First Bite: The Frankfurt School, or Pasadena's New Dog Haus
Poetry is walled up in graduate school. Painting is in permanent decline. But the creative hot dog garnish seems to be in its golden age at the moment, and whether your taste runs toward organic Parsi pickles, fluorescent Chicago relish or cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped, Elvis-themed dogs with marshmallow fluff, there is likely to be a hot dog stand prepared to meet your needs.
Dog Haus is perhaps the newest exhibit in the universe of frankfurter mannerism, a severe, glassed-in space a block or two from Pasadena City College, accessorized from the pages of Dwell, a modernist structure like something you might see in the artier districts of Antwerp or Helsinki. At your chic slatted table, a design that all but guarantees your root beer will topple at some point during the meal, you probably will be snacking on something like the Downtown Dog, wrapped in bacon, sluiced with peppers and nestled in soft, sweet Hawaiian bread; or a Little Leaguer drowned in a sort of deconstructed Frito pie; or a Grand Slam buried under bacon, tater tots and a fried egg.
Dog Haus, awash in '70s stadium rock and owned by guys who among them also run Neomeze and Red, White & Bluezz, does not, despite its name, truck with minimalism. The hot dogs are a thick, long quarter-pound each, the sausages even bigger, and you are likely to find yourself dining on something like grilled andouille with hot peppers and onions, or even the "Fonz": chunks of pastrami annealed to an Italian sausage with industrial quantities of melted mozzarella cheese, a sandwich that demands to be regarded with respect.
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