Hot dogs — specifically those crafted by Dat Dog — have become an unexpected staple of the New Orleans' dining scene in recent years. From the original shed on Freret Street, the restaurant has grown into a collection of outposts with bars and patios across the city. If you're looking for a space to quell a hot dog craving or explore more diverse grilled items, the new Banks Street branch of the Dat Dog empire, Dis & Dat, can sooth the sausage-loving beast in anyone.
The charming, diminutive former shotgun home is tucked away on a tree-shaded cul-de-sac off North Broad Street. The quiet stretch of road seems ripe for a miniature lunchtime restaurant row given its proximity to the Tulane Avenue court complex and forthcoming University Medical Center.
Inside, a long bar extends toward the rear patio with candy-colored tabletops lining the walls and multicolored flags hanging overhead. Behind the bar, rainbow-hued illustrations on white boards full of menu items fill the wall like quilt blocks, bordered by the same whimsical white lights that drip across the building's exterior. The restaurant's patios feature bright, beach-style umbrellas shading tables, and Dis & Dat feels like a secret clubhouse for die-hard sausage devotees, complete with a laid-back staff clad in a hodgepodge of Hawaiian-print shirts.
The hot dog menu has largely the same offerings as other Dat Dog locations, but served in noticeably less hectic and more enjoyable environs. The Polish kielbasa is a juicy, tangy standout, and can be topped with add-ons such as dill relish, Creole mustard and sauerkraut. The menu's two vegetarian sausages are well-crafted, and the apple-sage version is particularly rich with autumnal, nuanced flavor and texture that avoids the gumminess of many meatless dogs. The staff stands at attention to help with topping selections for individual dogs, but it would be helpful if there were suggestions of combinations, such as topping a hot sausage with bacon and chipotle mayonnaise.
The fries are serviceable if slightly underseasoned and too thin not to be perfectly crisp. They need less wilt and more snap before patrons add Dis & Dat's selection of ranch, cheese or chili toppings. The menu also needs a wider selection of side items.
The handful of burgers offered are just as compelling as the hot dogs. The Borche burger is coated in an umami-sweet glaze that walks the line between Worcestershire and teriyaki (and seems similar to the English condiment HP Sauce). Thick as a deck of cards, tender and crumbly, the burger is topped off with a sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese and a runny fried egg.
The standout special is a chicken-fried steak sandwich, which has the rib-sticking heartiness of the dish's traditional meat-and-three preparation stacked together on a fluffy, onion-dappled bun. A slathering of thick reddish-brown gravy on the bottom bun and a light, vinegar-tinged lettuce-onion-tomato mix on top rounds out the dish's square-meal-in-a-bite experience.
Dis & Dat recently added breakfast service, featuring what may be the most robust selection of breakfast po-boys in the city and an impressive number of hashes. A heaping plate of eggs-over-easy corned beef hash paired with the restaurant's dangerously cheap mimosas makes it a great destination for brunching on a budget.
If you're looking for the kind of hot dog fix currently popular in New Orleans without battling the crowds on Frenchmen or Magazine streets, Dis & Dat is a sure bet for encased meats and more.