Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Dirt Dog, Los Angeles

I was in Los Angeles for a short recruiting trip, and, one night, our event got out extremely late, and I just needed a bite to eat.  Of course I had done my research and had a few places in mind that were close by, like, Dirt Dog.
"The Official Hot Dog of Los Angeles™, the ultimate bacon-wrapped hot dog. It's the best dog you'll ever have, so we've been told. Expect the unexpected."
People rave about these hot dogs.  I also had noted that the sides sounded good, and the desserts quite fun.  So, to Dirt Dog I went.
Fries & Churros.
Dirt Dog made it on my radar for the hot dogs, but I actually wasn't in the mood for a hot dog when I visited (strange story, but, 2 days in a row of hot dogs leading up to this), so I went for just fries and dessert.

The quality was high, very freshly prepared, and creative offerings, but, I didn't love it.

Setting

Dirt Dog is located in a strip mall, because, LA.  In the same little mall as a Popeye's and 7-Eleven.  Oh so classy.
Ordering Register.
The setup is casual, order at a register.

For takeout, they call out your name, for dine-in, you are given a number to take to your table and the food is delivered to you when ready.
Kitchen.
Everything is prepared, to order, in the open kitchen.  Here you could watch each order being done individually - fries were weight out, dropped into the oil, and then tossed with toppings.  Each and every deep fried Oreo was battered and fried to order.  Hot dogs were actually queued up, with a few on the side of the grill just waiting to be ordered and assembled, but, besides that, things were very, very fresh.  And the staff quite busy.
Seating.
Seating is pretty simple, fake wood tables, comfortable enough benches.  Self-seating.
Hot Sauces.
Behind each table was a row of hot sauces on a shelf.  Standard ketchup and mustard were available near the soda fountain.

Food

The place is known for the hot dogs obviously.

The menu features 6 types of bacon-wrapped hot dogs with crazy toppings, all with optional fancier rolls like a pretzel roll or lobster roll, for a very reasonable $6.25.  The toppings sound incredible, ranging from the basic #TheHouseDog with bacon thousand island and green chile spread to #TheBrownDog with teriyaki sauce and sesame sweet aioli.  There are 4 more "Extra Dirty Dogs" for $7.25, ones loaded with even more toppings, like the #PattyMeltDog with melted cheddar fries and chipotle aioli on it or the #RancheroDog with a fried egg, tortilla strips, refried beans, and salsa.  I believe the hot dogs are beef, they have a veggie dog option too.

For sides, there are 2 corn dishes ("dirty corn" or "dirty esquite", e.g. elote or elote-in-a-cup), and 6 styles of fries (again, think, toppings, all using the same fries as a base).  A few street tacos round out the savory menu.  Certainly no healthy options here, no salads, nothing light, as both corn dishes are loaded with mayo and cheese.

The dessert menu is ... fun.  Deep-fried twinkes, battered and fried to order, served with horchata whipped cream to dunk it in.  Or deep-fried Oreos, same deal, housemade batter, fried to order, horchata whipped cream.  And then there is the horchata ice cream, a huge 4 scoop sundae with horchata syrup, rice crispies, almonds, and a full churro on top.  Or, go a bit more restrained, and get just a churro, again housemade, fried to order, and served with that horchata whipped cream.
#EloteFries. $5.50.
"Corn, lime mayo, chili powder, cotija cheese, cilantro, bacon."

For fries, I had 6 options: dirty fries (with chile and lemon seasoning), garlic fries (garlic oil, garlic seasoning, fried garlic bits), salt & pepper fries, #FilthyFries (with guacamole, chipotle aioli, cheddar and cotija cheese), #DirtyChiliFries (with beef chili and bacon cheddar), and these, the #EloteFries.

I nearly went for the garlic fries, but since I was debating between garlic fries and the Dirty Esquite (basically elote in a cup, as in, corn with elote toppings), I decided to get the #EloteFries as the compromise, as I'd still get all the tasty toppings from the Dirty Esquite.

My fries came in a takeout box, served open, since I was dining in.  A fork was stuck in by the server before she brought them to me.

I'll start with the good: the fries were fresh.  Seriously fresh.  Piping hot.  They really do make everything to order.

They were coated in chile powder, nicely seasoned, a bit zesty, and salty.  But ... I just didn't like the fries.  Yes, they were crispy enough, and fresh obviously, and not oily, but ... I don't know, I didn't like them.  I think they were too thick, and just too potato-y.  If that makes any sense at all?

But the toppings were good.  A generous glob of zesty lime mayo.  A little cotija.  A few springs of cilantro.  A few tiny bacon bits.  And of course, corn.

The corn was great, sweet, fresh, very tasty.  I like mayo, I like cheese, and I loved the seriously crispy bacon bits.

The problem though?  There really wasn't much of the toppings.  Even if I had liked the fries, I think I would have bee disappointed by the tiny amount of bacon in particular.

Oh, there was a lime to squeeze over the top as well.

Overall, a really cool idea, but since I didn't like the fries themselves, not much way to save this for me.  I think I would have liked the corn cup though!
Churro. $2.
"Housemade churro tossed in cinnamon sugar, with horchata whipped cream." 

I wanted dessert, since, well, I'm a dessert girl.  I've never actually had a deep fried Twinkie, or Oreo before, but, I wasn't quite feeling those.  The horchata ice cream sounded great, but, given that it came with 4 scoops of ice cream AND a churro, it seemed ambitious for me to take on myself.  Which left ... the churro.

I'd never normally order a churro, as I don't like them that much, but I knew this was freshly made, as in, they'd fry it when I was ready for it, and it certainly wasn't a generic frozen Tio Pepe churro that they were heating up.  Plus, it came with horchata whipped cream, which certainly sounded interesting.

So, a churro it was.

I was instructed to let them know when I was ready for it, which I did by nodding to the cashier after I had decided I didn't want more fries.  I heard him yell, "time to fire a churro!", or something like that, and several minutes later, he came back to my table with the churro, wrapped in a paper bag, a little container of whipped cream on the side.

Hot and fresh.  Very hot and fresh.
Part of a Churro.
I failed to take a photo of the full size churro, but here is about half of it.  As you can see, this is not a standard generic churro, no signature ridges.

It was really quite good.  Clearly freshly fried, which I knew because I watched it being done, but even if I hadn't seen that, I would be able to tell.  Piping hot, too hot even, on the inside.

The exterior was crispy, but not hard, if that makes sense.  I usually find churros really hard, whereas this was just nicely crisp.  Inside though?  Crazy soft, and actually, it seemed under-baked?  Not bad necessarily, but it was mostly liquid raw dough, which I don't think it was supposed to be?  Also, did I mention, HOT!

It wasn't greasy though, or at least, it didn't feel too heavy or oily, even though it was fried dough.  And I did like the crispy outside and doughy inside.  So I think I liked those elements.

It was rolled in cinnamon sugar, and here I felt it was not well executed.  Just, too much.  I scraped some off and liked it more that way.

And then, the horcata whipped cream.  It didn't taste like horchata necessarily, but it did taste like something.  Clearly not just whipped cream, not vanilla.  It was also a bit thick.  But I did like having whipped cream to dunk my churro in.

Really, this was a mixed success.  I did like it, but, I'm not sure the churro was cooked properly, it had way too much cinnamon sugar, and I only quasi-liked the whipped cream.

But $2 for a freshly made item wasn't bad.
Dirt Dog LA Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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