For a man who's known around the country for his meat-tastic fare served out of his original hot dog cart, Biker Jim is astoundingly sensitive to the needs of his non-meat-eating clientele. (His wife, we've heard, is vegan herself. How's that for a match made in heaven?)
Walking into his brick-and-mortar store, Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs, on a recent cloudy lunch break, there weren't many people taking advantage of the patio dining, but plenty of eaters were noshing on dogs and brats of every variety -- and enjoying every bite, from the looks of it.
It's the kind of place where both a leather-clad biker or a Gucci-wearing CEO could be comfortable sitting down for a lunch break; the exposed brick walls have a big logo painted on one side, and the black decor and corrugated iron offer some clean, simple detailing inside.
It's a typical setup for those familiar with the fast-casual world: Place your order at the counter, receive a number, pick up your food when the number is called. The man working the register was a paragon of food-service virtue, asking whether we'd eaten there before (nope; virgins) and happily sharing his knowledge as to which menu items are vegetarian/vegan-friendly. As Jim's menu states, "vegans gotta eat too," thus there are two different versions of Jim's vegan dog up for grabs, one mild and one described as "herby and spicy with a bit of beer." Both versions are made in-house, and like all Jim's products, no high-fructose corn syrup or GMO cooking oil are used.
We tried the herby-and-spicy version, which was served on a bun with caramelized onions; the photo above was snapped after the dog paid a visit to the condiments bar and made friends with organic ketchup, Dijon mustard, sauerkraut and chopped onions. It tastes less like a hot dog than a sausage, but either way, Jim's done a bang-up job with this vegan dog: It's not super spicy, but the herbs and spices add a nice little kick, and you can always turn the heat up with jalapenos from the condiment bar.
On the side is a basket of Jim's charred tahini cauliflower, a recipe that the menu claims was stolen from Udi's; it's served with a small salad, too.
It's hard to say enough about the service at Jim's; you don't usually find such veggie-friendly attitudes at meat meccas, and the time and care taken to walk us through the menu was lovely. And although there are only two options for veggie-lovers (as opposed to the dozens of different meats on parade), the sides available are somewhat dizzying: the house-made French fries, fried green tomatoes, mac-and-cheese, housemade chips and side salads, plus several varieties of cheesecake, milkshakes and other desserts.
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One last tip: We've heard the vegan dogs at Jim's can sell out pretty quickly some days, so come early for lunch or give them a buzz before you leave, so you don't set yourself up for disappointment.
Biker Jim's is at 2148 Larimer Street; call 720-746-9355 or visit www.bikerjimsdogs.com.