What does it say about the local foodie community when the most talked about restaurant in 2011 was a hot dog stand operating out of a converted shed? Two things: a) we were starved for good hot dogs, and 2) the vogue for minimalist restaurants has either hit rock bottom or peaked, depending on your point of view.
As the Lucky Dog has proven for decades, New Orleans has never been a hot dog town. Entrepreneurs trying to fill that gap have found nothing but frustration and failure. Dat Dog proves that there was a hot dog market, after all. It just needed to be pulled out of hiding by the right lure. The college crowd from a few blocks away led the charge on this one.
Constantine Georges (brother of the co-owner of Galatoire's) and Skip Murray played football together in high school. Constantine became an attorney; Skip went to London and did a bunch of amusing things. He was fascinated by a stand there serving what it called American hot dogs. Hot dogs stuck in his mind and evolved there until in February 2011, when Skip and Constantine opened Dat Dog in a carport--at the epicenter of the sudden uplifting of the old Freret Street commercial district. Immediately, lines went down the street, and everybody was talking. About a year later, it moved across the street into an old gas station.
The new location offers vastly more seating than the overwhelmed original shack. Air-conditioned tables inside and picnic tables between the covered former gas pump islands. It's still not even a little fancy, but that's perfect for hot dogs.
Ask questions and be brave. Don't get the same dog twice in a row. Even most unlikely offerings are better than they have any right to be (the chipotle veggie dog, for instance). Best time to go is between two and five.