Restaurant Reviews

Here's the Beef

Last month we wrote about Dogma Grill ("Haute Dogs," November 1), lamenting that Broward dog lovers can't find a certain type of Los Angeles street-cart hot dog. The L.A. dog we were hankering for is wrapped in bacon and griddle-fried with onions, peppers, and whole jalapeños. Then reader Lety Lopez of Fort Lauderdale wrote to tell us about a local stand, Big City Dogs (1199 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-776-4744), and their version of a New Jersey classic, the Ripper ($3.25), a deep fried dog that takes its name from the way it tears open in the fryer. It's a food so busting with fatty juice it can barely contain itself.

Big City's take on the ripper melds the Jersey stalwart with the L.A. street-cart dog. They wrap it in bacon, deep fry it, and stuff it in a bun with — the pièce de résistance — a ladle-full of hot nacho cheese sauce. Did you feel that? My heart just skipped a beat too.

Big City's Ripper is not for anyone with a weak vascular system. First, there's the salty crunch of the bacon, followed by an earthy juiciness from the dog, and a creamy, mouth-calming sensation from the cheese. The bun? It stands up, though this is one meal where starch is outgunned. This is chicken soup for your lipid-hungry soul.

Aside from being a delicious monster of a dog, Big City's Ripper had another trick. It didn't rip. The bacon-wrapping had suppressed any signs of tearing, holding all the liquid inside. Now that's innovation.

Other notable dogs at Big City? The Polish dog — split down the middle, grilled, and topped with sautéed onions — is sausage-like and robust. With some super spicy mustard and a cold beer, it's near perfect. A West Virginia dog is topped with cole slaw and chili. There's the Reuben (thousand island, sauerkraut, Swiss); a Buffalo fire dog with blue cheese and hot sauce; and one topped with spicy sriracha (an Asian hot sauce) and sauerkraut — the kimchi dog. You can make a combo of any frank (fries and a fountain drink) for just two bucks extra. Or order a burger, Philly cheese steak, Italian beef sammich, or Italian sausage, priced from $4.50 to $6.95.

Big City sits right off Commercial Boulevard, east of Dixie Highway, but it feels removed from traffic thanks to a patio with tile-covered stone tables and a shroud of lush morning glories. It's a great place to sit for a while. If you go on Saturday, chat with owner Todd Sussman, who works at the Riverside Hotel during the week (he and his wife/co-owner, Rosalba, just had a baby and need the medical insurance).

Our reader Lety Lopez is moving to Atlanta this month; she says she's really going to miss Big City's great dogs. I can see why.

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John Linn