We've sorely missed our go-to wurst since Capitol Dawg shut its doors at Capitol Avenue and 20th Street last November. Our favorite was the "hot Italian" - a juicy Italian sausage on a seeded roll topped with a heap of hot giardineria, the Italian relish of spicy pickled vegetables.
There are other wurst options, one of which serves our substitute go-to dog. Ruffhaus lists five wursts on its recently expanded menu. We've tasted them all, but keep going back to the crisp, complexly flavored bratwurst that we dress semi-Chicago-style. We get it on a seeded bun topped with sport peppers and neon-green relish, with house-made potato chips (about $7.50 for the package; pictured).
Now, about neon relish, which looks like it might glow in the dark: In the 1930s, a certain preservative was commonly put into pickle relish that made it neon-green. The chemical hasn't been used for decades, but because neon relish is a part of Chicago's food lore, many companies there use a mix of mint and artificial food coloring to replicate the bright-green hue. Call it tradition.
Ruffhaus sources neon relish, giardineria and sport peppers from the Puckered Pickle in Chicago (www.puckeredpickle.com). Ruffhaus is at 4366 Town Center Blvd., El Dorado Hills; (916) 941-3647, www.ruffhaushotdogco.com.
Other dog-centric options include:
Wienery, 715 56th St., Sacramento; (916) 455-0497, www.thewienerysacramento.com.
Wiener Works, 5207 Madison Ave., Sacramento; (916) 334-8711, www.weinerworksmadison.com.
Parker's, 1605 Douglas Blvd., Roseville; (916) 786-2202, www.parkershotdogs.com.
Hotdogger, 29 E St., Davis; (530) 753-6291, www.thehotdogger.com.
Burney's, 886 Lincoln Way, Auburn; (530) 887-1262.