After our disappointing foray into the world of Park Slope picnic fare, we scoffed at the neighborhood's promise of a gourmet hotdog. But Willie's Dawgs, the Technicolor lovechild of husband and wife team Ellen Lutter and Tom Anderson, may well have turned the tides.
The menu features Karl Ehmer all-beef natural casing dogs ("Mutts") as well as a grass-fed "Pedigree" beef dog, Turkey and Chicken dogs and two vegetarian options. The pair have cooked up a series of combinations--like the Spike, topped with red onion sauce and jalapeños, and the Frankie (bacon and caramelized onions)--each tucked into a house baked challah, rye or multigrain roll.
Excited by the range of franks available, Gothamist deviated from our hot dog protocol (we’re really a ketchup, mustard and sauerkraut kind of blog) and ordered the Blue (blue cheese, tomato and chopped onion) and the Heidi (sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and grainy mustard). The combinations are built on Mutt dogs with Pedigrees setting diners back an additional 50 cents. It’s a wise investment, however—the Mutts were a touch too mild, their salty flavor lost somewhat in the miasma of bun and topping. The Pedigrees were noticeably more flavorful, with a satisfying snap that spoke of the quality of the casing. Topped with a bright vein of yellow mustard (Willie’s features countless varieties), it neared hot dog perfection.
Willie’s offers the requisite sides—crispy French fries that tasted wonderfully fresh, onion rings and knishes from Gothamist favorite, Yonah Shimmel. A selection of house-made desserts, like a whoopie pie, bread pudding and a decadent brownie are also available.
Riding the 'dog' theme ad nauseum, Lutter and Anderson commissioned a dizzying mural of flying hot dogs on the south wall and a series of playful shadow boxes featuring photos of rescued dogs on the north. The place is named for the couple’s late black Labrador who, according to Anderson, would beg for hot dogs in front of the fridge. The dog’s likeness keeps vigil next to the register.
The restaurant needs a few weeks to get on its feet (hind legs??) but with a friendly vibe, a warm weather garden and the occasional gourmet detail, Willie’s Dawgs are definitely barking up the right tree.
351 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215