Restaurant Review

People love a good hotdog at the ballpark.  They even like bad hotdogs at ballparks.  But it isn’t about the hotdog, it is about the ballpark.  And hotdogs are often offered at a BBQ for folks that don’t want a burger.  The hotdog is seldom the star of the show.  Oh, the pitiable hotdog, ever the bridesmaid, never the bride.  So about 10 years ago, when I heard a hotdog-only place opened up on 6th avenue, I questioned the wisdom of that venture.  But, I figured I’d take my boys there and check it out.  Then I learned it is an over 21 establishment.  That is when I figured I better get in quick to try the place out before they close down – is there really money in hotdogs?  Turns out yes, yes there is.  Some 9 years after opening, The Red Hot (2914 6th Ave, Tacoma, WA - ) is an institution.  It is mostly beer and hotdogs, although they do have sausages too.  The dogs span the simple (the “Red Hot” – with mustard, onions and relish) to the sublime (the “Rainier Rueben” – mustard, special sauce, swiss cheese and saurerkraut) to the suspect (the “Hound Dog” – with peanut butter and bacon – although I have friends that swear by it).  If you are less hunter and more gatherer, they have an inspired vegan menu – including “The Green Machine” – field roast chipotle faux-sausage, onions, salsa verde, vegan Mozzarella, arugula and pickled jalapeños.  They also have nearly 30 beers on tap – and a nice variety.  I like the ends of the beer spectrum – the pilsners and the stouts – and the Red Hot always has options for me.  Not so at every bar.  I’m always surprised when a seemingly impressive tap list is really just 27 IPAs and an amber.  Oh, I know there are folks who would consider that some form of utopia; there is no accounting for taste.  And the Red Hot does have its share of IPAs, but plenty of ciders and porters and lagers as well.  The Red Hot used to be wedged in a small space that had a great Tacoma vibe, too many people, and not quite enough bathrooms.   They’ve since expanded to a larger place, and what they’ve lost in Tacoma grit they’ve made up for in comfort and urinals.  I don’t know how many of our pub crawl plans have started at the Red Hot, and just never quite left.  It is a great place to rendezvous with some friends, enjoy some good eats, quaff a few beers, and let the time slide on by till well after when you should probably have gotten home.   


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