Howdy folks, and welcome back to HHR aka Houston’s Hotdog Rankings. Today I have to start off with a confession, I like Wienerschnitzel probably more than any other hot dog chain around. I’ve tried a good few of them as well. Including, A&W, Dogs n Suds, Nathans Famous, Skyline Chili, and of course on multiple occasions local chain James Coney Island. Now to add some confusion to the process, if you’d have asked me 10 years ago what my favorite hot dog restaurant was, it would have probably been A&W James Coney Island has never been at the top of my list in terms of my favorite hot dog in Houston. Which for many years was the limited availability Dome Dog. A&W caught on with me due to their chili dogs pairing exceptionally well with a frosty mug of their root beer. Although after their Yum brand affiliation ceased their locations, and quality quickly dropped. Enter, Wienerschnitzel, or should I say reenter? As this is actually the chain’s second attempt at the Houston market. Their first stores in Texas opened in 1966, and were out of the Houston area by 1985.
While the Houston locations closed long before I could establish any memory of them, other stores throughout the state, including a location in Bryan, which introduced me to the concept still exist. Oddly, according to some tax documentation I found while researching the chain, the final franchisee to operate held multiple stores, including the final one in Pasadena. This owner operated the restaurant as an independent Hamburger/Hot Dog outlet, keeping many original items on the menu up until 2011, when the location was sold to other owners, who began to make more drastic changes, before being sold off again. It’s possible that the Pasadena location’s owner was sitting on franchise rights for the era, that prevented Wienerschnitzel from reentering the area. Unfortunately, shortly after closing, nearly all the Houston A-Frame locations were demolished. Although their return to Houston still features minimalistic architectural choices. Their first location in Houston, 3538 S Texas 6, Houston, TX 77082 taking the place of a former Twistee Treat (the giant fiberglass ice cream cone place). Which is now down to 2 locations from 5 as of 2022.
There are some stark differences from the building’s former life but just as many similarities. One of the biggest changes is the addition of a tiny interior dining room. Unlike Twistee Treat, which only featured exterior dining, Wienerschnitzel now offers small dining rooms in most of their restaurants. Inside, there is seating for up to 10, via three tables. It appears the exterior bathrooms and covered seating from Twistee Treat has been reused. Another similarity is the menu of ice cream and hot dogs! Obviously, the W/S menu is much broader than just hot dogs, but the ice cream situation is at least comparable thanks to a partnership with Tastee Freeze. They also now sell hamburgers thanks to a partnership with Hamburger Stand, although the name is not mentioned and their direct presence in Texas has ended in 2015. Despite the diminutive dining room, the restaurant is full of options. I ordered and a chili dog, corn dog, and fries and a drink all within a combo. That option combined with the quality of the food honestly being above James Coney Island is what really has me sold on Wienerschnitzel. Plus, it’s all pretty darn cheap. If you haven’t ever been to Wienerschnitzel than I recommend giving it a try, if you were a regular, leave a comment with your memories of the original in Houston!
The two original Der Weiner’s in Corpus are still operating & going strong — still in the original A-frame design (although now with yellow roof instead of red). One is across from Del Mar College on Ayers, the other on Padre Island Dr. & Carroll Ln. (which had the entire back half of it rebuilt after Hurricane Celia ripped through town). In fact, I just stopped over to the Ayers store for lunch today!
Apparent Gessner (Houston, TX) location: https://email@example.com,-95.545155,3a,75y,118.49h,88.76t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sWGd644SiPNJWfksdzcEqrg!2e0!7i16384!8i8192
Southmore (Pasadena, TX) location: https://arch-ive.org/archive/901-southmore/
Looking at Google Maps street view shows the original peaked roof building still standing as of Jan. ’21. When I lived in Pasadena in the ’80’s I recall going there at least 2 times.
There are still a few remaining original locations throughout the Houston area. The Pasadena store was owned by an original franchisee up until ~10 years ago, and still sold a Hot Dog/Burger based menu.
I have great memories of Der Wienerschnitzel in Pasadena. My German teacher in Pasadena High School always threw a fit when it was mentioned; she would say it’s DAS Wienerschnitzel, not Der. I’ve noticed the new ones have dropped that mistake. I worked 7 years at the local library, just east of the Southmore location. Occasionally they would have a sale of six chili dogs for a dollar, and when I got off work at nine I would gobble down every bite of them! I ate at one in the LA area several years ago, and was doing good to eat two—a sure sign that my Man vs Food days are over.