Restaurant Review: Underdogs

One of the nice things about working in higher ed is that you sometimes get random days off. For example, this week was Spring Break at the university I work for, so our office was closed yesterday. So, I decided to wander around the city and practice using the new camera and lens that Chester gave me for Valentine’s Day.

The camera is a Rebel T1-I and it makes me feel like a pretty legit photographer. Other people must think so too, because when I stopped in Barnes and Noble to pick something up in between shots, the sales associate struck up a conversation with me about how great my camera was and then about how sad he was that no one uses film anymore. I only understood every other word of what he was saying, but I smiled and nodded anyway.

Having camera in my hands made me notice things about the places that I pass several times a week that I never stop and appreciate as I zip by them in my car or walk back to and from my office quickly on my lunch break. A few shots are below, and you can see more here.

Rittenhouse Square Park

Outside a shop in Rittenhouse Square. I may get one of these for my house.

Stumbled upon Van Pelt Street, the only place that seems to be in bloom right now.

City Hall actually has some really beautiful architecture. Of course, you have to be able to tolerate the smell of pee to capture it.

The Masonic Temple. One of my favorite buildings in Philly.

Masonic Temple Arches

Of course, I made sure to build in time to stop for lunch. I met up with Chester, who unfortunately had to work, and we headed over to Underdogs, a fairly recent addition to the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, which serves up hot dogs and sausages with a variety of toppings.

We had a pretty hard time deciding what to order, since the menu offers more than a dozen different options. Combinations range from the traditional, such as the Coney Classic with sauerkraut and spicy mustard to the more unique, such as the Marrakesh, which features spicy merguez sausage with harissa mayo and Mediterranean salad.

After much back and forth, I decided on the My Thai. The concept of a Thai style hot dog is bizarre, but somehow the salty hot dog, the spicy peanut sauce and the sweet green papaya slaw all worked well together. Chester always likes to sample a Chicago Dog when he finds it on the menu, so he opted for one of those, plus a Texas Tommy (because you can’t go wrong with a hot dog wrapped in bacon and topped with cheese) and the Adonis, which was almost like a gyro. He deemed the Chicago dog to be pretty authentic, right down to the celery salt, the hot peppers and the neon green relish. The Adonis, with lamb sausage with lettuce, tomato, onion and tzatziki, actually ended up being our favorite. The sausage was juicy and still had a bit of pink in the center.

From left to right, Adonis, Texas Tommy, Chicago Dog and My Thai

Overall, we found all of the ingredients to be of a pretty high quality. The hot dogs are of the all-beef variety and all of the toppings were very fresh. We did think that the rolls weren’t the best choice, as they chewy and a thick. They soaked up a lot of the juiciness of the hotdogs and kind of interfered with the flavors a bit.

The fries at Underdogs were a pretty pleasant surprise. You would think that they put so much emphasis on the hot dogs that the fries would be an afterthought. But, they are fresh cut and crispy. There are a variety of dipping sauces to choose from, including curry mayo, garlic aioli, and horseradish mustard. The first sauce is free, and additional options are just 25 cents each.

Underdogs is a relatively inexpensive lunch option for Center City, with sandwiches ranging from $3.25 to $5 and fries from $2.25 to $2.75 depending on the size. We would definitely go back to try out some more of the menu, but this isn’t the only place specializing in fancy-pants hot dogs right now. We’ve also heard some buzz about Hot Diggity on South Street, so we’ll have to put that on our list next so that we can compare.

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