Hot dogs with cool names

May 10
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Scoop Dog serves up generously portioned dogs and desserts.

arshia khan
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Now is the time for dining outdoors. And while outdoor dining might originate thoughts of fine dining on a patio or a picnic of sandwiches in the park, sometimes a diner needs that happy medium, something simple like hot dogs and frozen custard such as one might find at The Original Scoop Dog.

Located on that stretch of John F. Kennedy Boulevard in North Little Rock that is home to a weird brotherhood of businesses, (A funeral home, hair salon, child self-defense school, insurance agency, Chinese restaurant and adult novelty/lingerie store all call the strip home.) The Original Scoop Dog is the hot dog and frozen custard shop run by the family that once operated a Shakey’s Frozen Custard franchise at the same spot.

There’s no dining-in area. Just a drive-through and outdoor eating area that contains a few picnic tables surrounded with the music blasting a collection of rock ‘n’ roll numbers from the ’50s and ’60s until suddenly changing formats and throwing in a ’90s alternative rock tune followed by the Eagles “Heartache Tonight.” Although it abuts the busy boulevard, it’s far enough back from the five-lane road to provide a pleasant outdoor dining spot. Nothing fancy. But then The Original Scoop Dog isn’t concerned about fancy. Just simple and tasty.

That’s not saying these dogs are simple though. No, The Original Scoop Dog serves pure beef Red Hot Chicago franks in a half dozen fashions for $3.35 each. Each unique dog is named after the region of its origin. There’s the Chicago Dog (yellow mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomato slices, spicy pickled green peppers, a kosher pickle spear and a dash of celery salt) and the Kansas City Dog, a Reuben sandwich on a bun with the hot dog being topped with a slice of Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. There’s also the Detroit Dog (a very traditional dog with mustard, chili, onions and cheese), New York Dog (brown mustard, onions and tomato paste), Atlanta Dog (topped in coleslaw) and “Not a Dog” (ground beef with cheddar cheese, mustard and pickles).

The other half of the menu is all frozen custard, either in concrete, sundae, shake, malt or scoop form. Concretes are simply a concoction of frozen custard and a topping, like banana, cherry or strawberry, or Butterfinger, M&M’s or Snickers. The sundaes are triumphant works of frozen custard creations with dog-related names, such as the Standard Poodle Fudgy Poo, which is vanilla custard topped with pineapple, strawberries, banana slices and hot fudge, or the Chocolate Lab, which is chocolate custard, Oreos, hot fudge, chocolate chips and a cherry.

One final note: The Original Scoop Dog is a cash and checks only place, but it does present one a place for dining like an all-American outdoors.

THE DISH: OUR REVIEW

Combo No. 1 with Detroit Dog, chips and drink ($4.99): It’s a good price for a filling combo, with the chips being regular Lays (not at the top of the mass-produced potato chip chain but still close).

The hot dog is the focus of the meal though, and Scoop Dog’s hot dogs are pure beef Red Hot Chicago, the kind with a nice snap when bitten into and a pleasing, meaty flavor. Piled on top of the Detroit Dog is a gooey collection of all-beef chili, chopped white onions, mustard and liquid-y cheese. The mustard was lost in the so-messy-you-got-to-eat-it-with-a-fork concoction, but fortunately the beefy flavor of the frank didn’t disappear under all the melted cheese and chili. It was delicious but extremely messy, with cheese and chili dripping from the bun, which held its own in a triumphant and tasteful way, when I first tried eating it with my hands. Still, a great-tasting hot dog is worth the effort and Scoop’s dogs are some of the best around.

Small Cookie Dough Concrete ($3.79): Sure, it’s more than $4 once taxes are figured, but this frozen treat is worth it, down to the last melted bit of frozen custard in the bottom of the cup, which is more like a medium-sized cup. The chocolate chips are as good as expected, but the cookie dough bits are exceptional. Real chunks of cookie dough instead of the balls of cookie dough one usually finds in desserts such as this. And the custard? Sublime. Thick but still creamy and absolutely delicious, the concrete seemed as though it might endure being turned upside down but I wasn’t quite willing to bet $4 on it. (ss)

Combo No. 1 with “Not a Dog,” chips and drink ($4.99): Who goes to a hot dog place and orders the one non-dog item? Well, when it looks this interesting, it’s hard not to. Browned ground beef served in a hot dog bun covered in cheese sauce and mustard with pickles. I had my doubts how the cheese and mustard would mix, but it went over well, probably because the not-quite-nacho but not-Cheez-Whiz-either sauce could go with anything — and probably make it better. In the combo with chips and drink it makes a great deal, but larger appetites might go for the two-dog combo instead for just a bit more.

Small Oreo Concrete ($3.79): So maybe it wasn’t quite thick enough to turn upside down without fear of just having wasted four bucks, but the smooth and creamy cold treat was still delicious, predominantly tasting like Oreo stuffing with tiny bits of cookie crumbled up in it. The small size was generous and plenty filling. A larger size probably would have been finished, though — it was too good to waste. And the extra laps to work it off would be worth it. (sw)

INFO TO GO:

5508 John F. Kennedy Blvd., North Little Rock

(501) 753-5407

Open 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and noon-9:30 p.m. Sunday

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