|Local Burger, Lawrence, KS||October 16th, 2007|
|Filed under: General — paul @ 2:13 am|
1 x chili cheese dog, $7
There are so many things to love about Lawrence, Kansas. Great eateries, an excellent record store, a fine used bookstore, and a super cheap vintage shop all contained on a 1/2 mile strip downtown. In one of the most notorious and mysterious of red states, here we find progressive ideas about consermerism being put into practice to great local triumph. Itâ€™s home to the oldest farmerâ€™s market in Kansas, and the residents here seem to have a passion for supporting the locals.
Enter Local Burger: trumpeting the cause of American fast food favorites whilst combining the local sensibilities we love. They claim that the average meal at Local Burger has traveled less than 20 miles to your plate! This is astonishing compared to the national average of 1500 miles/meal. Theyâ€™re use, almost exclusively, locally sourced meats and veggies which, we can assume, are pretty darn fresh. This is not the kind of approach of your typical hot dog shack, so I was definitely very eager to see how it would work out.
A hot dog, letâ€™s face it, is usually constructed of the cheapest of meats. For years, we have sought the proper condiments and combinations to mask this fact and make these questionable meats more palatable. Here at Local Burger, the hot dog itself is re-envisioned in keeping with their high-quality mission. They offer up beef, buffalo, and more, all locally sourced and encased. A plain and simple dog is $4 and served on a whole wheat bun that is made in-house. â€œThe worksâ€ (onions, pickles, kraut) can be added for an additional $1, or you could top it with buffalo chili ($2) and cheddar cheese ($.50). And thatâ€™s pretty much it for the hot dog-related menu options.
The night before my visit, I had a one-bite teaser of their all-beef dog with the works. It was absolutely top-notch. Great condiments, a high-quality hot dog, and a unique and complimentary bun. I was hooked.
I decided to go all-out on a chili cheese dog. While I waited, I talked with Karen, the new businesses partner at Local Burger. Sheâ€™s looking to bring Local Burger to the â€œnext level.â€ Iâ€™m not totally sure if that means franchising, but if it does, itâ€™s certainly interesting because the underlying concept of Local Burger seems to preclude all the benefits of franchising outside of shared name recognition and some good graphic design. Anyway, Karen was really nice and she seemed very proud of Local Burgerâ€™s success, which is always a good sign.
The chili cheese dog itself was outstanding. It was served at perfect eating temperature and the cheddar chunks had been carefully melted into the chili to create glossy, yellow-orange pools on top of the hot dog. The bun got a bit soggy in spots, but my favorite hot dogs are sloppy but manageable, and this one worked out fine in that regard. Not to wax too poetical on a hot dog, but this was really a case where you can taste the care and tenderness that created the whole entrÃ©e before me. Without a doubt, one of the top ten best hot dogs Iâ€™ve ever had.
My biggest gripe is with the price. Forgive me, but weâ€™re in Lawrence freakinâ€™ Kansas here. My friend lives 3 blocks off the main drag and pays $275/month in rent. Meanwhile, Iâ€™ve been living in Boston and Brooklyn and paying between $650 and $800/month and never, not once, have I paid more than $6 for a hot dog. And that $6 was at Boston Speeds where he serves 1/2 pound hot dogs! Iâ€™ve traveled all over the country, eating at some of the most famous hot dog places in the world, and never paid anything above $6. But here, in Lawrence, Kansas, Iâ€™m breaking the bank and dishing out $7 for a hot dog. Donâ€™t get me wrong, Iâ€™m totally buying into the concept here. I love the idea. Itâ€™s just that thereâ€™s something weird about paying $7 for a hot dog. I tend to treat a single hot dog as a snack rather than a full meal, so imagine if you come into Local Burger and youâ€™re hungry. You could potentially end up spending $14 on a meal. On a meal that consists of 2 hot dogs! I donâ€™t know about you, but I balk at spending $14 on pretty much any entrÃ©e. For $14, I want candles on the table. Iâ€™m not exactly sure what the solution is, but at $7 each, these chili dogs will be a rare treat for me rather than a Lawrence dietary staple.