Hot dogs land on Capitol Hill

The creators of the Barracks Row restaurants Matchbox and Ted’s Bulletin have jumped into the hot dog business, but DC-3, at 423 8th St. SE, is no street-corner snack cart. 

Capitol Hill staffers will need to decide if fried pickles and a menu of 17 different hot dogs are worth the walk from the office. From the looks of the packed narrow space on a recent Friday lunch visit, it seems many think this is a no-brainer.

As its name suggests, the restaurant has an aviation theme, the idea being that hot dog varieties from around the country have been flown in to Capitol Hill. DC-3’s service isn’t running at jet-speed, though — while the staff is fast and friendly, it can take a while before orders are ready for pick-up. Diners must listen closely for their name to get bellowed when their tray is ready. 

The fried pickles alone are worth the walk and the wait. The battered — not breaded — sweet-and-sour disks are diet-busting but practically perfect. They taste best eaten hot, so diners should dive into them once they reach the table (thought that’s assuming diners get one of the few tables available in the cramped space). The mystery mayonnaise dipping sauce is best left at the side; these pickles are better on their own and difficult to share.

As for the dogs, DC-3 has created signature offerings but also lets diners make their own.

Transplanted Chicagoans will be excited for the Chicago 7, a Vienna all-beef hot dog laid in a poppy-seed bun with the Windy City’s must-have seven toppings: tomato, onion, fluorescent green relish, yellow mustard, sport peppers, a pickle spear and a sprinkling of celery salt. The hot dog has a strong, meaty flavor, and the toppings are a Chicago tradition for a reason — the sport peppers give a spicy kick and the celery salt adds a nice zing.

The Bay Bridge Dog invokes flavors a little closer to home, with a hot dog laid in a pretzel bun and topped with crab dip and Old Bay seasoning. The hot dog seems like an unnecessary addition to the roll with the mound of crab mush, but it could become a new Maryland thing.

The menu also has more traditional chilidogs, a NYC Street Vendor Dog and a Jersey Bacon-Wrapped Ripper among its offerings. And in case those are not enough, DC-3 offers frozen yogurt with a bar full of toppings as well as cotton candy. Either can be a perfect snack to grab for that walk back to the office.

Check out the restaurant’s website at http://www.eatdc3.com.