The future of the Houston hot dog is in flux. James Coney Island is rebranding itself, and new hog dog joints are popping all over the city. In this series, we'll take a look at what's happening in the world of Houston dogs.
Happy Fatz is one of the new wave of Houston hot dogs stands. In contrast to James Coney Island's Formica-topped tables and tile floors, this place looks more like a coffee shop with wooden tables and a couple of seats out on the front porch.
All the hot dogs here come with a Hebrew National quarter-pound, all-beef wiener and your choice of kettle chips, slaw, or fresh fruit.
3410 White Oak
There are 12 hot dogs on the menu, including the Happy Fatz with tomato, chopped onion, bacon, cheddar cheese, a dill pickle spear, and yellow mustard on a sesame seed bun. The "Texas Chile" dog comes with Shiner Bock chili, Fritos corn chips, and onions, and the "Clucker," a breakfast dog, is topped with with hash browns, bacon, and an over-easy egg on a toasted bun.
There is a case full of cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, scones, and other fresh sweets that are baked on the premises and an espresso machine. The cappucino here is topped with so much foam, it looks like an ice cream sundae.
Sammy's Wild Game Grill, an edgy restaurant located in an odd triangular building on Washington Ave., serves wild game sausages on hot dog buns. Owner Sammy Ballarin recommended the pheasant sausage hot dog for my first taste of the place.
The pheasant is marinated in Cognac before it's made into sausage, which gives it a very rich flavor. The dog came on a Slow Dough Pretzel bun; I asked for mine topped with grilled onions and sauerkraut and annointed it with the premium mustard that was on the table.
There are also venison, lamb, elk, and rabbit sausages on the menu, along with buffalo and antelope burgers. Salad toppings include kangaroo and llama.
Sammy's Wild Game Grill
3715 Washington Ave.
The menu is gimmicky, but this was one of the best sausage sandwiches I've eaten in Houston. Some say Sammy's borrowed the wild game dog concept from Moon Tower Inn, but it doesn't matter where they got the idea if they get it right.