If anybody’s going to point any fingers, they should probably be directed at Doug Sohn. That’s the man who owns Hot Doug’s, a nearly decade old Chicago concept that pretty much inspired America’s nouveau sausage craze. In California, Los Angeles has Wurstkuche, and San Francisco’s leading representative is probably Show Dogs, another joint venture from chefs Gayle Pirie and John Clark of Foreign Cinema fame.
Show Dogs opened in 2009, occupying the bottom floor of a triangular building along bustling Market Street, not far from the Civic Center. Order at the counter from a blackboard menu, then sit inside, at circular tables or on wood benches, in a room with a pressed tin ceiling, an open kitchen and black-and-white photos of the city gracing burgundy walls. Show Dogs also features a rail-framed patio, which requires good weather, an always-iffy proposition in San Francisco.
Wild Boar ($7.50) was the least distinctive link, but still good, pretty similar to bratwurst. More mustard found its way inside the bun, along with sweet-tart cherry apricot chutney (and more frickin’ arugula).
In addition to Showdogs, they also have entrees and Showiches, none more compelling than the Fried Chicken ($7.50). Surprisingly juicy breast meat joined punchy red cabbage slaw, red pepper strips, spicy lemon cayenne aioli and pickled ginger on a stellar brioche bun. The establishment is best known for its dogs. Hell, the logo even depicts a dog munching on a sausage, but the best bites of the day probably came from this sandwich.
The concept may not be completely original, but it’s the duo’s deft execution that sets Show Dogs apart from the encased pack.