149 S Turnpike Rd.
Santa Barbara, CA 93111
11 a.m. to 12 a.m., Monday through Saturday
Closed on Sundays
And doggone it, we really like it
We all have cheat days, right? Well, you’re going to need to save a couple of them if you want to check out Dave’s Dogs Grill.
And, it’ll be worth it, even if it takes a wheelbarrow to carry you away from the hole-in-the-wall restaurant (the best kind) directly across from San Marcos High School.
The extensive menu is impressive — even innovative — for what amounts to a huge hot dog stand. Want a dog topped with avocado? Enter “Santa Barbara Style.” Want pineapple to accompany your dog? There’s the “Hawaiian.” The options are endless, including one that features pulled pork, mac & cheese, bacon and BBQ sauce.
Needless to say, your cardiologist doesn’t need to know about your trip to Dave’s.
A cool option for those that want to watch what they are eating, you can also choose your type of hot dog, including veggie or chicken, amongst others.
Here is a look at a trio of dogs, going from basic to a bit more adventurous:
Yeah, just like it sounds and looks. Ketchup, mustard, dog. Classic. Gone like Joey Chestnut on the 4th of July. Nothing fancy here, but a good, old-fashioned hot dog.
Regular corn dogs & tater tots
Alright, in full transparency, tried to get the half-pounder here. Fortunately for my belly, they were out of stock, so went with a pair of “regular” dogs. If these are the small ones, I can’t wait to get my eyes on the half-pounder. The breading here is sweet, a nice crunch and goes down smooth. The hot dog is a bit crisp, which makes for a nice crunch. The tater tots were incredibly fresh, with the first couple so hot that a sip of drink was necessary.
If this hot dog was a stray, it found a permanent home — in my belly. A bacon-wrapped dog, topped with peppers, onions, mustard and ketchup. Yes, it probably tested the ol’ ticker, but it was delicious. The toppings were piled on so high that it was hard to get your mouth around it. The bacon was a bit hidden, but a great find once you bit into it.
Listen, it should be hard to mess up a hot dog, but it happens. Dave’s Dogs gets it right, over and over. There aren’t dogs just sitting there, ready to be served, everything was fixed as you ordered, customized to your needs. Very friendly — and young — staff, very good at asking questions, as well as hand-delivered service versus you being called up to the counter. That’s a nice touch. The hot dog lineup is innovative — almost to the point of being overwhelming. But, no matter what you’re in the mood for, they seemingly have an answer.
Other than the feeling of having to roll out of the place, the look of the marketing material is a bit low-budget, and doesn’t accurately depict the innovative spirit that the restaurant has when it comes to an American staple. It doesn’t exude the playfulness that is inside and therefore is likely something that keeps more foot traffic from making its way inside. Also, it’s basically a dead zone for cell phone service on the inside, so the minimal tables out in front will be fought over. As for the food, the only aspect that left something to be desired was that the bread was a bit flaky and dry.