Gourmet Hot Dogs That Have Made the Big Leagues
In anticipation of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Opening Day — against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 3 — we went looking for the best dogs in the city, and we weren’t disappointed. The classic coupling of baseball and hot dogs (plus a little beer, peanuts, and Cracker Jacks) has never looked better than with the gourmet preparations by BullDawgs, D’s Six Pax and Dogz, and Franktuary. Fair warning: these are not the boring, traditional dogs of days past; these franks have made it to the big leagues.
To any foodie worth his salt, baseball season is synonymous with hot days, hot hitters, and the true crux of America’s pastime — hot dogs. The relationship between the two is perhaps best described by D’s reason for coming into existence in 1999, that “back then, the closest place to buy a beer and a hot dog from the same cash register was Three Rivers Stadium.” In the nearly 20 years that have passed since, hot dogs may have become a trendier, more readily available cuisine, but the bond with its original partner in crime — the sticky seats, sunburned cheeks, and buoyant atmosphere of the ballpark — could never truly die. Although our three Pittsburgh hot dog authorities can’t be found within the walls of PNC Park, they’ve all maintained close ties with the spirit of the venue and the sport that calls it home.
Starting this season, Franktuary’s new Market Square location is offering itself as the place to be before a ballgame, just a breezy walk or free T ride from the stadium. Expect a special promotion on game days called “Devour the Competition” for which opponent-themed hot dogs will be making special appearances on the menu, which offers all of their preparations with beef or veggie franks. “For example, when the [Pittsburgh] Pirates play the [Chicago] Cubs, we’ll feature the Chicago (already on the menu), and when the Pirates play the [San Francisco] Giants, we’ll develop a San Francisco-themed frank,” explains Tim Tobitsch, owner of Franktuary. And when the Pirates pitch a shutout, the first 25 customers who order the themed dog on the next game day will receive it for free. Plus, look out for the shop’s food truck outside of PNC Park on certain game days, including Opening Day! “I grew up in the New York area where hot dogs and baseball were a big part of my childhood,” says Tobitsch. “They are two things I’m passionate about, and we’re excited to play a big role in the upcoming season.”
Meanwhile, just in time for the home opener, BullDawgs has officially set up its first brick-and-mortar restaurant, conveniently located on the North Shore. Just a short walk from the park, the new location will offer the same flavor-packed, fresh, and local menu as the food truck, which will still continue to make appearances throughout the city. Pittsburgh staples like Mancini’s buns and Red Ribbon soda make BullDawgs the perfect way to support the home team. Owner Mike Bregman says, “Baseball’s an American pastime, and hot dogs are an American food. They go hand in hand.”
And if anything pairs with baseball as well as a hot dog, it’s beer. And all three together? The ultimate triple play. D’s Six Pax and Dogz has over a thousand varieties of beer, all displayed in a sizable walk-in cooler. It may be a bit of a hike to PNC Park, but it’s the perfect place to watch an away game. “I can honestly say that about 90 percent of our staff members are hardcore Pirates fans,” says Rena Agostinone of D’s. Plus, monthly dog specials keep the menu fresh! “We created one of our Dogs of the Month to signify that baseball season is in full swing in Pittsburgh,” says Agostinone. “Our May dog is known as the Pierogi Dog, topped with pierogi, fried onions, and sour cream!”
These killer preparations make it easy to crave a dog any time of year, but something about rooting for the home team in between bites makes baseball season the very best time. Call it cliché or call it nostalgia; we’ll just call the combo a home run.
BullDawgs PGH, 100 S. Commons, North Shore. 508.963.4963. bulldawgspgh.com.
D’s Six Pax and Dogz, 1118 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square. 412.241.4666. ds6pax.com.
Franktuary, 3810 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412.586.7224. 115 Forbes Ave., Market Square. 412.281.0115. franktuary.com.