River Dawgs, a hot dog stand located at 200 W. Hopkins St. next to H-E-B, offers six delicious hot dog options during lunchtime throughout the week. Above, Owner James Ramsey stands next to his hot dog cart. Daily Record photos by Lance Winter
River Dawgs owner feels call to dish out delicious hot dogs
Editor’s Note: This story is a part of the Daily Record’s weekly Foodie Friday feature. The Daily Record is highlighting food trucks and stands in and around San Marcos this month. Know a food truck we should highlight this month? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Ramsey never thought he’d set up shop outside of an H-E-B.
Ramsey, who worked at a fabrication business working on new homes and commercial businesses around Houston before moving to San Marcos, now serves up hot dogs from his business outside the “little” H-E-B.
“I just worked so many hours and just wasn't around family so much and I was kind of looking for something that would just be something neat and fun and exciting to do here in San Marcos,” Ramsey said. “Just thought this would be something really neat to try out, you know, street vending.”
Ramsey’s stand, which he affectionately named River Dawgs — an homage to the San Marcos River, sits at 200 W. Hopkins St. outside of H-E-B. His menu is simple, just six hot dog options.
There’s the plain dawg, which you can add your own condiments from mustard to relish. Then there’s the chili dawg served up with melted cheese, diced onions and chili. From there you have a fancier hot dog option. The smoked dawg comes with bacon jam, bacon crumbs, grilled onions and barbecue sauce. The street dawg features melted cheese, grilled onions and pico de gallo. The river dawg is served with melted cheese, bacon crumbs and pico de gallo. The most filling hot dog may be the Frito pie dawg — a hot dog topped with Frito crumbs, chili, melted cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream.
River Dawg's Street Dawg and Frito Pie Dawg.
While Ramsey’s menu is simple, it took him many tries to find the perfect combination of options to serve patrons.
“I must have tried 50 different hot dogs,” Ramsey said. “Just trying out different things and, you know, I was like, do you do a New York style? Chicago style? And I said, ‘You know what, in Texas, we can make up our own style of things. One of the things I like, I love grilled onions. I love bacon, bacon jam, you know, those types of things. I was like I'm gonna try some of those out. And, man, it's just been a hit. I guess if I love them, you know, odds are, there's somebody else out there.”
If Ramsey thought figuring out the menu was hard, he said finding a spot to put his stand was an equal challenge. But he ultimately figured H-E-B was the perfect spot.
“It's kind of strange, I must have looked at 100 different places around San Marcos wandering,” he said. “I was like, ‘you know everybody loves H-E-B.’ H-E-B is like a Texas staple, right, and I tried a lot of different hot dogs. Just the dog itself, of which one I wanted to use, and the H-E-B Texas Heritage is really the best dog I tried and I was like man that wouldn't be a bad place to set up. So I went through corporate H-E-B and it was a little bit of a process. We got set up to be here. So I'm here for lunch throughout the week, some evenings and then I do special events, kind of on the weekends.”
Ramsey arrived in San Marcos from New Waverly — located in between Huntsville and Houston. But this isn’t his first stop in town. He lived in San Marcos from 1992-1998 when he attended then-Southwest Texas State University. Now, he’s in town working as a co-vocational pastor at The Well Community Church and dishing out hot dogs on the side.
“You know I've got a lot of history in San Marcos,” Ramsey said. “I lived here from ‘92 to ‘98 … I was real good friends with those guys (from the band Blue October). We had a falling out. And, you know, we've kind of reconnected and it's just a really unique story about how God can take you full circle in your life sometimes. So, really felt the call to be back in San Marcos, and felt like the Lord was telling us to come back here. Here we are, selling hot dogs, something I never thought I'd do but love it.”
If you go:
River Dawgs is located at 200 W. Hopkins Street near the south entrance of H-E-B.
The stand is open from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. most weekdays and some evenings.
To view the menu and keep up-to-date with hours visit River Dawgs’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/River-Dawgs-100703818932022.