The iconic Lucky Dog is still the most famous wiener on the streets of New Orleans, but the success of Freret Street's Dat Dog (5030 Freret St., 899-6883; www.datdognola.com) has provided evidence that people here will queue up for something different. Now, new and aspiring restaurateurs are trying their own hand with hot dog joints combining New Orleans flavor and other options.
In the French Quarter, Nasr Nance and Ahmad Shakir opened Dreamy Weenies (740 N. Rampart St., 872-0157; www.dreamyweenies.com) in late July. Nance says their original inspiration came from a Food Network spot on hot dogs, and he says they were encouraged by seeing the crowds that regularly fill Dat Dog.
"We knew we couldn't just do hot dogs because New Orleans is so famous for its food," Nance says. "But you ask someone about New Orleans hot dogs and they think Lucky Dogs. Well, we thought we could do something different from that."
Their menu has New Orleans flavor but also kosher, halal and vegan options and a kitchen that promises not to cook your veggie dog on the same grill as meat products. Nance says the shop's motto, "All three in one spot, no mixing pots," is their pledge to respect kosher, halal and vegan choices.
"We know most people don't care about that, they just want a good meal," Nance says. "But for the people who do care it's important, so here we're looking out for everyone. Anyone can find something good here."
The kitchen is not officially kosher or halal, but Nance says Dreamy Weenies sources its meats from approved kosher and halal suppliers. Meatless options include a "falafel weenie" and a bean-based link called the Garden District, both of which are vegan.
Toppings run from the standard ballpark condiments to curry sauce, a Creole trinity of onion, bell peppers and celery and labneh, the Middle Eastern yogurt cheese. It also has corn dogs, waffle fries and sides including grits, hummus, and vegan red beans and rice. Dreamy Weenies serves lunch and dinner daily.
In the Lower Garden District, Ericka Lassair is preparing to open her own New Orleans-style hot dog emporium called Diva Dawg (1906 Magazine St., 533-4825; www.divadawgnola.com). With inspections and final details pending, she's aiming to open in early September.
Lassair says Vaucresson's Sausage Co. (www.vaucressonsausage.com), the vaunted New Orleans sausage maker and longtime New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival vendor, is supplying an all-beef wiener for the restaurant's signature Diva Dawg.
Her idea is to dress her dogs with New Orleans' favorite foods, like red beans, fried chicken, crawfish etouffee and even a barbecue shrimp sauce. Diva Dawg will offer conventional options, but Lassair also wants to work in even more elaborate numbers.
"I want to do a foie gras dog, a Kobe (beef) dog and maybe a mac-and-cheese dog," she says.