Words by Fitz
Truth be told, this food crawl might have been about a fat guy, me, letting myself eat five hot dogs without the guilt that normally follows an eating binge of this magnitude. Yes, fellow fat guys and gals, this crawl was for you… well, no, still for me and my belly, but if you’ve ever just been like fuck it and indulged in a day of no shits given, cheap food decadence, this one’s for you.
When I was a kid my crazy mother had a thing she called national pig day. In her early thirties, she began losing a lot of weight. Tired of her mundane married life and with a budding affair, she, for the bulk of each month, walked daily and ate smart. Once a month, however, she gave in to her carnal food desires and pigged the fuck out. I, a young pre-teen at the time and chunky kid, was more than happy to participate. From crab legs and lobster to Laffy Taffy and Jujyfruits, anything and everything was up for grabs. On one particular pig day, between gulps of Ovaltine and licking Doritos residue off my fingers, a hot dog with yellow mustard only, slightly burnt and resting between a plump bun was placed in front of me. “It snaps”, my mom said in the midst of chewing. “You’ll like it, it’s a Norfolk Wiener.” With my fingers dying the sides of the bun nacho cheese orange, I took my first bite. As my teeth sunk into the tubular meat, as Bourdain often refers to his dog, it barked back with a snap of explosive meat juices. At that moment, I became a hot dog guy.
I think in some ways every time I eat a dog, I’m chasing that perfect snap the passing of time has imprinted on my mind from when I first tried the Norfolk Weiner. With this crawl, I hit up 5 hot dog joints in Norfolk. The First two places visited I’ve been to over the years and they didn’t offer any new surprises to my palate but were worth mention, Perfectly Frank’s and Dog-n-Burger. Then with high hopes for a great snap, I checked out Doug’s, Danny’s, and Lindy’s for the first time. With me on this meat-sweat endeavor of gluttony were two grand gals, Tiffany A. and Tiffannie W. Like myself, both were ready to consume in a manner worthy of a John Penette comedy skit.
We hit up Perfectly Frank’s first. In a time when people will argue that a hot dog is still a dog without a casing that snaps (these people usually also put ketchup on their dog FYI), Frank’s dog has a decent snap to it. They serve Boar’s Head hot dogs which can be found at several other dog joints around town and, honestly, it’s not too remarkable. There is something endearing about the place though, particularly for those who have a passion for open-air grill style diners. Inside you’ll find tables lacquered with Natty Ice caps next to local craft beer caps. Mainly, Franks serves cheap eats to ODU students. As I explained to Tiffany A, in my college days when I had a hankering for a decent snap and some wedge fries over a philosophical debate concerning Nietzsche or Heidegger, I often lobbied my friends to visit this Frank’s.
Second, we hit up Dog-n-Burger in Ghent. Though this place is without question a landmark with a lot of history in Ghent, news flash people, the dog doesn’t snap. Honestly, the only thing I’ve liked about this place over the years is the side of Velveeta-esque cheese I can order with my griddled meats. I can drown my fries and sub par thin burger in this stuff and relive fat kid memories of mainlining cheese wiz when I was out of crackers. That, of course, has zero bearing on the point of this crawl, the dogs, so I’ll digress before going into how the brown bags DnB serves their food in have gone from KFC finger licking greasy to Coming to America soul glo.
Third, we hit up Doug’s in OV. This haven of all things Redskins had a snapping option, a Hormel dog. The snap was comparable to that of a Boar’s Head dog, good but not exceptional. However, both the service and feel of the place rang true to what I’m looking for in my hot dog joint experience. It was also nice when a few long time regulars at the bar introduced themselves upon hearing we were on a dog crawl.
When we left Doug’s, we did so with a bit more waddle in our strides, having three dogs in our bellies at that point. Fortunately, at Danny’s on the edge of Norfolk where VB Blvd and Kempsville intersect, it’s curbside service. Unfortunately, that, along with the look of the joint, were the only two variables worth a positive mention about the place. I really wanted to like Danny’s. Dingy and cave-like inside with an old school homely interior, yes, I did peek inside despite the heat and my car AC lovingly caressing my body. The outside even featured a cool retro-style burger painting. The dogs, however, were awful and snap-less. Tiffannie W. was served a foot long dog despite ordering a regular and upon biting into it, you would swear it was boiled in Flint, Michigan water. I’d honestly take a shitty Cookout dog over one at Danny’s.
By the time we got to our final stop, Lindy’s, I couldn’t have told you if our bulging bellies or our meats sweats were more troublesome. By then the Tiff’s and I were committed to the crawl though and the Flint dog of death wouldn’t have been an acceptable finale. Unfortunately, Lindy’s was yet another joint that looked the part but served a mediocre dog. Again snap-less, and this time served on a toasted bun, had their dog been of the snapping variety, the toast would’ve detracted from the gravity of the snap.
In sum, unfortunately, the Tiff’s and I found little bark on our crawl. However, I think we sorta enjoyed the experience in light of being able to bitch about what was lacking. Truthfully, my brain has likely idolized the memory of the Norfolk Weiner over the years and it may be impossible for me to find a dog that’ll ever compare. I’ll never stop searching though. Biting into that childhood dog was the first food moment in my life that made me a foodie and before the term even existed in popular vernacular. I guess more Dog Days of Summer are in my future.
For more on Perfectly Frank’s visit HERE
For more on Dog-n-Burger visit HERE
For more on Doug’s visit HERE
For more on Danny’s visit HERE
For more on Lindy’s visit HERE