David Trachtenberg’s go-to line is that he wants to be “the Five Guys of hot dogs.”
The ambitious owner of Montgomery County’s latest food truck, Greatest American Hot Dogs (GAHD), Trachtenberg hopes to someday build a national franchise with his regional hot dogs and sausages.
At least for now, however, he has a formerly-owned food truck that says “Mega Munchies” on it that he precariously drove from Florida to Maryland.
But things are looking up: the truck is getting a spiffy new exterior, and in the next couple of weeks, GAHD will open a carryout next to its Gaithersburg commissary.
Trachtenberg, a self-described “foodie” and Rockville resident, has been an Internet marketer and website developer, and operated a communications firm and an invention company.
And now, after experiencing some “unbelievable hot dogs in my travels,” he’s bringing home the franks and sausages that transplanted Washington area residents grew up with—witness his Philly Salami Dog, Baltimore Bologna Dog, Newark Italian Dog and lots more (although several, like the Annandale Koreatown Dog, Rockville Reuben Dog, Potomac Rachel Dog, are Trachtenberg’s own creations).
Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle may not be ready for dog day afternoons, however. Trachtenberg’s early ventures into the area were met with hostility from a parking attendant and a restaurateur, who called the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce to chase him out.
I caught up with the truck last week at an office building parking lot at the corner of Seven Locks and Montrose Roads in Potomac, where Trachtenberg was more than welcome. The building’s landlord also owns the Gaithersburg commissary where Greatest American Hot Dogs does its food prep and which will house the future carryout.
Of the two hot dogs and one sausage I tried, the best of the bunch was the Chicago Dog, made with a juicy Vienna beef frank, and topped with the traditional mustard, onions, relish, pickle, tomato, sport peppers and celery salt.
Trachtenberg said he uses Baltimore’s Manger Packing’s half smokes for his DC Half Smoke—the same ones apparently used by Ben’s Chili Bowl. So far so good, but Greatest American Hot Dog’s chili is not the greatest—a pretty generic version, purchased from a supplier.
The Whirly Fries are a fun addition—the GAHD website describes them as a “whole potato impaled on a stick, cut in a spiral, fanned out like an accordion while still remaining intact, and then deep-fried…” But the potatoes were flimsy and oily, rather than potato-y and crisp, and desperately in need of the seasonings set out for them.
When the storefront operation opens, Chef Emmanuel Ayissi, a L’Academie de Cuisine graduate who cooked at the Embassy of Cameroon, will be preparing more of the food (chili, cole slaw, potato salad, etc.) from scratch, both for the truck and the carryout. I’ll be back.
The carryout, which is slated to open mid-October, will be located at 19209 Unit M, Chennault Way, Gaithersburg. www.greatestamericanhotdogs.com