There are hot dogs, and then there is Irving Street Kitchen's housemade, freshly ground pork and beef hot dog. With a crackle-top natural pork casing and a flavorful, not-too-fatty filling that's closer to pâté in texture, it's a steal at $5. Don't think it's tiny, either—this is the real thing, perfectly seasoned and crowned with the kitchen's own tangy sauerkraut on a crusty-soft roll. The heap of chips on the side of the plate are paper-thin and crisp, and invite a dip in the accompanying Dijon mustard sauce (ketchup available, of course).
Just one caveat: The dog's only available on Irving Street's $5 happy-hour menu—along with about half a dozen other items, including a $5 cocktail. It's a good indication that chef Sarah Schafer's Herculean efforts in artisan charcuterie are paying off, to our benefit, after opening for business eight weeks ago. Not on the happy-hour menu, though almost painfully delicious, is the kitchen's butterscotch pudding. At $8, it comes in a clamp-lidded Mason jar, topped with nearly burnt caramel, vanilla bean-studded crème fraîche and brûléed bananas. Oh, and don't forget the two hunks of salty-sweet walnuts embedded in melting caramelized brown sugar on the side of the plate. No matter how you mix and match these five elements, you can't make a mistake.
Irving Street Kitchen, 701 NW 13th Ave., 343-9440, irvingstreetkitchen.com. Happy hour 4:30-6 pm Monday-Friday. Open for lunch Monday-Friday, dinner daily. $$ Moderate.