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Haute Dogs launches Williamsburg location with unofficial Arlington foodie summit

Ahead of an official opening this weekend, Haute Dogs hosted a preview event last night with a coterie of Arlington’s underground “foodie” influencer community.

Haute Dogs has become a beloved local institution in Alexandria’s Old Town North neighborhood. The new location at 2910 N. Sycamore Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood takes over the spot previously occupied by Smoking Kow BBQ.

The menu features an array of the eponymous hot dogs, from the classics to the more outlandish, like a veggie dog topped with jalapeño and pineapple.

The official opening is Saturday, Feb. 25, but last night (Thursday) the new restaurant was packed with local food writers getting close-up shots of hot dogs and comparing notes.

At the center of the scene was Chloé Swanson. Chloé is one of Haute Dogs co-founders, along with her mother Pamela Swanson and her stepfather Lionel Holmes.

Chloé said the new restaurant is a shift in more ways than just moving across Four Mile Run. While the Old Town North location is located in the epicenter of a rapidly developing section of Alexandria, the Arlington location is in a decidedly more residential community and closer to several schools.

“There are so many schools around and parents didn’t really have a place to get a burger and beer that’s also family-friendly,” Chloé said. “There are not a lot of dine-in options in the neighborhood.”

The different type of neighborhood necessitated some changes in the menu, like the inclusion of new burgers on the Haute Dogs menu. Chloé said, in preparation of opening a new location with a slightly different menu, she opened a ghost kitchen to test concepts. Chloé said the ideas were tested against the jury of D.C. residents, and burgers won out.

“It’s overwhelming and exciting,” Chloé said. “We’ve wanted an Arlington space for a long time, then Covid hit.”

Chloé said during the pandemic, it was all hands on deck with a focus on keeping the main restaurant afloat, but in September they found the Smoking Kow BBQ location.

“We wanted to erase the BBQ identity and wanted to create a different space,” Chloé said, “a different visual look both from Smoking Kow and from our Alexandria location.”

Samara Singer, creator of Arlington foodie Instagram account A Town Bites, said there were a lot of other familiar faces in the local foodie community at the preview event. The Arlington social media foodie circle is a small but fairly tight-knit community, Singer said.

Many started their blogs after Covid started, and Singer said the Haute Dogs debut was a fun chance for many of them to meet each other in person.

Singer said she was excited for the fries and onion rings at Haute Dogs, but also said the location’s milkshakes could help fit a niche in the Williamsburg neighborhood.

“There are not a lot of other great shake locations around here,” she said.

Singer hopes Haute Dogs is able to capture an underserved evening demographic in the area with parents coming by after they’ve put their kids in bed. The eatery will be open at 11 a.m., closing at 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and at 5 p.m. on Sundays.

“Arlington lacks a lot of late-night places,” Singer said. “I could see parents coming by.”

Many of those in attendance said they were fans of the Alexandria location and heard about the opening from Chloé.

“I think [this location] is great and it will bring in a different crowd,” said Creagh Dean, one of the bloggers at Boozey.foodie. “We’ve been going to Haute Dogs for years, so when [Chloé] posted about a second location, we were so excited. We’re beyond proud of her and what she’s accomplished with this.”

Dean said her go-to dog is the Chicago-style dog: pickle, tomato, sweet relish, chopped onions, yellow mustard, banana peppers, celery salt.

“I have been writing about hot dogs since last summer,” said Elizabeth Donovan, who writes on a hot dog-focused page called Glizzylizzy8. “I work in Old Town, so I go to Haute Dogs about once a month.”

Donovan said she tries a new hot dog every time she visits but said of the ones she’s had, the buffalo dog — blue cheese crumbles, hot sauce, celery, ranch — is a 10/10 hot dog.

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