Restaurant review: Between a rock and a hot dog place, Little Rock sells good and fun frankfurters

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From the August 14, 2014 edition

You’ve undoubtedly noticed that Columbus has become a serious food truck city. Other cities are starting to notice too. For evidence this not-so-well-kept secret is leaking out, check out next week’s broadcast of “Eat Street” on the Cooking Channel.

“Eat Street” — which is airing profiles of several Columbus food trucks this year — will present a segment on Columbus’ Paddy Wagon at 8 p.m. next Thursday. The best place to watch that show will be Little Rock Bar.

See, loose and cool Little Rock is hosting an “Eat Street” viewing party. Why? Well — and I’m cutting to the chase here — for a few months now, Little Rock has been hosting Jailhouse Rock, the indoor hot dog-focused spinoff of the hamburger-focused Paddy Wagon food truck.

Operating out of Little Rock’s little kitchen, Jailhouse Rock works a lot like a food truck. And like its progenitor, Jailhouse is in love with puns.

So step up to Jailhouse’s window counter, where handcuffs dangle from cell-like bars. If you need time to peruse Jailhouse’s huge menu, cop a squat on a nearby church pew.

Sausages from Carfagna’s, homemade brisket tacos and other sandwiches and snacks are offered, but Jailhouse specializes in wildly dressed hot dogs on nicely toasted buns. Ensuring an excellent foundation, the hot dogs are all-beef beauties locally sourced from the Good Frank, who make their juicy and garlicky tube steaks from grass-fed, Ohio-raised meat. Alternately, and for no extra fee, you can substitute Good Frank’s first-rate vegan weenies.

All hot dogs are $4.50, unless you opt for a $3 topping-free frank (working an eponymously derived Elvis-song pun, it’s called Nothin’ but a Hound Dog). Considering Jailhouse’s outrageous StonerFood combos, though — they’ll overload your dogs with garnishes ranging from “truckmade hummus” to gnocchi — I suggest you rock out a little.

I enjoyed every nine-napkins-necessary bomber I tried here, including a nutter called Mikey’s LNS. Yup, it’s got thick pepperonis, cheese, zesty pizza sauce and “Slut Sauce,” and it’s a trainwreck of a fun, “Let’s get drunk!” munch.

Ditto for the heaving Deputy Dog, crammed with tangy-barbecue-sauce-drenched house brisket, crushed potato chips, house slaw and a pickle. If something more conventional is calling, I’d warrant you’ll find the falling-apart-it’s-so-loaded Border Patrol (loose chili, cheese, jalapenos, onions and sour cream) to be an, umm, arresting choice.

Photo by Meghan Ralston