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Hot Diggity

Sammy's Wild Game Grill — the other wild game hot dog place in town — brings on the heat.

The almost creamy, yellow-orange salsa is unabashedly made from the Bhut Jolokia chili pepper — a.k.a. ghost pepper — although you'd never know that this sauce comes from one of the hottest peppers on record, with a Scoville Heat Unit rating of 1,382,118. (For sake of comparison, a jalapeño ranks at between 2,500 to 8,000 units.) Instead, the sauce distills all the flavor of the ghost pepper and leaves behind only trace amounts of that Guinness World Record-winning heat.

It's all warm, musky flavors of dusky spices like cumin at first before giving way to bright, sweet, citrusy punches that taste like ruby red grapefruit slices wrapped around a silver ballpeen hammer. It's a spike and a rush of flavor and then pain that's thoroughly intoxicating. It's a tribute to the stuff (or my own levels of insanity) that after recovering from a particularly vicious stomach bug, I wanted some of that ghost pepper sauce the very next day.
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I had it, too, poured atop a pile of elk chili-cheese fries, the mound of which was delicious albeit otherwise unremarkable-looking. In fact, most of the food here is rather unremarkable-looking, served in standard black plastic trays with thin sheets of wax paper on the bottom. It's one of the ways — I imagine — that owner Sammy Ballarin is keeping costs down here. And more power to him.

The pheasant dog pairs nicely with a bottle of Fireman's #4.
Troy Fields
The pheasant dog pairs nicely with a bottle of Fireman's #4.

Location Info

Map

Sammy's Wild Game Grill

3715 Washington Ave.
Houston, TX 77007

Category: Restaurant > Burgers

Region: Heights

Details

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday through Saturday
Angus beef burger: $7.95
BBQ pulled wild boar sandwich: $8.95
Game trio sliders: $10
Wild sausage hot dogs: $6.50
Sweet potato fries: $3.25
Chili-cheese fries: $6.95


READ MORE
SLIDESHOW: Hot Dog! Sammy's Wild Game Grill
BLOG POST: Sammy's Wild Game Grill: Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery


My dining companion and I walked away that particular evening with a $35 tab that included an enormous burger, a trio of wild game sliders, that precious mound of chili fries, a Fireman's #4 and a frozen margarita. Counter service encourages a low tab, too, but the employees still never forget to come by and check on each table a couple of times throughout the meal; it's like having the best of both service worlds.

The only disappointment on this visit was that my sliders were cooked to a near char, each and every one of them. I'd thought that ordering the trio was a good way to sample three exotic meats at once — buffalo, venison and antelope, in this case — but was disappointed to see three little hockey pucks delivered to our table. I gazed longingly at my dining companion's Angus burger — cooked to a respectable medium — and stole a few bites of it here and there. The temperature wasn't the only thing respectable about it, either: the sturdy pretzel bun also held fat, red slices of tomato, sharp slices of red onion and big, beefy leaves of butter lettuce. It was a surprisingly hefty and dignified burger from a place that ostensibly specializes in hot dogs.

I tore off the most charred edges of my sliders and tasted the meat inside. Yes, there is a serious difference between venison and antelope — one buttery and sweet, the other grassy and lean — and the sliders should showcase that to great effect...and would, if the tiny patties spent far less time on the grill. I couldn't fault the tiny Slow Dough buns, though, nor the spicy-sweet rémoulade that coated the bottom of each one.

My disappointment was assuaged, however, by my crisply cold pint of Fireman's #4 and the tremendous pile of elk chili fries that sat before me. I can see myself repeating the same scenario — sans the sliders — on Sammy's small but efficient patio as the weather continues its welcome cooling pattern in the coming months. And, of course, with a bottle of that knockout ghost pepper salsa at my side.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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My Voice Nation Help
9 comments
evanandsuch
evanandsuch

This is what is wrong with the Houston food scene. There are nearly five million people living in the extended metro area yet Moon Tower thinks they should be the only spot in town doing what they do in any shape or form? There seems to be that attitude throughout the city. "They are already doing that so we can not or should not." What codswallop. We need more Moon Towers, More Reefs, more Damarcos, and More Kata Robatas. New and innovative is wonderful but seeing a concept and either tweeking it or actually improving upon it is also perfectly valid. Mexican places and burger joints seem fine doing this, why can not others have the courage to emulate them.

Josh
Josh

First positive review I've heard from someone I trust. Still slim to no chance I set foot in there. The initial douche sleaze factor wafted off that place like an axe drenched frat boy rolling off a roofied freshman.

Oh and $10 for a no overhead no distro cost hot sauce? fuuuuck off. and a ghost pepper sauce...shockingly mti did that first too, I guess that's the running theme though.

Walter
Walter

I really like this place but if they don't get rid of the automatic air freshener inside their dining area, I will never return. It reeks of a Febreeze like scent and NO ONE wants to smell that when biting into a perfectly cooked wild game burger!

Get rid of the air freshener in your dining area Sammy's... maybe you can put it in the restrooms!

Jalapeno
Jalapeno

Contender for the worst sentence ever written. Make that post.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I gotta say, I sensed absolutely no dudebro/frat boy vibes at Sammy's either inside or out on my visits. And you know I'd say so if I did. ;)

Beau
Beau

Some say the same thing about setting foot in MTI.

The initial douche hipster factor wafts off that place like a sweat soaked messenger bagged fixie rider combing his handlebar mustache while wearing cheap knock off red Ray Bans under a faux Girl Talk headband.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

God, I wish that I'd mentioned that in the review. Thanks for reminding me. The Febreeze-scented thing must go.

Josh
Josh

Much like this reviews sister article says, Imitation trolling is the sincerest form of flattery.

illegal1
illegal1

Thanks for the heads-up. I've passed by there multiple times and just have not gotten around to the place, but now I am determined to stop by.

 
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