To most folks, the name “top dog” probably refers to the champion from, say, the annual Westminster dog show. To foodies, especially to those who love casual eats, a top dog means: the best hot dogs ever!
For that, the discriminating should hunt down the local food truck called, rightly, “Top Dog.” Manned by amateur-cook-turned-hot-dog-maven David Adams, the truck stops four days during the work week in the Tysons area from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., usually around Solutions Drive, the first spot he developed. But, cautioned Adams, “We’re booked all over. Sometimes we are in Herndon trying a new spot, or in Bethesda for a film festival, or elsewhere for a corporate event. We always tweet our location.”
Realizing that food trucks provide customers a casual, inexpensive midday meal — plus giving him a chance to hone his cooking skills — Adams turned from his profession as accountant to cook.
“I enjoyed cooking at home and messing around with recipes,” he said. “When we decided to start the truck, we considered serving a variety of products. But we wanted something that was fairly simple to prepare, that lots of people like, and that any employee could cook. We also wanted to revolutionize something classic but in need of a face-lift. We ended up making gourmet dogs.”
As Adams described them, however, these are not just regular old hot dogs stuffed into a bun and squirted with ribbons of yellow mustard. These are rather different. “We have done our best to glamorize them by using quality ingredients,” he said. “We get our sausages from a local sausage maker in Maryland and customize our brioche at a local bakery.” But, he added, his standard hot dogs are a high-quality national brand.
Of course, the adventurous eater would have a hard time passing up his Sonoran dog, a bacon-wrapped hot dog, smothered in pinto beans and caramelized onions, topped with tomatoes and served in a brioche bun with a squirt or two of lime mayonnaise and jalapeño sauce. You may wonder: Where did that come from?
“The Sonoran dog is huge in Tucson, Arizona. They’re sold on every other street corner and are like the Philly cheesesteak of Tucson,” Adams said. “My wife’s sister was living there, so my brother-in-law went and talked to the guys who make them to figure out their secrets. ... It depends on the spot, but this is our most popular dog overall.”
Other best-sellers include The Boss, which is a debreziner (Hungarian sausage) with caraway seeds and red peppers in the blend, and topped with a sweet-smoky barbecue sauce, fresh red onions, sliced banana peppers and a dill pickle spear. “This works out well with the contrast between the sweet and sour tastes,” he said.
While Adams offers a standard hot dog menu, he also highlights a different dog as the dog of the week. “I am always open to suggestions, from family, clients, from places where we travel,” he said. His wife, an Asian-American who’s traveled extensively, comes up with suggestions for pan-Asian and other international flavors like the recent Kimchi Dog and the Mexican Mole Dog with freshly ground mole negro brought back in her suitcase from Oaxaca, Mexico. “We even had one with Japanese curry that tasted great. And a Thai dog with peanut satay sauce with sliced mangoes,” he said.
No wonder he loves this job. As he said, it gives his wife and him a chance to play around with flavors and ingredients. The winners in all this are, of course, the truck’s customers. For more information about the Top Dog truck, visit http://thetopdogtruck.com/You or follow it on Twitter at @TopDogTruck.