In a city boasting such a wide range of culinary delights, you wouldn’t expect many bases to be left uncovered. Not so, according to Jesse Herzog, the owner of Zog’s Dogs, a new hot dog shack straddling the Market Street edge of One Post Plaza downtown. “As amazing as this city is, San Francisco can’t do bar food, not the way the Midwest and East Coast do wings and hot dogs.”
Herzog, or “Zog,” as his school buddies dubbed him, has seen some ultra gourmet/organic “haute” dog places like Foreign Cinema’s Showdogs opening up, but nothing quite like the classic, wallet-friendly fare he was getting in Chicago and New York. Which is why he decided to buy up the sidewalk stand formerly called “Fatt Dog” and sell good-value hot dogs with that signature “snap” as you bite through the casing. “A hot dog with a snap is the best!” Zog assures me. “That’s what you get on the East Coast.”
But for all its attempts to re-create an East Coast institution in San Francisco, Zog’s Dog’s is distinctly San Franciscan. Zog himself is a Bay Area native whose family Zog-cestors were selling meat at their own butcher shop back in the 1850s. Many of his hot dogs, while snappy and juicy like the traditionalists like them, also come with a bit of Fog City flair. Take the budgetwise, tongue-in-cheek “Prop 8 Dog,” which comes with two wieners for some hot dog-on-dog action, or the bacon-wrapped veggie dog known as “The Moral Conundrum” for the conflicted eater.
Sound gimmicky? That’s what I thought, til I tasted. For example, “The Matrix,” which I thought might require a choice between a blue and a red hot dog (I’d go for red). Instead, “The Matrix,” whose tagline is, “A new dimension of bacon,” comes with bacon inside the bun, and was far and away my favorite of those I tried. Who gives a dog whether the bacon comes around the meat or inside the bun, right? Wrong.
“One of my friends said, ‘Bacon is so good it needs its own bun,’ ” says Zog. That may be true, but it’s all about texture: cooking the bacon separately keeps it nice and crispy, and the bun-bacon-bun-dog-bun sequence adds complexity to an otherwise predictable hot dog experience. Morpheus would definitely approve.