- 107 E. Allegan Street
- Lansing, MI 48933
- (517) 316-2312
- No Known Website
I’m last to the party on this one too. Earlier this week, Runs With Spatula Twittered about a place called the Downtown Dog House. I asked what is was and a few hours later, there was a blog post. Yesterday, I get an e-mail from City Pulse about a new article online about…you guessed it…the Downtown Dog House. Heck, I even got five or six replies on Twitter myself about the place. With all this buzz, I had to check it out.
The Downtown Dog House is on Allegan Street in downtown Lansing just off Washington Square. Right now, it’s a horrible location. The entire street is tore up due to the CSO project and Allegan Street is completely closed. If you didn’t already know about it, there’s very little chance you would see the place. I have to say, it takes guts to open a new business under those conditions.
I had to run some errands in the area and J tagged along so we could hit up the place for lunch. We made it downtown just before eleven and found a parking spot on Washington Square. We walked back a block or so to get to the front doors which is even somewhat of a challenge with all the construction.
I think we were both surprised when we walked in. At least in my mind, I had pictured a quick service, order at the counter, find a place to sit hot dog place like I’m used to seeing in Chicago. Instead, we found a very welcoming sit down restaurant. We were shown to a booth along the windows. While we looked over the menus, the man who seated us brought us our Pepsi’s.
The interior space at the Downtown Dog House is really interesting. It’s not a white table cloth, fancy restaurant, but it’s also not a dive take out joint either. They have a horseshoe lunch counter in the middle which surrounds the open kitchen. There are rows of booths along the walls and tables filling in the extra space.
The menu is full of hot dogs. The waitress pointed out they have sixteen dogs and almost all of them are regionally themed. You have your Detroit and Flint coneys as well as the Chicago dog (which actually looks pretty close if not spot on to a true Chicago-style hot dog). You also have some more interesting, unique choices. The two that jumped out at me were the Okey Dog, which has pulled pork on it, and the Little Italy Dog which is basically a pizza in hot dog form.
Since I’ve never had a coney dog, I ordered a Flint Dog and a half Pizza Marinara panini. Both are served with chips, but you can upgrade to fries, onion rings, potato salad, macaroni and cheese or baked beans for $.90 more. I got fries with my panini and chips with the dog. I figured I could take the bag of chips with me for later. I need to start by saying hot dogs aren’t my favorite food. In fact, I haven’t had an actual hot dog since I played Little League twenty years ago. I’ll eat a corn dog, but not a hot dog. Go figure. Since moving here, I’ve really wanted to try the Coney Dog to see if I could stomach a hot dog that way. The Flint Dog has always sounded better to me because it’s more of a meat sauce, so that’s what I went with. When I took the first bite, I wasn’t sure if my stomach was going to handle. Again, not because it was a horrible dog, it was just a psychological reaction from looking a hot dog right in the eye. I willed myself to get past that and ended up eating the whole thing. The meat sauce was delicious. I really could have eaten a whole bowl of it and next time, maybe I will. The dog itself had a lot of bite to it. Since I’m not a hot dog expert, I won’t try to tell you whether this was the all -time best dog or not. I just know I liked it and I don’t like hot dogs.
The panini was served on a delicious ciabbata bread. There were slices of fresh-cut pepperoni, black olives, mozzarella cheese, and marinara between the two slices of bread. More than anything, the bread stood out to me. I love ciabatta bread and this stuff was perfect.
J also went with a panini. She ordered a half Hawaiian Delight which is served on the same ciabatta bread. It also comes with ham, caramelized pineapple and Swiss cheese. She loved the sandwich and said the pineapple was delicious. She also upgraded to fries which were just out of the bag restaurant fries, but they filled the basket.
Usually, I tell you how much our lunch cost, but today, I don’t know. As the waitress was grabbing our food, I saw the cook (who I later found out was the manager) point at us and ask her if the order in her hand was coming to our table. When she got there, she told us the manager said he was buying. A couple times while we were waiting, the waitress apologized for the delay. She said they had to hook up a new panini machine and that’s what the hold up was. Problem is, it wasn’t much of a hold up. We really had our food in less than fifteen minutes. So if the manager felt bad about making us wait, he really didn’t have to. It was probably longer than normal, but we still got our food pretty quickly. Still, we felt bad about not paying, so the waitress got a pretty big tip. Just looking at the menu, our meal would have been around fifteen bucks before tax and tip.
The Downtown Dog House is such a unique restaurant and something like I’ve never seen before. I’ve been to a lot of hot dog places, but those places always want to be “Chicago-Style” hot dog places. Yes, Downtown Dog House has a Chicago Dog on the menu, but they also have a completely unique menu that should be able to please anyone. My gut feeling is the Downtown Dog House will make it despite the construction. There were quite a few people there for lunch and a lot more stopping in to get carry-out menus for future stops. Management seems to know the value of word-of-mouth advertising and with J and I, he just made a few repeat customers….not because we technically didn’t pay for our meal (we actually did with the tip), but because they put customer satisfaction first and realize that word-of-mouth is the best way to get a new business off the ground.