November 29, 2012 | 11:48am
Hot dogs aren't just hot dogs at Das Dog in Jupiter. They're gourmet dogs.
Das Dog first opened in the Abacoa Town Center in May 2011, where it began with a short menu of just several specialty hot dogs featuring fun, creative toppings.
The spot was an instant hit with the locals, so brothers David and Jeret Schroeder decided to open a second location in the Bluffs Square Shopping Center in Jupiter just nine months later, expanding the menu from around five options to just over 20 gourmet-style dogs.
"We started with just a few dogs, but we realized people are just as crazy about toppings and choices as we are," said David Schroeder, who devised a menu that would cover more flavors and a larger selection of meats.
So what makes these dogs gourmet? Perhaps Schroeder's seven-year stint as a chef who has graced the kitchens at The Ritz Carlton in Coconut Grove and a more famous grotto — the Playboy Mansion — during a one-year stint as Hugh Hefner's personal chef.
So what brought him back to his hometown of Jupiter to open a hot dog shop?
"It's something that my brother and I have always loved," said Schroeder. "There were a few places in the area that you could get a hot dog, but not the type we like. We love crazy toppings and dressing, so we thought we'd just do it ourselves."
Step into Das Dog and you can order up a gourmet-style dog from $4 to $8 depending on the size and type of meat you like. And there's plenty to choose from, including a traditional Kosher dog, turkey dog, Kobe beef dog, a half-pound Angus dog, beer or Guinness bratwurst, spicy chicken sausage, and — last — a traditional Vienna dog.
From there, you still have some decision-making to do. Whether you choose a regular dog or foot-long for $2 more, there's still about 20 dogs to choose from, with the boys' own take on a classic California dog, to a Cuban-style with ham and mojo pork. Take the Das Mac & Cheese, a dog smothered in homemade macaroni and melted cheeses, what Schroeder says has become a late-night favorite at his Abacoa store. There's also his personal favorite, the Das Chili, a simple combo of beef chili and cheese.
Das Dog's most popular pick, however, is the Das Chicago, as authentic an interpretation of the real deal as you can find in South Florida. To make eating one like taking a bite out of the real thing, Schroeder spent several days eating his way across Chicago, intent on replicating the iconic eats. Order a Das Chicago and you'll get it with ingredients sourced from those who know how to do it best, from the poppy seed buns, Vienna dogs, and Vienna sport peppers, to that hallmark bright green relish straight from Chi-town — plus the regular tomato, onions, pickles, mustard, and celery salt.
The Das New York is just as authentic, with a specialty sweet onion sauce direct from the Big Apple, "because New Yorkers know how they like their dog," said Schroeder.
While a majority of the 21 hot dogs on the Das Dog menu are the brother's own creations, there are a few that are fan-influenced, like the Das Fat Boy and Das Frito Pie. Both are dogs rife with specialty toppings suggested by a regular customer who had the brilliant idea of adding Frito chips for an extra-crunchy finish.
Another specialty dog — the Das Wurzig topped with siracha, sport peppers, jalapeños and spicy salsa — was made for a picky customer who couldn't get his hot dog hot enough.
"Nothing was spicy enough for him, so we made the Das Wurzig, which means fire hot in German, to make him happy," said Schroeder. "It ended up becoming a popular menu item, so we kept it on."
While dozens of specialty hot dogs — and the restaurant's well-rounded draft selection of local and national craft beer — is a concept that doesn't need improvement, the Schroeders are currently working on expanding their Abacoa location to create a new concept, doubling the current 800 square-foot space to become the area's first biergarten-style gastropub and restaurant.
The new Das Dog Abacoa will have 20 bottles and 20 taps of craft beer at all times, said Schroeder, 10 of which will be local Florida brews. The menu will remain dog-focused, but with a more creative selection of meats, he added, including a house-made specialty sausage. There will also be sausage platters, large Bavarian-style pretzels, and specialty entree style dishes — like traditional German schnitzel — available during the weekend.