Pig Out at The Ranch Wagon


Chase Shustack, Columinst

With Halloween past us, and everyone is sick of eating those bags of candy, and with the only socially acceptable day to make a pig out of yourself still a few weeks away, you might be craving some good old-fashioned American food.

There’s a little place here in Dallas that offers filling, simple and fresh comfort food that anyone can enjoy: the Ranch Wagon.

Located just along Memorial Highway, the Ranch Wagon is a one-floor building tucked away beside a bridge with a simple sign that depicts a cowboy-dressed hot dog greeting passersby. But sometimes the smallest places hold the biggest surprises. This place is no exception.

The Ranch Wagon offers an exclusive menu full of down-home food, all specially made on location, including juicy all-beef burgers that are never frozen (take that, Wendy’s!), oven roasted BBQ pork, and homemade mac and cheese topped with bacon and garlic, and of course, the long dogs.

These hot dogs aren’t your ordinary dogs. As the name suggests, they are bigger, longer and juicier. Like any hotdog, no matter how big, there’s always room for toppings. The Ranch Wagon offers an array of toppings such as onions, house-made chili, and the Texas Tommy, which is piled high with chili and cheddar cheese, topped with crispy bacon chunks.

But let’s say you’re the type of college student who has a diet consisting of microwave hot dogs, and you’d want to knock me around for telling you to go eat at a hot dog place. Put down the pitchforks, because the Ranch Wagon offers plenty more.

They have quarter pound hamburgers and half pound cheeseburgers grilled to a juicy, beefy nirvana and built to customer specifications. Want to slather that sucker with chili? Go ahead! Want some bacon and cheese on that baby? They’ll do it with a smile.

They also offer juicy, tender chicken sandwiches, either marinated and grilled or deep-fried to a crispy golden brown crunch. You can get it served classic with mayo, lettuce and tomatoes, or you can bring out the flavor with ranch dressing, fried onions, pepper jack cheese and pickle chips soaked in a spicy hot brine.

Rumor has it that if you go on a certain day, such as Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, after 4 p.m., you can purchase a delicious pizza, made Old Forge style.

Now we come to one of the most unique dishes the Ranch Wagon offers. It’s called the Puffin.

It’s a snack that tastes like Thanksgiving stuffing and mashed potatoes mixed together, deep fried until golden, and served with your choice of dipping sauce. You can eat them on their own, or you could eat them with a side of fries, as I do. I order these almost every time I go there, and I barely make it home without swallowing half the box of them.

The recipe of the Puffins is a closely guarded secret, however, and despite my best efforts to obtain the recipe via my underground sources, I have been unable to procure even a single ingredient.

Of course, no meal would be complete without a sweet, cold dessert. The Ranch Wagon offers creamy, thick milkshakes made specially with the luscious and smooth ice cream of the Blue Ribbon Dairy. Flavors include everything from rich vanilla, decadent chocolate, sweet strawberry and the classic peanut butter and chocolate shake.

More conventional soda fountain drinks are available, but if you want the true Ranch Wagon experience, I suggest getting a milkshake—and one for me, too.

Join us next time as we delve into the cheesy underbelly of Dallas pizza joints and search for the all-time champion of the Italian dish.