Budget Crunch: Lucky Dog
If you’re going to open a late night eatery in Buffalo, especially one with a hot dog focus, you’d better go big or go home. This is a Ted’s town, and one accustomed to having dining options up until 5 a.m. as well. To win word of mouth, especially within bottle-cap-throwing distance of both Jim’s SteakOut and the Old Pink, your menu better make some noise.
Lucky Dogs is doing its part to stand out. Inhabiting the tiny, well-worn former Lagniappes location (which is now a few doors down at the French Quarter Cafe), the emphasis is on hot dogs, burgers, and sides you’ll want tonight, even if you decide tomorrow morning you didn’t really “need” them. There’s Flander’s Polish Bacon Burrito Dog, in which a tortilla bear-hugs a mild or spicy Polish dog, tucking chili and onions into the fold. Isabelle’s Junk Yard Dog contains everything: Texas or chili sauce, mustard, onions, ketchup, mayonnaise, relish, coleslaw, sauerkraut, nacho cheese, jalapeño, and barbecue sauce. If you recall Algebra II, that means there are roughly 1,320 four-topping combinations for custom orders—more if you double up.
The basic dog (Sahlen’s, for now) is juicy, with a grill-striped skin; given the toppings that it carries, it’s a good thing it’s not too salty or greasy. (You can substitute andouille sausage, turkey, or a veggie option, or venture into pastrami or steak territory.) Starting with the self-explanatory AJ’s Coleslaw Dog, you’ll find at least a one-to-one ratio of toppings to meat. Heading up to the Ozark Hound Dog (BBQ sauce, onions, mustard, chili sauce), it’s more like three-to-one, and some toppings are poured on at mouth-singeing temperatures.
Bob the Builder’s Double Bacon Chili Cheeseburger features a similar abundance of embellishments. The few unadorned fries I could find in a nacho cheese chili pile were crisp enough, for the first minute or two. If you’re not someone who likes your grub smothered, you won’t be too disappointed with Leah’s Dog at $2.50, or the $3.65 hamburger with mustard, onions, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
Lucky Dogs is packed into a space too small to do much more than what they offer now. It’s not Chicago, it’s not an established name like Ted’s, and it’s not even quite at the scale of Rochester’s Dogtown. There’s a lot of room to go upscale or get even more gonzo with the toppings, but for now they have a lot of what you might need at a certain hour, with a certain amount of scratch left in your pockets.
244 Allen St., Buffalo