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Dog Haus Biergarten pairs quality burgers and sausages with a rainbow of taps

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Everything at Dog Haus comes on King's Hawaiian rolls. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Everything at Dog Haus comes on King's Hawaiian rolls.

Dog Haus Biergarten, located in the rapidly expanding cluster of shops and eateries near Northgate and Bass Pro Drive, hits on something good. We've seen other eateries with 20-plus craft beer taps — Dog Haus has 30. But while we've had good food at many of these places, we've yet to see a full-on craft-centric kitchen complementing the taps. And while this spot's menu reads more like a backyard grill than haute cuisine, everything sees serious care.

Dog Haus, which lightheartedly dubs itself "the absolute würst," exists in a fuzzy space between craft and chain. On the one hand, the Pasadena, California-based eatery has 23 locations in five states with hundreds more in the works, according to a company news release. But the eatery's ownership remains picky about meat sourcing for its signature sausages and burgers, their website proclaiming it's all made from humanely raised hormone- and antibiotic-free beef. Further, all Dog Haus hot dogs and sausages are made in-house in California and shipped out from there. All come in buns made from consumer-favorite King's Hawaiian sweet rolls — three for dogs, four for burgers.

The clean, modern space, all right angles and dark surfaces save for the brightly lit bar, feels welcoming enough. Plus, everything's affordable. Snappy all-beef dogs land at $5.99. Burgers and sausages cost $7.49. We try the Cowboy dog, which adds house (er, haus) ground beef chili, American cheese, barbecue sauce, a strip of bacon, and fried onions à la green bean casserole. The sauce and cheese don't really play, but there's plenty of meatiness going on. It begs napkins where the bun's made to be torn apart, but a little sweetness keeps each bite interesting. The Reservoir Hog, which puts a well-seasoned kielbasa under chili, slaw and yellow mustard, holds up fine enough, though it's a mouthful.

Vegetarians can swap in a veggie Italian sausage or smoked apple sausage for anything, but we get the Sooo Veggie, which puts the latter atop arugula, betwixt tomato and avocado slices, and beneath fried onions and a spicy basil aioli. The tube-veg chews a little more fibrous and yielding than sausage-snappy, but flavor's pleasantly smoky/spiced, which does fine with the peppery arugula and bright aioli.

Burger eaters' messy experience, though, is likely universal, with every bite of our Little Mule slipping and splitting the bun. But for a meaty burger with a fried egg, salty cotija cheese and mild pickled jalapeños, it's worth the challenge. Chipotle aioli, American cheese and avocado add more creamy fat than flavor.

For sides, diners can add fries, tater tots, onion rings, coleslaw or chili. All rate good. The truly decadent can order The Love Boat, which sees slaw and chili piled atop fries or tots, an intense gut bomb that lets cooling slaw play off against the rich, well-spiced chili.

Beer trends average to expensive, with pints typically running $6 or $7, and most offerings are Colorado-brewed. There's also a small cocktail menu — though we're tempted by Espolon tequilas and Sombra mezcal, we go simple with a Michelada made with Tivoli helles lager and a house spicy bloody mary mix.

Dog Haus is already resonating with customers, it seems; there's a line and a substantially full dining room every time we visit. Clearly, it's earned that title, "the absolute würst."

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