Not so in the case of The Barking Dog. Sure, seafood is on the menu, but there’s also much more – gourmet hot dogs, Carolina barbecue, an eclectic beer menu and veggie fare.
It’s all served up on a flip-flop-friendly deck that overlooks Sunset Creek near downtown Hampton. Diners can drive, walk or even boat up to a place the owners hope will become a community hangout.
Several restaurants have laid claim to the little spot next to where the fishing charter Sally T docks in the creek off the Hampton River. But none has lasted very long. About a year ago, Gary McIntyre stopped in for a beer when the restaurant was called The Hook and wondered why.
“I saw all the potential,” says McIntyre, who’s been in the Hampton Roads restaurant business for more than 30 years.
McIntyre acquired the business and, with his partners Sean Pepe and Tricia Waclawski, gutted all but the kitchen. They covered the patio, added picnic tables, named it The Barking Dog, and hung out a cheerful yellow sign to beckon passers-by from Kecoughtan Road. The place quickly became popular after opening at the start of summer, and the owners plan to tent in the patio to keep it open year-round.
Hot dogs top the menu, but these aren’t ordinary dogs with mustard and ketchup. The Carolina Drive-In Dog is topped with barbecue, slaw and red pepper mayo. The Seattle Dog comes with cream cheese and caramelized onions. The artisan-style buns are made by a local bakery. The menu also features sausages and bratwurst, burgers, and cold salads, along with crab cakes, clam strips, popcorn shrimp and fish sandwiches. Rockfish tacos were a popular summer offering – The Barking Dog serves what’s fresh off the fishing boats.
Drinks come in cans tucked into koozies; a can crusher mounted on the deck encourages recycling. On the tables, napkins are weighted down with river stones painted with – what else? – pictures of dogs.