Which Dog? Dat Dog! NOLA’s most famous hot dog eatery is officially coming to Downtown.

by Christiaan Mader

NOLA's most famous hot dog eatery is officially coming to Downtown.

Dat Dog's future location at 201 Jefferson St. (Side note: The building also once housed The Times of Acadiana when IND Publishers Steve and Cherry Fisher May owned it — back when it was a newspaper.)
Christiaan Mader

Downtown, open your hearts to Dat Dog, the beloved NOLA frankurtery that will soon palpitate your chest with desire. Being that it’s a hot dog restaurant, I won’t try to oversell it. But let’s just say that the massive temple to tube meat could change the face of Downtown forever.

Sure, that’s a bald exaggeration, but it’s one rooted in fact. With the northeastern end of the Jefferson Street strip slated to serve as the entry point for travelers conveyed to Downtown from the Lafayette Connector, Dat Dog’s vibrant color splash of family friendly, Hawaiian shirt dining will be a decidedly different greeting than the district’s traditional “bar” scene — booze, lawyers, and boozed up lawyers. There’s a lot of crossover there.

Current plans for the 15,000-square-foot eatery at 201 Jefferson St., across from Rêve Coffee Roasters, include not just the eponymously delicious lineup of frankfurters and alternative proteins, but also patio dining abutting Jefferson Street, a live music venue, a bar serving Louisiana craft brews like Bayou Teche’s Dat Bière — crafted especially for Dat Dog’s New Orleans operations — and more toppings than you can fit in a canoe.

With prices fixed at the cost of your dog, you can attempt to drown their deliciously sweet bun in whatever mound of regret you want. I assume the same goes for their impeccable fries. In the interest of expediency I’ll list just a few of the 28 available toppings: andouille sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, chili, Creole or yellow mustard, dill or sweet relish, dill pickle spears, guacamole, hummus and crawfish étouffée. Compounding your interest in this bespoke line of heart cloggers — excepting, of course, the veggie options — are the dog varieties, a menu fixture that varies from spicy porcine delights like Bratwursts both spicy and mild, Kosher beef franks, tubes of turducken, veggie patties and “seadogs” made of battered cod.

Keeping the math simple, I’ve calculated that if you limited your self to five toppings, you’d have 98,280 different possible combinations for each frank. Multiply that by the number of available types, 18, and you get 1,769,040 possible hot dog combinations featuring five toppings. To be sure, I’ve limited myself to a calculation of five toppings in the interest of both brevity and my disgust for mathematics.

For the record, I used this online combination calculator. It took 10 minutes to figure out if I was performing a permutation or a combination, and only four to remember the horrendous disappointment I must have been in my college statistics class.

But I digress. Here we are talking hot dogs, and I’m cheating on my math homework.

I’ve spent far too much time at the Dat Dog on Freret Street, the first of the NOLA staple’s three Crescent City locations. Lafayette’s Downtown location will mark Dat Dog’s first foray outside of New Orleans, with Baton Rouge and Hattiesburg, Miss., also recently considered. I’ll restrain myself from a customary “take that” aimed at both our state capitol and Mississippi’s Hub City.

I spoke not long ago with Dat Dog COO Bill DiPaola, and he positively beamed about the company’s new home. I grilled him then to give me the scoop about Dat Dog’s rumored landing spot in Laffy, and the potential for late night eats. The gregarious fella just wouldn’t shut up about how much he loved our town.

“If there’s one thing I want to get across is that everyone we met in Lafayette has left us with a knockout impression,” DiPaola told me. “That’s the sort of place you want to do business with.” I then begged him to give me a confirmation, and he asked me to stop crying.

Dat Dog will provide late night dining for the waning constitutions of Downtown’s beleaguered drinkers, as well as a great place to have a wholesome hot dog eating contest. As a company, Dat Dog has a reputation for assimilating its outlets into neighborhood fabrics, so Downtowners can expect a stand-up neighbor and great group of dudes to hit up for parking meter money.

Realtor Mark Van Eaton of Beau Box Real Estate, who brokered Dat Dog’s purchase of the building that currently houses Tipitina’s Co-Op, says Dat Dog may begin a trend of notable New Orleans eateries making homes along Jefferson Street. With commercial building stock providing a host of viable options, Dat Dog’s arrival on a block of Jefferson Street that also features a record shop, a yoga studio and a coffee roaster may mark the beginning of new chapter in Downtown’s historic development.

Dat Dog will arrive in Lafayette sometime in mid-to-late 2016 with an opportunity to perform countless other pointless calculations — in my case a Weight Watchers number crunch describable in only scientific notation.