Dallas chefs serve up nostalgic joy
It’s the same Bologna sandwich that Kim Finch, owner of Thunderbird Station in Deep Ellum, would order at a gas station outside of Lake Murray, Oklahoma. She turned off the freeway to devour cold bologna cut as thick as a paperback copy of A Wrinkle in Time, white bread with French mustard and American cheese, and lots of onion. When their family got into the DIY vibe, they grabbed an armful of ingredients off the gas station shelves instead of ordering at the counter. We can now share the memory with the Gone Fishin’s cold Bologna sandwich on the Thunderbird menu.
The restaurant’s tuna salad sandwich is another family memory. It’s the same sandwich that Finch’s grandmother would use to reward herself after a busy mornings shopping at the flea market. When Finch was a child, her father would whip a sandwich for breakfast anytime of the day: crispy bacon, a hard-fried egg, a slice of American cheese, and tomatoes on soft white bread. That perk-up number is on Thunderbird’s menu as The Jump Start: It’s $ 8 of sheer luck, a sandwich that will bring back memories of your own. The text on the menu jokes: “No charge for bread that sticks to the palate.”
The fried bologna is another beacon. It’s a nostalgic diamond: “The Boss” is Bologna from Rudolph’s butcher shop – the 125 year old Deep Ellum market – grilled with enough time and pressure to combine the American cheese with the spicy caramelized onions and the crunchy bread. It’s grilled cheese and fried bologna that will take you back to the hot summers and legs itchy with grass.
The boss cooked a bologna sandwich at Thunderbird Station(Smiley N. Pool / Employee Photographer)
While creating the Thunderbird menu, Finch says, “The food I’ve missed since childhood would be a perfect fit. This is the stuff I couldn’t get in Dallas. “The hot dogs are Luscher’s Pot Oak Red Hots, desert red and smoky and rich. Thunderbird dips them in the fryer until they crackle when you honk. There are two dog options, one with caramelized onions and mustard and the other with chili and cheese. Both are time machines that will send you to the stands of a baseball game or garden party – whenever you’ve first fallen in love with a hot dog.
The food is warm and cheerful, but this year has been brutal for Finch’s three companies (including Double Wide and Single Wide).
“It’s awfully slow,” she says. She hasn’t been able to pay for herself for nine months, a common story among restaurant owners. Nobody makes money, and their employees only have a handful of money for their names some days. They scratch past unusually low tips.
“They are soldiers. It just sucks because they have a hard time paying their bills. It’s really hard to see that they’re hurting, ”says Finch.
To keep going, Thunderbird haunts the bar with a virus-destroying agent every night. Masks are required, of course, and she’s spent money she didn’t have on heaters and fire pits for the cool patio.
“We don’t just do this to protect our employees. We do this to protect our neighborhood. It’s not just about a business, ”she says.
The coexistence of this struggle – from empty bars at opening hours to the legitimately happy meals from the kitchen – is difficult to reconcile.
The Wagyu Bologna Sandwich at the Cattleack BBQ(Todd David)
At the Cattleack BBQ, Wagyu-style Bologna, as thick as a coaster, has become such a popular special order that it’s now a regular menu item. The owner and pitmaster Todd David also has many memories: as a child he drank fresh sandwiches with sliced bologna on white bread with yellow mustard. Trips to the State Fair of Texas meant he would trade tickets for smoked bologna. A food hack for his friends was heating up classic hot dogs by stabbing them with a fork and holding them up to the heater in the ceiling. “We were some classy people in Springfield, Missouri,” jokes David.
These days, Cattleack has regulars of Bologna sandwiches. Some like to add a perfect ice cream scoop to allspice cheese. Thick sliced Bologna slices with Texas toast and wheels with barbecue sauce and white onions are the way to go.
The Chicago Dogs “Let’s Play Two” are two loaded hot dogs served at the New York Sub.(Jason Janik / Special Contributor)
New York Sub had a similar idea. Shop owner Andrew Kelley added all the Angus beef francs, including a Chicago dog that will send you north to the windy city without leaving Hillcrest.
Over at The Loon, current owner Linda Criswill has regulars who make the dinner trip for a sandwich made of sourdough, red onion, old-school mayo, tomato, and grilled bologna. Maple and engine chefs score a bologna slice before it hits the hot skillet (so it doesn’t buckle against the heat). It turns the edges into a deep, salty dream.
Before Roy G’s opened (and after Luschers Red Hots in Deep Ellum closed), Mariel Street only knew two ways to get a decent hot dog: at Texas Rangers games and at Costco. To remedy this, Roy G’s has the $ 7.50 “Hot! Hund, ”a gem of the Dallas Bar – the only frills are that it comes on a lobster bun – with grilled onions and a sweet and hot relish. Like the ones we ate as kids, it’s not a kind of artisanal family run hot dog.
“It’s just a good old-fashioned hot dog,” she says. “It’s not super fancy.”
The hot dog at Roy G.(Roy G’s)