First Look

Cowtown Dogs Looks to Create a Texas-Style Hot Dog

The Texas Original is served with marinated grilled jalapeños, Sloppy Eddie chili and hot and spicy onions that have been caramelized in Dublin soda.
The Texas Original is served with marinated grilled jalapeños, Sloppy Eddie chili and hot and spicy onions that have been caramelized in Dublin soda. Lauren Drewes Daniels
Matthew Toback saw an opportunity in the local hot dog game. While other cities and regions from coast to coast have their own style — Chicago, Detroit, New York City, LA — Dallas has Sonic.

It’s not that Dallas isn’t a hot dog town. If fact, Toback points out that according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Dallas is third on the list of top hot dog consuming cities behind Los Angeles and New York. But it lacks a signature dog, which is what Toback set out to create.

For five years Toback — who is originally from Massachusetts but has lived in Dallas for 30 years and works as a lawyer — researched hot dogs, sampling signature flavors and styles across the nation, including the type of meat and all manner of accouterments from mustards, onions, peppers, bread and chili. Through his own informal research, he also determined that Texans don’t like natural casings.

Over the years, he tested some 30 brands before settling on Hummel Brothers hickory-smoked, all-beef premium hot dogs from Connecticut. He decided to use Euro Classic's brioche bun to hold the substantial toppings.

"I tried to emulate what the [National Hot Dog] council called a Texas dog," Toback says adding that a Texas-style hot dog has grilled jalapeños.

He now operates the food truck, Cowtown Dogs, where the menu includes hot dogs with their house-made chili, sweet onion topping and peppers, and Sloppy Eddie sandwiches.
click to enlarge
A Sloppy Eddie from Cowtown Dogs
Lauren Drewes Daniels
As for the chili, Toback says it leans towards a Flint Coney style, which uses finely ground ground beef and is dryer than chili found in Texas. On the menu, the chili is called “Sloppy Eddie” because it’s a bit like a Sloppy Joe in texture.

Raye’s stone-ground yellow mustard is the condiment of choice here and is slathered on the bun before being served. Some hot dogs have a sliver of grilled jalapeño.

Perhaps the most unique topping is the house-made Dublin sweet onions, which are diced onions caramelized in 1891 soda from Dublin Bottling Works. The spicy version of these caramelized onions has jalapeños added to the mix for a nice kick.

All of this comes on either a regular hot dog or a hotlink, the latter which means several different things in different parts of the country. In Louisiana, a hotlink is more like a sausage and is used in gumbos. At Cowtown, a hotlink is basically a type of hotdog made with pork and beef. It's a bit redder in color and has a snappy punch of flavor. They brought some of these dogs over for us to taste, and these hotlinks are highly recommended.

Instead of going with a brick and mortar, Cowtown Dogs has started with a food truck, which is parked at 234 Riverfront during the week, but Toback says they plan on branching out soon, potentially franchising the concept.

The most basic is hot dog on their menu is the Cowtown Dog ($4), which is just a hot dog and a bun. The Original Texas Style Hot Dog ($6) is where you might want to start to get the full experience. It has their Sloppy Eddie chili, grilled jalapeño, mustard and the Dublin sweet onions on top.

The Sloppy Eddie ($4.75) is like a Sloppy Joe: chili on a brioche sandwich roll with sweet and sour pickles and Dublin sweet onions. The Spicy Eddie is the same thing but with the hot ‘n’ spicy pepper mix.

On the weekends, Cowtown Dogs usually caters to private events. But during the week they’re parked at a private lot, open to anyone, at 234 South Riverfront Blvd., next to A-EZ Out Bail Bonds. Follow their Facebook page for updates.

Cowtown Dogs, 234 South Riverfront Blvd., 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p..m. Monday - Friday
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.