Hot Diggity Respecting The Dog

Only a week ago we wrote our confused post about Hot Diggity coming to 630 South Street. That same day, CityPaper went and got the deets on Keith Garabedian’s chef-d’oeuvre. We’re picking up the baton again to bring our Naked readers some more juicy beef from our run-in with Garabedian, who is excited to be the first person (our words, not his) to bring a true hot dog brick-and-mortar spot to the sixth most hot-dog-consuming city in the United States.

Garabedian [along with his three high school best friends, Tom Zmijewski, Sean Kendall and Matt Anderson (who moved here from South Carolina just to get Hot Diggity rolling)] could have opened HD on the Jersey boardwalk or in other markets, but settled here with us. “Philly is a hot dog city without seemingly like one,” says Garabedian who recalls the days before Levis Hot Dog closed and Philly’s reliance on food carts. Following the men before him who are responsible for bringing American staples like hot dogs and hamburgers to a gourmet level (i.e.: Daniel Bould’s DBGB dog and Hubert Keller‘s Burger Bar), Garabedian wanted to bring the hot dog culture some respect. With Philadelphians settled into the idea of a gourmet burger (Barclay Prime) and a gourmet burger-only joint (Bobby’s Burger Palace), Garabedian and his team knew Philly would be ready for what Chicago and New York City already take for granted.

In June, those who stop by 630 South Street will be treated to the artwork of Hawk Krall (which will serve as the 18 x 24 menus), custom-made stools and tables with holes to hold pomme frites-esque paper cones for hand-cut Belgian fries (cones will be perfect for those who want to walk around South Street and nibble), bright green walls, a funk soundtrack and a menu of serious “chef’d up” slow-cooked dogs. We tried to get permission to show you the photos from Garabedian’s test kitchen (read: him and his buddies making and eating every combination possible, gaining massive amounts of weight), but unfortunately we can’t release those to you (or the renderings of the new place, which look awesome). What we can tell you is this: there will be 10 hot dogs on the menu; all ingredients will be specific to each dog and won’t repeat elsewhere; there will be five homemade mustards to suit every dog including house, yellow, guava, spicy brown and Creole; the buns will be from Liscio’s Bakery; dogs will be $5-ish 7-inch-long Sabretts; and there will be 12 dipping sauce choices for the Belgian fries including Sriracha ketchup, spicy ginger mayo, and a roasted-garlic rosemary aioli. HD will also be the first company to be able to feature Percy Street Barbecue BBQ sauce, reveals Garabedian, who will use it on the Texas Hold ‘Em hot dog—a bacon-wrapped hot dog with shredded cheese, white onion, scallions and Percy Street Barbecue house sauce.

Garabedian is committed to the technique of preparing and cooking all the food that will be offered at HD, which is exactly what his former NYC chef boss, Tom Colicchio of Craft, taught him. “We are concerned with taste above everything,” says Garabedian, who tried to make his own dogs before having to admit that they just weren’t as good as using Sabrett (neither were the Amish ones he was taste testing). “I don’t want to take on too much and not be able to do it right,” he explains. “I want to pay attention to everything.” Which he has, even down to the flavor profiles he is borrowing from all over the country to make the Hawaiian dog (chili-vinaigrette-soaked pineapple sals, guava mustard and a habanero aioli), the Amish-style dog with pepperhash, and the 11th dog on the menu, HD’s version of the classic Philly Combo dog, which they will debut soon after they open as the first Hot Dog Of The Month project. “The Philly Combo is a hot dog variation unique to the Philadelphia area,” explains Krall on SeriousEats.com. “Believed to have originated at Levis Hot Dogs, which was open between 1895 and 1992 on Sixtth and South Streets, this kosher-inspired concoction consists of an all-beef hot dog and a potato fish cake topped with mustard and onions.”

HD says they will be open late-night on weekend, eventually have take-out craft beers and continue the Hot Dog Of the Month with help from places like the South Street Head House for inspiration. “Perhaps we will have a farmers market dog featuring some of the great produce from the Philly area,” says Garabedian, who still eats from his favorite hot dog vendor, Gus, right down the street on Fifth and South. —-Caitlin Connors