CityScape and other big projects in the core of the downtown Phoenix business district are usually defined first in terms of their anchor tenants, whether a contemporary hotel like the nearby Kimpton Palomar or an essential amenity like the Fry’s grocery at Block 23. In the smaller pockets of these developments, however, are numerous opportunities for more fine-grained retail and restaurant development. One spot at CityScape, a corner space right at the intersection of Central and Washington, has recently become home to Dog Haus Biergarten.
Dog Haus is a small but growing chain. Based in California, its Arizona presence was until recently limited to a shop in Yuma that most Phoenicians might experience only on the way to San Diego. Now, Dog Haus is opening multiple locations throughout the metropolitan area in association with local franchisees. The CityScape location, like other Dog Haus restaurants, is small compared to an actual German biergarten, but it does have a patio providing an essential outdoor component. Currently, the view is of the new downtown transfer hub under construction.
With its placement by the hub, Dog Haus will be where the current tracks meet the new extensions to South Phoenix and the Arizona State Capitol. For now, the closest light rail platforms are the westbound one across the street at Washington/Central and its eastbound counterpart at Jefferson/1st Avenue. The nearest bike racks are in the courtyard near the CVS drugstore or around the block on First Street. The entrance is on Washington Street, a rare occasion of a street address at CityScape aligning with an establishment’s actual location.
Dog Haus is an order-at-the-counter operation with large menus overhead. There’s a small bar available and wooden tables throughout the interior space. Customers receive a numbered card and wait for their orders to be brought to the table. The “dog” in the restaurant’s name refers to hot dogs, a quintessential food to enjoy with beer, and one of the mainstays of the restaurant’s menu. Customers can order their own custom creations based on a foundation of all-beef hot dogs, or they can order several of the restaurant’s own creative assemblages of toppings.
There is some variation among the menus at various Dog Haus franchises, but the downtown Phoenix location tends to emphasize some of the bolder and more imaginative items in the spectrum of the brand’s offerings. Regular offerings include the Sooo Cali with arugula, avocado, tomato, and onions topped with a drizzle of spicy basil aioli and the Downtown, in which a hot dog is wrapped with bacon, accessorized with caramelized onions and pickled peppers, and then topped with a condiment trifecta of ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.
There are also occasional specials like the Mr. Miyagi, perhaps inspired by the Cobra Kai revival of the Karate Kid franchise. This dog is deep-fried before receiving Japanese-inspired accoutrements of tempura crumbles, teriyaki sauce, and wasabi furikake. Of course, the hot dog is a subspecies of a broader category of sausages, and Dog Haus also offers myriad “wursts” in both a build-your-own format and in colorful creations. The Fonz salutes the Happy Days character with a slightly spicy Italian sausage topped with pastrami and mozzarella.
The Thai Fighter brings even more heat with a currywurst link topped with peppery arugula and pickled jalapeños. The T Mex adds a Southwestern touch with its base of a sausage formulated from chorizo and jack cheese, and the Cocky Balboa returns to an Italian inspiration, incorporating a chicken-and-mozzarella link. All hot dogs and sausages are served in King’s Hawaiian buns. These starchy pillows might seem at first glance almost too sweet and pliant to work with a flavorful dog, but Dog Haus grills the bread to give it a bit of char and structure.
The buns here house not only cylindrical hot dogs and sausages, but also chicken sandwiches, full-size burgers, and more diminutive sliders. The Bad Mutha Cluck is a solid fried chicken sandwich, and the Karaage Kid adds more Japanese touches. Among the burgers, the Ringer takes a side dish, onion rings, and makes them into a topping that pairs well with the BBQ sauce inside the bun. Although multiple options are listed for each menu category, there are even more choices available via a not-so-secret menu based on popular customer requests.
The entrees at Dog Haus are all served a la carte, but the sides are a worthwhile addition. The fries, both regular and sweet potato, are crisp, and the coleslaw is fresh. The tots are good for dipping in any of the sauces, and the chili is mildly seasoned with finely ground beef and no beans. The sides can be combined into a messy meal via a dish called “The Love Boat,” which layers fries or tots with chili and slaw in one vessel. Dessert is a choice of three cookies: chocolate chip, white chocolate macadamia, or the Royale, which combines the best of both.
Not to be forgotten, the “bier” in biergarten is realized via a chalkboard listing craft beers, many of them local. Options range from “Cold & Cheap” a rebranded version of Huss’ Arizona Light Lager to Beer Research Institute’s Tropical Boom Box sour ale. The beer selection is more extensive and adventurous than a franchised operation would suggest. Dog Haus is nowhere near as big and bustling as a typical biergarten in a German city, but its extensive selection of beer and well-matched food fills this corner spot in between the big tenants that surround it.
1 E. Washington St. #120, Phoenix,AZ 85004