Ah, the hot dog. Is any food item more truly, deeply, authentically American than the hotdog? It screams baseball, corner stands, big cities and Memorial Day cookouts. It’s cries for customization the way that all truly great American food does, and although it’s delicious in its purest form, it languishes without condiments. This is the real beauty of the hot dog – it begs for expression and creativity. It is the American dream of junk food – a beautifully delicious canvas on which to paint every hope for a hot dog future.

Enter Short Leash, a Phoenix eatery based on the concept that a hotdog is only limited by the edges of the imagination. With long-successful food trucks, the brick-and-mortar location of Short Leash is based on that already-winning concept, and their clientele is loyal to the brand.

The restaurant has a big-city feel, with urban décor and a dog-friendly patio in the back. An excellent local beer selection and card games in the dining area add to the fun casual vibe, but the dogs take center stage.

Short Leash Menu Offerings

The most popular hot dog is “The Bear,” and you’ll want to read the description with an open mind. Peanut butter, popcorn, gouda and bacon with a drizzle of barbeque sauce – it’s a menu item that sounds like a joke, but sit at a table for twenty minutes and you’ll see about half of the diners chowing down on this monster. Look – it’s never going to be my favorite. It’s what I think of as a novelty food item – the flavors theoretically balance, and the sweet/salty combo is nice, but the hotdog itself is completely lost in the mix.

Fortunately, there are plenty of solid options to round out the mix, and there are elements to the menu that have helped solidify Short Leash Hot Dogs as a Phoenix standby.

Mac Daddy

A mac ‘n cheese dog with an excellent texture and the perfect salty finish. This dog comes with a rich, three-cheese blend of macaroni topped with veggie chili and a beef dog.

The Moki

Roasted green chilies, onion, beans, and a touch of mayo with chopped tomatoes – this is a savory southwestern bite.

Igby

Cole Slaw, Blue Cheese, and bbq sauce blend into a burger-ish flavor that really works.

The buns are actually naan bread, which sounds odd but works perfectly to hold up to a variety of juicy toppings.

What About Vegetarians?

Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options round out an already-robust menu, which is important for a restaurant that caters largely to young people, particularly those on a budget. This is a place you can hit with a kid’s birthday party or a work function and although it falls short on romance that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a fun date night – especially if your idea of a fun date involves discussing the finer points of popcorn and peanut butter… on a hot dog.

Hit up Short Leash. You may be confused, but you won’t be bored, and when you finally land on a winning combo you’ll be glad you took the time to work it out.

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