"It seems unfair to compare Dogmatic to other hot dog joints, because these aren't exactly hot dogs."

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[Original art and photographs: Hawk Krall]

A few weeks ago I found myself wandering around Manhattan, not even looking for hot dogs, and stumbled upon Dogmatic. I couldn't resist giving it a shot.

For some reason I had imagined a sort of hot dog automat, where a button is pushed and hot dogs magically appear in a small glass window. Soda machines where the cup drops down and a nozzle shoots it full of overflowing organic beverages.

Not exactly the case but still a quick and easy process. You have your choice of pork, beef, chicken, turkey or lamb sausage, jammed into fresh baked mini baguettes. Then pick from the list of sauces: horseradish mustard, mint yogurt, chimichurri. I went for the classic beef sausage with truffle gruyere sauce.

It was awesome. The food is ready almost instantly. A bit smaller than you might expect from the photos—those baguettes really are mini. But a perfect bite to grab on the go. I also tried the house-made coconut soda which was pretty good. Not super sweet, which I liked, but almost more of a shake than a soda.

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The dining room is super modern, with a communal table in the middle, which seemed a bit strange. Who wants to eat something in front of strangers that's going to shoot hot jalapeno cheddar sauce all over your shirt? (And believe me, it does.) But maybe that's part of the fun.

It seems unfair to compare Dogmatic to other hot dog joints, because these aren't exactly hot dogs. There's nothing in the flavor combinations or texture that has anything to do with the traditional hot dog experience. It's more a take on the French Hot Dogs that you see all over Europe (although those use actual frankfurters and softer bread). Puka Dog in Hawaii does a similar dog with a giant array of tropical sauces.

Dogmatic started as a street cart in the West Village and opened this location in Union Square two years ago. The sausages are all nitrate- and hormone-free, and everything from the bread to the sides are made fresh daily. While the food is "gourmet" and the room very designed, Dogmatic still manages to retain a no-frills New York fast-food atmosphere—the sort of place you can grab something in two minutes, scarf it down while reading the paper and be on your way.

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Is Dogmatic spearheading a revolution of chef-driven high-end hot dogs? Are they redefining the definition of New York street food by using local grass-fed beef and organic asparagus? Maybe not. (Are they even hot dogs? Not really.) But it's a quick and delicious alternative to the same old cart food.

It's actually a shame the cart is no longer in operation, I could see a whole fleet of these on every corner of New York City.

Dogmatic Gourmet Sausage System

26 E. 17th Street, New York NY 10003 (map)
eatdogmatic.com

About the author: Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.

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