Mutt’s Amazing Hot Dogs


From the trio of minds that brought us Big Truck Tacos comes a new culinary adventure steeped in Americana, Mutt’s Amazing Hot Dogs. Mutt’s has a dog to fit any craving, from Mexican to Asian to many forms of wild game. One side of their menu has traditional hot dogs that are anything but, and the reverse side has something for the truly adventurous, with sausages made from wild boar, duck, rabbit, lamb, and more.

Before opening, the Mutt’s team did its homework, and has theme-dogs based on locations and foods from around the country and the globe. For tastes closer to home, they have the Windy City, a traditional Chicago style hot dog; and the Primanti, a hot dog based on the sandwiches of the famous Primanti Bothers restaurants in Pittsburg topped with coleslaw, french fries, provolone, and the mysterious pink sauce; or the S’noran, a full helping of Southwest culinary treats in every bite with a hot dog wrapped in bacon and covered with shredded cheese, pinto beans, pico de gallo, avocado, and a chipotle ketchup that should not be missed; a Philly dog, and many more.

For those of you that are so jaded by the delights of food as to need something more adventurous than those options, they have fare from abroad, such as the Maui Waui, a spam dog made with pineapple relish and teriyaki sauce; the Ardee dog with Kobe beef, bleu cheese, and potato salad; The Apollo, a lamb dog with greek toppings akin to a gyro; and my favorite, the Slum dog made with curried cabbage, apple, and sriracha on a chicken dog. They also have wild game dogs such as the Hogs Gone Wild, wild boar with a cherry cream cheese on a mix of arugula pesto and onions; the Jack Russel, a rabbit dog with gouda, tarragon mustard, and aromatic vegetables; or the Pond dog, a duck sausage with apples, onions, brie cheese, and balsamic.

 I could go on all day about their menu and still miss a few things, but I will tell you that my go to’s here are the Slum Dog, the S’noran, and the Hair of the Dog, made with breakfast sausage, french fries, bloody mary ketchup, and your choice of scrambled or fried eggs. Most of all though, I would be remiss in ignoring the their ever so decadent Duck Fat fries, inspired by those made at Hot Doug’s in Chicago. While the regular fries here taste just fine, the Duck Fat fries are amazing, and have the option of being doused in truffle oil, which I also recommend. These are rich and the basket is big so I also suggest sharing with friends. Coming to Mutt’s is a challenge for me because I almost can’t help myself from eating off of everyone else’s plate, I want to try everything every time. They also serve specialty sodas by the bottle along with regular fountain drinks, and have a pretty wide beer selection to match their wide array of hot dogs.

When ordering,  one thing to watch is the prices. With such a varied list of ingredients and specialty items, the prices can vary wildly from four to nine dollars per hot dog, and I can rack up a hefty bill pretty quick. I’m fine with that, but I know some of you are not, so keep an eye on it. There are also some kid friendly treats on the menu so be sure to bring them along and order a Frisbee, an open-faced fried bologna sandwich on texas toast; or the Thunderbolt, the only ten inch corn dog around. Also, if hot dogs and sausages just aren’t your thing, they have implemented a new Make Mine A Burger option, allowing you to have any set of toppings on a grass-fed, locally raised beef patty. Mutt’s also runs daily special all week long, and has specialty days, such as grilled cheese monday (in the colder months); TV Dinner Tuesdays, with home-made comfort food and classic tv shows; burger Thursdays with a new special burger each week focusing on local ingredients; and keep an eye out for Poutine days where you can stop in for a real original from up North without having to sing the Canadian National Anthem. To keep up with the specials every day of the week, “friend” Mutt’s on facebook–they do a great job of keeping their page updated with all the dishes they’re serving up.

This is hot dogs done right, mostly by covering the taste of the hot dogs with delicious toppings. This is another place I can keep going back to, not because of any one dish, but because they have so many good options that I could go every day of the month and still try something different every time, knowing that I will enjoy it. Mutt’s gets busy in the morning, stays busy through lunch, and is generally a pretty packed placed until close to closing time, much like its sister restaurant Big Truck.

The two chefs who do all the recipe design work are both well-known in OKC, having worked at many of the fancier restaurants in town serving as executive chefs for places like Deep Fork Grill, Boulevard Steakhouse, and Mezzaluna in Austin, Texas, as well as serving under other head chefs that have gone on to make impacts both locally and nationally. They know their stuff, so I know that I can rely on them to keep coming up with great new food. Owner Chris Lower has had a hand in many of Oklahoma City’s best known restaurants like Earl’s, Irma’s, and along with renowned chef Kurt Fleischfresser opened The Coach House and Metro Bar and Bistro. Executive Chef’s and part owners Cally Johnson and Kathryn Mathis have also tied for the Oklahoma City Chef’s Choice award two years in a row, tieing with Executive Chef Ryan Parrott of Iguana Grill. Check out all of their fine work at www.mutts-hot-dogs.com

Mutt's Amazing Hot Dogs' The S'Noran Dog

S'noran Dog

Mutt's Amazing Hot Dogs' The Slum Dog

Slum Dog

Mutt's Amazing Hot Dogs' Duck Fat Fries with Truffle Oil

Duck Fat Fries with Truffle Oil

Thai Stop


So my second Thai food review in an apparently ongoing series is for the North side favorite Thai Stop. Situated on North May, just West of Quail Springs Mall, in a shopping center alongside several other trendy spots, such as Cool Greens, Cafe 7 Delicatessen and Pastaria, and Gigi’s Cupcakes. It’s a good place to sit down for lunch or dinner, or to pick up to go. They don’t have the biggest menu, but what they do have is good; a mix of five or six stir-fry items, classic Pad Thai, and a rotational curry of the day, along with a few side items, makes decisions easy, and you can rest assured that you won’t make a bad one.

My favorite here is the red curry. A simple coconut milk-based red curry sauce with chicken, bell peppers, onions, and a heaping side of fluffy white rice. Best of all, all of their dishes come with a deep-fried sweet bun; built-in dessert. You won’t find much innovation in their menu, but sometimes it’s nice to know what is going to be on your plate when it gets to you. One interesting surprise, however, is their egg rolls. Not the typical spring rolls to be found at most Thai establishments, these are big, hearty egg rolls filled with spiced chicken, julienned carrots, onions, and thinly shredded cabbage. Don’t confuse these delights with your typical Chinese buffet fare.

The place is midsized with about fifteen tables inside and with all of the businesses to be found nearby they can fill up quickly at lunch, so I suggest going early or being ready to wait in line both for food and a table. Most of their lunch meals are in the seven to eight dollar range, and expect to pay three or four dollars more at dinner. I had no camera available at the time, so again I am unfortunately lacking photos to tell of these spicy feats, but I have remedied that problem for the next few places you will see. This place has been good enough to keep me coming back repeatedly in the last few years and, if you give it a try, I’m sure you’ll feel the same way.

On only my second visit to this place I made the brave decision to go accompanied only by my, at the time, eleven month old son. He did remarkably well with his introduction to such foreign fare, performing at his cutest to earn himself a free plate of one dozen sweet buns. He has not stopped this act either, and is often able to pull off similar feats of discount gastronomy at many of the places we visit now. It is one of my passions that my son be willing and able to eat like me. There are so many small children who survive only on hot dogs, chicken strips, and boxed mac’n’cheese™. Not to chastise, ostracize, or to say that this upbringing is a crime by any means, but I find that many people brought up this way build a box around themselves and continue those eating habits later in life, supplemented only by fast food and frozen meals. I feel sad for these people, because many of them have developed an inability to experience food the way I do, or even a willingness to try. So, I will give my son all the experiences I can find for him and let him decide for himself. Perhaps one day he will grow to love only the bland things in life. But so far he has bested all challenges I have put before him, eating bleu cheese as his first semi-solid food, drinking straight black coffee, devouring entire plates of steamed vegetables any time he is able, and just the other day, consuming half of a jicama root as if it were apple slices; and these are all things he likes, because believe me that if he doesn’t like something he lets us know. His budding palette makes me proud to see he is already more adventurous and experienced than many of the adults I know.

Lee’s Sandwiches


Okay, I’m trying to get back on this writing wagon, so to put me back on track I’m coming to you today with a special report on one of my favorite lunchtime spots. Some of you who know me well are already pretty tired of this restaurant. Too bad, I’m not. Lee’s Sandwiches, on North Classen, is my go to deli and the most reliable Banh Mi shop in town. Lee’s started out in California and has becoming a slow-growing niche restaurant and grocery store with locations specially selected to hit target audiences; lucky for us there is a fairly large Vietnamese population in Oklahoma City (one of the largest in the Midwest) who were clamoring for their favorite Eurasian sandwiches.

Eurasian, you ask? There is a lot of history here, but the short story is that Vietnam was, for a time, a French colonial territory. They were unwelcome rulers in the East and were eventually chased out through uprisings and wars, and in their flight they left a lot behind. One of those things that remained was a love of European style sandwiches and specifically the French baguette. That hard, crusty bread has almost entirely changed the world’s perception of Vietnamese food, and it gave us the Banh Mi style sandwich. A warning to the casual consumer, Banh Mi refers literally to the bread itself and has become colloquialised to include sandwiches made from that same bread, so in some heavily Vietnamese influenced areas don’t be surprised if you order one and receive only dry white bread. The Banh Mi sandwich combines the traditions of both the East and the West, and does it with far fewer wars than past interactions by the same people, bringing together sandwich bread, aromatic vegetables, and sliced European style deli meats, with Asian influences such as grilled meats, cilantro, jalapenos, and daikon radish.

Everyone does theirs a little different, and I happen to love Lee’s version. Guaranteed to be delicious with little variation between visits means that this is a go to comfort food for me when I need a break from adventure. The range of available combinations can be a little overwhelming at first, with typically unfamiliar options such as head cheese and jambon, two types of thin sliced pork, but fear not because they also have more traditional toppings such as ham, turkey, roast beef, or tuna salad. You have an option of the true Banh Mi style with peppers, cilantro, carrots, and daikon, or a simpler version with lettuce, tomato, and american cheese, served up on a baguette roll or croissant.

That brings me to my next topic, their bread. Lee’s doubles as a bakery, making their baguettes, croissants, and many various pastries fresh daily. I’m not big on pastries or breads in general, but I am there for both when I go to Lee’s. You can get a hot, fresh baguette or croissant for about a dollar fifty here in OKC, or you can go for the day old bread section where you get about three times as much for the same price, your call. They even offer a lot of their products pre-packaged to take home in their grocery area near the front, and also have a hot and ready section full of spring rolls, stuffed croissants, and pate chauds (goose liver stuffed pastry, try it you’ll like it). They are always willing to take on large orders, but you may have to give them a little prior notice.

Back in December I ordered a batch of croissants at my mother-in-law’s request, and the manager seemed a little shocked when I ordered two dozen. When I returned the next morning he gladly took my money and handed over a giant packing box full of warm, flaky croissants that were larger than both of my fists together; but hey, the price was right, so we spent the next month eating every meal either on or with a nice croissant. Lessons learned.

Their prices are fantastic though, which is part of why I eat there so often, and why I too was shocked by both the size and quality of their baguettes, as well as everything else in the store. I can pick up a full size (10″) sandwich, spring roll, and a soda for less than five dollars. I haven’t found anywhere that can make food that good and still beat that price. They also make their own brand of coffee, which you can get hot, cold, or Vietnamese style with ice and sweetened-condensed milk. I highly recommend the latter. Last, but definitely not least, is dessert, homemade ice-cream with all of your favorite flavors, as well as a few I am certain you’ve never had before. My suggestion, try the green tea ice cream when it’s available, avoid the durian always. I would eat there just about every day, and there have been weeks where I did, so if anyone is feeling hungry then call me, I’m probably on my way there already.

Sweet Basil


An oldie but goodie, this place has been in Norman’s downtown on Main Street for quite some time. I first tried the place about six years ago when my wife and I were still dating and the experience was not a good one, although I think that had little to do with the restaurant or the food. My wife does not like Thai food. This fact was set in stone long before she ever tried Thai food, and I doubt it will ever change, but on that one occasion she gave in and went with me. Since then I eat those sweet curries and stir fries on my own. I recall having some sort of Pad Thai and peanut sauce concoction that evening that was alright but probably not their best dish to begin with (it is no longer on the menu). My, at the time, girlfriend settled on fried, butterflied shrimp on a stick. This is the point where things went downhill quickly. The shrimp had been battered and fried on the stick and had become fused with the wood itself. When we tried to remove one of them, it flew across the restaurant, much to our embarrassment. That was when Heather decided that she was never again eating Thai, and the meal ended shortly thereafter.

For this visit I was alone and it went much better. I don’t know if the two are related. Just the same, I have to say that the lunch menu was very, very good. The prices are a little steeper than your regular lunch, so maybe more of a special occasion place, but it’s worth it. The full menu also had slightly higher prices to account for higher portion sizes and more side items. They had four Thai style curries that are regularly available with a special fifth type for that day. They also had traditional Pad Thais and cold noodle dishes, as well as several stir fry options, one of which eventually won my favor, but everything on that menu looked so good that it took me a while to eventually decide on a course.

I went with the beef Pad Ped and I would definitely recommend it. A stir fry mix of steak, red bell peppers, bamboo shoots, onions and haricots vert (crispy French style green beans), that normally comes in a red curry sauce made with coconut milk. They were kind enough to switch it out with the same type of sauce, but made with Panang style curry. The stir fries and curries came with a side of steamed jasmine rice, but my scoop was a little overcooked, making it tough instead of light and fluffy. All of their dishes had a choice of vegetable spring roll or Tom Yum soup made with your choice of chicken or tofu. The soup was delicious, but for those not familiar with Tom Yum, it can vary wildly between restaurants and sometimes even between visits to the same place; the soup is a blend of spices, such as Chili, lemon-grass and coriander, among others, mixed in a clear broth, with aromatic vegetables and mushrooms added later, and not every place includes proteins so it might be good to ask. The meal was delicious and the portion was large so I didn’t have enough room to try dessert. I was a little sad because some of those desserts looked pretty different, like fried banana lai, or mango rice. If anyone tries dessert there let me know, because I am definitely interested.

I can think of at least two other Thai places that are equally good and a little cheaper, but they definitely try hard to fill you up at Sweet Basil. If you are in Norman and looking for authentic Asian this place does a pretty good job, and in the nice quiet atmosphere the high-backed booths give you a very private feel while eating.

Sorry for the graininess of the photo, but the low lighting did not agree with the camera on the iPhone.

Beef Pad Ped

Beef Pad Ped

Hugh’s Kitchen


Have you ever had the best fried rice in the state? If you haven’t been to Hugh’s Kitchen in El Reno then you have to say no. The menu can be somewhat limited and I don’t recommend every dish, by any means, but the few things I do suggest are some of the best around. The menu has some Asian influenced dishes alongside a few country favorites that makes for interesting choices when you sit down for your meal. As I have already mentioned, this place takes plain, old fried rice and makes it into something amazing by frying it up with lots of carrots, peas, onions, and most important of all teriyaki sauce. The teriyaki changes the texture of the dish making it stickier and sweeter, and covering up the taste of the fry oil. The rice can be ordered with chicken or shrimp, both of which are good options, and is more than enough to be a meal on its own.

As a side dish, I also enjoy their egg rolls, which again are unlike any other; spring roll wrappers filled with pork, vermicelli glass noodles, and bean sprouts. Trust me, you haven’t had these egg rolls either. They make a decent teriyaki dish, available with choice of meats, steamed or plain fried rice (sans teriyaki sauce and veggies), and a very simple, but somewhat old-fashioned, teriyaki sauce on the side. They offer a daily quiche special that varies in quality and has been known to return mixed reviews. The chicken fried steak is pretty good for a small town, but isn’t winning any awards outside of the city limits, and the chicken strips are real homemade and hand battered breast strips that would be great if not for their lack of seasoning. Perhaps not the best restaurant in the world, or even in El Reno, and I wouldn’t want it every day, but I would drive day and night to get that delicious fried rice. The mediocre menu is made up for by the few shining stars, and in the end I recommend it although I suggest you stick to the stars and skirt the mundane. Closed on Saturdays, and lunch only on Sundays, they are located just south of the grain elevators on the East side of town, across from another El Reno original–Tooter’s drive through.

Unfortunately, the lighting was not conducive to a photo shoot at the beginning of the meal and I ate far too fast to take one later. Like I said, that rice is good.

Hugh’s Kitchen

Swadley’s BBQ


Some old-fashioned barbecue that is as good now as it ever was. Swadley’s has gone from a single storefront location to having four locations around Oklahoma City and its environs, and has managed to retain their great barbecue at all of them. Today’s visit took me to their newest location in Mustang, west of Oklahoma City, and I continue to be impressed by the quality of their food. The location is easy to spot as it sits right on highway 152 in the main business area of Mustang and is the only big, red barn on that strip. Strictly enforcing an always fresh, never frozen policy with their meats, they start early in the morning smoking new batches of each of their meats every day so you always know that the food will be fresh, hot, and tender.

When you enter follow the signs to the ordering window and make what will probably be your toughest decision of the day, what meat are you going to eat. Then take a seat and they will take care of the rest with repeatedly great table side service, providing drinks, choice of barbecue sauces, their own pickle and onion toppings, and free ice cream at the end. At most barbecue joints I skip the bread and go straight for the meat platters, because for me barbecues is two things, meat and sauce, everything else is extra. That’s not to say avoid the plates, they are a great option, but don’t neglect the sandwiches here either. Some original concepts are nestled in with the regular choose a meat sandwiches, such as the Firehouse, a combination of chopped brisket, a hit link, pickles, and spicy baked beans all on the sandwich itself; or the Smokehouse Club with in-house smoked turkey, brisket, bacon, and topped with cheddar, lettuce, and tomatoes; or the Ultimate Barbecue Sandwich piled high with more meat and cheese than I can recommend with a good conscience. Luckily, I’m not worried about my conscience so try the sandwich, it is enormously good.

While we are on the topic of a bad conscience, I wouldn’t stop at the free ice cream, either, and urge you to consider the fresh made daily cobbler as well, you’ll just have to ask what they have that day, but I have yet to have a bad one. I mentioned that the second part of what makes barbecue, for me, is a good sauce. Swadley’s excels with four great sauces, sweet, spicy, thick and juicy, and the mysterious Grumpy sauce that seems to have a touch of molasses added. Swadley’s is great barbecue made easier with four reliable locations, which means I always have somewhere to fulfill my carnivorous urges, no matter what part of town I find myself. Find them scattered around town, with spots in Bethany, Mustang, South OKC, and the Quail Springs area.

Photo courtesy of Swadleys.com Online Photo Gallery

Meyer Lemon Bars


Last night my wife tried out a new recipe for lemon bars and they came out good. Shopping in our local Wal-Mart we came across a bag of Meyer lemons, something never before seen in our rural version of the big box store. Being more in the country than in the city in my town, our selection at the store is somewhat limited, and while it is easy to drive into Oklahoma City and pick these up at other stores, it was quite the novelty to see all the way out here, and in the spirit of bringing new and varied selection to our town, we had to pick some up.

This was a complete impulse buy, which left us with the problem of how to use these little gems. While there are dozens, if not thousands, of recipes to use with lemons, we wanted something that would show off the unique sweet, tart flavor combination of this fruit. Meyer lemons are the result of cross-breeding between oranges and lemons, and were popularized in the kitchens of California’s Chez Panisse back in the seventies. I have a strange taste when it comes to citrus, my tastes coming and going, and I had yet to have a lemon bar that I actually enjoyed, while those same bar recipes made with key limes could be some of my favorite snacks. That being said, it may also be best to reveal my love hate relationship with pastries and baked goods as well. In general I am not a fan of most pastries, cakes, or breads, but I will try them when offered, and the times that I occasion upon ones that I actually enjoy, they are all I want to eat.

I was hesitant at first when my wife suggested lemon bars, but she is a fantastic cook and I trust her in these decisions most of the time. Then I became even more hesitant when I learned that the original inspiration came from a Paula Deen recipe, because if there are two things I can’t get past they are too much butter and too much salt. Luckily this recipe only called for two sticks of butter per pan, y’all. I will link to the original recipe below, though I won’t be including the changes made here; a chef must have some secrets. The crust is a simple butter, flour, and sugar mix, and all of the actual lemon flavor resides in the icing itself. Needless to say, as with all my wife’s desserts, they were wonderful. I sucked up my fear, tried them, and actually enjoyed Paula Deen’s butter bread. I’m probably about to eat one now as they are almost all gone, and like all deserts I decide to like, I can’t help myself.

The unmodified recipe is available here:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/lemon-bars-recipe/index.html