Sheridan Fruit Co. Food Cart + Raptor Ridge Brut Rosé
Interurban + Apolloni Rosé of Pinot Noir

Dog Days of Portland

Summer calls for sweet corn dogs and fine wine in the City of Roses

By Tamara Belgard

Corn dogs. For me, teen memories from the mall bubble up at the thought. I fondly remember the carnival-style food court booth with workers in their tall striped hats and matching uniforms, making gallons of lemonade and deep-frying the Hot Dog (s) on a Stick — a quick Google reveals the company still exists.

For others, corn dogs might conjure up childhood memories of county fairs. For many native Oregonians, the corn dog is synonymous with Pronto Pup; owners George and Versa Boyington say they invented the menu item during the 1930s in Rockaway Beach. Pronto Pup, currently based in Seaside, debuted at a soda fountain in Portland before becoming a carnival mainstay.

To this day, corn dogs are still popular in the Rose City — and America, in general. Starring on menus in food carts, dive bars and, now, high-end eateries, Portland’s latest versions feature fancy fillings like Wagyu beef and are served with house-made mustards. Pair them with the appropriate Oregon wines, and bask in a food and wine experience head-and-shoulders above the corn dogs of your state-fair youth. Here are just a few of the finest:

Loyal Legion + Coopers Hall Cascadia White ##Photo by Kathryn Elesser

Loyal Legion + Coopers Hall Casacadia White

Known as a beer hall, Loyal Legion also serves wine. Coopers Hall provides wine in keg, which fits well in this Southeast Portland tap house. And though you might be tempted to order a corn dog with a tasty brew, the 2018 Coopers Hall Cascadia White blend is the ideal pairing — trust me. Loyal Legion hand-dips the foot-long Olympia Provisions frankfurter in a delicate house batter before frying it to a light, crunchy texture. The wine, a blend of Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, supplies the essential amount of acidity to cut right through the flakey, fatty fritter-esque crust. No matter your diet or preference, the vegan corn dog is equally delicious. In fact, I prefer it to Loyal’s meaty version.

Sheridan Fruit Co. Food Cart + Raptor Ridge Brut Rosé

How do you transform a food cart corn dog into an elegant meal? Head to the Sheridan Fruit Co. Food Cart, pick up a to-go order of eloté corn dogs, pair them with a bottle of Raptor Ridge 2014 Harbinger Vineyard Brut Rosé, and serve them al fresco for a dinner to impress even your most special guests. Chef Brandon Hartwell has taken the corn dog to an entirely new level. Inspired by eloté (Mexican grilled corn on the cob), Hartwell says, “When the Sheridan Fruit Co. is your pantry, you can get really creative.” He’s more than simply inventive; he’s a corn dog magician. He smothers the all-beef corn dogs, with a masa and honey crust, in grilled sweet corn kernels, pasilla chile-lime mayo, sweetened Valentina hot sauce, pickled jalapeños, queso fresco, fire-roasted salsa and exotic chili dust (pixie dust?) sprinkled across the top. An interesting combination of sweetness, heat, savory meat and tang is further elevated by a refreshing glass of Raptor Ridge’s sparkling, vivacious with stone fruit, strawberries and a minerality that works brilliantly with the flavorful dish.

Altabira + J.K. Carriere Pinot Noir ##Photo by Kathryn Elesser

Altabira + J.K. Carriere Pinot Noir

Set at the top of Hotel Eastlund with sweeping citywide views, Altabira possesses a natural swanky ambiance. So it may surprise you to find corn dogs on the menu. Yet, they’re so popular, they’ve been serving them since first opening. Made from juicy American Wagyu beef, wrapped in a moist blanket of cornbread, with a side of house-made Dijonnaise, these tasty morsels pair perfectly with a bottle of J.K. Carriere 2017 Gemini Vineyard Pinot Noir. The succulent meat accentuates the savory qualities in this Burgundian-style wine, supplying the perfect balance of earthiness, while the subtle sweetness of the cornbread coating accents the bright cherry and currant notes. Somehow, in what could seem an odd pairing, these two bring out the absolute best in each other.

Interurban + Apolloni Rosé of Pinot Noir

Either foot-long or mini — during happy hour — Interurban’s corn dog features Olympia Provisions pork and is served with pickles, ketchup and a variety of mustards spread out like oil paints on a palette. Some people swear it’s the city’s best hand-dipped corn dog, a major claim for sure. No doubt, the breading is exquisite, made even more so with a glass of Apolloni 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir, a bright yet lush summer sipper perfect for the restaurant’s patio.

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