Capitol Dog

Capitol Dog is now closed.
Reviewed by Sam I Am

The most difficult thing about dining at Capitol Dog is deciding which cuisine to order:

Are you in the mood for a gourmet hot dog, piled high with unusual toppings?

Or do you want to try some Ukrainian food - raviolis, pirozhkis, soups. Were you even aware you could get Ukrainian food in downtown Salem?

This unexpected ethnic fare is hidden behind the neon “Capitol Dog” sign in the storefront beside the Elsinore Theater. Inside, the d├ęcor is bright and open, with fanciful light fixtures and warm wall colors. It’s an impressive and inviting change from the restaurant’s former home, an awkward hole in the wall off of Ferry Street.

When my family recently visited the new restaurant, we couldn’t decide what to get – hot dogs or Ukrainian dishes? – so we did both!

My husband and I both ordered the Greek Dog – topped with onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, artichokes, pepperoncinis, Greek vinaigrette, and feta cheese.

My nephew couldn't resist the Honey Bacon Dog. The menu also offers an Italian dog, which includes onions, tomatoes, artichokes, olives and Parmesan. The Reuben Dog has Dijon mustard, sauerkraut, onions and melted Swiss cheese. The place offers ingredients for every taste. Golden crinkle French fries come on the side.

The three of us were impressed with our hot dogs. The combination of ingredients was perfect, and not heavy or greasy. It was a delicious, filling meal.

The hot dog itself is buried under piles of toppings. Picking up the bun isn’t really an option: This is a knife-and-fork meal. Unfortunately, the restaurant only provides flimsy plastic flatware that barely does the job. These hearty dogs deserve hearty silverware.

As we dined on our dogs, we eagerly anticipated the Ukrainian dish we had ordered, pirozhki.
The pirozhkis arrived piled on a paper plate. The fist-sized buns were made of soft, golden dough surrounding ground beef and herbs, with a side of sour cream. The dough was delicious and perfectly cooked – it had a touch of sweetness, like pancakes. The filling was good, but a bit bland, and there could have been more of it.

Capitol Dog has a variety of Ukrainian food, such as raviolis, vareniki, cabbage rolls, and soups. They also offer imported bottled beers.

One wall of the restaurant is lined with shelves holding Ukrainian packaged foods for sale. A refrigerated dessert case displays pre-packaged baked goods made by a Portland bakery.

We were a little unnerved by the Richard Marx CD that was playing on a boombox. Sappy pop music from the ’80s certainly wasn’t something I was expecting.

But then, Capitol Dog isn’t really what I expected, either. Look for the neon sign, and leave your expectations behind.

Capitol Dog
150 High St. SE

10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday
11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sunday


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a bizarre/interesting place. Will have to give it a visit.

Anonymous said...

Just ate at this place the other day. The food was really good, but I feel like I have to say something about the service.

I ordered fries and just before handing them to me, the woman behind the counter said, "hm, that's too many fries." She took a few off the top and threw them in the trash.

A few minutes later, my wife had grabbed a bag of chips off a chip rack to go with her meal and was eating them. The woman working called over to us and said that my wife had taken a "large" chip bag when her meal was supposed to only come with a "small" chip bag. Rather than just letting it slide, she made us come back up and pay the difference (50 cents).

I'm going to try it again because I liked the food. I'd like to just think this was an off day. Hopefully, because otherwise, I really liked the place.

- Jeremy

Vegan's Nightmare said...

Jeremy -- that really sucks, but I'm glad to see you're willing to give it another go.

I'm a little embarrassed to say I've never been there. But that won't be true for long.

Lise M said...

Sounds cool! I'll have to give it a try...hopefully I won't get too many fries. (weird...)

Kid Friendly Salem said...

I had no idea that I could get pirozhki in Salem - we will be definitely trying this out!

Anonymous said...

My family tried Capitol Dog a few months ago and were disappointed. Maybe we should have tried the Ukranian dishes. Stale buns and the dogs just were warm but not hot. Too much microwaving going on. The fries were good but just store bought crinkle cuts. We may try again but there are lots more good places to choose from.

Anonymous said...

I've had lunch there a few times over the years. I love the Ukranian food and have never tried the hot dogs.

Not sure if they've changed it, but the Ukrainian menu is ala cart. I think if they went to a meal format, they would do very well. I like the cabbage rolls and the raviolli - I just can't eat an order of each by myself!

Chuck Bradley said...

When I want a great hot dog, I go to Costco! I had heard some great things about the Ukrainian food at Capitol Dog, so braved the parking challenge to give it a try. I'm sure glad I did. I had the Ukrainian Ravioli Lunch which came with a deliciously nuanced vegetable soup with strips of beef (I think), a slice of pumpernickel-like bread, cream cheese and a flavorful and spicy salsa-like substance. The raviolis were white cheese and nestled on a bed of caramelized sweet onion. All this and a soft drink for $6.95! My ignorance of Eastern European food compels me to guess at some of the ingredients. I don't know for sure what they were, but I know I liked it all! If you want a departure from the run-of-the-mill restaurant fare, you should give this place a try!

Anonymous said...

Our visit to Capitol Dog was a pleasant surprise. Not expecting much out of a hotdog, ordering a Greek style dog (which was tasty as a brat) that was abundantly topped with fresh/tasty ingredients made for a nice meal. My friend had the Bacon/honey and was equally impressed with the portion and appetizing toppings,as well. Maybe next time we'll experiment with more culturally menu items. The lady behind the counter was courteous and friendly. Oh, and it was under $5!

Anonymous said...

Are they closed? I tried to stop by there yesterday and it looked like they packed up and left town? Does anyone know?

KandN said...

No one is answering the phone, but it hasn't been disconnected.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately Capitol Dog has either moved or went out of business

Masha said...

I am from Ukraine! And I haven't been there yet, but I'm sure I'll do it very soon. Reading comments sounds like there is a real Ukrainian food out there! Gonna go there and check it out next week! Ukrainian food is delicious!

Anonymous said...

We are very sorry to tell you that Capitol Dog has closed.

Lise M said...

I just drove by and saw the new cupcake place in stead of Cap Dog. I was so sad I will never get to taste those delicious Ukrainian stuffed pasta (can't remember the name). All you need is some sour cream and vinegar to top it off. Soooo good. Some one let me know if a new Ukrainian place ever opens. I've been craving that stuff for months now.