Today I am happy to introduce a new sponsor: the Red Hot in Tacoma
How Good Can a Hot Dog Be?
I don’t even like doughnuts, but I vividly remember when Krispy Kreme opened its first Washington location in Issaquah back in 2001. Radio and television media delighted at the opportunity to tell stories about people waiting up to three hours just to buy a box of these presumably life-changing doughnuts. I didn’t understand it.
I remember thinking, “How good can a doughnut be?” I concluded that the doughnut was meaningless. It was just silly sheep-like human behavior: frenzied consumerism herded by media hype. We all want to believe something so simple as a doughnut really can be that good.
About six years later, with the Krispy Kreme memory indelibly etched into the fiber of my sensibilities, I was skeptical when I heard about a new place opening in Tacoma called the Red Hot—a craft beer bar with a singular culinary focus on hot dogs. Not just hot dogs, but really good hot dogs. Why was I skeptical? “How good can a hot dog be?”
When I visited the Red Hot for the first time, I discovered that something so simple as a hot dog really can be that good.
Craft Beer, Hot Dogs, No Jerks
The Red Hot Tacoma quickly gained a reputation as one of Tacoma’s best beer destinations. You will find the Red Hot along Central Tacoma’s 6th Avenue, a hip and revitalized part of the city. Shamelessly dedicated to craft beer, the Red Hot’s rotating tap selection impresses even the most finicky beer geeks. You may find pubs with a larger draft selection, but you are hard-pressed to find a pub with a tap selection as thoughtfully considered. What’s more, you simply will not find a better hot dog this side of Chicago.
Hot dogs are a visceral thing for me—something I typically equate with a feeling conjured by the memory of a particular moment in time and/or a certain place. I remember eating a hot dog on the loading dock at Mac’s Smoke House on Occidental Avenue, across the street from the Kingdome, just before a certain baseball game: the Mariners’ historic victory over the Yankees in game five of the 1995 playoffs. I remember a trip to Chicago when I was a young man, capable of staying up until 3:00 a.m. to enjoy a hot dog at the corner of Rush and Division. That’s how hot dogs typically fit into my life−usually as part of something bigger than the hot dog itself.
I remember my first visit to the Red Hot Tacoma and washing down my Tideflats dog with an Elysian Dragonstooth Stout.
Chris Miller, owner of the Red Hot, is an ardent fan of craft beer. In fact, Chris is one of the people responsible for creating the Tacoma Craft Beer Festival. A native of the east coast, he also knows a thing or two about hot dogs. The tube steaks he serves up at his pub are the real deal—only the finest wieners, sourced from across the country. No Costco dogs or Ball Park Franks here. Deservedly, the Red Hot has gained considerable notoriety for its hot dog prowess. In fact, it was featured on the Food Network’s “Chef vs City.” We’ve included the video below.
The hot dog preparations are creative and delicious, ranging from basic dogs like the Red Hot (yellow mustard, chopped onions, relish) and the 6th Avenue Strut (cream cheese, onions and tomatoes), to the absolutely absurd. The Tideflats dog that I mentioned earlier includes two all-beef dogs served open-faced, with yellow mustard, ketchup, onions, relish, tomatoes, sport peppers, jalapeno peppers, sauerkraut, all meat chili, coleslaw, nacho cheese, pickle spear and celery salt. That’s a big, complex flavor profile—a dog deserving a big, equally complex beer as an accompaniment.
Although hot dogs may be a major theme, at the Red Hot it’s really all about the beer. This is simply one of the best places in the City of Destiny to find a great selection of craft beer. The Red Hot always features a dozen carefully selected draft choices and usually a cask, as well. At this moment, you will find Pike Brewing Double IPA, Victory Brewing Prima Pils, Anderson Valley Brewing Brother David’s Double, and Delirium Tremens among others.
Because of the Red Hot I now understand why the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts thing never made sense to me. Hot dogs go so much better with beer.