folk on the radio, and most perfectly, old Pink Panther cartoon on the flat-screen TV (it was still playing the other two times I visited). The place is open and airy, but comfortable and inviting, with the main focus being the huge chalk menu up on the wall behind the counter.
The #19 Chorzipan Argentina (Pork Chorizo, Mayonnaise, Chimichurri, Fresh Salsa) ($6.25) and the #20 Terimayo Japan (Pork Sausage, Teriyaki Sauce, Pineapple, Seaweed, Green Onions, Wasani Mayo) ($6.50) are just plain crazy, but the oddness factor of putting something like seaweed on a hot dog makes them something you'll want to throw down some shock and awe about when you talk about them later.
Anthony Weiner might appreciate the #10 Naked ("Nothing at all. Your dog flying solo on a bun") ($2.75), but more interesting options abound such as the #14 Lamb Menguez (Artichoke pesto. Kalmata olives, Feta chesse, Lemon Dijonnaise) ($6.75), the #9 Blue Demon (Bleu Cheese dressing, Celery, Carrots, Gorgonzola Cheese, Buffalo Sauce), or the #12 Hippie (Veggie dog, Alfalfa sprouts, Mushrooms, yellow mustard, ketchup) ($4.25).
Jesi was the bravest girl of all when she decided to order the #6 P.B. Dog with peanut butter, sliced bananas, and chopped peanuts. She let me take a bite, and it's actually not as weird as it sounds and somehow the flavors and textures meld together in a unexpectedly right-on way. Plus, the buns are so just-baked and delicioso, they could spread Shark Testicle Pâté, Vaseline, and sliced kiwis all over a plump wiener inside and it would still be incredible.
The Chutney Dog was the most expensive of the whole bunch at $7.25, and ultimately, it did seem a little wee for the price, but the thing was so cosmically flavorful and exotically enjoyable, I'd likely pay double when the craving strikes again. The mango chutney was house-made and full of sweetness and a terrific bang of spice, the cucumber riata was a bright flavor foil to the intensity of the chutney, the cilantro was a nice, perky touch, and underneath was a Chicken Mango Jalapeno sausage that was enough to make Oscar Mayer start selling his furniture on Craigslist.
Dangerous Dogs are great to go as well, as I found out when Jesi recently brought a #3 Pac Northwest (Cream Cheese, Caramelized onions, house sauce) ($3.75) to me at work at the bar. Advice: don't wear a white t-shirt while eating one of these incredibly tasty beasts, they are messy little buggers. I tried the soda water trick, but to no avail - so I just wore my hot dog stain proudly the rest of the night as a symbol of my love for Dangerous Dog and I just KNOW my customers were jealous.
Dangerous dog also serves ice cream and is open late (midnight weeknights and until 3 am Fridays and Saturdays).