There used to be a running gag between Paul and me about Hillcrest businesses. On every block, there had to be either a salon, a florist, a sushi joint OR a Thai restaurant. While that hasn’t changed much, there’s another addition and it’s hot dogs.
Wienerschitzel is located on the corner of Washington Street and First Avenue. This trusty chain is always busy during the lunch and dinner hours. It’s the O.H.D.V. (original hot dog vendor) of Hillcrest and I don’t for see it leaving anytime soon. If there’s a need for cheap food, this place is mainstay.
Early last year, I saw the Dharma Dogs parked along side the empty spot next to Jack in the Box at 820 University Avenue. While the punctuation on their janky truck grates me (is it possessive dog’s? plural dogs??), they have inventive and tasty dogs. My favorite is their Baja dog, an all-beef wiener wrapped with bacon topped with jalapenos, mayo, mustard, Dharma secret sauce and grilled onions. Their substantial wiener has a nice char to it that enhances the flavor — so much tastier than the ones reheated in water. It’s a messy dog and goes for $3.25. Added pluses are freshly made onion rings, French fries and handmade donuts. Yes, donuts.
The schedule for Dharma Dogs in Hillcrest can be irregular but if you do catch them, they are usually serving until 10 p.m. Check their Facebook page for somewhat frequent updates.
Further down the street is Daddy’s Hot Dogs, which opened late last year. The owner, William, knows his way around a dog. It’s easy to miss Daddy’s Hot Dogs; the name of the shop is printed on an awning and at night it’s lost beneath the backlit signs of an acupuncture office and alt-lifestyle magazine.
When Daddy’s Hot Dogs opened, William offered a new specialty hot dog each week like his stunningly holiday-worthy Thanksgiving dog (turkey wiener with mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce, above). He’s edited down his menu to offer a few tried-and-true favorites. Not to miss are his Shroom Dogs with seasoned grilled mushrooms and onions with Swiss cheese and mayo for $4. All dogs are split and grilled. The split wiener by Sabrett makes it an ideal vessel for holding a wide variety of condiments. There is a host other creations that you can eat your way through but if you’re looking for fresh-from-the-fryer sides like fries or onion rings, you only have a selection of pre-packaged chips to choose from.
Dharma and Daddy’s are both great places to start to fulfill your hot dog craving. Five Guys and Smashburger – two burger chains among many infiltrating the San Diego market — also feature food from the cylindrical family. But if you’re a hot dog fan, I recommend sticking with these two places.
Daddy’s Hot Dogs
1281 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103