The other day I was checking my email, and I noticed a message from Michelle Borrego titled "Hot Dog Island's Bratfest." I'd almost forgotten that I'd left my business card with Michelle, during my last visit to Hot Dog Island, back in July. So it was quite a joy to read her email, which contained an invitation to visit Hot Dog Island on Friday, October 9, 2009, between the hours of 8:00 and 10:00 in the morning, as they were going to be having an Octoberfest celebration, and the restaurant was to be featured on the local television show, Good Day Sacramento, with the host of the show Mark S. Allen. To top it off, she mentioned that Hot Dog Island was offering free brats during the broadcast, courtesy of Alpine Meats, who supply the fine meat products she sells, in celebration of Octoberfest. As a dedicated hot dog enthusiast, how could I resist such an invitation? So I got on the phone, and gave my buddy and fellow hot dog enthusiast, Dam MacLeod a jingle, and we decided to pay a visit to Hot Dog Island that Friday morning. After hanging up with Dan, I gave Michelle a call and told her to be expecting us, and my digital camera, and another article on the web site.
Photo: Hot Dog Island is a busy place, at 0830 on this Friday morning, as the Channel 31 television crew is set up, and broadcasting on live television. Note the steel canopy, which offers protection from the elements for Michelle's kitchen, and the diners, who now don't have to brave the hot Sacramento Valley sun.
Michelle also mentioned that Hot Dog Island would be serving Alpine Meats brand bratwurst during the month of October, and that they had made a few changes at Hot Dog Island, including a carport which would provide additional, and more comfortable seating for her customers. That got me to thinking about the article I'd published about my visit to Hot Dog Island back in July, so I Googled "sacramento hot dog island" and my article came out second from the top! Way to go and outstanding placement from Google! As a webmaster and hot dog enthusiast, my hard work appeared to be producing results in the world of delicious hot dogs.
Photo: Fellow hot dog enthusiast and long-time buddy Dan MacLeod and Michelle's charming mother, Sharon, pose for my camera, as patrons enjoy delicious, free brats, courtesy of Alpine Meats. Note the small trailer/kitchen to the left of the photo, from where Michelle works her hot dog magic.
Photo: Here's the menu of the goodies offered at Hot Dog Island, posted on the side of the kitchen/trailer. On my next visit, I plan to sample a chili dog or two, which feature Michelle's homemade chili.
You may recall that Hot Dog Island is a unique operation, housed inside a small trailer that's been converted into a kitchen, and the business is located out in the country, near Blodgett Reservoir and the Sacramento Country Refuse Disposal Site. Hot Dog Island was founded back in 2007 by Dave Fox, but recently he turned the business over to his daughter, Michelle Borrego. Hot Dog Island is normally open from around 10:30 in the morning to around 5 in the afternoon, Monday through Thursday. On Fridays and weekends, when there are special events in the area, Michelle and her dad work the events, or if there's nothing going on, they simply take a well-deserved break. It's interesting to note that the business formerly was located in the Town of Fair Oaks and the City of Sacramento, but Michelle found that the City of Rancho Cordova was much more entrepreneur-friendly, so she moved the business to its present location. Unless you're on your way to the dump, Hot Dog Island will be your destination, as it's a long way frown anywhere.
Photo: Michelle Borrego is busy cooking brats in the small kitchen. She requested that I didn't take her photo, but I can't resist snapping the photo of a beautiful female entrepreneur, hard at work. Sorry, Michelle...
Photo: My undressed brat sits in front of Hot Dog Island's extensive condiment bar. The photo doesn't show all of the choices offered... if you love condiments, Hot Dog Island is the place to be. Notice the condiments are cooled by ice cubes.
By the time Dan and I arrived, the corner of Kiefer Blvd. and Grant Line Road was a beehive of activity, as the crew from KMAX, Channel 31 was there, along with their news truck, representatives from Alpine Meats, and lots of customers, taking advantage of the free brats, which were offered between the hours of 0800 and 1000, courtesy of Alpine Meats. (The hours where free brats were offered were timed to coincide with Good Day Sacramento, which airs between the hours of 0800 and 1000.) Michelle was busy inside the small trailer cooking brats, but took the time to introduce me to the three representatives from Alpine Meats, her dad, Dave Fox, and her charming mom, Sharon.
We noticed a few changes since our last visit, back in July, as Hot Dog Island is now located under a steel carport cover, to shelter the trailer and the diners from the elements. There were additional tables and chairs, and there appeared to be many more trash cans, which for me is a good thing, as I like to load my dogs with lots of condiments and mustard, and I go through many paper napkins in the process. Hot Dog Island is still rustic, and very much out in the open, but doesn't that make a hot dog taste even better?
Photo: Oh baby! Here's a photos of my fully-dressed brat... free, thanks to Alpine Meats. Look at those condiments... they're finger lickin' good!
Photo: The "Brat Challenge" begins, as it's being beamed to the greater Sacramento area, on the top-rated morning news-magazine television show.
Now I had to make some hard choices... take photos, mingle with folks, or help myself to a free bratwurst? After carefully analyzing my options, the free bratwurst won out, so I headed over to the kitchen and Michelle handed me a bratwurst, cooked perfectly, placed on a fresh bun, and ready to garnish. Any what a bratwurst! This thing was gigantic, about eight inches long, and as big around as a broomstick! Alpine Meats provides a quality product and they're nice people. But I like to dress my brat, so it was time to head to the table set up at the end of the trailer, where the condiments are kept. I loaded my brat with chopped white onions, sweet relish and pickled jalapeņo pepper slices, and topped the whole assembly with yellow mustard. One of the many wonderful things about Hot Dog Island is the condiment bar, as you have a wide variety to choose from, including diced tomatoes and onions, jalapeņo pepper slices, sweet relish, and sauerkraut. You can choose from several varieties of mustard, mayonnaise, even barbecue sauce, and for the uninformed, ketchup. If you love condiments, Hot Dog Island is your kind of hot dog oasis.
Photo: The "Brat Challenge" guys, from left to right: Mr. Alpine, Mark S. Allen, who is a local television host, and "Talky," a civilian who stepped up to the challenge, and was backed by Dave Foxx. I took this photo while the challenge was being broadcast live on Good Day Sacramento.
Photo: Live on television, Mark S. Allen of Good Day Sacramento, proclaims himself the winner of the "Brat Challenge," as he displays the portion of the uneaten brat that propelled him ahead of "Talky," in a hair-raising, photo-finish conclusion to the "Brat Challenge."
I complimented Dave on the delicious hot dogs that Michelle serves, and Dave pointed out to me that their "Old Fashioned" dog is the best selling dog on their menu, but if I really bring my appetite with me, their menu includes a half pound super jumbo dog. Half a pound of hot dog! That's almost mind-boggling to me... Dave told me that Michelle mostly runs the business, but he handles the marketing, and helps out at special events, such as this Friday morning, when they're normally closed.
Photo: Dave Foxx, to the left of the photo, consoles "Talky," who narrowly lost the "Brat Challenge" to the victor, television host Mark S. Allen, to the right of the photo. As this photo was snapped, Mark accepted another brat challenge, proposed by Dave. This event was being broadcast on television as this photo was snapped. "Talky" doesn't seem to be particularly saddened by his narrow lost to Mark.
Besides the free bratwurst, the highlight of the visit had to be the "Brat Challenge," where television host Mark S. Allen took on a representative from Alpine Meats, and a civilian who went by the name of "Talky." The rules of the contest were quite simple: East as many brats as possible in two minutes. The three contestants were up to the challenge, so as the high-definition television camera rolled, the contestants proceeded to stuff themselves with bratwurst's. Just as is the protocol in the big-league hot dog eating contests, buns were not included, but the idea of stuffing yourself with gigantic, eight-inch bratwurst sausages should be enough to put any hot dog lover into instant nirvana. The twenty or so folks clustered around the contestants cheered their favorites on, as passing truck drivers honked their horns, but at the end of the contest, Mark S. Allen was declared the winner, after stuffing himself with three and a quarter brats, beating "Talky's" three brats, leaving the Alpine guy a distant third, with a little over two brats to his credit. As in life, there are controversies, as Dave was routing for "Talky," and challenged, live on television, Mark to a re-match, which Mark agreed to some time in 2010. Stay tuned, folks, to Good Morning Sacramento for a rematch of the "Brat Challenge!"
Photo: Eric Rench, author, web master, and hot dog enthusiast gets his photo snapped by Dan MacLeod, as Eric is about ready to enjoy his second brat.
the recent upgrades and the attention from the television crew,
the most important reasons to visit Hot Dog Island hadn't
changed: Delicious hot dogs, a vast array of fresh condiments,
and some of the nicest people that a hot dog lover could ever
meet. Michelle and her family are absolutely wonderful people,
and Hot Dog Island serves some of the best hot dogs that
you'll ever have the pleasure to enjoy. Hot Dog Island
is truly an oasis in the dry, Sacramento Valley for the enthusiast
who craves a delicious hot dog.
Now, let's go back a few months to July 27, 2009, as I pay my first visit to Hot Dog Island...
Photo: Hot Dog Island is housed inside a compact trailer, and towed to the location. Note the screened seating. I arrived a little after 10 in the morning, and Michele was still setting up the restaurant.
Hot Dog Island is a unique operation, in that it's housed inside a small trailer that's been converted into a kitchen, and the business is located out in the country, near Blodgett Reservoir and the Sacramento Country Refuse Disposal Site. Hot Dog Island was founded back in 2007 by Dave Fox, but recently turned it over to his daughter, Michelle Borrego. The business was originally located in Fair Oaks, but they ended up moving out in the county due to issues with the town of Fair Oaks, and the City of Sacramento. Michele pointed out to me that the City of Rancho Cordova is much "friendlier" to the small entrepreneur, but considering the remote location of Hot Dog Island, you'd never know that the business calls Ranch Cordova Home. Hot Dog Island is open from around 10:30 a.m. to around 5 in the afternoon. On weekends, Michelle and her dad work special events in the area. Michele told me that she sets up shop in the same location, unless the weather is too bad - such as a driving rain storm.
Photo: Hot Dog Island's menu is posted on the side of the trailer.
Hot Dog Island is an outstanding example of small-time American capitalism at work... The business is housed in a small trailer that's been converted into a kitchen, and pulled to the location behind Michele's car. The menu is posted on the side of the trailer, and features such delicacies as Polish dogs, hot links, an old-fashioned dog in natural casing, a quarter-pound dog, and a monster 1/2 pound dog that's over 10 inches long! Hot Dog Island uses Alpine Brand dogs, which are top-quality, and made locally in neighboring Stockton. Michele pointed out that her menu also includes home made chili and tacos, and she was especially proud to mention her hot pastrami and tri-tip sandwiches. So many choices... such delicious food... Of course all popular brands of soft drinks are offered, along with Gatorade and bottled water.
Photo: Michele explains some of the finer points of being a hot dog entrepreneur during my visit on Monday, July 27, 2009. It was a cool 95 degrees, despite the fact that it wasn't even noon.
You don't have to "rough it" at Hot Dog Island, as Michelle has a couple tables and chairs set up, including one that's under a canopy that can be closed to ward off the sometimes-pesky bugs. There is no electricity at this remote location, so soft drinks are kept in ice chests, and the great selection of condiments are kept cool using ice. At the end of the day, Michele packs up everything, and simply drives away. Quite an operation!
So many delicious varieties to choose from... but I'm a sucker for the Old Fashioned variety of hot dog, as Michele assured me that the dog was made with natural casing, and would "snap" when I bit into it. So I bellied up to the bar, and ordered an Old Fashioned dog.
Photo: Michele is hard at work, in the tiny, but well-equipped kitchen, preparing my delicious hot dog. The inside of the kitchen probably measures only 8 by 8 feet or so.
The Old Fashioned dog is pretty good sized, as the hot dog is about 8" long, and about as big in diameter as my thumb. It comes on a fresh bun, which is the way a dog should be. Condiments include three different varieties of mustard, barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, tomato slices, diced jalapeņo pepper slices, and sauerkraut. I dressed my dog with mustard, relish and sliced jalapeņo pepper slices; I don't use ketchup on a my hot dogs, as a hot dog purist NEVER dresses a hot dog with ketchup, as ketchup is for kids.
Photo: My Old Fashioned dog before I apply condiments. Note the ice that's used to keep the condiments cool, on this hot July morning.
Michele was right, as I bit into my delicious hot dog I felt the reassuring snap! Oh boy, Hot Dog Island's hot dogs are good! You can't do any better than enjoying one of Michele's delicious hot dogs. Although one hot dog pretty much filled me up, I ordered a second one, as I couldn't resist the urge to enjoy another Old Fashioned hot dog. These hot dogs are as good as it gets!
Photo: Michele snapped my photo as I hold my fully-dressed dog, in front of the trailer that houses Hot Dog Island.
Photo: My delicious Old Fashioned hot dog, dressed and ready to enjoy.
Hot Dog Island is definitely off the beaten track, but its worth the effort to pay the restaurant a visit. Heck, as far as I'm concerned, it's a destination. Hot Dog Island is truly an oasis in the middle of nowhere for a connoisseur of hot dogs. Combine the quality ingredients, the remote location, the unique operation, and the fast, friendly service from hot dog entrepreneur Michele Borrego, and it all adds up to a hot dog stand that you just can't pass by. For a hot dog purist, such as I am, I give Hot Dog Island a solid, five-star rating.
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