Underdogs, a new hot dog and sausage spot in Center City, has a militant logo: a clenched red fist gripping a hot dog. So it’s not surprising that owner Robert Amar has a manifesto. “Nobody else is doing it, so let’s feed ourselves,” says Amar, a local restaurant vet who has worked at Buddakan and Fare. “For 25 years I’ve observed how restaurants focus on creating the perfect $30 entree while most of the staff, and most other people, can’t afford a meal over $10. This is wrong. Why work so hard to feed such a small group of people? Underdogs is about us feeding ourselves.”
In addition to Amar’s working-class mission, Underdogs is an effort to reconnect with the city’s forgotten hot dog history. “This town was known for dogs long before cheesesteaks,” he says, “and it’s a shame that this classic Philadelphia food has largely disappeared.”
The “American Classics” section of the menu offers 12 city-specific dogs and sausages (Chicago, New York and Warsaw are represented), including a traditional Philly dog with fishcake, mustard and chopped onions called The Back In The Day. The “Haute Dogs” section gets a bit more avant-garde, where options like the My Thai dog with spicy peanut sauce and green papaya slaw are designed to challenge people’s expectations.
Other top dogs
Underdogs has some cute-name competition:
The Dapper Dog
Second and Poplar streets
The Dapper Dog truck has been serving dogs, like the Italian-themed Dolce Vita, to late-night crowds in Northern Liberties for two years. Though it hibernates during the winter months, the truck’s been back in action since March 9.
630 South St.
Founded by four childhood friends who shared an interest in franks, Hot Diggity! has been pushing dogs since last June. Alongside several regional options is its pepper hash-topped version of the classic Philly dog, The Philly Surf & Turf.