It was the name and the logo that got me first. Spanky's Dog House – the logo of a cartoon hotdog wearing a spiked collar. How could I pass that up? Though hot dogs are not exactly a novel concept, Spanky's makes them new again with innovative creations like the Mac Attack, a mac and cheese topped dog with extra cheese.
Though you can opt for the standard dog, the menu features a list of sausages including Polish dogs, Italian sausage, Chorizo, and many more. All dogs at Spanky's are made with no fillers, so you know they're quality ingredients.
Spanky's has hopped on the food challenge bandwagon, offering an Atomic Chili Dog challenge, which they call “insanely hot.” Those who complete the challenge receive a T-shirt and a spot on the Wall of Flame. They even host an annual hot dog eating contest during the city's wine festival each year. Aspiring champions will have 12 minutes to eat as many hot dogs as they possibly can. Sounds fun, right?
Spanky's Dog House has a great location in downtown Livermore. Just off of First Street in the heart of downtown, Spanky's is located on South K Street, with a decent amount of street parking all around (though it shares with many other locales in this hoppin' downtown).
Address: 174 South K Street,
Livermore CA 94550
- Monday through Thursday and Sunday: 11 am – 8 pm
- Friday and Saturday: 11 am – 9 pm
Super casual and a bit old fashioned (in a good way). Spanky's seems like the perfect lunch counter for a quick and interesting meal. Order at the counter, and receive your dog right away. Pay and take your tray wherever you want. The décor is bright and clean, with a red counter and yellow accents, kind of like traditional hot dog condiments. A few big-screen TVs and a few tables out front provide options for everyone.
It was a beautiful evening in downtown Livermore, and a live band was performing on the corner, so we took our tray outside. Downtown was lively and a very pleasant place to enjoy our meal.
There wasn't too much in the way of service, but the one-man show behind the counter was fast, friendly, and efficient. He also took the time to ask us how we liked everything when we returned our trays.
The motto at Spanky's is “The good stuff isn't cheap, and the cheap stuff isn't good.” You're paying a bit extra for the quality and heaping ingredients. Hot dogs start at $3.25 for a basic old fashioned, and run up to $6.90 for the specialty sausages. The sides go for about $3 to $4, which seems reasonable. The prices seem like a lot for a hot dog (especially when you consider the famous Costco combo of a Polish dog and a soda for $1.50), but these dogs are piled high with toppings and are very filling.
There are so many interesting combinations on this menu, even just considering all the types of sausage. We narrowed it down and went with one El Spankeeto and a Wild Old Blu with a Polish dog. We considered the sides, of which the Mac and Cheese (sprinkled with bacon) sounded pretty great, as did the Frito Pie, but we decided to stick to the dogs to start, and come back for sides if we were still hungry. (Spoiler: we weren't.)
El Spankeeto is a take on a Mexican hot dog: refried beans and meaty chili, onions and jalapenos, nachos and bacon. That's a lot of meat for a hot dog. There was no way I was attempting to pick this one up – with all the beans and chili, I could hardly tell there was a hot dog in there at first glance. Fork and knife it was. Delicious, gooey, and incredibly filling. The jalapenos provided the perfect kick to every bite, and balanced out the other toppings. I couldn't even finish the thing.
Wild Old Blue was a bit more manageable, but still very filling. This one was sprinkled with bacon and blue cheese, and drizzled with a spicy hot wing sauce. The combination was really interesting, and I quite enjoyed the flavors.
I still wish we could have tried the Mac and Cheese hot dog (or side) and the Picnic dog, which piles the other picnic fixin's right onto the dog for an all-in-one picnic. Maybe one of these days I'll attempt the Atomic Chili Dog Challenge. (But probably not.)
Published On: Monday, July 22nd, 2013