If you’re a vegetarian, stop reading.
If you’re on a diet, avert your gaze. This is a story about fresh beef cooked on the grill. It’s a story about homemade fries and shakes made with real ice cream.
We’re talking about Happy Dog, that unassuming little diner near the Springs gateway arch and virtually next door to the “golden arches.” The one with the giant grinning hound. To run the risk of stating the obvious, the dog is happy—ruthlessly happy. And you’re about to find out why.
If any eatery can set the standard for a classic American meal, this is it. Same goes for the classic American success story. Judy and Kuoshens Chang, who emigrated from Taiwan, have been making Happy Dog burgers, wieners and fries for the last 18 years, although the Happy Dog legacy dates back even further. The joint’s almost 40 years old—same age as the dogs outside (although they’ve been periodically touched up).
Through the years the Changs have ushered the Dog from burger joint to local institution. Generations of Springs residents are customers, and Judy watched many of them grow up. “Everybody comes in here,” she says on a rainy afternoon; and, as Happy Dog witnesses its own deluge of customers, it seems everyone does. “I almost know them all.”
The secret starts with the right ingredients: plump all-beef patties and all-beef hot dogs cooked right on the grill. (Happy Dog scoffs at a steamed wiener.)
“The meat is fresh,” says Judy. “We peel the potatoes for fries and we use real ice cream for the milkshakes.”
Like the food, there are no additives to the Happy Dog experience. No artificial pleasantries. No fuss. You order, they serve and that’s that. So let them do you up a cheeseburger, fries and a shake. You’ll vow to resume the diet tomorrow, next week or quite possibly, never again.
This, you’ll say, through a mouthful of food to anyone in earshot, is what burgers are all about.
The Happy Dog is at 18762 Sonoma Highway.
Call 707.935.6211 for takeout.
Your food will be ready in 15 minutes.
From the Spring 2008 issue of SONOMA