A week and a half ago I was craving for a hot dog. This wasn’t just any craving – nope, I was jonesin’ big time. Here I was, staring into my freezer at the last microwavable frozen corn dog. I can’t remember the last time I bought frozen corn dogs. It’s probably been in there since the ice age with all the freezer burn on it. This was a problem.
I’ve been to a couple hot dog joints in town at one time or another, but I couldn’t remember the differences between them. Hungry, with the onslaught of grumpiness kicking in, I made the decision right then and there that will forever change this city. I decided to try every hot dog joint in Livermore!
To get a good comparison I had to set some ground rules: Only go to places that specialize in hot dogs, order the same type of “classic” hot dog, I ordered it as a combo, and I ordered it as they normally prepared it, as-is.
Livermore has three specialized hot dog places in town:
- Spanky’s (Downtown)
- Dandy Dogs (East Ave)
- Wienerschnitzel (Two locations: Vasco & S. Livermore)
So my journey begins. Before I hop into my truck, I check my wallet only to find a crumpled up gas receipt, a light blue piece of pocket lint, and two dollar bills.
I toss out the lint, drop my wallet on the passenger seat, jump in my truck, and hop on 580 towards Costco.
Ok, we all know Costco isn’t a hot dog joint. But with two bucks in my wallet and their $1.50 hot dog and a drink combo, I’ve officially added it to the list.
- Costco (off Airway exit) [officially added]
Side note: I didn’t actually eat four hot dog combo meals in one day. If I did, I’d most likely end up in the ER to be treated for for a case toomuchahotdogsinadayatosis. It can be fatal in some cases. My adventure actually lasted over a week and a half.
What I ordered: All Beef Hog Dog & 20oz Soda ($1.50 inc. tax)
While Costco is not a specialty hot dog place, I had to add it due to what you get. At a buck fifty, you get a large beef dog and a large drink. It’s served up fast in a streamed bun, but you’ve got to put your own fixin’s on it. I loaded it with ketchup, deli mustard and onions. I would have added relish however the dispenser didn’t produce relish no matter how many times I turned the handle. Instead of deli mustard you can also choose yellow if you want your dog to be a little less sophisticated. It was hot and tasty with a definite beefy flavor; almost a very mild spiciness to it. It’s also a large dog and one will surely fill you up, especially with the large drink.
Verdict: A large tasty beef dog and drink at a price that can’t be beat. Must be a Costco member.
4086 East Ave, Livermore, CA 94550 (map)
What I ordered: #2 Old Fashioned Combo ($6.49 inc. tax)
Dandy Dogs is an independent shop mid way down East avenue across from the Rotten Robbie gas station in the Chardonnay Shopping Center. It’s a groovy place with a 50’s diner atmosphere with photos of classic cars and oldies music. While they specialize in hot dogs, they compliment their menu with the 50’s theme by offering hamburgers, shakes and malts.
The hot dog was a medium sized and a traditional dog rather than the beefy flavor of the one from Coscto. It was hot, with a great smooth taste was well loaded with red onions, mustard, and tomato slices. The combo came with a soda and some really great tasting fries that were nice and hot.
Verdict: A smooth tasty hot dog that tasted great. The fries were hot and excellent too.
What I ordered: Deluxe Dog & Small Soda ($4.12 inc. tax)
Wienerschnitzel is the world’s largest hot dog fast food chain and has two locations in Livermore. One near the post office downtown, the other at the 580 exit on Vasco. Being fast-food, their menu is what you’d expect with many combo choices. Chili is a highlight on their menu and it’s offered on just about every item. The hod dogs are small so you’ll most likely order two or three depending on your hunger factor. They also offer burgers and sides you’d expect from a fast food joint.
I ordered their Deluxe Dog with a small drink as I didn’t see a combo for their traditional hot dog. It was the smallest, so if you’re hungry, order more. It was loaded with ketchup, mustard, white onions, tomato slices and a pickle wedge. It was a satisfying, but didn’t have the flavor of the other places. But that wasn’t unexpected from a large chain.
Verdict: A decent dog, but the highlight here is fast food and chili. Save with their generous family combos.
What I ordered: Old Fashioned Spanky Combo ($6.02 inc. tax)
Spanky’s is the newest dog house in Livermore located right in the center of downtown. It’s the trendiest place of the bunch with their Atomic Chili Cheese Dog Challenge, Annual Hot Dog Tasting Contest (1st was this past May), and active Twitter & Facebook following. Here you’ll find many gourmet style dogs to satisfy many tastes. Side include chips, mac & cheese, chili among others. It’s also the only place with beer on it’s menu. Bonus!
The hot dog was very satisfying, tasted great and was topped with just the right amount of mustard, relish, white onions and sliced tomatoes. I ordered it as a combo with a soda and Dirty “Funky Fusion” natural potato chips which were good and tangy. The bun wasn’t steamed, but I walked out of there very happy after eating a really excellent hot dog. [UPDATE: Mike, the owner, confirms below that they do in fact steam their buns.]
Verdict: A great dog with lots of gourmet options to choose from. Great location downtown.
So who is the best hot dog joint in Livermore? Well, it depends on where you are and what kind of experience you’re looking for. It’s hard to make a bad hot dog and all places will definitely satisfy your hot dog craving.
Wienerschnitzel is right off the freeway and there you get an expected fast food experience. If you’re up for chili dog combos, their specials offer great value.
Costco, you get a huge dog at a price that’s unmatched, but a membership is needed. It’s a food court experience that can get crowed with all the shoppers passing by.
Dandy Dogs and Spanky’s Dog House offer a similar experience both with a great selection of great dogs. Spanky’s is modern and trendy with gourmet style dogs. Dandy Dogs is classic and traditional with burgers on their menu. You can’t go wrong at either place.
The bottom line is that Livermore offers a great selection of hot dog joints to satisfy your craving no matter what kind of dog you’re looking for.
What’s your favorite? Discuss in the comments section below!