Six months into the pandemic, Trick Dog remains closed for business, but inside, the spot is buzzing. The high-profile cocktail bar, known and loved for completely changing out its wildly creative menu every six months, is now open as a new, takeout-only restaurant, built expressly for the pandemic. It’s called “Quik Dog,” and is focused on selling hot dogs and chicken nuggets out on the sidewalk, with only a few bottled cocktails currently in the mix.
“To be clear, Trick Dog is not open,” founder Josh Harris tells Eater SF. “We’ve opened Quik Dog, and it happens to be at Trick Dog, but it’s not the same.” He hasn’t been outdoor dining himself, due to health and safety concerns, and felt strongly that it wouldn’t be possible to recreate the full cocktail experience outside. “With my two bars, social energy is in the DNA of the spaces. We built these businesses … to be really vibrant, and to have people in close proximity with each other, interacting in ways that make the places buzz. … If Trick Dog isn’t elbows to elbows, then it’s not Trick Dog.”
So they put the bar into hibernation, and decided to sell hot dogs. If the usual experience at Trick Dog involves getting several cocktails in before realizing you should probably order a kale salad or something, Quik Dog flips the switch and focuses on food first, starting with the namesake menu item, the misleadingly rectangular cheeseburger served on a long bun, as well as a new griddled hot dog topped with bacon, both $12.95. There are also buttermilk-brined chicken nuggets and thrice-cooked fries with special sauce.
There are single-serve highball cocktails available to walk-up customers that will run you $11.95, but folks who order delivery must stick to the big batch, “factory-sealed” versions, starting at $70. And there’s soda, as actual children are unironically welcome. Quik Dog does have the permits to take over the parking spots in front of the restaurant, Harris says, but there’s no seating, at least not yet. As of opening weekend, Mission regulars were setting out nylon and canvas camping chairs to dine, with kids and (live) dogs in tow.
Altogether, a couple of delivery (hot) dogs, a salad, some fries, and a bottled cocktail could set you and a buddy back more than $100 on a Friday night. (The very good bottled cocktail will last through the weekend, to be fair.) That price point is arguably consistent with an average night of drinking in the Mission, starting with a few rounds, and ending with a bacon-wrapped dog at the curb. But in the cold hard light of coronavirus, it’s slightly more sobering as a takeout experience.
It’s also worth noting that this is a different creative team than Trick Dog’s. Morgan Schick, co-founder and creative director, parted ways with Trick Dog parent company the Bon Vivant group at the end of last year. Chef Timmy Malloy is new to the venue, coming from the recently closed Great Gold. And unlike Trick Dog, where bar managers weighed in on those carefully crafted menus, swapping them out every six months, this Quik Dog menu might be here to stay. Harris says he isn’t looking to keep switching it up, and is hoping that Quik Dog might provide proof of concept for a permanent fast-casual restaurant.
Meanwhile, Bon Voyage, the other buzzy cocktail bar that’s part of the same company, is still in deep hibernation mode. Rather than reopen with a compromised cocktail experience, Harris plans to launch a Chinese delivery concept out of that space, and is currently looking for a chef to lead the team. Stay tuned, as dumplings and Singapore slings appear to be on the horizon.
September 22, 4:30 p.m.: Updated with new menu information