David Tamulonis for The Dave and Jarrod Show
Week of 3/2/2014: Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts
Regular listeners of the Dave and Jarrod Show will recognize this blog post as a regular segment on our show. As dedicated Youngstowners and food aficionados, we take our local cuisine very seriously. It’s probably the one thing on our show that can be taken seriously. For those of you that are new to the idea, we basically try to visit a locally-owned restaurant once every week and review it on the show.
Restaurants are judged on four criteria: Food (of course), service, atmosphere, and the degree to which they promote the local concept. This could entail serving local beers, using local produce, or any positive connection to the Youngstown area. If you have listened to me talk on this subject before, it’s my personal belief that food can hold the secret to revitalizing not only our city, but any city. Food brings people together in strange and unusual ways and can give a community a sense of pride. Instilling a city with a sense of pride gives its residents a reason to work together to save their community and make progress toward positive change. Youngstown, fortunately, has a rich food history that is tied to its very proud ethnic past. Unique local food in Youngstown is going nowhere anytime soon.
This week Jarrod and I went during a weekday break down to a brand new restaurant called Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts located right downtown. The concept of Suzie’s is basically gourmet hot dogs with lots of options. Plus more craft beers on tap than one can count. I was pretty excited, as a lover of both of those things I just mentioned. Upon walking into the location, which is the Old Precinct Bar, I was shocked at how well the place was remodeled. The interior was open and warm. Classic video games at the back wall and a huge bar towards the front rounded out a surprisingly large and very Bohemian interior. The other thing I noticed when walking in was the music. Walking in and hearing the Fleet Foxes and the Flaming Lips was a pleasant surprise. The atmosphere was very esoteric, but still inviting. The service was exceptional. Our server was attentive and helpful in suggesting toppings for our hot dogs, of which there are a whopping 50 to choose from.
The food deserves its own paragraph. I got a regular hot dog on a Chicago bun with their house made chili sauce and beer cheese. I was surprised at the size of the hot dog. It was pretty massive. I had no trouble finishing it, however. I wanted to try a funky topping, such as chocolate barbecue sauce or pistachio nut sauce, but decided instead to get a classic combination so I could better compare it to past hot dogs I’ve had. There is no comparison. The food was a perfect 10/10. All they serve are hot dogs, but they do hot dogs very well.
The beer selection and specialty cocktails were endless, but that may have to be reviewed later, as I went there around four in the afternoon on a Wednesday before an evening class. I could see from the chalkboard that their drinks were very creative. The “Cold Nuts” cocktail was comprised of peanut vodka, coffee, and a vanilla porter. They had many Youngstown beers and drinks, being right across the street from the Rust Belt Taphouse (a blog post sure to come in the near future). As far as locality goes, I got the feeling the owners (the fine fellows who also own O’Donald’s) were very dedicated to Youngstown and made an effort to create a very unique eating experience in the downtown area.
Every great city has a rich food culture and I believe Youngstown is no exception. Youngstown needs more people to develop concept restaurants like Suzie’s because they make our downtown unique and diverse. The atmosphere in downtown Youngstown is very exciting right now and as things continue to improve, I think the entire area will feel the effects of that change. Continue to support your local businesses, restaurants and music scene!
You can listen to David Tamulonis and co-host Jarrod Novotny on the Dave and Jarrod Show Saturdays 5-7 PM on Rookery Radio.