Texas: Botsky’s

botskys hot dogBy Russell A. Graves

The menu speaks volumes: MacDaddy & Cheese, Slawdog Millionaire, and other fun and catchy names hint at the fun you’ll have in this downtown Lake Charles, Louisiana eatery long before the hot dogs are delivered to your table.

This unique eatery does one thing and does it remarkably well. They specialize in hot dogs.

I parked just down the block on Pujo Street and headed west towards the place and one of the first things I noticed was the simple sign hung from the vintage building’s facade. It features a mythical creature: the jackalope.

This is my kind of place.

I can’t say that found this place on my own. Elizabeth Eustis with the Lake Charles Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is the one who guided me there and within five minutes of my arrival, she drives up and joins me and my son for dinner.

From the outside, the building looks as if it was once a mechanic shop. What were once big garage door bays are now glass enclosures that are lowered in inclement weather but were raised on nice days. The weather is nice so we benefit with an open air environment.

Looking up at the hand scribed menu, I cannot decide from a variety of delicious sounding hot dogs. The meat is premium and made from Kobe beef so it’s likely that all the flavors are good. Therefore, I settle on the Slawdog Millioaire with a side of sweet potato fries and an iced tea to wash it all down. While Botsky’s offers a great variety of craft beers, tea seemed to suit me the best.

While we set and make small talk at the high table in the front of the restaurant, I’m impressed by the exposed brick and beams of the restaurant’s interior. Not at all flashy but functional in a rustic and effective way.

Within minutes, Mike Krajicek owner of Botsky’s brings our hot dogs to the table and as a bonus, invites us to try a new dog he’s created: a kobe beef dog topped with Southern Louisiana inspired shrimp étouffée. I cut into the enormous dog with my fork and took a bite. I love beef and shrimp étouffée but I wasn’t sure that I’d like it all together.

I was wrong.

The ingredients blended well together and the étouffée’s creaminess sat well with the crispness of the frank. And the bun… The bun was soft with a fine texture and a sweet taste sort of like a pretzel bun.

Immediately after imbibing a swill of tea, I started in on my Slawdog Millionaire and took in some sweet potato fries. This dog had the same bun and meat as the étouffée dog but with coleslaw on top. The sweetness of the cabbage balanced well with the spice of the dog. The sweet potato fries had the perfect mix of sweetness and saltiness and I could have had them as a meal all on their own.

I was in heaven.

In the end, I never thought I’d consider hot dogs as gourmet fare but Botsky’s shifted my paradigm. The food, fellowship, and atmosphere of the place is infectious.

I’ll never look at hot dogs the same way again.