Happy Dog
 Cleveland, Ohio        Date of Visit  05/18/14        

After cheering Lo through her half marathon we figured we would find some lunch before heading home from Cleveland. The Momocho/Jack-Flaps crew has a couple of other places in town and we have yet to be anything but giddy with their offerings, so we ended up at Happy Dog. First off, I love the place. It is super divey in an authentically dirty feeling way. Disastrous furniture, large bar, stage for the live shows, there are people paying millions to make bars emulate this raw sort of feel. The service is a mix, you fill out your own little menu cards, one per sandwich/tater combo.



Strong Company

There is floor service, which was appropriately friendly/abrupt for the place, answering questions about ordering, taking your slips to the kitchen and delivering your baskets of goodies. The order slips reminded me of Metro Burger (now closed) which I hated. The absence of floor service and the price point and feel of the place made it annoying. Happy Dog's service offers more than you would expect in the setting, which makes the slips way less of a problem.

Out of the three linked places we have tried Happy Dog is easily my least favorite. Where the other two menus were loaded with homeruns this seemed more like a fat dude trying to bunt his way on, with a couple of big swings thrown in. Before we even get to the plethora of toppings, I was disappointed with the dogs themselves. Little if any snap, and none of the seasoning I would expect from this group. It’s more a vehicle to get the toppings into your gapping maw, which would be fine, but some of them were disappointing as well.

Menu Has Lots 'O Toppings Available For Dogs

And Tots

I tried a couple of the recommended blends, listed on the menu as “Suggestive Weiners” and Steph did her own thing. We added an order of tots and one of fries. Steph might not have ordered well but even with what she ordered I expected more. The first was just ketchup (housemade and fine), traditional yellow mustard and feta cheese. The cheese had a nice tang and saltiness, and while the lack of MMMmmmmm is greatly on us due to the order, an interesting link would have made a lot of difference. At least I didn’t expect much with that one. I liked her second option even less, bacon and bleu cheese coleslaw. Neither of the two toppings did really anything at all. Heavy sigh. Just really boring top to bottom.

Her tots were topped with a sweet and veg studded sloppy-joe and shreds of cheddar. I much prefer real cheese on nearly anything, but if Pat’s King of Steak taught me anything…sometimes the neon “not quite cheese” product has a place of its own.

We Ordered Boring...The Feta Was Nice...

But The Dog Itself Is Beyond Ho-Hum

The Only Thing The Slaw Managed To Do On This Thing Was

Mask Any Hope Of Tasting Bacon...Pass.

The nacho cheese goop on the menu would have likely done a much better job adding something to the joe and tater gems…I should have gotten a slather on my fries too. Outside of the cheese my fries were much more interesting than the tots. Topped with a mildly tasty chorizo chili, bacon and pimento mac-n-cheese. The mac and cheese failed on the cheese and I could divine nothing pimentoey about it. Again the notso cheese ooze probably would have done so much more, I would definitely do that next time.


If You Like Sweet Joe, You'll Like This

But The Cheese Got Lost

Chili Pretty Good But The Mac Is A Throw Away

Fries Generally Better Than The Tots

I wanted to try more than two (plus a bite of Steph’s) dogs but I’m trying to behave some and kept it to just ridiculous. The first dog was the one I saw on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Michael Symon’s Favoite with chuncky peanut butter, “alien” pickle relish and sriracha hot sauce. Not the best dog I ever ate but interesting with some body and crunch from the peanuts and a healthy kick of hot sauce. The relish looks like the stuff I had from Comisky Dogs at U.S. Celluar Field in Chicago. It’s not particularly sharp or sweet and rummages around somewhere in the middle. Compared to Steph’s two dogs, this was at least interesting.

I forwent a safer option to make my second dog the one that scared me a bit. Called “The Mobile Home Wrecker" it comes with a veritable cornucopia of backwater, stump-jumping, hill-jack toppings. Namely, bourbon pork-n-beans, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, Andy Capp’s hot fries and Alabama-style white bbq sauce. YIKES! But Holy Moses, did this one finally pay off. The beans had a sweet/spicy/smoky thickness. I would again replace the cheddar. The onions were perfectly sweet. The fries remained crisp and added notes of salty heat. And then the strange white sauce added all sorts of craziness to the final product. This was something to behold and chew. I have a feeling there are several other combinations on the menu that I would remember so fondly had I tried them, but I was disappointed it took so long to find the first. I certainly expected more.

Hot Dog Of The Third Kind

Could Use A Little More Peanut Butter To Meet The Sriracha

There Is A Hot Dog Under There Somewhere...It Scared Me

But This Unholy Mess Was Delicious...It Just Needed Company

Entertaining and invigorating Mexican place. Sublime and wild breakfast joint. Hot Dog Shop...ehhhhh. There are a lot of options at Happy Dog but many we tried were as uninspired as the sausages themselves. Had the home wrecker not happened I would have found the place below par, it alone gives me hope for the myriad of other possibilities.






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