Popular food trucks' menus are often full of strange items and outlandish gimmicks. Every now and then, however, one appears with a simple take on classic fare backed up by solid execution.
Such is the case with Best Dressed Dog. It's a hot dog truck, as the name suggests, with a handful of menu items and signature Judd Sauce, named for the truck's owners, Bret and Raenada Judd. Bret does the cooking, and Raenada runs the front of the "house."
The truck has been operating for about a year and a half — or around 30, depending on whom you ask, as the Judds consider the truck the continuation of a hot dog cart of the same name Bret operated while in college in the mid-1980s.
Since then, he's has been involved in a wide variety of endeavors, none of them culinary. Most recently, he lived with his wife in Chile as a mine developer. When he returned, he says he decided he was done with corporate life and wanted to get back to his roots.
"No more corporate, no more partners," he says. "Let's just make hot dogs again."
And thus, the food truck. The Judds don't have any formal training, but he says he and his wife come from a long line of good cooks.
It shows in the food. The centerpiece of the menu is the dog itself. It's an all-beef dog from a local distributor, surrounded by a locally baked bun and all manner of toppings — the menu changes based on the audience, so the types of dog vary accordingly. It's all very well executed.
The dogs are supported by the truck's Judd sauce (available for purchase by the bottle as well), a vinegar- and tomato-based sauce the couple invented that's most easily comparable to barbecue sauce, but thinner and spicier. The Judds claim it's better than barbecue sauce, and while that claim is difficult to support, it is excellent on their hot dogs.
From the menu, three of our favorites are the Seattle dog, the barbecue dog, and the Arizona classic Sonoran dog.
The first was probably the strangest, but also the most interesting. In it, sauerkraut, Judd sauce, and cream cheese cover a beef dog for a disorienting but pleasing eating experience. The sweetness of the cheese is surprisingly pleasant, cutting through the sourness of the rest quite effectively.
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The barbecue dog is easily the best, and it's easy to understand why. The Judds do their own smoking, so when they add shredded, smoked, and Judd Sauce-smothered meat to a cabbage and tomato covered dog, it makes for quite a treat. The smokiness is really noticeable, and plays with the sauce well. The hot dog plays second fiddle in this concoction, but it provides an essential backbone, both physically and in regards to taste.
And, it's hard to go wrong with a Sonoran dog. Covered in a mountain of shredded cheese, tomatoes, peppers, pinto beans, sour cream, and olives, the dog itself is hard to locate, but should satisfy any Arizonan's palate. The lack of a bolillo bun leaves a little something to be desired, but in a vacuum, it's a damn good dog.
There's no restaurant in the works for the Judds, but they're in the truck six days a week all over the city. Plus, they're searching a distributor for their sauce, so you should feel the presence of these hefty hot dogs before long.
For more information, check the Best Dressed Dog Facebook.