The iconic Lucky Dog is surely still the most famous wiener on the streets of New Orleans, but the success of the Freret Street phenom Dat Dog has provided vivid evidence that people here will queue up for something a little different. Now, other new and aspiring restaurateurs are trying their own hand with hot dog parlors that mix in New Orleans flavor and other options.
In the French Quarter, Nasr Nance and Ahmad Shakir opened their evocatively-named Dreamy Weenies in late July. Nance says their original inspiration came from a Food Network spot on hot dogs, and he says that while they were developing their business plan they were encouraged by seeing the crowds that regularly fill Dat Dog.
“We knew we couldn’t just do hot dogs because New Orleans is so famous for its food,” says Nance. “But you ask someone about New Orleans hot dogs and they think Lucky Dogs. Well, we thought we could do something different from that.”
Their answer is a menu with New Orleans flavor but also Kosher, Halal and vegan options and a kitchen that promises not to cook your veggie dog on the same grill that just sizzled up someone else’s beef sausage or turkey frank. Nance says the shop’s motto “all three in one spot, no mixing pots,” is their pledge to respect Kosher, Halal and vegan choices.
“We know most people don’t care about that, they just want a good meal,” says Nance. “But for the people who do care it’s important, so here we’re looking out for everyone. Anyone can find something good here.”
While the kitchen is not officially Kosher or Halal, Nance says Dreamy Weenies sources its meats from approved Kosher and Halal suppliers. Meatless options include a “falafel weenie” and a bean-based link called the Garden District, both of which are vegan.
Toppings run from the standard ballpark condiments to curry sauce, a Creole trinity of onion, bell peppers and celery and labneh, the Middle Eastern-style yogurt cheese. They also have corn dogs, waffle fries and sides ranging from grits to hummus to vegan red beans and rice. Dreamy Weenies serves lunch and dinner daily.
Meanwhile, in the Lower Garden District, Ericka Lassair is preparing to open her own New Orleans-style hot dog emporium called Diva Dawg (1906 Magazine St., phone n.a.). With inspections and final details still pending, she’s aiming to open in early September.
Lassair says Vaucresson’s Sausage Co., the vaunted New Orleans sausage maker and long-time Jazz Fest vendor, is supplying an all-beef wiener for the restaurant’s signature menu item, the Diva Dawg.
Her idea is to dress her dogs with New Orleans’ favorite foods, like red beans, fried chicken, crawfish etouffee and even a BBQ shrimp sauce. Diva Dawg will offer conventional options, but Lassair also wants to work in even more elaborate numbers.
“I want to do a foie gras dog, a Kobe (beef) dog and maybe a mac and cheese dog,” she says.
Diva Dawg will serve lunch and dinner.
740 N. Rampart St., 872-0157
1906 Magazine St., phone n.a.