Mad dogs and Englishmen may just go out in the noonday sun, as the old song goes. But in Vancouver, MADdogs Gourmet Hot Dogs serves up some fantastic hot dogs all day and evening long.
Owners Debbie and Lou Hijar opened MADdogs, their first restaurant after both had worked in the management side of the restaurant industry for a combined 50 years.
The Beef Dog is the most popular, but the restaurant also offers Chicken Apple Sausage, Pork Bratwurst, a Turkey Dog and even Beyond Sausage (a plant-based bratwurst). All of them can be ordered with a plethora of creative and clever toppings. Also, the buns are toasted and brushed with a light garlic aioli before any other toppings are added.
The varieties we tried included MADdogs’ signature Bacon & Creamy Gorgonzola ($7.99) which I looked on with skepticism — until the first incredible bite. The Niman Ranch all-beef dog is hormone-, antibiotic-, nitrate- and nitrite-free, and is likely the best I’ve ever scarfed down. (I happen to be a three-bites-per-dog guy.) Add in large crispy bacon slices and a heavenly creamy Gorgonzola sauce, and now you have a Wonder Dog!
By the way, that sauce is so popular you can buy it by the pint as well. I’m thinking it would be super on linguine with chicken or shrimp.
Second on our plates was my all-time favorite dog: the Chicago Dog ($7.49). And MADdogs does this one as well as any I’ve enjoyed at the best hot dog eateries in Chicago. The secret: the Windy City’s legendary neon-green relish and sport peppers that MADdogs ships in to accompany dill pickle slices, onions, nicely cubed seedless tomato pieces and a deft sprinkle of celery salt. Any Chicagoan who sinks his teeth into this will think he’s standing in the city’s legendary Hot Doug’s or RedHot Ranch.
Next, we launched our taste buds at the Chili Dog ($7.49) and enjoyed the house-made beef chili, a mountain of shredded cheese and freshly chopped onions enveloping a tasty and juicy Niman bratwurst. The chili was tender and thick, with just the right note of spice and burn, and perfect to eat with a knife and fork. (The Mrs. wouldn’t appreciate a chili-embossed dress shirt.) MADdogs offers three versions: Beef Chili Dog, Pork Chili Verde, and Turkey & Black Bean Chili.
Just for kicks we tried the new Beyond Sausage dog, with only a slightly different taste than the bratwurst. It was moist with great texture. The skin had a snap to it. I doubt if anyone could tell they’d just eaten a plant-based vegan sausage. I’d order it anytime.
Dogs we didn’t try (hey, four dogs covered with topping would fill up any four normal people) include: the “Mad” N Cheese Dog with house-made macaroni and cheese (gorgonzola, cheddar and gruyere); the Cubano Dog with sliced ham, melted Swiss, mustard and pickle; and the palate-puckering Sonora Dog with spicy black beans, bacon, jack cheese, grilled onion, tomato, jalapeno and spicy mayo. The Reuben Dog, Pimento Cheese Dog, and Bacon Cheeseburger Dog speak for themselves. Costs range from $6.99 to $7.99.
Non-dog items include burgers from $5.50 to $9.99; various kinds of macaroni and cheese at $8.29 to $9.25; three varieties of salads from $3.99 to $8.99; and bowls of house-made turkey, beef or pork verde chili for $7.99.
Beverages include local beer and wine, natural fruit sodas and lemonade, hand-crafted root beer and other standard sodas. And there is a Pups Menu for children featuring hot dogs, burgers and other items all priced at $3.95.
MADdogs is a full service, family-friendly restaurant with the ability to accommodate large parties that also does a ton of catering for local families and businesses. If MADdogs were located in a better spot, like near the port, the lines would circle the block. So make a trip out to Northwest 162nd Avenue and give it a try.