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Flash-forward, and the name of the venture has been changed to Good Dog Houston. The food truck was so successful that the couple was able to open the new restaurant and take the truck out only for catering or special events. And with an expanded kitchen no longer on wheels, Caballero and Pferd are able to flex their culinary muscles even more.
The secret to the company's success, in my opinion, is the wonderful hot dogs that are really more like a sausage/hot dog hybrid than the things you buy vacuum-packed at the grocery store. The recipe was an original family one used by the purveyor, but Caballero and Pferd tweaked it, adding some spice to make it their own private Good Dog label. The products are minimally processed and contain only high-quality shoulder meat. No ears or entrails or preservatives here. They're even available for purchase, along with Slow Dough buns, should you want to come up with your own creations at home.
In addition to hot dogs, the restaurant's menu features a roast beef deli sandwich to rival those wonderfully beefy franks, a couple of unique salads and the best beer cheese soup you'll find outside of the Midwest. Still, it's the hot dogs that I find myself craving. Even the simple ones, like the New Yorker with beer-braised sauerkraut and spicy mustard, is drool-worthy, while the more complex ones, such as the Picnic Dog, which features warm chorizo and beef chili, cool potato salad (light on the mayo) and a vinegary pickle slice, visit me in my dreams.
903 Studewood St.
Houston, TX 77008
The only hot dog I found mildly disappointing (though I ate the whole thing) was the Guac-A-Dog with avocado, pico de gallo and cilantro, and, supposedly, lime and aioli (which were barely there). The whole thing was too mild, too avocado-y. It needed a big dose of lime juice and spice to truly evoke the guacamole flavor in the name.
Perhaps that was just an off-dog, though, because other dishes—like the Curryous Frank—are perfectly balanced. It features onion relish mixed with curry powder and a spicy-sweet cilantro chutney atop thin, crisp sweet potato chips. For heat and acid there's a generous squirt of Sriracha ketchup, and the whole thing is mellowed a bit by rich, creamy roasted garlic aioli.
The Deli Dog is simpler but just as carefully devised. Melted provolone cheese is wrapped around a hot dog, then stuffed into the soft, buttery bun and topped with greens, tomatoes, mustard and Pferd's own recipe for spicy giardiniera, which is heavy on the crunchy carrots. There's a strong pickle flavor to the Deli Dog, but touches of sweet tomato and grassy greens also come through, complementing the smoky hot dog.
Even though the frankfurters are the stars at Good Dog Houston, the milkshakes are worth saving just a little room for. They're made right in front of you on a mint-green 1957-vintage Hamilton Beach mixer. Choose from three regular flavors that use ice cream from Fat Cat Creamery (not far from Good Dog if somehow you're still hungry) and special flavors like Thin Mint that come out and play every once in a while.
Every day there's a new hot dog flavor as well, as if the 12 dogs on the menu didn't already send me into a tizzy. When Pferd, a graduate of Culinary Institute LeNôtre here in town, gets into the kitchen, she dreams up dogs like the Good Fella, which includes ricotta, tomato sauce and bright-green fried basil. Or the recently created banh mi dog, which features pickled daikon and carrots, as well as cucumber kimchi, jalapeños, Sriracha and celery salt.
In the past few years, a number of food trucks in Houston have made the leap to brick-and-mortar. Eatsie Boys opened in late 2012. Bernie's Burger Bus nabbed a concession counter inside Reliant Stadium in time for the 2013 Texans season, and now the gourmet burger joint is working on opening three restaurants in the next five years. Fusion Taco became a full-fledged eatery last July, and the truck remains available for catering and events.
Good Dog Houston is the latest truck to retire its wheels (at least temporarily) in favor of a storefront, and the fact that Houston can provide the support to allow these small ventures to grow is exciting. It used to be that you had to work your way up in the business or go all-in on a family restaurant and pray it wouldn't fail. These days, entrepreneurs like Caballero and Pferd can build the customer base to support a restaurant before a restaurant is even built.
Of course, the fact that Pferd has a penchant for hot dogs and pickling and Caballero has a business background certainly hasn't hurt. I feel sure that as long as the two want to keep inventing creative toppings for their signature dogs, the demand will follow. If you can put it on a hot dog, the folks over at Good Dog Houston probably will. And it probably will be better than good.
love the hot dogs here, i agree with you about the guac-a-dog. i had it on my second visit having the the chillin dog on the first. the good thing though about the guac-a-dogs blandness is that i could really taste the actually hot dog. the chilli on the chillin dog took over all the flavor. after the guac-a-dog i ordered the chi-town there take on a classic chicago dog and its is by far the ultimate hot dog IMO the house pickled fresno peppers and pickles, fresh tomatoes hit with celery salt is AMAZING have to have one every time and try a new one along side it. my son loves the house made corny dog also.(so do i)
The prices are a smidge higher than what I remember from the truck, but the quality is excellent. They're also great people, really friendly. Try the "come and drink it" wine, it's quite good too. One thing is for certain, it does not suck though the defunct Cahill's had a more authentic Chicago dog (Vienna beef and all).
I thought the place sucked. How can a place screw up something as simple as a Chicago-style dog? Its a cesspool of cased-meat blasphemy.