Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats and Brew isn’t your typical hot dog joint; it’s a tasty phenomenon sweeping the Fresno-Clovis area.
The new gourmet eatery on Shaw Avenue in northeast Fresno opened in August 2015 with a mission: serve natural, delicious and local ingredients.
Born from the friendship of two young families, the Lisitsins and the Hsias, Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats and Brew dishes up sausages, sandwiches, salads, sides, desserts and beer.
Kevin and Sarah Lisitsin, natives of the Central Valley, have been married for 12 years. They have two children, 5-year-old Nolan and 6-year-old Claire.
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Gary and Bethany Hsia are veterinarians from the Bay Area with a young son, Luke. Naturally, they love animals — especially dogs.
In fact, the eatery hosts fundraisers for local organizations like Fresno Rocketworks and animal shelters like Fresno Bully Rescue, Labrador Retriever Rescue of Fresno and Valley Animal Center.
It also has a wall dedicated to pictures of dogs, which are submitted by customers by hashtaging #RDFresno on Instagram.
The husband-and-wife duos became friends about five years ago. When the Hsias expressed an interest in opening a business, the Lisitsins were game.
But they had to decide on a direction and subsequently, a fun, catchy name. After deliberating as a group, they chose Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats and Brew as their business venture. The focus, of course, was on bratwurst and beer.
Whether you’re craving a bacon-wrapped hot link, Chicago-style hot dog or Italian sausage, the eatery has your back. Sausages, which are free of nitrate and preservatives, are from Fresno State, while buns and bread loafs are fresh from Max’s Artisan Breads.
“It’s important to us because we want to make sure that we support local as much as possible,” Kevin said.
The expansive menu is full of options. Each month, the eatery introduces specials. The lineup for February includes a New Orleans-style sandwich and an ice cream float made with Lambic beer.
The Lisitsins said the top seller is The Danger Dog, a bacon-wrapped, deep-fried spicy hot link with barbecue and Sriracha sauces.
The Napa Dog is a hot commodity, too. It includes a chicken sausage between a grilled baguette with homemade fig-onion jam, crumbled goat cheese, basil and a drizzle of balsamic reduction sauce.
The Rocket Dog lets you customize your order with your choice of sausage, bun (plain, pretzel or grilled baguette), sauce and toppings (bacon, cheese, onions and sauerkraut).
If your taste buds are craving crispy chicken, try two sandwiches: Buffalo Bleu and Clucking Cowboy. Both sandwiches have a crispy, breaded chicken breast piled on top of a sweet Hawaiian bun and loaded with sauce and cheese.
For lovers of a traditional turkey sandwich, order the No. 10: California Turkey. Wedged between grilled sourdough bread, sliced pieces of turkey breast are topped with bacon, avocado and fixings.
Add greenery to your meal by ordering a salad: California Cobb and Apple Walnut. Both salads include your choice of dressing, spring mix, bleu cheese crumbles and grilled or crispy chicken.
Sides include chicken tenders, russet potato chips, French fries, crispy garlic fries, sweet potato fries drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon, and chili fries topped with cheddar cheese and onions.
In addition to serving bowls of hearty chili, the eatery sells homemade soup twice a week starting with cheddar brat on Wednesdays. The thick, creamy soup is made with chunks of potato, carrots, celery, onions and bratwurst. New England clam chowder is available on Fridays.
Staying faithful to their mission, the two families serve Fresno State Ice Cream and three types of wine from the Fresno State Winery.
“We have a chardonnay, white zinfedle and cabarray,” Sarah said.
You can also order a nonalcoholic root beer float or stout float.
There are more than 50 beers from California-based breweries available for the 21 and older crowd. Local craft breweries like Black Ops Brewing, Full Circle Brewing Company and Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company have beers on tap.
“Working with them has been fun,” Kevin says of the three local craft breweries. “It has been a community effort.”
Get grubbin’: Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats and Brew, 88 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno.
Details: (559) 283-8096, www.rocketdogbratsandbrew.com.