By David Minsky
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Chicagoans overwork their hot dogs with relish, onions, tomatoes, peppers, pickles, mustard, and celery salt. New Yorkers are more circumspect in sticking to mustard and either sauerkraut or sautéed onions. Those in Salt Lake no doubt prefer their frankfurters with mayo, but we won't go there. Ever. Point is, our fair city now has a frank philosophy of its own, espoused by a hot dog stand called Dogma Grill on Biscayne Boulevard near 71st Street. Dogma's wraparound counter fits on that corner as comfortably as dog in bun, looking like it's been a landmark purveyor of frankfurters for decades. It is six weeks old.
Before determining which of the seventeen toppings to choose for your hot dog, you'll first want to tell the kindly counter worker what kind of hot dog you want. Most customers favor the "100 percent beef" frankfurter. You have to ask to find out it's a Hebrew National, this usually touted brand name surprisingly omitted from the menu. It's a reputable hot dog, somewhat small, assiduously browned on an appropriately aged griddle behind the counter. The bun is soft, fresh, and pot-shot with poppy seeds.
Those who favor a higher proportion of meat to bun go with the fatter "100 percent beef" Polish sausage. Those who don't want meat at all, but find themselves at a hot dog stand due to happenstance association with a bad crowd, can opt for the third furter choice, the ever-maligned "veggie dog." Dogma's version is like most, meaning rubbery and possessed with a strange, smoky flavor. The best I can say is that its somewhat pseudo-corned beef taste isn't too bad with a "Reuben" garnish of sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, which is here called "specialty Dogma sauce" and comes squiggled onto quite a few of the offerings.
7030 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33138
There's mention on the menu of other nonbeef "tasty alternatives," like grilled skinless chicken breast, grilled cheese sandwich, and a couple of salads, but I didn't come to a hot dog stand to eat such foods. Likewise I don't head to a bar when I'm in the mood for a glass of fresh lemonade.
Toppings range from logical ("chili dog," "bacon chili cheese dog") to smart ("alba" with grilled onions, bacon, and jalapeños; "summertime" with coleslaw) to downright ditzy ("Athens" with sizable Greek salad plopped on top; "pomodoro" of bruschetta and Parmesan cheese; "tropicale" with pineapple, grilled bacon, melted mozzarella cheese, and "specialty Dogma sauce"). I noticed the Windy City frank selling briskly during my visits, and with good reason -- the peppers, pickle, and other aforementioned toppings make it one of the tastiest. New Yawk dawgs are broken down into "original" with mustard and sauerkraut, and "pushcart" with sautéed onions in sweet tomato sauce. That the onions come from a can of Sabrett's is no big deal -- nowadays the Big Apple vendors use these too.
Only one item can be thought of as being "outside the bun" of traditional frankfurter presentation, and that's the "burrito dog" -- actually two dogs, each sliced in half lengthwise and wrapped inside a flour tortilla with chili, bacon, onions, and melted cheddar. A lotta chow for $4.05. Most other franks are $2.85, but you can get a "classic" with any-or-all choice of mustard, ketchup, relish, and chopped onion for $2.30. Two dollars more will bring a beverage and order of thin, crisp, assertively salted fries.
Dogma Grill offers up the idea that eating a good frankfurter is, of and by itself, one of life's simple, unpretentious pleasures. Judging by the crowds that form at its counter each day, this is a philosophy the public can really sink their teeth into.