Marti Meyer and Cyndi Beeson love hot dogs and sausages so much that they decided to share that love with fellow residents of Scotts Valley by opening in August 2010.
“We felt as though there was a niche we could fill by providing gourmet dogs and sausages,” Meyer said. “We also knew that we wanted our menu to be different from the rest.”
And they’ve done just that, with six house-made toppings, a delicious variety of dogs and sausages and unique sides, such as fried dill pickle spears and jack/blue cheese sticks.
House-made chips replace the typical French fries, and they are thoroughly addicting. The chips are piled into a large cone of wax paper sitting in a stainless-steel wire frame. It’s hard to eat the entire order, but it’s also hard to stop eating the thick, crispy chips.
Neither Meyer nor Beeson have restaurant backgrounds, but their event sales and planning experience has served them well in the operation of Dawgs! Their customer relationship background is also obvious by the friendly greetings they give to customers who come in hungry for a dog.
And Scotts Valley residents seem to be thrilled with this new addition to the local culinary scene.
“The response to opening Dawgs! in Scotts Valley has been amazing,” Meyer said. “We cannot tell you how many times our customers have told us how happy they are that a hot dog/sausage specific restaurant has opened up in their community.”
And they keep coming back for more.
“In the short time we've been open,” Meyer continued, “we have a long list of regular weekly customers that happily refer us to their friends, family and co-workers.”
Meyer says the most popular dog is the “Chi Town.” They took the traditional Chicago-style hot dog, which is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomatoes, a dash of celery salt and sport peppers (1½-inch long, medium-hot peppers), and substituted the sport peppers with pepperoncinis.
I’ve tried this one, and it is delicious. I especially liked the tang of the vinegary pepperoncinis. And Dawgs! dogs will definitely fill you up—one is a meal in itself.
The sausage people order the most is the Smoked Brat, which Meyer says pairs perfectly with the Parthenon topping of sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and feta cheese.
The owners’ favorites?
“Cyndi's favorites would be the American Kobe Beef dog and the Smoked Brat sausage,” Meyer said. “And mine would be the Chi Town-style dog and the Louisiana hot link.”
Mmmm. All this hot dog talk got me thinking about trying my hand at a homemade relish. There are lots of different types of relish you can make—tomato, corn, pepper (hot or mild) and fruit.
The delicious “Island” topping at Dawgs! is a fruit relish combining mango, pineapple, peaches, red bell pepper, jalapeno and onions.
There's also a Cuban Corn Relish with corn, black beans, roasted red peppers and onions.
And then, of course, there’s pickle relish, which I love on hot dogs. But the store-bought version is a tad boring. Here’s a yummy (and easy) pickle relish recipe I adapted from a recipe by the grill master himself, Bobby Flay.
Homemade Pickle Relish
* 1½ cups cider vinegar
* 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
* 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
* 1 teaspoon celery seed
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 8 large dill pickles (homemade or store-bought), finely diced
* 1 small red pepper, grilled, peeled, seeded and finely diced
* 1 small yellow pepper, grilled, peeled, seeded and finely diced
* 1 small sweet onion such as Vidalia or Maui, finely diced
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
* 1 serrano chile, chopped with seeds (optional)
Bring vinegar, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and celery seeds to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cook until reduced by half and slightly syrupy. Remove from the heat, add the remaining ingredients and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
A last bit of info for you hot dog aficionados: While researching my relish recipe, I came across the amazing fact that March 30 is National Hot Dog Day! Darn. Just missed it. Well, mark it on your calendars for next year—and I’ll see you at Dawgs!