The saying goes “You can never go home again”, but a trip to Matt’s Famous Chili Dogs feels a lot like going home. Matt’s trailer in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle has been around for 25 years. Despite some cosmetic changes over the past couple of years (an added door, some covered outdoor seating, the addition of hot dogs and fries), the hot dog stand feels the same. I attribute that to Matt remaining at the helm. Matt’s patronus is a hot dog.
Full disclosure, I used to work for Matt. I started out in late 2004 handing out promotional fliers to businesses in the Sodo and Georgetown area. It sucked. It was cold and rainy, no one wanted to talk to me, but I was motivated by the brilliance of the marketing gimmick. You bring in the flier, order as much food as you want, and then Matt flips a coin. If you call it correctly, your meal is free. If you’re wrong, then you pay full price. It was hilarious.
Back in those days Matt had some other locations around the Seattle area as well. I helped serve hot dogs in the Georgetown trailer and more traditional restaurant spots in Ballard, the U District, Kirkland, and Renton. I ingested a lot of hot dogs over my year in the hot dog business. If you’re thinking that this has compromised my ability to provide an objective review, you’re correct. These chili cheese fries earned an 87 out of 10 on my rating scale. Yes, that’s 87, not 8.7.
One thing you have to understand is that Matt is from Southern California. Hot dogs are a bigger cultural staple down there supported by several high profile hot dogs stands. Matt sells several different styles ranging from Chicago, New York, and Slaw…but his chili dog is obviously inspired by these L.A. County stands. His chili is essentially a finely blended chili-spiced meat sauce. It’s thick enough to hold its own against a hot dog, but it’s also thin enough to saturate a basket of fries. I’d even say that it’s the perfect chili for chili fries.
Once again, I forgot my calipers. However, these are a medium thickness generic fry. They’re fried to a golden crisp and seasoned deftly. The generous scoop of chili sauce coats the fries in the amber glow of hamburger grease, chili powder, and tomato paste. Unless you’re a pansy you’re going to want to add cheese. It melts into the sauce perfectly, so your individual fries will have a bit of chili, a bit of cheese, and still have the crispy texture you’d expect. I asked for jalapeños, but Matt must have known how perfect the fries were as-is and they never made it on the plate.
These fries are fantastic. Divine, perhaps. My Chicago style hot dog was also spectacular (despite the obvious lack of poppy seeds on the buns…long story). If you like Southern California style burgers and hot dogs (think In-N-Out or Tommy’s) then you owe it to yourself to visit Matt down in Georgetown. Just remember Matt’s customer loyalty program…”Buy 100 and get a small drink with a lot of ice for half price.” I’d expect nothing less from a USC MBA graduate.
Sampled 10/2017. Matt gave me the fries for free.