Wedged between the Athena movie theater and an extremely dark alley, it’s easy to overlook Mike’s Dog Shack. It’s impossible to tell from a distance that the convenience store is also a restaurant, but a small dry erase board on the door promotes meal specials — Mike’s sells a variety of hot dogs ranging from chili dogs to polish sausage. Not that you’d ever tell from the outside; Mike’s is billed primarily as a convenience store selling beer and malt beverages like Four Loko. Mike’s counter was literally made from cases of PBR.
Chili dog, chips and Bubba Cola: $3.00
Well, the chili dog was the only thing originally produced at the Dog Shack, so it was the only thing I could actually critique. The chili was decent; it reminded me of the chili dogs I got at my elementary school cafeteria when I was 10 years old. I liked those chili dogs back then. Well, I’m not 10 years old anymore, and I’m really not impressed. It needed more seasoning. It needed more flavor any way it could get it. The hot dog was garden variety in size and quality, and I’m sure you could get one (or eight) just like it at Wal-mart. Also, if you don’t recognize Bubba Cola, it’s because it is one of the cheapest soft drink brands in the country. Its unit price at Save-a-lot (one of the only places that sells it) is 17 cents per can.
Service was fast since I was the only one around, and it was packaged to go, making the food a worthy thing to consider on the go, if you could consider that an advantage. There isn’t much else to say. I know not to expect a terribly wonderful culinary masterpiece for three bucks, but there’s nothing to see here at all. Dirt cheap ingredients not worth even their modest asking price make for a completely unremarkable experience at Mike’s. It’s clear the food is an afterthought to an otherwise unrelated alcohol convenience store. The fact that it’s open until 3 a.m. lends me to think it’s another angle on the drunk-food business model.
What’s worse is it seems managed by a semi-interested owner who frequently closes the store for no discernible reason in the middle of the business day. Sometimes I see a white board announcing Mike doesn’t feel like working that day for some reason, but if you’re really looking for a reliably open business this doesn’t seem to be the place to find it.
Avoid Mike’s if you’re looking for a meal. Maybe you’re interested in a snack and you don’t have time to go home and cook it up yourself; if that’s the case, go anywhere but here. You will find better food at almost any other place along Court Street, and it will probably not taste like something picked off the discount shelf at the closest convenience store. If you can microwave a hot dog, it will taste better (and be cheaper) than what you will find here.