Battle of the Footlongs

In New York City and Chicago, there are hot dog carts on every corner. Philly is home to the Pastrami Dog. Nathan's boasts the famed footlong frank. Hot dogs are everywhere on the East Coast, in all styles and sizes.

It's a little more difficult to track down a footlong here in the Valley, but we were tipped off about two Tempe hotspots offering their version of the Coney Island classic. In this week's Battle of the Dishes, we see how these big dogs measure up.

In One Corner: Dave's Doghouse
130 E. University Dr., Tempe

This dog is packing some serious meat.

​We remember walking over to Dave's while attending ASU way back when. This popular college hangout is a small, eat-at-the-counter-joint that's the last remaining tenant in the small brick building across from The Chuck Box. It's a cute place, especially considering the crumbling, boarded-up building looks like it ought to be condemned any minute now. Good thing they're moving onto campus in early 2010.

The kitchen is set in the middle of the restaurant, flanked by a row of stainless steel bar stools overlooking the prep area. The tables are also stainless, giving them a crisp, clean look even after years of abuse. Oh-so-clever signs on the rustic wood plank walls say things like, "In August, if something smells funny it's probably you."

When we received a tip from a friend about Dave's Devil Dog, we had no idea what we were signing up for. Apparently, twelve dollars and one full pound of beef.

"You've got to be kidding me," exclaimed our dining companion. "This thing is bigger than a baby's arm." We snickered at that one.

​But he wasn't kidding. The monstrous Devil Dog measured at sixteen inches long and about five inches in circumference. This thing was a beast. Finish it by yourself and you'll score a free Dave's Devil Dog Challenge t-shirt (we were disqualified for sharing). Juice squirted out as we bit into the crispy charred skin of the huge dog.

The beef was tender and spicy, more like a good kielbasa than a traditional dog. "Very flavorful," said my companion. "The combination of spices makes it taste almost like sausage." The charred skin on the outside of the dog was also tasty, but there was a thick, tough layer of skin underneath that we could've done without. The toasted garlic bread bun was delicious.

Hey, man, where's our fries??
​The best thing about the Devil Dog is that it's really about four meals in one. For $12, it'd better be. The downside is clearly the price. Even for a pound of beef, that seems extreme. Plus, the sign on the wall advertises that it comes with fries -- but our dog arrived sans frites.

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