Dining Reviews

Gary’s Old Fashioned Snappy Dogs

foodie-file-1539-snappy-dogsWhere to find the best hot dogs in Santa Cruz 

OK, so you’re craving a hot dog. For God’s sake, stay away from Wienerschnitzel. And don’t waste your money on a 7-Eleven hot dog, either—who knows how long they’ve been there! Besides, the best hot dogs in town are sold out of a cart in front of U-Save Liquors. That’s Gary’s Old Fashioned Snappy Dogs, run by Gary Willett and his sidekick, a little cocker spaniel named Snappy the Dog. He parks his cart in front of U-Save Liquors during the week, and in the Ingalls Street complex on weekends.

Why do you sell out of a cart?  

Because I had the cart. Years ago, I had them around the state capitol in Sacramento. When I walked away from that, I kept the cart. I was in the wine business. I came to sell wine to U-Save. I mentioned the hot dog cart, and they jumped at the idea. It’s a high-traffic store, and it has a discerning customer. This is a retirement for me.

Why are your dogs so good?

It’s an all-beef dog, and it’s made by a German family that used to be a company. It’s a specially made hot dog for me. I compare it with anything from the East Coast or Chicago. And I use some Corralitos [Market and Sausage Company] meats for the sausages. They’ve been a sausage company since the late 1800s.

I hear you make a great chili sauce.

People accuse me of putting addictive substances in it. It’s a homemade chili sauce. I learned it from a family that had a restaurant in Sacramento years ago called the Capitol Tamale Café. It really complements the dog or any of the sausages. It’s my secret sauce, if you will.

Don’t you have a mango chutney?

Yeah, it’s on my smoked lamb sausage. I curry the chili sauce. Then I put a mango ginger chutney on it and grate some cheese. It’s got an exotic, unique flavor. It works well. It’s kind of spicy, but it’s extremely flavorful.

Did you name your cart after your dog?  

The cart was named before the dog. I was here a year already when I got this little black cocker spaniel, and my business name is Gary’s Old Fashioned Snappy Dogs. I had two choices. I had “Gary.” All that was left was “Snappy” or “Dog.” So I named him “Snappy the Dog.” Snappy’s a part of my show out here. He’s been out here for eight years.

Gary’s cart is in front of U-Save Liquors, 930 Almar Ave, Santa Cruz, during the week; and at 334 Ingalls St, Santa Cruz on weekends.


WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? Gary Willett of Gary’s Old Fashioned Snappy Dogs let the dogs out.

Contributor at Good Times |

Aaron is a hard-working freelance writer with a focus on music, art, food, culture and travel. In addition to Good Times, he's a regular contributor to Sacramento News & Review, VIA Magazine and Playboy. When he's not working, he's either backpacking, arguing about music or working on his book about ska. One thing's for sure—he knows more about ska than you.

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