John Chills At Cool Dog Cafe
I recently booked a hotel through one of those sites that won’t tell you which skeevy dive you’ve ended up in until after you’ve said yes because you were too cheap to pay full price for a hotel. Turns out I ended up in Cherry Hill, NJ. So, naturally the next thing I do is to Google “hot dogs” and “Cherry Hill.” Imagine my joy when the first place listed in the search just happened to have the same street name as my hotel.
Cool Dog Cafe is tucked into a strip mall on Marlton Pike in Cherry Hill. In here they’re serving up seriously delicious dogs with a lot of toppings, from your standards to some inventive combos. Plus, they hold contests to let customers come up with their own delectable dogs. (More on that later.)
Inside, it’s quaint and clean, with good music and a couple of TVs tuned to whatever game is on. Behind the counter, they’re throwing together tasty Sabrett dogs, deep fried and served with a little sheen of oil still on them. Some browning marks on my dogs suggest that they hit the griddle either before or after getting fried. These are long dogs, stretching well past the borders of the bun, so much so that my first couple of bites were just taking the ends off the dogs so I could get a good chomp of dog + topping.
And, oh, those toppings. This was not an easy decision, my friends. Lots of ways to go. But I decided on three: the Texas Ranger, the Coney Island, and–please forgive me–the Anthony Weiner weiner. Up front, I’ll tell you that these were some of the best hot dogs I’ve had in a while.
First of all, the deep-frying, apparently very much a Jersey thing, gives a great snap to the casing. Unlike other places I’ve been that do this, there was no “old oil” flavor to it. The Texas Ranger came with one lanky strip of bacon half-tucked into the side. It was just a bit on the chewy side, which to me means it was cooked perfectly. The cheese was nice and melty, and the barbecue sauce was smoky and a little sweet. This was the most straightforward of my dogs. It went down first, fast and fine.
The sauce on the Coney Island dog surprised me. Maybe it shouldn’t have, since the menu lists it as “chili,” but whereas I was expecting a semi-dry Coney-style sauce, this was more like a Texas chili, with a strong tomato base. Either way, it’s an excellent meat sauce and it played nicely with the straight-up yellow mustard and fresh onions. Sloppy goodness. Speaking of which…
The Anthony Weiner will fight you every step of the way. The jalapenos on top will jump ship every chance they get. The moist and delicious slaw will erupt over the top of the bun with every bite. Only the pulled pork and barbecue sauce seem content to stay where they are. And this is excellent pulled pork, tender and richly sauced. When you can manage to get a taste of everything in one bite, it’s very much worth the battle. The mix of flavors going on here is intense. I’m so glad I saved it for last.
There’s a lot to love at Cool Dog, and a lot to go back for. A Filipino dog with sticky rice, mango and sweet chili sauce. A vegetarian (I know, I know) Thai satay dog with peanut sauce and chow mein noodles. A Fritter Smash dog with crushed jalapeno corn fritters and sweet chili sauce. Not to mention the customer contests. Winners on my visit were a New England dog with fried clam strips and tartar sauce (no, thank you) and a Tater Tot dog. And perhaps if I had been feeling more up to it, there are the Homewreckers: half-pound Angus beef dogs with a slurry of toppings. The USA has peppers, onions, mustard, ketchup, jalapenos, chili, shredded cheddar, cole slaw and tomatoes. The Blazing Homewrecker, which quite honestly has my name written all over it, is a monstrosity that’s sure to destroy your home plumbing after you’ve ingested it. It’s topped with baked beans, Kaboom sauce (whatever that may be), red pepper relish, spicy mustard, jalapenos, sport peppers, onions and fried egg. (Please remove all pets and loved ones from your home before eating this. Oh, and file an environmental impact form.) By the by, choke down a pair of these killers and a small order of fries in 20 minutes and it’s on the house. Plus, you get a shirt. Your stomach may never forgive you, but…free shirt.
Ready to head to Cherry Hill yet? Well, let’s talk fries. Seriously some of the best, fresh hand-cut fries I’ve had. Nothing fancy here, just thick, perfectly fried taters with a little shot of salt. Take a look at that picture. That’s everything you need to know. Reach in, grab a handful, try not to disturb the people next to you by making orgasmic yummy sounds.
Wow, am I glad I found this place and wow, am I sad it’s not 250 miles closer to me. They’re pleasant, they bring the dogs out to you, the dogs are fan-freaking-tastic, and I really do love the way they involve their customers. This place is what being a dog blogger is all about. This is where they know how to elevate the dog. I need to find a reason to shoot back down to Cherry Hill and get more goodness from Cool Dog Cafe.
Cool Dog Cafe
2091 Marlton Pike E. (Route 70 E.)
Cherry Hill, NJ