Meal of the Month: Suzie’s Drafts and Dogs

Suzie’s Drafts and Dogs is in the downtown district of Youngstown, tucked in a side street just blocks from Youngstown State University. The place is young, a little quirky and lends a good vibe.

Suzie’s Drafts and Dogs is in the downtown district of Youngstown, tucked in a side street just blocks from Youngstown State University. The place is young, a little quirky and lends a good vibe. Suzie’s is definitely a place I hope is replicated in our city; however, in the meantime, it’s a great spot to go, hang out with friends and enjoy yourself. Diets aside, it’s a feel-good type of place.

If you’ve been to Happy Dog in Cleveland, you’ll get the gist of how Suzie’s works. First, pick your dog, the bun is second, toppings are third and finally any sides can be checked on your menu. Suzie’s may or may not have been accused of replicating the Happy Dog concept, BUT, a hot dog is a hot dog, and topping it with your favorite foods is awesome, anywhere.

Between the hot dogs, drafts, sweets and great atmosphere, you really can’t go wrong when diving into an evening here.

Suzie’s Dogs

Choose from one of four “dogs.”
• Corn dogs are hard to resist, but your toppings must come on the side if you order it. Where’s the harmonious matrimony in that? ($4)
• Two choices in 100% beef hot dogs—local, or not so local. ($6 and $4)
• Vegan dog—an apple and potato base with sage seasoning, tastes like an Italian sausage. ($5)
Recommended: The vegan dog! Even if you’re not on the bandwagon with veggie-lovers, this definitely holds a more complex flavor than your typical dog. It plays well with the diverse toppings too, so don’t shy away from treating it as an equal.

Toppings Galore

The menu starts off a little frightening, with sloppy Joe, Velveeta, ketchup, Spaghetti O’s … but quickly dives into the exciting (less processed) ingredients they hope to sling on their dogs. Some of those include: curry sauce, spiced pecans, butternut squash puree, cilantro aioli, kokoborrego (sheep cheese), pear ginger chutney and many more. Any condiment connoisseur can appreciate the list of 50 toppings. Forty-eight of those toppings come free with the hot dog, and you can choose as many as you can stomach.

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Youngstown-Proud

Two items on the menu are local favorites, and worthy of an order. (Any of the extravagant toppings can be ordered on the side.)
• Big cricket farms sprinkles aren’t difficult to figure out. The sprinkles are spiced, dried crickets from a local producer. Funny enough, they taste like dried pumpkin seeds.
• Youngstown greens are another local favorite in the area. Also called Utica greens and Italian greens, these are actually pretty simple; escarole greens spiced and sauteed with garlic.
Recommended:
• Vegan dog with blueberry mustard, beer cheese, bacon-laced slaw, hot pepper rings on a Chicago style bun, complete with poppy seeds and all.
• The local dog on a New England style bun was oozing with yum, with the ballpark mustard, local bacon, white beer cheese, Whiskey Stix crumbs and sweet pedro. It was savory and rich, yet still traditional.
Both dogs were fabulous, and so wildly different. That’s what makes this type of menu so exciting, with the adjustment of just one ingredient, the dish is totally different. They’re customizable, and the topping options make it wildly easy to try new ingredients that are tough to come by.

Sides

Warm German potato salad, side salad and Tater Tots are the companion options. While the salads aren’t very customizable, the Tater Tots can be topped just like the hot dogs.
Recommended: Who doesn’t love a good tot? Better than a good tot? A tot that has lots of toppings. Try out the spicy pico de gallo, white cheese and Sriracha cream cheese; it’s salty, tangy, spicy and creamy all at the same time.

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Craft Beer

The draught selection at Suzie’s is awesome, as it should be with drafts in the name. A good portion of kegs hold favorite styles from brewers such as Breckenridge, Dogfish Head, Lagunitas, Flying Dog and 3 Floyds. Keeping in line with the local theme of the restaurant, quite a few Ohio beers are available such as Fat Heads, Great Lakes, The Brew Kettle and Hoppin’ Frog.
Included in the craft beer mix soon is Rust Belt Brewing Co., as the partnership just makes sense. Rust Belt Brewing is just around the block from Suzie’s and soon will be on tap along with other local offerings.

Milkshakes

After hot dogs, Tater Tots and beer, it only makes sense to top the meal off right—with ice cream. Suzie’s milkshakes are traditionally alcoholic, but some can be made sans the booze. For the originals though, some of the enticing options include Peanut Butter N’ Jelly, Peaches N’ Cream, and the Coffee Chiller.
Recommended: Channel your inner, cookie-loving child with the Snickerdoodle milkshake. This cocktail is mixed with vanilla ice cream, milk, whipped vodka, cinnamon whiskey and cinnamon. Topped with whipped cream and a cherry, it’s a perfect dessert for any sweet tooth. (A kid-friendly milkshake to try is the blueberry dreamsicle, with strawberry ice cream, blueberry simple syrup and milk.)
Stay a while. Each weekend, Suzie’s hosts live music and entertainment. Have a bite to eat while soaking in sounds from a local band, or watch as two folks volley back and forth on the dueling pianos. Best yet, any time of day or night, an arcade beckons to be played. Found in the back-end of the restaurant, the arcade has all the classics, and is open for customers at all times.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass