Sunday, December 7, 2008

I Dream of Weenie

Nashville Restaurants and Food
I Dream of Weenie
113 South 11th Street
Twitter: @IDreamofWeenie

7/11: The bright yellow VW bus is back in business. We made our first visit recently to the newly reconstituted I Dream of Weenie. The East Nashville hot doggery is under new management and parked just around the corner from the original location. Leslie Allen bought the bus lock, stock and barrel and has even kept much of the original menu. I sampled a good brat and a nicely spicy Flamin’ Frank (chili, jalapeno, onion and salsa) and found them to be as we remembered. The buns are still high quality and yet old fashion smushy in style. The Veggie Eater had the pimento cheese dog and found it okay, although she thought the bun might have been a tad bit stale. We paid $12 for our hot dog feast. We think that with the new location Leslie should do great in Five Points. That empty lot next to Bongo Java needed some sprucing up.

2008 Review:

Ah, the all-American hot dog: Symbol of summer; the official sandwich of baseball; the embodiment of flag and family. I Dream of Weenie attempts to take all that wholesomeness to a new level in East Nashville and you know what, the updating works. The very name, and suggestive sexy hot dog logo, implies that this is a new weenie fit for new toppings. Operator Alisa Martin has come up with some original dog combos, without losing the all-American appeal.

The stand is take-out only and you can’t miss it. The converted yellow VW bus is planted next to a covered deck for ordering. Various examples of weenie artistry adorn the structure. Martin tops the dogs inside. Flames flicker in back, where she cooks on a charcoal grill using mesquite.

Let’s start with the basics. The hot dogs at I Dream of Weenie are all-beef, all-turkey or tofu. You can get a bratwurst, but that’s about it for meat choices, they don’t range into Polish or other sausages as some places do. Each dog version has nice flavor and the quality stands out. Even the tofu dog works in its own way. It’s a great option for vegetarians, who wouldn’t normally be out hot dogging.

The bread is another key to success for I Dream of Weenie. The buns have the traditional mushy hot dog bun texture but with tons more flavor and style.

Toppings start with the basics: mustard, ketchup, onions, kraut and sweet relish. They continue with classics like chili, jalapenos and spicy mustard. The slaw weenie is topped with homemade cole slaw. The more daring options include the Rebel Yelp with Tennessee chow-chow, jalapenos and mustard and onions. It’s hot, sweet and doggy all in the same bite. A great combination and dare we suggest: ready for the hot dog hall of fame. The chili cheese dog is a classic. The thick, sticky chili adheres to the dog and rather than overwhelming with spice it provides a nice, mellow accompaniment. It reminds me of the type of chili served up in Los Angeles on top of dogs, burgers and nearly everything else.

The specials, concocted by Martin daily, get really interesting. Some past specials: Rueben weenie, New Orleans olive dog, and an Italian dog with marinara.

Veggie Eater: Even in my meat eating days (20+ years ago), I was never very fond of the dog. I come from a weenie adoring family. Every year, when we would head back to New York for the annual family visit, a trek to Nathan’s Coney Island was mandatory. Back then, I avoided the dogs and feasted on the cheese fries. I must confess that I don’t usually like the store bought tofu variety any better. So, I was happily surprised when I loved my pimento cheese weenie. You could taste a slightly smoked flavor thanks to the mesquite grill. The pimento cheese is homemade; no Miracle Whip here.
Meat Eater: Dogs cost around $3-$4 each. We paid 10.50 for three dogs and a bag of chips.
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