A conversion from brick and mortar to mobile food truck has maximized productivity, increased sales, and decreased overhead cost for one food truck operator in Sacramento.

This week, guest food critic, Paula Guido-Lee takes us on a tour of one of Sacramento’s newest food trucks, Heavenly Dog, and even after sampling eight items from the menu, she’s barely scraped the surface of what this truck has to offer.

By Paula Guido-Lee, Sacramento

Heavenly Dog mobile food truck is the product of downsizing and innovative thinking.

Owner / operator, Nicki Smith helped by her sister and brother-in-law, previously owned a brick and mortar restaurant by the same name.  The restaurant was open for three years, then Nicki decided to bring her gourmet hot dogs to the people instead of waiting for them to come to the food.

Nicki’s husband built the food truck, starting with a clean slate, including build-outs and installation of equipment needed to reproduce Heavenly Dog’s signature dishes. Her sister, Stacey designed the truck wrap.

Heavenly Dog offers four meat choices in twelve variations, with a vegan option coming soon. Nicki rotates seasonal foods on the menu as the time of year changes.

I was allowed into the truck’s kitchen to take some photos and I must say it’s like watching a ballet mixed with a comedy to see them work.

On our visit to Heavenly Dog, my husband Sean and I couldn’t have tried all 48 variations of hot dogs, without a full staff supporting us, so we tried six of them, as well as two types of fries.

The Corndog was moist, slightly sweet and the Polish sausage was perfect. Sean said it was the best corn dog he had ever tasted and he always gets the corndog where ever we go! (We arm wrestled for it and I won on this one.)

The Bacon Western Dog was wrapped in bacon and served with an onion ring, tomato and homemade BBQ sauce. The sauce had a smoky sweetness to it that made me want to go back for more.

The Chicago Dog came on a signature poppy seed bun, with relish, tomato, pickle, mustard, onions, etc. Talk about POP!  The bun was so full of fillings it was almost (but not) impossible to fit it into my mouth.  It all combined for a great big taste of the windy city.

The Reuben Dog was heaped with sauerkraut and scattered with caraway seed and topped with Swiss cheese.  There was a slathering of house made, sweet and sour Thousand Island dressing on the dog that added a depth, making this dog truly remarkable.

The Rat Terrier was the best of what hot dogs have to offer, a good turkey dog with a decent snap to the casing, served with the simplicity of onions and mustard.

The Chili Cheese Dog with the hot link was perfect for those of us who love spicy foods.  I had cheese on my half and Sean didn’t. (Ask for extra napkins, you’re going to get dirty with this one.) Heavenly Dog’s tri-tip chili has a kick to it and the hot link is just that, hot! Put them together and a beer would have been the perfect accompaniment.  Regrettably, no beer kiosks were in sight.

The garlic fries were perfectly cooked, just like the spicy fries but then they were doused in a garlic sauce with plenty of minced garlic.  We called these the “No Vamps Here” fries as we could have safely walked though a den of vampires.

The sweet potato fries were out of this world, and by far my favorite thing on the menu. They are the perfect combination of sweet and heat as they were dusted with a Cajun spice blend.

With six down, we’ve got 42 to go, not to mention the seaonal offerings on Heavenly Dog’s menu. It’s beginning to look like a very busy Summer, but we’re not complaining.




Service: 4
Menu Selection: 3.5
Quality: 4
Creativity: 3.5
Price: 4
Overall Impression: 3.8 Plates!

Twitter @heavenly_dog

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About the Author

Chris Ford is the founder of Stitches 'n Dishes and editor in chief with a passion for food, photography and travel. Chris is a Media Correspondent for the Food Network TV show, Eat St, a syndicated blogger, seasoned event organizer and promoter, a food critic, a marketing consultant and Social Media Marketing expert. Chris is also a fashion and entertainment photographer. When he's not dining on the sidewalk, he's snapping photos on the catwalk.