When is a hot dog like a madeleine?

Image: Mai Pham

It doesn’t happen all that often, but sometimes you taste a dish that resets the bar. Such was the case with this hot dog creation by chef Chris Williams of Lucille’s. Williams debuted it briefly last summer, which is when I had my first taste. But before I could revisit, the item had disappeared from the menu—though not from my mind. Lucky for me, it’s back. And though it’s only available on the lunch menu, let me tell you: this hot dog positively rocks.

Lucille's
5512 La Branch St.
713-568-2505
lucilleshouston.com

I hate talking food up so much that it ends up sounding like hyperbole, but when we decided on Lucille’s for lunch, I told my girlfriend that I’d been dreaming about this hot dog since last year. She took it under advisement, then proceeded to order her chicken just the same. Lo and behold, the magnificent specimen was just as glorious as I’d described, and she ended up eyeing it enviously. Being the nice friend that I am, I cut off a quarter of it to give her, and she liked it so much she immediately sent a picture to her husband, telling him that he needed to try it, too.

Available on the current Houston Restaurant Weeks lunch menu as part of a $20 prix-fixe for the entire month of August, Williams named this the "$12 hot dog." Now, $12 sounds a little steep in theory until it arrives at your table.

The first thing that you’ll notice is the glistening, shiny bun. No ordinary bun, Williams chose a custom-baked Slow Dough pretzel to compliment the 100 percent all-beef beef dog inside. For topping, it’s not relish or regular pickles, but a house-made collard green kimchi. A side of thick-cut fries and small side salad complete the dish.

I like my hot dog with ketchup, so after slathering a good amount of ketchup on the dog, I took a bite. There was that immediate sense of recognition—one of those deja-vu type moments—wherein my brain responded with a resounding, “Yes.”

A flood of memories resurfaced: the juicy plumpness of the beef dog, the lightly sweet spongy density of the pretzel bun, the funky tang of the fermented collard kimchi. It was everything I remembered, and just as satisfying as the first time I’d tasted it. I had to forcibly stop myself from eating it too quickly.

Unfortunately, this act would be my folly. With at least three bites left in the dog, I put the hot dog down. When I picked it up again, the slippery thing popped out of the bun—projectile fashion—landing next to the table beside me, tragic yet comical. I felt like a kid who had just gotten an ice cream cone, only to have it accidentally drop with splat onto the ground, and it was hard to mask my disappointment. I was tempted to use the five-second rule and eat it anyway, but it had popped out so vigorously, it probably slid on the floor for quite a distance before stopping. I picked it up the piece from the floor and finished off my fries and salad, momentarily dejected, but happy to have rediscovered one of the most memorable hot dogs I’ve had in Houston.

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