The hot dog mansion has
many rooms - that's what makes it a mansion. But you'd never know it where I
come from, Chicago. That city is full of hot dog bullies who
will snarl and apply a hobnail boot to the seat of your pants if you so much as
wave a bottle of ketchup near one of their splendiferous creations.
has a hot dog mansion of its own and this joint is big enough to accommodate
just about anybody with a taste for a plush pup. King David Dogs (15 N.
Pennsylvania St.) has been operating out of a lovely old downtown storefront
since 2006, but the place feels like it's been there since the days when men
wore white shirts to baseball games. It's open Monday through Friday from 11
a.m. until 4 and one day last week, it was packed by 11:30.
The hot dogs served here
are pure beef quarter pounders that are an arrestingly vivid red. They're based
on a local Hene Brothers recipe that dates back to the 1940s and could be found
in grocers here for over 50 years. After a hiatus, the recipe's been
resurrected by William Hene's grandson, Brent Joseph, and the dogs are
replicated by Usinger's, a classic Milwaukee wurst maker.
They are amazing.
The Hene dog is thicker
and more flavorful - a strong hint of garlic, I think - than any dog I've had
the pleasure to know. This is a no-doubt-about-it meat dish and a mouthful.
Where many hot dogs are more snarfed than eaten, a King David deserves a little
time for your taste buds to catch up with the larger dimension of the
I started with - what
else? - a Chicago Dog ($4.99). Other cities can say
what they will, the genius of this flavor combination
has never been topped. The red tomato, shocking green relish, yellow mustard,
white onion (with hot peppers and a pickle spear for good measure) create a
virtual rainbow in the mouth that's sweet, sour, spicy and salty all at
once. Tucked into a poppy seed bun from Chicago's Gonnella bakery, this is
But we didn't stop
there. The State Fair Dog ($3.99) is King David's take on the corn dog. It
comes wrapped in tin foil with a side of mustard for dipping. With the foil
stripped away, it looks like an old-time cartoonist's idea of a Russian H-bomb,
big and hefty, with a dapper sheath of corn breading that's slightly sweet and
buttery. Compared to the Chicago, this is a minimalist approach.
there's something almost gory about the BBQ Dog ($4.79). Its barbeque sauce, melted cheddar, onions and bacon
slice appear to have been applied with a palette knife. The sauce is excellent,
smoky and sweet, and the bacon adds a dimension to the beef that is positively
The South of the Border
Dog ($4.99) is another over-the-top presentation, with beans, nacho cheese,
sliced jalapenos and salsa. This particular fantasia on the hot dog theme
proved to be a little more than the bun could handle - it was soaked.
A side of fries ($1.49)
came in a paper cup. Like everything else at King David, they were thick and
flavorful. A quick look around the crammed dining area suggested that the Tater
Tots ($1.49) are also a hit.
If you're feeling
adventurous (or not), you can choose from 18 different toppings and have your
dog any way you want. In King David's hot dog mansion, that's called having a
room of one's own.
King David Dogs
15 N. Pennsylvania St.
11a.m. to 4 p.m.
FOOD: 4 stars
ATMOSPHERE: 4 stars
SERVICE: 4 stars