Wiener Wednesdays: Starting With Underdogs

Hot dogs are the hotness right now. It is time Midtown Lunch Philly starts comparing. We start with John’s look at Underdogs. Next Wednesday, it will be someone else’s wieners.

Compared to other cities and regions, Philadelphia’s hot dog scene has not been too prominent until very recently. Fortunately, several new establishments specializing in hot dogs have sprouted up in different parts of the city. The newest is Underdogs, which opened up in the below street level spot previously occupied by Argan. Since its opening in late February, Underdogs has drawn big lunch crowds eager to try their hot dog offerings. Based on the quality of the food, it does not appear that the crowds will die down any time soon.

The menu at Underdogs is pretty extensive. If you thought you could there were only so many ways to dress up a hot dog, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. There are no less than thirteen hot dog and ten sausage offerings, in addition to twelve different dipping sauces for the French fries. You can choose just a hot dog or sausage offering, but the best values are the combos of a hot dog, fries and drink.

My first selection was the Texas Tommy ($3.75) and fries with the spicy peanut sauce ($2.25). Wrapped in bacon, fried and topped with cheese, the Texas Tommy is not for those looking for the healthiest of food options. Putting aside any such misgivings, the Texas Tommy absolutely hits the spot. Though Underdog’s does not make their own wieners, the Dietz and Watson dog they use is 100 percent beef, and there is a huge taste difference between run-of-the-mill hot dogs and all beef ones.The cheese flavor is excellent, though the bacon did not stand out as much as I thought it would.

Cacia’s in South Philly bakes the roll, which is different that your standard hot dog bun. The bread is sturdy and does not fall apart. For me, it does not overwhelm the hot dog, but those who prefer a classic fluffy bun might feel differently.

As for the fries, they are hand cut and have some flavorful seasoning. One regular order is plenty, and the large order ($2.75) is more than enough to split with a friend. You have your choice of one free dipping sauce (in addition to ketchup), and I chose the spicy peanut sauce and added an extra sauce of Sriracha mayo. While the fries were well cooked and still tender, the peanut sauce was a little congealed for my taste. I preferred the sriracha mayo which had some spice and was much more appropriate for dipping.

I also tried the Michigan ($3.75), which included beef chili, cheddar, chopped onions and mustard. This hot dog was phenomenal, and I liked it even more than the Texas Tommy. Chili and mustard make a great combination of flavors. For the fries, I chose the Georgia mustard BBQ sauce. This sauce also went well with the soft fries. Who knew that mustard BBQ sauce made a great dipping sauce for fries?

I can easily envision Underdogs making my rotation of weekly lunch places. The only problem is that I’m gonna have to time it to beat the big crowds.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • More hot dog and sausage options than you can imagine
  • Great selection of dipping sauces for your fries or hot dog
  • Combo prices ($6.25-$8.25) are reasonable

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I don’t like paying more than one or two dollars for a hot dog
  • The peanut sauce was not really appropriate for dipping the soft fries
  • Big buns are not for everyone

Underdogs, 132 S. 17th St., 215-665-8080


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