Want a taste of what two-Michelin-starred chef Josiah Citrin has been cooking lately? Stop by the DraftKings Fantasy Sports Bar and Grill at Staples Center for a hot dog.
We know, we know — why would anyone go to a boozy Internet cafe catering to the fantasy-sports generation and expect to be wowed by its culinary virtues? But this is seasonal-ingredient king Josiah Citrin we're talking about, and before the California-bred chef-owner of Mélisse opens Charcoal, his much-anticipated Venice ode to meat and smoke, he's launching the first L.A. version of Dave's Doghouse, a hot dog stand that specializes in East Coast–inspired dogs.
There are four Dave's-branded creations on the DraftKings menu, which launched with the Kings' preseason games last month.
“I'm not trying to do a super gourmet hot dog," Citrin says. "I'm not trying to make my own sausages or custom blend our own mustard. I'm just trying to do a simple hot dog done well.”
Dave's Doghouse was started a few years ago by Citrin's cousin, Dave Cheren, a retired Phoenix attorney who longed for the snappy hot dogs with buttered-and-grilled buns of his Boston youth. Citrin helped Cheren develop some recipes — including the all-meat chili for the chili dog — but wasn't interested in investing in new ventures at the time.
Dave's opened two successful locations, one cart and one stand-alone restaurant, both on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. They both serve four dogs: a classic (mustard, relish and onions), a chili dog (chili, onions and mustard), a bean dog (bacon baked beans, mustard) and a macaroni and cheese dog (topped with bacon mac).
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When Cheren visited L.A. in February, he had Citrin try the hot dogs again. This time, Citrin had his friends taste them, too, along with his crew at Mélisse. Everyone was floored. “I'd go anywhere for this,” Citrin recalls telling Cheren. “I'd like to get involved.”
A month later, Citrin was participating in the All Star Chef Classic, held at L.A. Live. Thinking that a hot dog stand might be a good fit for the Staples Center, he set up a tasting with Levy Restaurants, the hospitality company behind many sports arenas and convention centers. Levy agreed to have a Dave's Doghouse as part of the main concessions area inside Staples Center, but installing cooking facilities for a new vendor takes time.
Putting Dave's four signature hot dogs on the DraftKings menu was a way to have the items available in time for hockey season. Citrin says he and his cousin are looking to open other locations of Dave's Doghouse in L.A., preferably somewhere with a lot of foot traffic, such as Santa Monica or downtown.
“I guess it's just trying to create everything with excellence, whether it's a hot dog or a fine-dining experience,” Citrin says. “It's the same principle. I might not be home-making everything. I'm just trying to make it all excellent.”