Dog Haus Review – Nationwide Chain (Rockford, IL location)

The growing Dog Haus chain from the Los Angeles area says their fame and success is due to their signature dogs, sausages, and burgers. They’re served on grilled King’s Hawaiian Rolls, and a variety of craft beers are offered as well. First one opened in 2010.

My take: interesting concept, terrible execution. I visited the outlet in Rockford, IL, which is on the far eastern border of the city, off a frontage road. Open for lunch and dinner, I hit it a few minutes before noon on a weekday and was the only customer. You order at the counter (bar) and are giving a table topper number.

The menu has quite a few “specialty combinations” of toppings for their dogs and burgers. One example is the “Pineapple Express” a hot dog with bacon wrapped dog, bouillonnaise, sweet ginger glaze, pineapple, scallions, pickled jalapeños, crispy onions. There are some that are far more “complex” in their toppings. Of course you may order with your own preferences as well, but I personally think this “specialty” ones are far too sophisticated for the fast food/fast casual hot dog or burger eater.

As I was more or less “sampling” I went with a burger slider (angus beef, mayo, white american cheese, caramelized onions, but I skipped the onions) and a corn dog slider (all beef mini dog dipped in our haus made root beer batter ). A corn dog is something I’d never order anywhere, but I thought “root beer batter” sounded interesting. Turns out, only the kitchen knows it’s “root beer batter,” it’s not distinquishable as a unique taste. The corn batter is very corn ‘mealy.’

I don’t like King’s Hawaiian, either, offer an alternative. King’s are “sweet” and you’re putting that was savory innards on the sandwiches.

The burger was ordinary as well.

Final food “beef” – fries are extruded, also not a personal preference, but I know many people enjoy that style.

Despite being the only customer when I ordered, it took 20+ minutes to get the food.

Looking at the location, some are in secondary markets (like Rockford) so I assume they are franchisees, and undoubtedly some will not last.

They also have a fried chicken breast sandwich, and the line of “Impossible Foods” non meat burgers and sausage. (If you haven’t tried these, and you’re a bonafide ‘meat-a-vore’ – don’t bother, they are dreadful).

Dog Haus Review

Cross section slider corn dog and burger

Dog Haus Biergarten Rockford Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Dog Haus Review

Dog Haus Review

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Steak N Shake Shooters Review

Steak N Shake Shooter Review Started in Normal, IL, in 1934 by  ex marine Gus Belt, Steak N Shake is so named for its focus on ‘steakburgers’ and milk shakes. The marketing slogan “in sight it must be right” referred to the fact that originally, the beef was ground in plain sight of the customers, and originally was a grind of T-bone, sirloin, and round.  Gus passed in 1954, and the chain went through a number of ownership changes. It’s currently  held by the diversified holding company of Biglari Holdings, based in San Antonio.

Today, more than 400 restaurants dot the Midwest, Southern, and Southwestern United States, and the company seems in growth mode.  Open 24/7, the Steak N Shake menu not only includes steakburgers, fries and shakes, but has been enlarged to include breakfast items, other sandwiches, salads, and different variations of chili on spaghetti noodles, the way one might find in Ohio chili chains.

I’ve long been a fan, and stop at one when I pass through a city that has some of the outposts.  I’ve written about other menu items in the past.

The occasion for my recent stop was to check out some of their new menu items.  As Steak N Shake’s competitors are on a tear with menu additions, newly remodeled stores, and spin-off concepts, the company seems to be putting its new focus on increased menu items as well as value-pricing with a substantial number of “$4 dollar meals.”

I tried out their “shooters”, the Steak N Shake version of sliders, mini hamburgers with different flavors available singly or in multiples.

The “Three shooters plus fries” plate came in at the $4 price point, and I opted for the flavor choices of garlic, “Frisco,” and buffalo.

Each came with a ‘slather’ of the designated sauce, buffalo ala Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce, Frisco, which was described to me by the waitperson as “exactly like thousand island dressing”, and a garlic butter.   The buns receive a light brush of butter, and otherwise, the burgers are devoid of condiments and cheese, unless you request same (slight charge for cheese).

I liked them all, even though I usually passionately avoid anything with thousand island.

Steak N Shake’s fries are always properly fried shoestrings, with the right amount of salt.  On each table is a bottle of their “Fry Seasoning” if you want to amp up the fries or burger.  It’s kinda like Season Salt, but in my opinion, much tastier.  And no MSG if you care about that kind of thing.

One “secret menu” item at S n S is the 7X7, seven burger patties, seven slices of cheese.  I’ll get to that someday.

Anyway – the shooter platter is a great way to try out their new flavors, or feed the kids on a very economical basis.  Find a Steak N Shake near you.

Steak N Shake Shooter Review

Three Shooters and Fries

Steak N Shake Shooter Review










Steak N Shake Shooters Review

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Krystals Waffle Fries Review

(Update, these are apparently no longer available.  Potato “strips,” grits, or beans are the alternative choice to fries at present).

Hit up Krystal to try one of their latest offerings, Seasoned Waffle Fries, and of course, I needed a couple sliders to ‘wash’ them down with.   After decades of contemplation about it, I think I prefer the Krystal burger to White Castle.  Can’t say why, maybe it’s the pickle.

I love Waffle Fries.  And tots.  And will almost always opt for them if they are an option.  This particular order?  Not seasoned, and not fully cooked. (Sigh)

So I can’t really give a fair assessment of them, since I doubt they were  prepared as corporate would have preferred.

A few years ago, I checked out Krystal’s mini hot dogs. In this very same city, as it happens.

Menu is online. Locator.



Krystal on Urbanspoon

krystals waffle fries review

krystals waffle fries review

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White Castle

Sliders, gut bombs, no matter what you call them, the small square burgers cooked on a bed of onions, are a distinctly American tradition.    The White Castle chain was one of the first fast food establishments, started in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas.

Americans were reticent to eat ground beef at the time, due to the popularity of Upton Sinclair’s novel of the meat packing industry in “The Jungle.”

Walter Anderson, along with his partner Billy Ingram, made their outlet out of white porcelain enamel on the outside, and stainless steel inside, believing the scheme denoted “cleanliness.”

For a time, as the chain grew, they were cranking out pre-fab versions of the porcelain castle, and one still stands in Minneapolis. (pictured left)

Sliders were originally a nickel until the 1940’s, then 10 cents for a long time after that.   Today, a single burger is 68 cents and the menu has been expanded to include breakfast sandwiches, chicken breast sliders, and a couple of very unique items, “chicken rings”, and “fish nuggets.”  (pictured below).

Four burgers, an ample size fries (crinkle-cut), and medium drink will set you back less than five bucks, and there are various other combination meals with come with larger quantities of burgers.   They even sell a one hundred pack.

Some folks say White Castles taste best when it’s the middle of the night, and one has indulged in too much alcohol.  But I’d take exception to that.  The only time I ever had Mrs. Burgerdogboy in a White Castle, we had indeed consumed too much alcohol, and while the burgers tasted just fine to me, the stainless steel bench proved the perfect resting place for her pretty little passed out head.

But I’ll even eat them sober.   I love ‘em.

There are many ‘clones’, whether Castle Burgers in New Orleans, or Krystal, a chain across the south similar to White Castle, but with a deeper menu


White Castle Burgers and Fries

White Castle Fish Nuggets

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Sliders, Sliders, Everywhere

Johnny Rockets is the latest to add to the slider craze, now offering mini burgers, dogs, and chili dogs. The new Slider Hamburger options include the Traditional Slider with mayo and pickle slices or one of four new Johnny Rockets sauces: ancho-chipotle with a smoky pepper flavor, sweet pepper relish mayo, dijonnaise sauce with a hint of horseradish and chunky bleu cheese sauce. Johnny Rockets has over 250 locations in 11 countries.johnny-rockets

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St. Helens, Or – Klondike Bar Sliders

Stopped in this place I had previously spotted on a drive-about, about an hour north of Portland on the road to Astoria.  St. Helen’s is an old, old shipping port on the Columbia River, and the Klondike was originally a rooming house for sailors and mill workers.    It being between lunch and dinner, we eschewed the entrees, and ordered a half-dozen appetizers to share. Klondike’s version of sliders was flank steak, with chunky bleu cheese and pickled purple onion curls on a baguette.   It (and everything) was delicious.   The special of the day was a “sausage dog”  (see pic below and note potential victim hiding under the sign), which we passed on when they told us it was from Zenner’s, a local Portland dog company.  Zenner’s makes great products, but this was billed as “andouille”, and we’re always disappointed with andouille outside of Louisiana and/or France.   If you’re ever in this area, checkout the Klondike.  Great menu.  Fun staff.



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