Handcrafted Hot Dogs

. March 3, 2014.

Bacon. Deep-fried pickles. Avocado. These are not your usual hot dog toppings. However, there’s nothing usual about the hot dogs served at Detroit Dog Co. Opened last  December in downtown Saline, Detroit Dog Co. offers more hot dogs than it does seating. There are nearly a dozen creations to choose from despite only eight bar stools for dine-in seating.

Owner Catrina Vlisides elevates the hot dog from mundane to gourmet with creations like the Mexicantown, a hot dog topped with chorizo, avocado, tomato, jalapeños, cheddar and sour cream. The restaurant’s interior, albeit small, is as fresh as the menu. Brick walls are painted bright white, with the exception of one adorned with a mural of a 40s-inspired pin up. Detroit Dog Co. takes pride in offering Michigan products. The restaurant serves Dearborn hot dogs, Faygo pop, Ed’s Bread buns, Calder Dairy ice cream, McClure’s pickles, and Better Made chips.

The Original, Rock City,
Mich and Boblo Island BBQ

After scanning the menu, my ten-year-old selected The Original sans mustard and onions ($2.99). My seven-year-old ordered a Rock City stuffed with cheddar, wrapped in bacon, and deep-fried ($4.49). The Rock City comes with chipotle aioli sauce, which is spicy, so we opted to leave it off.

My husband chose The Mich topped with hand-cut fries, cheddar and Detroit chili sauce ($5.29). I debated between the Slim Shady, with deep fried pickles, cheddar, grilled onions and mustard, and the Boblo Island BBQ, with sweet and savory coleslaw, BBQ sauce, and onion rings. I picked the Boblo Island BBQ ($4.59) with a side of deep-fried pickles. We also ordered hand cut fries to share. Each of us stayed with the Dearborn hot dog, a big dog with natural casing, although we could have substituted a Polish, turkey or veggie dog. The kids got bottles of Faygo pop to drink while my husband and I shared a jug of water that we poured into Mason jars. Even the water was hip!

When we dined on a Saturday at 6pm, it was busy and only our kids got seats at the counter. In fact, the restaurant was so busy, it ran out of regular buns and substituted pretzel buns. I liked the chewy denseness of the pretzel bun, which provided support to my messy, but delicious, concoction of coleslaw, onion rings, and BBQ sauce. I found The Boblo Island more sweet than savory, but excellent nonetheless. The fried pickles were tangy and decadent; the fries soft and flavorful.

Gourmet dogs coming to Ann Arbor

My daughter ate half her Rock City before declaring herself full. My ten-year-old loved the pretzel bun, but not so much the natural casing on his dog. He seemed afraid of the curly casing ends, which I hacked off. Then he devoured everything.

For dessert, we tried deep-fried cookie dough and deep-fried brownie chunks topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream (both $3.49). While the fried brownie was decadent, the cookie dough was our favorite, an explosion of warm, gooey goodness. “I like the cookie dough,” my seven-year-old declared.If it is difficult to make the journey from Ann Arbor to Saline, never fear. Detroit Dog Co. plans to expand into Ann Arbor soon.

Kid-friendly: Yes
To avoid wait: There are only 8 seats. At any time, it may be crowded or you could have the whole place to yourselves. Try take out, too.
Noise level: Moderate
Bathroom amenities:  None, make the kids go beforehand.
High chairs? No
Got milk? Yes, white or chocolate plus Faygo pop
Kids menu? No, but most kids like hot dogs, right?
Anything healthy for kids? Turkey or veggie dogs are available instead of the standard Dearborn hot dog
Food allergy concerns? There’s not an allergy they can’t accommodate or work with. One chef is allergic to dairy himself and knows all ingredients well. Feel free to call ahead to discuss your concerns.

Detroit Dog Co.
103 N. Ann Arbor St.
Saline, MI 48176
Phone: (734) 323-7927
Hours: Mon-Sat: 11am-8pm; Closed Sundays

Katy M. Clark is a freelance writer from Saline.