Le Chien Chaud Gourmet Hot Dogs
#3-2015 4 St SW
Calgary AB T2S 1W6
Phone: 403 229 3641
After a walk through Calgary’s downtown East Village, our stomachs started to demand food. Having heard of Le Chien Chaud and realizing that it wasn’t much farther, we headed towards Uptown 17th Avenue. Le Chien Chaud is on business-dense 4th Street SW just after 20th Avenue, across from the Petro-Canada gas station.
The outside of Le Chien Chaud looks like the average storefront and doesn’t stand out much. The inside, however, is a different story. The tiny space is decorated in retro style, with a black-and-white checkered floor, red walls, and chrome furniture. There’s even an old-fashioned street lamp and a little red cart of condiments and toppings. Across from these is a wall paying homage to the almighty hot dog. We spotted The Mona Lisa clutching a hot-dog bun, an Oscar Meyer wiener ad, and a toddler’s hot-dog costume.
Le Chien Chaud just barely fits in 6 tables, each seating 4 or less. We had to wait for a table on this busy Saturday afternoon.
There’s an extensive menu of gourmet hot dogs: Breakfast Dog (available all day), Canadian Dog, Chicago Dog, Chilean Completo Dog, Coney Island Dog, French Dog, German Dog, Italian Dog, Kids Dog (12 and under), Mediterranean Dog, Mexican Dog, San Antonio Black Bean Chili Dog, and Ukrainian Dog.
At the counter, you order any of the above with your choice of wiener: the signature blend Pork/Beef, All-Beef, Vegetarian, Buffalo, or Pork Bratwurst. These range in price from $5.45 to $6.50.
Then you grab a table and wait until they call your order. The hot dogs are served on checkered wax paper in a red plastic basket. The wieners themselves are hefty, about 1 inch thick and more than half a foot long.
I had the Italian Dog with All-Beef wiener. The Italian comes with garlic butter, bruschetta, sharp asiago cheese, and sweet fresh basil. When it arrived the bread was soaking. My first bite was a bad surprise - I hadn’t expected the toppings to be cold. The cheese was almost frozen! This combined badly with the all-beef wiener, which was piping hot and extremely greasy. I can’t remember biting into a greasier hot dog in my life. The bun was not fresh and - with a wet bottom - really disappointed the bread lover in me.
My friend had the Mediterranean Dog with Buffalo wiener. The Mediterranean comes with roasted red pepper hummous, artichoke hearts, tangy olives, herbed feta cheese and fresh parsley. The wiener is made from free-roaming buffalo. Though indistinguishable in taste from the all-beef wiener, it was much leaner. The toppings were also cold and the combination lackluster.
The lone bathroom continues the wiener obsession with hot dog quotes and trivia (and has a sensor-activated trash can).
Last thoughts: I was really curious to try Le Chien Chaud, but I left unimpressed. Their array of “gourmet” hot dogs sounds intriguing at first, but the actual creations are nothing special. I had a much more memorable experience at Tubby Dog (also in Calgary’s Uptown district). Tubby Dog’s hot dog creations cost a bit more but were a real treat to eat. Despite the nice atmosphere at Le Chien Chaud, I have no desire to go back for the food.