First, allow me to digress into veggie dog culture. Why would you eat a soybean hot dog or a wheat meat pork-rib slathered in delicious barbecue sauce? Because they are freaking delicious, satisfying, healthy and good in a way that the high saturated fat, high cholesterol, highly resource wasting real things simply are not.

I am not a vegetarian, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe that meat is a luxury and that it is promiscuously underpriced in the American market: The costly inputs, dehumanizing effect on farm workers and the world-destroying, cancer-like destructiveness of big agribusiness are simply not accounted for in the cheap price of beef, chicken or pork.

We in America eat too much food in any case and too much meat by a large margin. Even the cheerleaders of big business, the federal government, think so.  Take a minute next time you are online and look at and see what they suggest for a healthy diet.

Owned by Jeremiah Smith, the handsome thirty-four-year-old lead singer of local goth favorites Redemption, City Dogs is a successful balancing act of street food slinging that is a savory, tasty, healthy vegetarian convenience for the people. Presented without pretense and without apology, City Dogs serves a few humble varieties of traditional take-away food in the style of big-city hot dog carts. Using the newest generation of alternative meats from the same vendors that supply Whole Foods, one can get a hot, delicious and filling meal in minutes.

Smith took the reins of this unique street food cart in September of 2009.  Since then, he has seen his business grow into a happy success, and his fan base has grown with the sensibilities of working men and women, and the increasingly savvy kids that call downtown Salt Lake home.  If there is a happy barometer for downtown, I think it might be the continual group of people milling around the City Dog cart at lunchtime.

City law says that food cart businesses must close at 11 p.m., which is too bad because a cart running some delicious food and non-alcoholic beverages would be a big hit with consumers when the bars close.

City Dogs has a delicious selection of veggie hot dogs, my favorites being the Chili Cheese Dog ($3.50) which is what you would expect of vegan chili on a delicious little vegan frank with soy or dairy cheese, depending on your preference.  The Dee Dog  ($3.50) is a mild east-coast cream-cheese-slathered variation on the Chili Cheese Dog.

Maybe best among the hot dogs is the City Dog ($3.50), which has jalapeños, tomatoes and pickled asparagus. The Italian Sausage Dog ($4.50) is rockin’ good, too. It’s delicately flavored with sundried tomato and basil, but still spicy, and this sausage is laid out on one of the nicer sausage buns around.

It, like all the items here, is sold à la carte.  Drinks ($1.00) and chips ($.75) are available separately, as are sides of delicious vegan potato salad ($2.00) and vegan chili ($2.00).  The cart, like taco carts, has a condiment library at the heel of the chassis. Included are normalish condiments: ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, but  hot peppers and hot sauces are also included.

The tacos are unexpectedly good, if not outright unexpected.  Two soft flour tacos served with a dash of salsa and, if you wish, sour cream.  They go down like the guilty tacos of my childhood—rich, satisfying and altogether unhealthily delicious.

Except, overall, these bad boys are relatively good for you. One of my favorite picks on the small-but-tasty menu is the barbecue Rib Sandwich ($5.50).  I don’t know what it’s made of, but it’s vegetarian.  Memorable is what I call it. I love barbecue and this little darling hits all the essential notes of a good barbecue sandwich.  The only thing missing is a scoop of coleslaw for that down-south crunch.

City Dogs Food Cart is a good time for all, and an indispensable resource for the food conscious among us.  It is open between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.  It’s friendly, cheap and easy. It closes on Dec. 1, and reopens on March 1,  so be sure and get your fill while the getting is good.