I reviewed Kalamazoo downtown lunch spot Dogs With Style a couple years ago, but it’s recently come under new management, and the changes are significant enough to warrant another review. The ladies who run the place are taking it to the next level. They still have the usual standbys, like Coney, Polish and Chicago dogs, and they’re all good. But the real draw of Dogs With Style 2.0 is the visionary new hot dogs they have.

The one on the left is the Mad Max, and the one on the right is the Guatemalan. Say hello, boys.

The one on the left is the Mad Max, and the one on the right is the Guatemalan. Say hello, boys.

The two I’m reviewing, the Mad Max and the Guatemalan, are like edible works of art. The Guatemalan is similar to a Chicago, in that it features a number of vegetables accompanying the frank. The Guatemalan includes cabbage, avocado, tomato, and a couple different salsas and sauces. There are a lot of flavors at work here, and they all harmonize wonderfully. It’s a bit spicy, but the avocado helps to cool it down. It’s a great example of the kinds of interesting things you can do with hot dogs if you have a solid imagination and palette.

But on to the main event. The Mad Max is an evolution of the Swanky Franky, a fabled hot dog concept involving cheese and bacon my parents told me about as a child. I never imagined I’d see one in a restaurant in my lifetime. The Mad Max starts with a hot dog frank, split and filled with pepper jack cheese and then wrapped in bacon and cooked. It improves upon the Swanky Franky here though, by topping it with macaroni and cheese and sriracha and serving it on a pretzel bun. It’s a decadent delight. The central frank is delicious and well-crafted. I’ve never had a problem with cheese leakage or bacon falling off. The mac and cheese uses think bow-tie pasta and is dry enough that it works as a topping without making the whole thing soggy. You haven’t had the true Dogs With Style experience until you’ve had the Mad Max.

Just because I've waxed poetic about their specialty hot dogs doesn't mean their regular fare isn't great, as these Chicago and Coney dogs prove.

Just because I’ve waxed poetic about their specialty hot dogs doesn’t mean their regular fare isn’t great, as these Chicago and Coney dogs prove.

The new Dogs With Style is even better than before, and definitely worth checking out. Most dogs range from between $2-4, well worth the trip. As far as I know, they’re still cash only at this point, so keep that in mind. They’ve also expanded the previous hours, so they’re not only open for lunch (11AM-3PM) but for late night snacks from 10PM-2AM Monday Wednesday and Friday nights.

Subway’s November line of sandwiches claims to be “the hottest they’ve ever offered,” and they’re doing it with the help of everyone’s favorite trendy condiment, Sriracha.  For the uninitiated, Sriracha is a Vietnamese hot sauce, made primarily from chili peppers, vinegar, sugar and salt. It’s used both as a general term for the style of sauce, as well as the product name for the brand sold by Huy Fong Foods in the United States (this will be important later). Sriracha’s appeal is split; detractors characterize it as little more than a fancy ketchup or hot sauce, but the faithful apply it to everything from burgers to eggs to macaroni and cheese. I’ve had the sauce once or twice, but I was interested to see how the Subway sandwich handled it. And to be honest, my opinion is less important than the answer to this question: How much, dear reader, do YOU like Sriracha?

I have to give it to them, though, it IS a clever use of a buzzword. Reminds me of the glory days of "chipotle" stuff.

I have to give it to them, though, it IS a clever use of a buzzword. Reminds me of the glory days of “chipotle” stuff.

Hopefully, the answer was “a lot,” because this sandwich is all about it. Remember how I said that Sriracha is both the general type of sauce and the brand that everyone buys? I’m not positive, but it seems like the sauce on the sandwich is the former, rather than the latter. For one thing, it’s a “creamy Sriracha,” with a lighter color and thicker consistency than the usual Huy Fong version. This alone leads me to believe Subway developed it in-house, as well as the fact that it’s really spicy. I had mine with pepper jack cheese, green and banana peppers, tomatoes, and onions, which didn’t help the spice any. I’ve always preferred spicy foods with a primary flavor to those that are just hot for hot’s sake. It’s a reason I’ve never really gotten on board with Buffalo Chicken. While the Huy Fong Sriracha we know and love works well for me, this just doesn’t. It’s too hot, without a clear peppery taste to make the burning worthwhile. If I were to do it again, I’d definitely cut it with ranch or mayonnaise to cool it down a little bit.

The Sriracha Chicken Melt is around $6 for a six inch sub, which is all I could take of it, honestly. I’ve never been a fan of vinegar-based heat, and that’s really the main thing this has going for it. I’d be really interested in a Subway take on a Bahn Mi, or some other Vietnamese-influenced sandwich idea, but this just feels like they’re trading in on a popular name. But hey, if you like hot stuff, or you looooove Sriracha, maybe you should check it out. Just make sure to grab a drink or something too, you’re gonna need it.