Weeneez. The name alone intrigued me. Was there really a place dedicated to the treat I typically only eat at movie theaters? I realize there are other places to grab a dog, but Pink’s is too crowded and trendy and Wienerschnitzel … puh-leeze.

So I rode my bike over to Fifth and Broadway in downtown to the vivid red and yellow establishment to check it out. As I stepped through the door, the first thing I noticed was Weeneez meant business. Large stainless grills in plain sight, a station to put on the toppings and not a hot dog rotisserie in sight

The cheery owner, Julie Rico, explained the key to a great hot dog consists of hearing the snap as you bite into it. She has her dogs shipped from back East, not surprising, as that’s truly where the best ones come from.

The chili dog (Chilli Weenee) is probably one of the best I’ve ever had. The chili is homemade with generous chunks of thick beef and a slightly smoky flavor.

Rico did a lot of research before opening her shop, and it’s evident in the preparation of each signature dog. The L.A. Hottie comes with jalapenos, cheddar cheese and bacon, and the Chicago Weenee is made pretty close to what you experience in Chicago (relish, peppers, dill spear, tomato, mustard, onions).

While all the preparation is put into making the dogs, the driving force behind the dining establishment is to help promote the adjacent Julie Rico Gallery. Yes, Rico’s vision was to incorporate a hot dog restaurant with an art gallery, with the sales of the hot dogs used to support artists. It’s an unusual but extremely creative way of marketing, and so far it’s been a successful venture for Rico and her partner, Sid Carter.

Be sure to check out Weeneez on your next trip downtown. It’s located in the heart of ArtWalk and right across from the famed Rowan Lofts.

For more information, visit weeneez.com.