With the Super Bowl fast approaching, and with tickets being scalped for a decidedly prohibitive $5,000 a pop, chances are you're contemplating how to pull off a watching party in your living room. If you're like us, though, the thought of another 6-foot sub (along with the requisite chips and salsa) makes you want to sleep right through the Super Bowl and wake up when spring training commences. We're also guessing that you're a lot more interested in actually watching the game than having to scurry around the kitchen making food for guests who will be glued to the flat-screen and mostly ungrateful for your efforts.
Our thoughts immediately turned to Eat Jo Dawgs, a hot dog catering service whose all-beef wares we first sampled during last fall's Taste of Arlington. One look at the website -- A five-cheese dog? A bacon-wrapped, deep-fried dog? -- left us even more intrigued. We decided to throw ourselves a lunchtime hot dog office party and have the Eat Jo Dawgs team cater it.
Could this be the catering outlet we've been seeking for our Super Bowl extravaganza? What exactly is a Monte Cristo Dawg, and why does it come with raspberry sauce?
Oh, and the most pressing question of all: Would our arteries survive the experiment? We invited 15 of our closest and hungriest colleagues to help find out.
The back story: The brainchild of chef Joe Patrick and his brother Tony Patrick, who are presently searching for a space to open an Eat Jo Dawgs restaurant, came about because its creators were looking to do something different than the usual Mexican-barbecue-hamburger catering service. Using Black Angus all-beef hot dogs from Farmland, Eat Jo Dawgs allowed us to choose from five specialty hot dogs (from a larger menu of about 20 options) for our party of 15. There are also bratwurst and polish sausages available, along with a multitude of side-dish options.
The setup is simple -- a few Sterno trays filled with hot dogs and chili, a portable deep fryer, and a dozen or so condiments -- but the variations of flavor the Patricks are able to conjure up are impressive. Best of all was the fun factor: Within 15 minutes of service, we had a line 15 deep, with people debating whether to have their hot dog deep-fried.
Time to pop a Lipitor and start tasting.
The dazzling dogs: The group's favorite, by far, was the Natural Disaster. The hot dog is wrapped in bacon and then dropped into the deep fryer and then topped with chili, jalapeño relish, onion rings, coleslaw and tomatoes. The big, beefy dog provided the perfect foundation for a seemingly chaotic mix of toppings. This one hits all corners of the tastes buds -- smoky, spicy, sweet, salty and creamy. Our only gripe: The bun barely held together beneath so much weight.
The close-runner-up was the Monte Cristo Dawg, yet another deep-fried concoction. This one is wrapped in ham, Swiss cheese and batter; deep-fried; and served with a raspberry horseradish sauce. The combination is unexpected and quirky -- not something you'd want every day, but definitely something you should try. We also dug the All the Way Home Dawg, Eat Jo's idea of "the works" -- pretty much all the toppings, minus the deep-fry. Of the two sides we sampled, the coleslaw had a nice crunch and was light on the mayo, just the way we like it, and the fried-on-the-spot french fries were nicely spiced and sinfully good (provided you didn't think about the fact that they were being cooked in the same oil as the hot dogs).
The droopy dogs: Reviews were mixed for the Smokin' Dawg, which features onion, applewood-smoked bacon and Shiner barbecue sauce. Some liked the idea of barbecue sauce on their dog, but the majority found the sauce's flavor a little too potent. The biggest disappointment of the day turned out to be the Dawg on Bleu. We love the idea of blue cheese and bacon on a hot dog (we love the idea of blue cheese and bacon on anything), but Eat Jo Dawgs employs bottled blue cheese dressing for a hot dog that's begging for fresh crumbles.
The fallout: Midway through the party, one of our colleagues in the main newsroom posted the following to her Facebook wall: "It smells like someone is frying up greasy chicken-fried steak in the newsroom." That's what we get for not inviting everyone. But as word spread that there were hot dogs in the DFW.com corner, more and more curious faces emerged in our doorway.
The price tag was nothing to complain about. The bill came to $296, including a tip; and while the meal was catered for 15, the portions ended up serving at least 25. Compared with the usual cost of throwing a home or office party, that's pretty reasonable -- especially considering that the Patricks brought soft drinks and cleaned up the mess. As of last week, Eat Jo Dawgs was still available on Super Bowl Sunday. Seems to us you might want to book them while you still can.