Dog days

Kristine Maioli, owner of Sinbad’s Hot Dogs, serves up a Chicago dog.

Kristine Maioli, owner of Sinbad’s Hot Dogs, serves up a Chicago dog.

PHOTO/ALLISON YOUNG

Sinbad’s Hot Dogs is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

On the rare occasions when I get in a wiener mood, I look for a natural casing that provides a “snappy” bite. My first snappy bite was at Sinbad’s Hot Dogs as a kid. Opened in 1979, the restaurant served sausages made by a family-owned, Bay Area provisioner. And Kristine Maioli, the woman who bought the place 12 years ago, has stuck with the same dog and nearly the same menu. Having not been back in years, it seemed high time to take the family for a visit.

The strip mall space is small and unassuming, festooned with plenty of hot dog Americana. There’s even a schematic detailing the assembly of a fully dressed dog, amusing my inner nerd. The dogs themselves are steamed and served at a nice temperature. Service was really quick, despite our large order and a lone person working the counter.

My kraut dog ($4.85) with mustard, onion and tons of sauerkraut was exactly how I like it. The “foot long” had plenty of snap and flavor. My son’s Chicago dog ($4.50) with mustard, tomato, sliced dill pickle, onion, sliced pepperoncini and celery salt was a fair approximation of the Windy City favorite, with pepperoncini pinch hitting for Chicago “sport peppers.”

My spice-averse daughter-in-law surprised me by ordering a chili cheese dog ($6.50), featuring two scoops of meat-and-bean “restaurant-style” chili, onion and freshly grated cheddar cheese. The chili was fairly mild, very meaty and served hot enough to melt the cheese. I’m told it’s probably the top seller, and one bite convinced me this is likely so. If you’re really hungry, make it a double for another buck.

My grandson got a mild Polish sausage ($5.50) with mustard, relish, onion, and tomato and ate it starting at the middle, eventually deconstructing it to an unrecognizable mess. Toddlers make their own unique path, and I suppose there’s no right way to eat a hot dog. He clearly enjoyed it, seeing as the plate was practically licked clean. Grandpa got a bite before the carnage ensued, and the seasoning on this sausage was particularly tasty.

My older daughter ordered a hot link ($5.50) with ketchup, mustard, relish, onion and tomato, and a plate of nachos ($6.25) for the table to share. The sausage was roughly “medium” in heat and nicely seasoned. The nachos consisted of round yellow corn tortilla chips topped with plenty of chili, shredded cheddar, onion, sliced jalapeño and nacho cheese sauce. It was a mess—as good nachos always are—and surprisingly enjoyable. I probably wouldn’t have ordered it, but I’m glad she did.

My younger daughter tried the pizza dog special ($5.75), smothered in pizza sauce, steamed pepperoni and fresh grated mozzarella cheese. I thought it was just OK, but she seemed pretty happy with her selection. Her boyfriend was pretty happy with a Fritos chili bowl ($5.75), two scoops of chili on top of Fritos corn chips with cheddar and onion. He said it reminded him of a similar treat he’d had growing up in L.A., and it was gone before I could get a taste. Apparently, it hit the spot.

Milkshakes are available in a variety of flavors ($3.75), and my son’s chocolate malt took me back to when I thought chocolate Ovaltine was the best thing ever. The grandson got a little bowl with whipped cream and chocolate sauce at no charge, which he enjoyed like it was the best thing ever. Thankfully, some things never change.