By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When Chef Craig Johnson turns on his meat grinder, he’s making sausages that truly reflect the Midwest. This week, DeRusha Eats at Prairie Dogs in Minneapolis.

Prairie Dogs Hot Dogs and Handcrafted Sausages is located at Lake and Lyndale in Minneapolis.

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Tobie Niedetz has helped open dozens of restaurant concepts, but the thought of fancying up hot dogs and wowing with sausages has always been in the back of his mind.

“The Twin Cities market really loves sausage and are willing to pay a little extra to get some bistro flavors on hot dogs that no one expected to do before,” Niedetz said.

You can get a regular hot dog, but why would you? The Prairie Dog is all-Vienna Beef, Chicago-style, with that bright green relish.

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But then we get crazy. The Spicy Merguez is lamb sausages with piquillo peppers and feta cheese.

Chef Johnson has even created a sausage out of seafood, including scallops, langoustine and lobster.

Another interesting concept is his homage to a hugely popular Vietnamese sandwich: a banh mi with a hot dog in the middle.

“It brings it down to the people’s level, allows people to try char siu pork and taste it in a way they’re familiar with,” Niedetz said.

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It’s a hot dog joint with great beer and wine, perfect for families and date night.

Jason DeRusha