Yes, it is true -- I ate a Reindeer Hot Dog..... AND I LIKED IT!!
I enjoy eating at food carts, food trucks, food trailers, etc.... I am amazed at how good the food can be at many of these roadside portable restaurants. This trend is big in Austin (hot dogs, Thai food, cupcakes, ice cream, crepes, donuts, etc... can all be found in trailers around town), but other cities are now coming on board with these unique eatery's. Dining at these establishments keeps with my rule of only eating at local food places when I am in a strange city.
I had some extra time following a keynote speech I gave in Loveland, Colorado. I headed to downtown Denver and the 16th Street Mall, which is one of my favorite areas in any city I visit regularly. On one main corner there was a large crowd gathered around a shinny silver hot dog cart. My investigation showed it was guided tour of Denver Food Carts. About a dozen people were being taken around by a perky tour guide to sample the best of the sidewalk cuisine in Denver. (Great idea, by the way... does anyone do this type of tour in Austin?)
I moved on, but later got hungry and returned to Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs. Behind the cart stood Jim himself. A 50-something gentleman who had been slinging hot dogs on the corner of 16th and Arapahoe for over five years. His little food cart has been selected by people's choice in the "Best of Denver" surveys every year.... and the #1 restaurant for Denver on YELP is none other than Biker Jim's!!! (I too will leave a review on YELP).
His menu is not the standard issue hot dog. I could not resist trying the Alaskan Reindeer Dog (tis the season!). My apologies to Rudolph, but DANG.... this was good. So good that I had to immediately get back in line and try the Elk Jalapeno Hot Dog... which was equally amazing (although two was a lot of food, and more than I needed for my mid-afternoon snack).
I spent about 30 minutes with Jim, watching him finish up his day, selling the last few dogs. He also gave some of the remaining food to a couple of homeless kids who live on the streets on and around the 16th Street Mall. He had a great rapport with these guys, and you could tell he really cared about them.... and they equally cared about Jim.
He is in the process of opening an actual restaurant (a big step after five years on the corner), and then with proof of concept Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs could got national. I see a combination of brick and mortar AND street carts. The hard part for Jim will be replicating his magnetic personality. There is something about this guy that makes you instantly like him. I always appreciate the efforts of entrepreneurs, no matter what their business of choice. Be it software or hot dogs, you still need that entrepreneurial spirit to find success. Jim's got it.
I am very glad I ventured into Denver on this trip to Colorado.... and even happier that I experienced these hot dogs. If you are going to be in Denver... do not miss this one!
Have A Great Day