Happy Dog Cleveland
The hot dog is just the beginning
By Adam Sockel
Few things are as comforting as a warm hot dog and a cold beverage. This simple meal conjures up memories of bleacher seats at baseball games, family BBQs and county fairs.
Ketchup and mustard have long been the standard hot dog toppings. Perhaps relish or chili. If you're feeling sassy, you may even put some chopped onion on your dog. All of these are great, but at Happy Dog on Detroit Rd. in Cleveland's Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, you have so many more options to choose from.
How about combining some crispy bacon and black truffle honey mustard? Or can we interest you in a dog topped with pimento mac-n-cheese and a little Brazilian chimichurri sauce? Want something even more outside of the box, you say? Challenge accepted: celebrity chef and Cleveland native Michael Symon thinks the perfect Happy Dog concoction consists of Alien Pickle Relish, Siracha, chunky peanut butter and a fried egg.
At Happy Dog, everything starts off simple with the best, locally made hot dogs for $6. If you're not a meat-eater, you still can stuff some guilt-free goodness in your face: the veggie dogs made of vegan Italian sausage are absolutely legit (for the same price). Then you can add as many of their 50 different scratch-made toppings as you like. Even the ketchup is homemade.
Among those 50 choices are 17 different sauces including Japanese Yum Yum Sauce, Greek Tzakiki and even grape jelly-chili sauce. If you're "that guy" who always picks a burger over a hot dog at the cookout, you can still join your hot-dog-loving friends on Thursday nights where burgers are offered up and, yes, the same list of 50 toppings are available.
The perfect side dishes to your hot dog are the crispy tater tots and fries (regular or sweet potato) for $4. Keeping with the theme, you're welcome to get as many sauces on the side at no additional charge. Menus are printed out and you fill them in yourself so you can take your time creating your masterpiece.
Top off your meal by enjoying one of their 75+ beers while you listen to live music from bands and DJs from around the country. Happy Dog also hosts concerts from members of the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra as well as monthly talks by scientists, writers and academics. Entertainment doesn't stop at the stage as around this cozy neighborhood bar you'll find retro video games like PacMan and pinball machines. Head downstairs for more classic arcade games and a second bar in the basement. They even host a pinball league for regulars.
The environment at Happy Dog is welcoming and warm--a true neighborhood bar. You can find a seat at a table, in a booth, or on a stool at the wrap-around bar. Now go grab yourself a dog topped with Spaghetti-Os and Froot Loops, and let us know what it's like.