The “Bird Dog” name doesn’t come from any of the conventional or urban slang definitions of that phrase, but rather, one would imagine, as an homage to the cafe’s signature dish moniker, a hot dog prepared in the way occasionally people are used to hearing a different cut of meat prepared in some parts of the country.
The “Bird Dog”, is a “chicken-fried” hot dog, smothered in a rich, creamy sausage-laden gravy. It’s hard (for me) to imagine a more creative mash-up of some of my favorite foods.
The joint offers a wide variety of hot dog, burger, and sausage preparations, which increases in size with the addition of unique one-offs as daily specials.
The quality and care in prep shows throughout.
I’d been meaning to get to Bird Dog for some time, and had the opportunity when I was in their part of town around lunch time the other day.
I wanted to try a variety of things, including the signature dish, a side of chili cheese fries, and, having relocated to Portland from New Orleans, I was intrigued that they had a “muffaletta” dog, a tribute to the signature classic sandwich of New Orleans.
As I was already deep into committing to one hot dog with the Bird Dog selection, I asked that they prepare a plain burger patty with the olive tapenade from a muffaletta and a slice of provolone; they happily agreed to my non-menu request.
The Bird Dog is an ample pork hot dog, immersed in a corn-meal and other flour batter, and deep fried, to produce a crispy coating; placed on an oversized, ample bun, with a generous topping of pork sausage gravy, all on its own, it’s a very satisfying and filling meal. The ‘tubular nutritional delivery vehicle’ is a tasty frank, mild in seasoning, and the sausage gravy is some of the best I’ve had in Portland, creamy, no hint of a floury taste, with nice chunks of sausage throughout.
The burger patty was massive, hovering between 1/3 and 1/2 pound, I would imagine, obviously hand-formed, and the olive salad I asked for, spot on reminiscent of the New Orleans recipe. A bakery-soft, but sturdy, toasted bun cradled the patty.
My side of chili cheese fries was notable, also one of my clear favorites in Portland. A “hot dog” style chili, very meaty, good flavor, no beans, burying a mound of crispy shoe strings.
Dining in, you have access to a wide selection of toppings you can add yourself, from a pickled vegetable bar to a host of mustards and sauces. Bird Dog’s website says all of the side dishes are made in house, and I imagine the toppings are as well.
This is a place, that if it was closer to my work, I’d hit all to frequently. I’d like to try a number of their house made sausages, and might opt for the sausage sampler plate in the future.
Or a chicken fried burger? Mac n Cheese dog? Cuban? They also offer their take on the Sonoran Dog, a regional favorite from the Southwest.
Too many choices of too many good things.
Perfect for Burgerdogboy, and you.
Bird Dog is snuggled amidst a couple of long time hot dog competitors on East Hawthorne, so now you have a choice of the old timey guys that wrest on their laurels and rep, or some bright, innovative, quality cuisine that dazzles.
I say the choice is obvious.