Maui's Dog House has been quietly serving hot dogs at their family-run stand in Wildwood, New Jersey, for over ten years now. At least until Guy Fieri showed up and put them on the "Flavortown" map, quadrupling their business overnight. Having never visited the original, I was excited to hear they were opening a new location smack in the middle of Center City Philadelphia.
The new outpost is located in the posh Bellevue Hotel shopping mall that's also home to Ralph Lauren and Williams Sonoma. On your way downstairs to the gourmet food court, it's hard not to miss the giant neon Maui Dogs mural featuring a drooling canine holding a squirting hot dog.
First thing you will notice is the hot dogs are served in dog bowls. It's sort of gimmicky and you might feel silly but it's actually quite convenient especially with a side of fries filling the bowl. The next thing you'll notice: the giant rolls the dogs are served on. Almost every newer hot dog place in Philly feels the need to serve frankfurters on massive hoagie rolls. I'm over it. Maui's at least acknowledges this with a sign saying that you are welcome to bring your own bun.
What really sets Maui's apart is that they serve beef, pork and veal natural casing German wieners from Hoffman's in Syracuse, grilled on a flat top in peanut oil. Hoffman's are relatively mild, with less snap than some brands but still worlds better than 99% of the hot dogs found in Philadelphia.
The big roll was definitely noticable on the Naked Dog (pictured above) loaded with lots of mustard and green pickle relish, with a nice crisp char on the dog, but still a bit of a bready experience.
Next up is the Sacrilegious Horse, a grilled dog topped with Maui's signature "killer" horseradish mustard, beer soaked sauerkraut and meat sauce. The hoagie roll was less noticeable here and actually helped to hold in the insane amount of toppings.
Maui's meat sauce is fantastic, real-deal hot dog sauce, with little or no tomato, a hint of greek spices and just the right consistency. Tight enough to stay on top of the dog without being dry, not so runny that it gets all over your face and clothes. This horseradish thing they have going on is pretty cool too.
Their fresh-cut fries are topped with "Hawaii 5-0" seasoning, something of a cross between Spanish fries and jerk fries (which they also make) and you can get a side of "Mac Daddy Dipping Sauce, a vinegary, pinkish mayo they also top on some burgers.
The menu is crazy big here with all sorts of specialty sausages and even a riff on the surf and turf dog with fried shrimp and cocktail sauce, and vegetarian versions of almost everything.
The bread thing is a bit of a bummer. Is everybody in Philadelphia except me and a handful of hot dog aficionados really in love with eating hot dogs on massive hoagie rolls? Overall, Maui's is a great addition to the Philly hot dog scene. I can't wait to go back and try more, with a bag of Wonder Bread buns or potato rolls in hand.