The amazing retro-airline ticket menu at DC-3

When I say “hot dog,” what do you picture?  The frank and the bun are pretty much universal, but what else is on there – did you “drag it through the garden?”  Are there poppy seeds on the bun (or could it even be a pretzel roll)?  Is the dog long and thin, like the ones they offer at Nathan’s on Coney Island, bright red like a Kayem, or is it more like a sausage?  Did you reflexively go to a half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl?

We don’t tend to think about these regional differences when we’re grilling on the Fourth of July, but there’s a wide world of wieners out there as you make your way from coast to coast.  Starting tomorrow today, you can eat your way from Maine to California without ever leaving Barracks Row, as DC-3 opens for business at 11 AM.

This new fast-casual concept from the guys who brought you Matchbox and Ted’s Bulletin is banking on hot dogs as the next big thing.  But don’t think of DC-3 as a sit-down street cart or even a direct competitor to Ben’s.  With their complete commitment to a “vintage aviation” concept that starts with a Douglas Commercial-3 (get it?) propeller on the wall when you enter and continues all the way down to the ticket-jacket menus, DC-3 is a full-on restaurant that just happens to focus on hot dogs from across the country.

We’ve been talking with the team for months now – after a friend heard us raving about Chicago’s Hot Doug’s he tipped us off to this work-in-progress.  When Ted’s launched with a DC-3 teaser on the newsprint menu, we smiled and eagerly awaited the arrival.  Now the wait is over.

A “taxi down the runway” look at what you’ll be able to order after the jump.

If you’ve had a chance to check out Ted’s Bulletin, you know the kind of attention to detail that this team has been bringing to its new concepts.  So why DC-3?  With one of the partners a pilot, this being the District of Columbia, and aviation lending itself to a menu of regional specialty dogs, it all seemed to come together nicely for them.

DC-3 moves into the old Firehouse Cafe space, and you’d never recognize the place.  Everything is sleek brushed metal and a color scheme of pale blue and reds.  The ceiling has a rounded aspect, giving the impression that you’re making your way down the aisle of an airliner as you head to the counter.  And there’s a giant map on the wall highlighting some of those regional favorites that I keep taunting you with.

Well enough of the suspense!  DC-3 offers a convenient picture menu as you wait to place your order, and each combination looks better than the last.  For those who just can’t wait to see them in person, here’s the list of specialty dogs that you’ll be able to find at DC-3:

Chicago 7: a classic Chicago-style Vienna all-beef that’s been “dragged through the garden” on a poppy seed bun.  The seven toppings are tomatoes, celery salt, a pickle spear, nuclear green relish, sport peppers, yellow mustard and onions

NY Coney: a Nathan’s all-beef hot dog on a classic white bun with yellow mustard, onions and vegetarian chili

Jersey Bacon-Wrapped Ripper: I can’t speak to the authenticity of this one, but it’s a deep-fried Angus dog wrapped in bacon and topped with jalapeno relish and deli mustard.  Ripper, indeed.

Tucson Sonora: a bacon-wrapped all-beef dog in a “carved out” Lyon butter-grilled roll with pinto beans, onions, diced tomatoes, white spicy mayo, jalapeno relish and deli mustard.

Altie’s Philly Cheesesteak-style Whiz Wit: an Angus dog on a Heidelburg pretzel roll with sauteed onions and Cheez Wiz.

Rochester White Snappy Griller: an authentic Zweigle’s of Rochester white hot topped with “one thin line of yellow mustard” on a Lyon butter-grilled roll.

Q’s Seoul Bulgogi & Kimchi: an Angus beef dog on a butter-grilled roll topped with marinated bulgogi beef and kimchi.  Looks like they recommend ordering it “fired up” with sriracha hot sauce on top.

Chef E-Bockwurst’s Rope Sausage: a classic Italian sausage & peppers sandwich on a sub roll.

Arkansas Razorback Red: Petit Jean ‘Arkansas-made’ bacon & cheese dog, chili, coleslaw, onions, fried pickle chips.

West Virginia Sauce & Slaw Dog: a Nathan’s all-beef topped with “sauce & slaw” – chili and coleslaw.

DC Hot Half-Smoke: a half-beef, half-pork link topped with relish, yellow mustard and onions.

Chef Jacoby’s I-talian Beef Sammy: a half-pound of au jus-dunked rib-eye topped with jardiniere (antipasto salad), peppers, and onions.  Feeling hungry?  Go for a double-dunk.

Lancaster Dutch Pretzel Dog: all-beef hot dog, Heidelburg pretzel roll, sauerkraut and deli mustard.

Bay Bridge Pretzel Dog: the same hot dog and pretzel roll combo topped with homemade crab dip and Old Bay.

California Left-Winger: Surprise!  It’s your veggie option.  A falafel “dog” topped with tzatziki and avocado on a Heidelburg deli bun.

Seattle Pike-Place Ultimate Fish Dog: Like fish and chips on a bun.  Deep fried cod topped with coleslaw and malt vinegar on a deli bun.  Don’t forget the frips!

Maine Red Snapper: a classic.  Kayem red-hot on a Lyon butter-grilled roll topped with jalapeno white sauce, homemade sweet onion relish and celery salt.

Cincinnati Coney: a Nathan’s all-beef “all the way” with chili, onions, yellow mustard and shredded cheese.

NY Street Vendor Dog: a cleaned-up version of the dirty water dog, featuring a Nathan’s all-beef hot dog on a steamed bun with sauerkraut and yellow mustard.

Prices for the dogs run from $3.99 for the Street Vendor dog to $6.99 for the Bulgogi & Kimchi and the Fish-dog.   They also offer some DC-3 specialties including a hot dog take on the Matchbox mini-sliders that started DC’s fascination with non-chain burgers, a corn dog, a classic Chicago Italian beef sandwich and a sausage and peppers sandwich.

And to accompany your entree, they’ve got Frips!  Half fries, half chips, these thin waffle-cut potatoes are crispy but still soft inside.  Or you can go with classic crinkle-cut fries plain or with chili and/or cheese.  Craving a little more salt?  Opt for fried pickles instead.  Have room for dessert?  There’s soft-serve and fro-yo as well as a cotton candy machine spinning out fresh cones.

If you’re particular about your pairing of dog, bun and condiments, you can “taxi it down the runway” and build your own for $5.99.  With this option you can choose from five types of delivery system (regular white, Lyon butter-grilled loaf, pretzel roll, Heidelburg deli bun or poppy seed bun), nine different wieners (Angus beef, half-smoke, Zweigle’s white hot, Kayem red-hot, Petit Jean bacon & cheese, Nathan’s all-beef, Hebrew National kosher, turkey or veggie), four preparations (“splitski,” char-grilled, flat-grilled or deep fried) and then add your choice of toppings.

Want to feel like an insider right off the bat?  Like any good post-War lunch counter, DC-3 has its own slang for special orders and cooking requests.  A helpful rundown behind the counter helps you “Talk the Talk” as you order your dog as “a fatty” and tell them to “make it a Splitski!”  Just make sure you’re in DC-3 before you order or people WILL start talking about you.

432 8th Street, SE
Washington, DC
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