By Saeed Alkurdi
The hotdog, the bratwurst, and the sausage. The centuries-old tradition of stuffing meat into the shape of a tube combined with spices and sometimes, strange and wonderful cheeses before it hits the grill, oven, or pan continues to be a wonderfully basic and satisfying meal. Alone, a sausage or hot dog sandwiched in a soft, fluffy bun can be a completely blissful exercise in simplicity but with the addition of the right toppings, the hot dog or bratwurst experience is elevated to heights never imagined. Enter Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats and Brews.
Nestled near Shaw and Blackstone in Fresno, Rocket Dog celebrates the hotdog and its cousins in all their forms and glory. For example, ‘The Danger Dog’ is loaded with things like bacon, cheddar cheese, and Sriracha. Or ‘The Firehouse’ topped with house-made chili and made complete with corn chips, cheddar cheese, and red onions… it’s enough to make any hotdog lover’s heart skip a beat. As if these weren’t enough, Rocket Dog also offers things like house-made potato chips and a fine assortment of craft beers, common domestics, and local brews.
The atmosphere is casual and inviting, a place to have a truly relaxing lunch or an early dinner. The wait staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the menu as they were willing to make recommendations on what to try and what’s currently popular. The restaurant is clean, modern, but as I mentioned, casual.
I order ‘The Firehouse’, ‘The Gangnam’, and sweet potato fries. My food arrives fifteen minutes later and the presentation is fantastic. The food looks hot, fresh, and perfectly cooked. I bite into The Firehouse and the first thing I taste is the chili, which is smoky and rich. The bite continues into the all-beef hotdog that has a wonderful snap to it with a great meaty flavor. The crunch of the corn chips hits in symphony with the broiled bun everything is piled upon, and it all manages to hold together with zero signs that it will split or come crashing down into a mess. Every bite of the dog continues to display the flavor its creator intended for us to taste, and it’s delicious. In between bites of the hotdog and sips of beer, I manage to eat a few sweet potato fries which are coated in honey and cinnamon. This is a combination I’ve never encountered before, but after having experienced it I now wonder how I could ever go on without it, it was a spectacular addition to the dish.
Next, I bite into The Gangnam and the flavor is spot-on-good. The chicken sausage is light, juicy, and seasoned well making for a flavorful experience. The toppings of pickled veggies, jalapeños, and cilantro are bound together with the very mild Sriracha mayo. The heat in this dish is what I would consider a ‘small bite’ and doesn’t overpower the array of flavors. However, halfway through devouring The Gangnam, the bun splits and the contents spill onto my plate. It’s a small inconvenience so I press on with a fork to finish the dog.
At the end of the meal, I sit and reflect on what Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats and Brews has been able to accomplish. The hot dog is still considered the most basic of dishes and yet, this restaurant with the help its staff has created a much more elevated experience of a longtime favorite.
Saeed is a local ‘foodie’ always on the hunt for the next great find of the Valley’s best-hidden gems. Twitter / Instagram: @kurshjak