Pin It

Frankly Speaking 

by Mike Corrigan

One of the biggest misconceptions about New York City dining is that it's expensive. While it's true that classy joints like the Russian Tea Room could set you back to the last recession, if you keep it simple and "of the people," you can easily keep a little of that jingle in your jeans. The trick is to eat where the locals eat -- that would be delis and street vendors. And no street vendor is more ubiquitous on the streets of NYC than the hot dog guy, the wiener man, the sausage pimp, serving up warm franks of various shapes, sizes and flavors in a warm bun with all the trimmings. All for a little more than bus fare.

Out here on the Western frontier, street vendors have finally taken their rightful places on the street corners of major metropolises and Spokane (OK "metropolis" might be stretching it a bit) is no exception.

You may have noticed that there are two such hot dog carts positioned daily along Riverside Ave. The first is on the corner at Lincoln just east of the Post Office, and is operated by entrepreneur Lance Goffin & eacute;. This guy has gone to extreme (and much appreciated) lengths to re-create the NYC hot dog cart experience. He features the very same dogs, condiments -- even chips and sodas -- you would find on the streets of Manhattan. The way he serves them up is oh-so-authentic as well. Unfortunately, Spokanites will have to hurry to sample Goffin & eacute;'s unique wares, as he reports that he will be forced to close down very soon due to slow sales. Get in on it while you can. It's worth it.

The smiling face behind the hot dog cart on the northeast corner of Howard and Riverside (in front of the Bank of America) belongs to Chad Rattray. For the past year, he has been a familiar sight on this spot of prime downtown real estate, fueling time-crunched business types with a modestly priced assortment of sausages in buns. He is the cart owner and sole proprietor of "Cheddar Chad's" (it says so on his business license). "This is the whole operation," he says of his washing machine-sized steel cart. "Everything."

Although his cart contains no actual cheese, Rattray gets points right off the top for consistency. He's probably more reliable than your letter carrier.

"I only missed a couple of days in April due to the rain," he says. "I really lucked out with the mild weather. It was a little slow sometimes, but I was always here. Hopefully I'll do well enough this summer to survive if we get a real winter this year."

While lacking any detectable unifying product theme (i.e., all-beef, authentic New York-style, etc.) Rattray's product line features local products whenever possible. "Pretty much everything here is local stuff," he says. "The German sausages come from the Longhorn, and the jumbos are from Sonnenberg's."

This really is lunch on the cheap. The popular Dollar Dog is just that. The Jumbo and the Polish sausage are just a dollar more. The smoked sausage is the priciest at a exorbitant $3. Add a bag of chips and a can of soda to any dog for a buck. Chips and soda a la carte are 75 cents each.

We bellied up to the cart and arranged for a German sausage ($2.50) with sauerkraut, onions and self-applied sweet hot mustard, along with a Dollar Dog loaded with onions, relish and yellow mustard (plus chips and a pop, all for $2). The cart is tidy and the service was brisk and friendly, even with a substantial noontime crowd standing by. Our tab for two, then, was a whopping $5.50.

The Dollar Dog was pretty much what we expected: a standard-sized nondescript white bread bun wrapped around a standard-sized nondescript steamed wiener, all in a little cardboard boat. What can you say? Standard wieners are pretty tasteless -- it's really about the condiments, and these were fresh, cool and crunchy (the onions were raw and diced). With the chips and soda, it made for a satisfying and incredibly inexpensive lunch.

The German sausage, on the other hand, had a lot more going for it. This big red dog had some bite, and our condiments turned out to be well-chosen, adding the perfect tangy foil to the smoky, savory complexion of the meat. The bun (a higher quality sandwich roll) held up nicely under the load. My only complaint was that it was a little on the dry side. (In fairness, keeping bread on an open-air stand from drying out is, I'm sure, a constant struggle.)

Cheddar Chad Rattray is downtown every weekday, doing his part to keep Spokane's urban center vibrant and well-fed.

"It's my quest to single-handedly revive the downtown core," he quips.

Eating on the cheap. Yep, I'm all for it.

Publication date: 07/31/03

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Crash > Click > Cash
  • Crash > Click > Cash

    Lawyers and chiropractors already have your name, your address and the police report from your car accident — and they want you to hire them
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Starting Small
  • Starting Small

    A village of tiny houses in Spokane Valley could serve as a model for fighting homelessness in the region
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Drastic Action
  • Drastic Action

    Spokane among seven school districts sued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction; plus, trio of police-chief finalists are in town
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap

Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap @ Boots Bakery & Lounge

Last Wednesday of every month

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Mike Corrigan

  • Lights, Camera, Skate
  • Lights, Camera, Skate

    Two local artists have transformed their love of skateboarding into a new variety show on Community Television.
    • Dec 14, 2011
  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    A raucous good time from Thee Oh Sees. Plus, vintage horror and a Berlin filmmaker to check out.
    • Nov 22, 2011
  • Time Travelers
  • Time Travelers

    For some local store owners, finding intriguing merchandise isn’t just business, it’s an obsession.
    • Nov 22, 2011
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Lane Ends Ahead

    Spokane wants to improve a mile-long section of Monroe — but that means taking away two lanes
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Too Smart for School

    What happens when a 12-year-old prodigy tries to go to college in Spokane?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone



Election 2016

trail mix

Readers also liked…

  • The Price of Progress
  • The Price of Progress

    Why the Spokane Tribe says it's still owed for Grand Coulee Dam
    • Apr 1, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation