Maui’s Dog House – North Wildwood, NJ
I have been going to Wildwood, NJ with Heather for nearly 15 years now and in all that time, I had never even heard of Maui’s Dog House. Little did I know that this place is a diamond in the rough that has a very decent following.
We found out about Maui’s this year. Strangely enough, through a pamphlet (and you know I love a good pamphlet). The pamphlet was in a pack of restaurant menus and flyers that the landlords of the beach house we rented with my family had put together for the guests who would be staying there. I initially was looking through it as a joke, but then found the Maui’s Dog House pamphlet. The pamphlet was fun with lots of little jokes and great pictures of the food they offered. Even the motto was catchy, “The best thing between two buns.” This felt like my kind of place. Then I noticed that it was featured on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. You can watch the clip from the show here. As a big Guy Fieri fan and a lover of that show, I knew we had to try it. So, a few weeks later when we were down at the beach again with my in-laws, we made the trek to Maui’s Doug House. Here is what we found out.
From the day they opened their doors in 1999, Maui’s Dog House is not your typical stand-alone restaurant. From the outside, it is unassuming. While there are lots of bright colors and a fairly animated sign, the rest of the place has a laid-back feel. There is an open canopy-covered patio and a walk-up window to order. Under the canopy, you find a handful of picnic tables. One thing that we really liked though was that even though it was a walk-up window, there is a hostess who seats you and provides you with the menus. This is great because you don’t have to be hawking a table while trying to decide what you want to eat. Maui’s also carries the theme of the restaurant over as all food is served in a dog bowl. While Heather and I found it to be a nice gimmick, her Dad was a little less keen on it. All the dishes also have clever names which make ordering even more fun. Rating: 4 out of 5
I thought Maui’s Dog House was kid-friendly. They had a kids menu that offered a nice variety. The kid’s menu did come as a combo so that was a nice bonus. They also wisely loan you a children’s book and give a “Goodie Bag” to the children in your party to help keep them entertained. The laid back atmosphere and the outside dining experience also allowed them to be a little less restricted compared to an inside seating arrangement. The sitting first design could present a problem in some cases if you are uncomfortable leaving your kids at the table alone and happen to be there without another adult. Rating: 3.5 out of 5
The food at Maui’s Dog House was great. Everything was freshly made in-house. Homemade hot dogs, hand-breaded chicken fingers, fresh-cut fries, and much more to try. One of the mantra’s at the restaurant is “This is not fast food, it’s fresh food cooked as fast as we can make it,” and it shows. I got the “Forget – About – It” hot dog; homemade meat sauce, cheese whiz, raw onion, mustard, and a generous sprinkle of freshly cooked bacon. For my order, I held off on the onion and mustard. For a side I had the cheese fries; fresh-cut fries smothered in cheese whiz. My food was delicious and the meat sauce was some of the best I have had. The bacon was just fried up on the flat top, so it was nice and crispy. The hot dog was also cooked on the flat top and had a great flavor. The fresh-cut fries were well cooked and had just the right level of crispiness. The combination of flavors on both dishes was fantastic. Heather had the Mac Daddy Cutlet (a breaded chicken sandwich topped with lettuce, tomato, and awesome sauce.) She really liked her food but wasn’t a fan of the sauce. I enjoyed the bite I had as well. My oldest son had the kid’s chicken fingers and I got put on clean up duty for the food he couldn’t finish, as most Dad’s do. The chicken fingers were delicious as well. You could definitely tell they were freshly made and hand-breaded. Both of Heather’s parents got hot dogs and enjoyed their meals as well. Rating: 5 out of 5
Price-wise Maui’s Dog House did leave a little to be desired. Basically, other then the kid’s menu everything on the menu is a la carte and once you add sides and a drink to your meal it can be a little on the pricey side. The sides are large enough that most could be shared to save a little money, but that can become difficult if there are dietary restrictions or different tastes. While you can definitely find a cheaper hot dog and fries, you do have to take into consideration that everything is homemade, and you will generally pay a premium for quality well-cooked food. You also have to remember this is a beach town that lives off tourists so this also makes for higher prices. Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Maui’s Dog House was a good place to go. The food and atmosphere make it worth trying, but depending on your budget it may be as a splurge. While I would love to make it a normal hang out, I think that the price makes it a once in a while stop for us. I do intend to go back there at some point as there are still some things I would like to try on the menu and it was a fun place to eat. Overall Rating: 4 out of 5