Hot off the Griddle

I n a time of rampant inflation, Bulldog Hotdogs is the rare New Haven restaurant whose entrees start at $3.50. The branding of the establishment, opened about a month ago on the Broadway median, is of course a nod to Yale. And like a bulldog, the place is tinier than you’d think—just a counter and a small prep-and-cook station, albeit with a shared outdoor patio for a de facto dining room.

The menu defaults to locally produced Hummel Bros. beef hot dogs, served in white paper boats criss-crossed in red. But on my visits, I’ve gone with the build-your-own Veggie Dog ($5.50 base price). The name is an undersell, since the “dog” here is the smoky, meaty, state-of-the-art Beyond Sausage, whose impressive qualities can still be drowned in condiments. That’s what happened when I ordered it Chicago-style, which meant a mouth-puckering heap of ketchup, mustard, relish, pickles and chopped onion. On a return visit, I edited, going with a ketchup, grain mustard and onion option (my favorite so far) as well as a ketchup-and-relish variant. The condiments were still copious, so you might ask the cook—the same person who takes your order—to calibrate.

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I also ordered the French Fries ($3.75), twice. The first time, they were just like I like them, a pillowy pale yellow. The second, they were just like some other people like them, fried to a golden crisp. I can’t say which is typical, but you might, again, ask the cook to calibrate.

A bigger calibration is afoot as of today: a revised and expanded menu. Dishes will now stretch past hot dogs to include chicken tenders and eight-inch subs ($10 to $11), while the hot dogs themselves are getting more epicurean flavor combos, like a Southern Dog featuring barbecue sauce, jalapeños and caramelized onion ($4.50). Premium toppings for build-your-owns, costing $0.75 apiece, now include sautéed mushrooms, crumbled blue cheese and mac and cheese, among others. Regular toppings, which used to be complimentary—chopped onion, sauerkraut, relish and others—are now $0.25 apiece. And the sauces, which still seem to come free of charge, now include buffalo, avocado and a proprietary Bulldog blend.

After a month of testing and tinkering, as new businesses do, Bulldog Hotdogs may have both literally and figuratively found its secret sauce.

Bulldog Hotdogs
56 Broadway (on the median), New Haven (map)
Daily 11am-9pm
(203) 497-6161
www.theshopsatyale.com/listings/bulldog-hotdogs

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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Dan has worked for a couple of major media companies, but he likes Daily Nutmeg best. As DN’s editor, he writes, photographs, edits and otherwise shepherds ideas into fully realized feature stories.

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