The red and yellow canvas signs that hang over the door of The Durty Dawg seem to promise fast food, but inside, the restaurant is curiously elegant, with hanging lights in iron cages, dark wood and a full bar. The hot dogs, burgers and thick-cut steak fries that arrive on black plastic trays lined with black and white checkered paper only underscore the contrast.
The Durty Dawg is a new presence in Star, located in the business strip at the corner of Plummer Street and State Highway 44. It's locally owned, and in a town that leans heavily on two pizza joints, an Asian eatery and an Irish pub for dining options, it comes as a breath of fair food-scented fresh air. To hear the waitresses tell it, the place has been slammed since opening its doors just over two weeks ago, a statement borne out by the fact that the kitchen was out of a handful of menu items by 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday.
As the name suggests, hot dogs take pride of place on The Durty Dawg's menu, with 20 different "dawgs" to choose from, topped with everything from mango salsa, shredded cabbage and mango habanero sauce (the Mad Mango Dawg) to barbecue pork, coleslaw and fried pickles (the Slaw P Dawg). Diners can also choose from a shorter list of burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and steak fries topped with anything from gravy to chorizo chili. Pickle fries are the most popular appetizer.
The prices are a bit steep (most dogs cost $10 and up) but the right entree warrants them. The Backyard Dawg, a Coney Island-born Nathan's dog wrapped in thick-cut bacon and smothered with tangy barbeque sauce, shredded cheddar and fried onions, is one solid choice. The dog itself was cooked perfectly, with a bit of resistance to each bite and a varied texture that promised real meat rather than meat-product slurry. The combination of smoky sauce and crunchy fried onion put it over the top in taste and texture, although eating it—and the Rolly Polly Dawg, a Polish sausage heavy on sauerkraut and onion—was a messy endeavor. The same went for the mac and cheese-topped Caliboy Burger, a comfort food dish saved from boredom by a crisp layer of bacon.
Though the spot is clearly still finding its feet, with friendly staff and an unusual menu, it's sure to lock in soon. Next time you make it out to Star, put The Durty Dawg on your list.