Billy's vegan hot dog an all-American delight

If you don't like hot dogs, then we feel sorry for you. Yes, they are disgusting creations made from pieces of animal ground up, seasoned and disguised to look like "normal" meat -- but if you opt for a veggie (or vegan) dog, then you get all the taste without any of the nitrates (or pig lips). Hot dogs are the one meat replacement that is virtually indistinguishable from the "real" thing, and Billy's Gourmet Hot Dogs, at 2445 Larimer Street, serves up dogs with an array of toppings that will satisfy the deepest all-American craving.

It was almost closing time when we stopped by Billy's to pick up a very late dinner, and one couple was quietly finishing up their meal in the cheery interior while we dithered at the counter. Despite our inability to figure out what the hell we wanted, the man behind the counter was cheerful (and careful to point out that the vegan dog is a soy-based dog -- not a problem for us, but it was nice that he cared enough to fully disclose).

We ordered one dog with spicy mustard and grilled sauerkraut, which was thrown on the grill, then lavishly layered in a steamed bun liberally studded with poppy seeds.

Our vegetarian dining companion ordered a Bronco Billy Dog, veggie style: The vegan dog is smothered with creamy cheddar cheese, diced jalapenos and barbecue sauce on a poppyseed bun.

It might not be the prettiest dog, but the Taco Dog (veggie style) was definitely a favorite: Shredded cheddar, pico de gallo, green chile (vegetarian, but not vegan), sour cream and taco seasonings make up this dog.

The Rockies might be out of the running for baseball season, but if you're a Cardinals or a Rangers fan and want some genuine ballpark taste while you're watching the game in front of your big-screen at home, you could do a lot worse than swoop up a few dogs to go.

Visit www.billysgourmethotdogs.com for hours and a full menu.

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