Unlike some great American cities, Richmond has settled for an on-again/off-again relationship with the hot dog. In our midcentury years, a cafe called Angelo's was famous for stuffing downtown power brokers with dogs drenched in chili and a certainÿdA©classA©ÿcharm.
A generation later, locals seek out the equally pungent Joey's Dogs in a gas station in western Henrico, ignoring the setting by calling forth memories of places more picturesque, like ball fields and Coney Island, if not the Thalhimer's department store basement where Angelo's got its start. Dog lovers find themselves searching out sports-bar substitutes or occasionally trucking down to Petersburg to Jimmy's, a joint that's been turning out a legendary grilled dog for 35 years.
It's a safe bet wiener-philes will become fast friends with Travis Irby, who arrived from the beach just in time to put that equal and opposite reaction rule into play in this age of healthy-eating locavores. He's bringing Richmond its newest frank identity in the form of City Dogs, a Shockoe Slip outpost opening next week with the singular purpose of pairing a nation's worth of famous dogs with the right city beers.
There's the New York (a Sabrett's), the original Chicago style (Vienna beef on a poppy-seed bun with pickles but never ketchup), the Miami (with salsa), the Richmond (chili, mustard and onions) and a bunch of others such as Philly and Cincinnati. There's even a soy dog and a smattering of burgers and Carolina barbecue. But the stars are dogs Irby marinates in apple cider and brown sugar -- dogs he's convinced will turn 1316 E. Cary St. into a savory destination, courtesy of the sharp red-on-blond interior crafted by his siblings during the hottest spell on record. City Dogs is open daily, starting June 23. 343-DOGS.