LOWELL -- After 17 years working a corporate job, Southside Dogs Owner Sandy Roberts decided to follow her heart and open a hotdog stand. However, these are no ordinary hotdogs. These are Chicago hotdogs made with Vienna beef straight from Illinois. Growing up in the Midwest, Roberts developed a taste for the famous Chicago food and decided to bring it to the East Coast. Roberts started her dream a year ago when she went to "hotdog university" (as she put it), and learned everything she needed to know about being a hotdog vendor. Eventually, she found the little corner shop and was able to open Southside on July 25.
The inside of the restaurant is bright and cheery, with the walls painted red and white like a traditional hotdog stand umbrella. According to Roberts, Southside is "a place for customers to feel relaxed and at home. It is very important to me that it is clean so that customers know how much we appreciate them." To Roberts, the location helped contribute to this comfy atmosphere. Since there are parks and sports fields nearby, the restaurant has attracted families and kids in need of some yummy finger food. Roberts also hopes to "become a part of Lowell's culture and part of the UMass culture" to make everyone feel welcome at Southside.
Chicago-style hotdogs are nothing like the ones you find at a regular hotdog stand. Colorful is the word that comes to mind when one first catches a glimpse of the dogs. The most popular sandwich, the Chicago Dog, is topped with neon green relish, mustard, chopped onion, tomato slices, dill pickles, peppers and celery salt. The Pork Tenderloin, another popular choice, consists of pounded pork coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried. For vegetarians or vegetable lovers, there is a Veggie Dog made with a slightly spicy, wheat gluten hotdog. For those looking for the standard, Southside has you covered with the simply-named Hot Dog. For Midwesterners who are looking for the authentic Italian Beef sandwich that they grew up with, look no further. Southside serves its Italian beef with Italian Giardiniera relish or you can opt to dunk the whole sandwich au jus. For those with a more adventurous side, there is the Pizza Burger which includes seasoned ground beef, pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese.
The toppings range anywhere from ketchup and mustard to melted cheese and chili sauce, with chopped veggies and spicy sauces as well. Southside also offers a range of sides; home-style French fries and sweet potato fries, homemade tater tots, fried pickles and fried green tomatoes.
The price of the hotdogs range from the Corn Dog ($2.25) to the Italian Beef ($5.75). The house toppings -- yellow mustard, spicy mustard, ketchup, relish, chopped onion, mayonnaise, sriracha and sauerkraut -- are all free. The premium toppings -- chili sauce, melted cheese sauce, American cheese slice, provolone cheese slice, mozzarella cheese slice, grilled onions, grilled peppers and Giardiniera -- are 50 cents each. Sides are priced from $2.50 (French fries) up to $4.75 (fried green tomatoes). Drinks are also available at around $2 each.
- The team at Southside has decided to pool and donate its tips to the Lowell Humane Society. They made their first donation of $165 on Aug. 5.
Southside Dogs is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., at 811 Lakeview Avenue, Lowell. For information, visit southside-dogs.com or call 978-453-3647.