Top Dog Hot Dogs

The Justice Department's loss is Crystal City's gain, at least where hot dogs are concerned. For the past five weeks, trial lawyer-turned-wiener-roaster Mike Sitcov has been peddling what he calls "Top Dogs" -- charcoal-broiled wieners -- on Clark Street, about a block south of the Crystal City Metro station. Sitcov, who says he's always been interested in getting into the food business, explains the job switch: "I couldn't afford to open a restaurant."

Sitcov's Top Dogs are about as full-flavored as wieners get; for $1.30 you get a scored, crusty-surfaced, pleasantly smoky and fairly juicy all-meat sausage, garnished with a choice of the usual toppings, such as chopped onion, sauerkraut, mustard and relish. What's more, Sitkov is so sure of his product that he offers patrons their money back if they're not completely satisfied -- so far, he says, no one's taken him up on the offer.

Top Dog hours are Monday through Friday, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Maryland Seafood Festival

September signals not only a return to office and school, but also the promise of crabs, clams, oysters and shrimp at the annual Maryland Seafood Festival, to be held this weekend at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis.

The food, prepared, served and sold by local civic and church groups, will be complemented by a vast array of entertainment, from continuous music to arts and crafts. All this for $4 (children under 14 are admitted free), including parking. Festival hours are noon to 8:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. For further information, call (301) 268-7682.

Chili for Charity

If you prefer your food a little bit hotter and closer to home, consider the 12th Annual Chili Bull, Sept. 19, 2-6 p.m., on the Officers Club lawn at Ft. McNair (4th & P Streets SW). Advance reservations cost $25 ($30 at the door), for which you'll get beer, ice cream, a live band and lots of chili, served up by competing individuals and restaurants. Other highlights include a margarita contest and a silent auction. Proceeds will be donated to the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Children's Hospital. Make checks payable to The Chili Bull Committee, 1818 N St. NW, Suite 350, Washington, D.C. 20036. For further information call 775-8881.

A Vegetarian Gathering

Vegetarians unite this weekend for a two-day celebration, the First International Vegetarian Festival in Washington. Local musicians and at least 11 vendors are scheduled to offer their fare from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Stop by the Ellipse (the area of greenery located between The White House and the Washington Monument) and enjoy the meat-free weekend. For more information, call Veg-Events, 897-5429.