Hot Dog Heaven: Dogs-A-Foot (Port Townsend, WA)

I discovered Dogs-A-Foot several years ago when my wife and I were strolling down Water Street and came upon it. Occupying a small corner lot on Water and Madison Streets at the northeastern edge of the Waterfront District, it has been serving hot dogs to legions of fans for over 25 years. Today, I discovered that John Sheehan, the original owner, sold the business about five years ago to Paul and Lisa Flor. There doesn’t appear to have been a beat missed during the transition, for the dogs are as good as ever.

Though there are tables outside, some with umbrellas, and though Port Townsend benefits from the “rain shadow” effect of the Olympic mountains, absorbing more than half as much precipitation as falls on Seattle, it can rain on your parade, not to mention get blustery from the winds that come in from Admiralty Bay. When the weather turns bad, the only shelter is a tiny enclosed space outside the trailer in which the kitchen is housed, or you’ll have to eat in your car. Today, however, was a perfect day to eat outside. During the winter months (November-late March), the whole operation shuts down. Many a local eagerly await its re-opening every year.

The secret to its superb hot dogs are a high-quality sausage, which is grilled, and a New York-style grilled bun, an excellent complement with its gluten-y chewiness. For me, grilling is essential to accentuate a sausage’s flavor. Boiling them is heresy—all the flavor gets leached out. If there is any difference between Sheehan and Flor’s hot dogs at all, Flor’s buns are somewhat over-toasted for my taste, though it doesn’t affect the dog’s enjoyment. Other sausages include spicy smoked, smoked chicken, smoked Italian and andouille. Years ago, Sheehan (the original owner) told me that they are sourced from a local company. Flor obviously does the same. You can order any one of them with or without the usual condiments (mustard, catsup, sweet relish and onions), or you can get any of the ten specialties, including a Chicago dog, which apparently is new owner Flor’s favorite (having hailed from the Windy City) and the only dog with a steamed sausage. I recall Sheehan’s special combinations having been slightly different. New is a gluten-free bun that can be substituted for $1.25 extra. Extra condiments include bacon, cream cheese, cheddar, homemade slaw, jalapeños or sport peppers, spicy onion sauté, sauerkraut, tomato, and pickle.

Polish hot dog with the works
Polish hot dog with the works
Gonzo lonzo
Gonzo lonzo (a Polish with the works and pickled jalapeño and Thai peppers)
Hot dogs made by John Sheehan in 2007
Hot dogs made by John Sheehan in 2007

Aside from the off-season, Dogs-A-Foot is closed on Tuesdays. This is important enough that I will likely schedule by next visit to Port Townsend on other days of the week. Seriously? You betcha.

Water & Madison Streets
Port Townsend, WA 98368


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