In this week's edition of Food-o-file, Austin Chronicle Food editor Virginia B. Wood ponders the scarcity of good hot-dog making in Austin and provides details on some upcoming wine tastings.

What'll Ya Have? What'll Ya Have?

Talk about the power of suggestion. I got a call from my nephew recently wanting to know where he could find a good hot dog in Austin. He'd just watched a PBS program that had his mouth watering. I finally caught KQED producer Rick Seback's great American Amusements show Hot Dogs! and now I understand. It had me ready to hit the road in search of a good hot dog as the credits rolled. Seback visits hot dog stands all over the country, from the original Nathan's Coney Island to the legendary Varsity in Atlanta, from Rutt's Hut in New Jersey to a street vendor in Alaska selling reindeer dogs at the Iditarod. From a cultural standpoint, it's fascinating to see how dogs are customized according to different regions: New York pushcart dogs with mustard and kraut; slaw dogs in South Carolina; the definitive Chicago dogs dressed with tomato wedges and celery salt; boiled weiners, grilled weiners, even fried weiners.

Thus inspired, I made some phone calls and found that where hot dogs are concerned, the pickings are pretty slim in Austin. The name, number, and location of the downtown hot dog pushcart vendor has somehow disappeared from my desk. (Any leads?) Lots of joints offered sliced weiners on hamburger buns, but I did find three places with genuine hot dog potential. Katz's Deli (618 W. Sixth, 472-2037) serves a New York-style dog, an all-beef kosher weiner with mustard, onions, and kraut. The new Lucky Dog Chicago Style Sandwich Factory & Grille (4211 Spicewood Springs, 343-8619) sells a Famous Chicago-Style Hot Dog featuring a boiled all-beef weiner in a poppy seed bun dressed with yellow mustard, bright green relish, tomato wedges, a kosher pickle spear, chopped onions, sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt. They also serve the Maxwell Street Polish dog, a grilled weiner on a poppy seed bun with onions, spicy mustard, and sport peppers. The newly expanded New York Deli (I-35N & Hwy 620 in Round Rock, 246-1108) offers several options, including a traditional New York City pushcart dog with weiners, sauces, condiments, and kraut imported from the Big Apple for authenticity and the Chicago-style dog dressed to that city's specs, as well.

In case you missed it, Hot Dogs! runs again on KLRU 2 cable channel 20 on September 22 at 8pm. Anyone with info on good local hot dogs is encouraged to share.


Learn the fine art of Dutch oven cooking this Sunday, September 19th, 1-4pm, at Jordan Bachman Pioneer Farm (11418 Sprinkle Cut-Off Rd., 837-1215). Cost is $6 and class space is limited... The popular Thursday night wine tastings continue at Whole Foods Gateway (345-5003). Next week it's Bordeaux with food from Jean Luc's French Bistro, then Merlot Madness, and the first week of October, they'll pair wines with pizza. In that same vein, wine steward Carol Hintz continues the Saturday wine tastings from 11am-3pm at Sun Harvest (4006 S. Lamar, 444-6313)... Join Manuel's (310 Congress, 472-7555; 10201 Jollyville Rd., 345-1042) in support of the Simon Youth Foundation by participating in the La Buena Vida fundraiser during September. A $5 donation buys a chance to win travel packages, shopping sprees, event tickets, movie passes, or free dinners at Manuel's.

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