Seeing the back-to-school signs in the stores has had Lionel and I a bit blue. It’s not that we aren’t excited about fall. Apple cider and pumpkins and Halloween decorations are all just on the horizon. Without doubt, it’s my favorite time of the year.
However, realizing the end of summer is in sight always seems a bit sad. No more drive-ins. No more watermelon. The end of cookouts and lazy days at the lake.
To keep up the good summer vibes as long as we could, we decided the only option for dinner was hotdogs.
The first week Lionel and I had settled in Chattanooga, some friends who already lived in the city wanted to meet us for dinner. We told them we’d love to, but were strapped for cash after the move. Did they know something cheap and delicious? Something perfect for a summer reunion with old friends?
They took us to Good Dog, and we’re so glad they did. Since that afternoon, pretty much anytime we’re craving hotdogs and don’t feel up to grilling ourselves, we head on over to NorthShore for a bite.
It’s easy to miss the eclectic little restaurant, despite the hotdog shaped bench by the door. The inside is like no other place that I’ve been, with vintage plastic, light-up lawn decorations lining the colorful walls. The wooden tables have holes in them for your cone-shaped orders of frites (their twice-fried french fries).
The worst thing about Good Dog is the seating. Some of the tables are pretty small, and there simply aren’t that many. Once on particularly busy day around dinner when we had some relatives visiting from out of town, our party wound up having to stand around a tall table in the back with no stools. Since it’s really more of a seat-yourself situation, I recall being a tad frustrated as other customers who came in long after us snagged actual seats when other patrons were leaving.
However, on this particular Sunday evening, there didn’t seem to be much of a crowd, so we got a good table for two (seats included) and picked out our dogs. Lionel got The Fred ($5.65) and the Reuben ($4.25). The Fred comes with yellow mustard, chili, cheese, and onions. The Reuben has homemade Russian dressing, Swiss cheese, and sour kraut.
I got the Frito-Jalapeño ($5.65) and one I created on my own ($3.00 base, add toppings for $.25-.95 each). The Frito-Jalapeño came with homemade chili, jalapenos, cheddar, crumbled Frito’s chips, lime-cream, and cilantro. I put tomatoes, garlic-herb cream cheese, and avocados on the one I made for myself.
The fries are a bit expensive ($3.75 small, $5.75 large), but they’re worth it. The staff will encourage you to order one large cone of frites for a couple instead of two smalls (which they say equals the same amount of food), but I always wind up wanting a bit more when we split. This time, we each got a large, and it was way overkill. I came away stuffed, holding a hot dog to take home, and unhappy with my life choices.
As we’ve always found, the staff at Good Dog are friendly and helpful, even if pretty consistently busy. You get your own drinks and condiments, but they do bring the food to your table after you order at the counter.
By the time our meals came out, we were ready to eat. (Be prepared to wait just a bit, especially if there’s a line.) I loved my special creation. Don’t knock cream-cheese on a hot dog till you’ve tried it! I also really enjoyed the Frito-Jalapeño. The crunch and the spice was just right.
Lionel wasn’t quite as happy with his choices, though he typically is in love with the restaurant. He had really come hoping for a good chili dog, was certain—with all their numerous options—Good Dog would have one, and hadn’t realized their chili was vegetarian. It simply wasn’t what he’d wanted or expected.
On their website, Good Dog claims its motto is “Hotdogs for ALL,” proudly pointing out their locally brewed beer and homemade specialties, as well as their vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free food. I think this is just great. And to be fair, Lionel’s real complaint wasn’t just that the chili was meatless, but it really didn’t have much of a flavor to write home about.
As for the frites, our love could be seen by the fact that we finished two large orders (something I wouldn’t recommend any health-conscious person do). My favorite part is all the options for dipping—homemade mayonnaise, a number of homemade ketchups, Sriracha, vinegar, honey mustard etc. Though pictures online tell me that at some point Good Dog stocked even more sauces, filling an entire wall that now holds a much smaller variety.
Overall, this is still one of my favorite places to eat. I’ll continue to take newcomers to Chattanooga in for a bite, just as my friends did for me. And if you’re looking for a last taste of summer, I really think there’s nowhere better in town.
Location: 34 Frazier Avenue, Chattanooga, Tn 37405