old Town Trolley Tours quiz challenge

A Dozen Hot Dogs Barking Back

by: Abe Burgos

All throughout DC, there are numerous places to eat. Fast food restaurants line the major streets, while full service restaurants are opened and closed on pretty much a daily basis. Open any official Washington, DC guidebook, you will find at least a listing of restaurants if not a review of places to eat all throughout the city. From B. Smith’s at Union Station to Potbelly’s on 11th Street, NW, food is rampant in the nation’s capital. And if you can name a restaurant, most likely, it has been reviewed. All except for one major exception—the hot dog cart.
Typical Hot Dog Stand in Washington, DC

Typical Hot Dog Stand in Washington, DC

Every year, Americans consume over 16 billion hot dogs. The world record for the consumption of hot dogs is owned by American competitive eater Joey Chestnut. He ate 68 wieners in just 10 minutes this past July 4th. In 1936, Oscar Meyer rolled out the very first hot dog cart, and the rest is history. I decided with the economy as it is, how can one get a good quality lunch without spending an arm and a leg. The mission: eat a hot dog from 12 carts and decide on the best ones.
I however, am not able to eat 12 hot dogs. I know my limits. So my first quest was to find someone who could. And believe it or not, I did. Her name is Sarah Hayhurst, and the girl can eat! She’s not only a tour conductor with our Old Town Trolley Tours, but a dispatcher as well. She’s one of our most senior conductors and my taster.

My taster Sarah Hayhust

My taster Sarah Hayhust

Here’s a list of the vendors we used

Union Station- First and Massachusetts NE

Air & Space-6th and Independence SW, NW corner

Smithsonian Castle-9th & Independence SW

L’Enfant Plaza – 9th & C Street, SW

Air & Space-Fourth and Independence SW

Air & Space- 6th and Independence SW, NE corner

Department of Agriculture – 12th & Independence Ave SW, NW corner

Smithsonian Metro Station – 12th & Independence Ave SW, SW corner

American History Museum – 14th & Constitution Ave NW

Environmental Protection Agency – 12 & Constitution Ave NW

Natural History Museum – 10th & Constitution Ave NW

Federal Bureau of Investigation – 10th & Pennsylvania Ave NW

The least expensive one was at Union Station. At $ 1.25, you can’t beat the price. The worker wasn’t friendly however, and the hot dog was bland and dry. The bread was too big for the dog giving it a poor distribution of bun to dog ratio.

The dog and bun ratio formula

The dog and bun ratio formula

The most toppings are at the Smithsonian Metro Station. $ 1.50 gets you a dog that can include mustard, ketchup, relish, onions, cooked onions, sauerkraut, chili and cheese. Although not as intense as a Chicago dog would be, the toppings made the dog. Sarah got one with everything but mustard.

An everything dog here costs only $1.50!

An everything dog here costs only $1.50!

If you cross the street from the Smithsonian Metro Station, you’ll find another hot dog stand. By crossing the street into National Mall territory, you add at least $ .50 – $ 1.00. But that’s where you’ll find the prettiest dog. And the only hot dog vendor we found to supply hot peppers. The combination of spice and bun with the dog created a bold taste. Also for some reason, every vendor near National Park Service property offered a variety of hot dogs. The all beef dog was the best of the varieties.

The friendliest cart we met on our journey was at 4th & Independence SW. The operator was one of only two vendors to actually smile at us. She also had the best atmosphere for a dog. Just a look up the road and you can see the Capitol Dome. You can’t beat that.

Hot Dog!  There's the Capitol!

Hot Dog! There's the Capitol!

The best bread came from the Natural History. The worst topping came from the Environmental Protection Agency. The best crunch came from the Air and Space. The blandest was from L’Enfant Plaza.

The absolute worst hot dog was from the American History Museum. We ordered a chili dog. Sarah had a hard time finishing this one. Either it was because it was just bad or because Sarah was on hot dog number 9. At $2.50, I’ll never go back again.

Our second favorite was at the FBI. At $ 1.50, the friendliness of the cart operator was surpassed in how great the hot dog was.

In the background is the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building.

In the background is the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building.

Our unanimous favorite was at the Smithsonian Castle. Also priced at $ 1.50, the bun to dog ration was almost perfect. The toppings were fresh. The dining area was clean and the operator was happy to serve our needs.

Smithsonian Castle and a Hot Dog is what I call happiness.

Smithsonian Castle and a Hot Dog is what I call happiness.

After the twelfth hot dog, Sarah turned to me and said “Don’t ever go with me to a Chinese Buffet.” Don’t worry. I’m not going to do that until at least February.

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