When I went backpacking through Amsterdam in college, I remember one night when I was totally mesmerized by a psychedelic McDonald’s sign. The neon, fluorescent lights kept fading in and out, and I remember thinking to myself how enticing and mind-altering that must have been to people completely stoned out of their minds. A pretty clever and targeted marketing ploy by McDonald’s to get people to come down from a high with a greasy Big Mac.
Los Perros Locos, a hot dog joint in the Lower East Side, has a similar psychedelic aesthetic that would definitely appeal to the stoned, drunk late-night crowd. The hot pink neon sign is like a visual GPS tracking device directing stumbling revelers towards the Holy Grail of late night munchies–over-the-top, Colombian-style hot dogs.
Although our Meetup group is not “Hungover in NYC,” I still thought it would be fun to network with other sober food bloggers in the New York area over some flamboyant hot dogs. I personally planned this social event because I didn’t think there were enough food bloggers in my social circle. I suppose we tend to associate with people who are in close proximity to us, and unfortunately creative blogger types weren’t really prevalent at my financial services company. Or maybe they were, but we had to be so buttoned up and formal that this wasn’t really something we would share with other colleagues. The Los Perros Locos tasting event definitely achieved my goal of broadening my network with interesting food bloggers—I feel like I met some fun people I would reach out to in the future to exchange blogging ideas or attend other food events with.
Why did I choose Los Perros Locos as the venue? I first heard of the restaurant at a Brooklyn Tech Meetup event featuring food startups, where owner Alex Mitow was one of the speakers. His enthusiasm for social media and his recognition of its influential role in food startup marketing really resonated with me. It was amusing to see how Geoff Bartakovics, the CEO of Tasting Table and the featured speaker at the event, directly took issue with Alex’s view that Yelp and other crowd-sourced reviews were the wave of the future and that elite food criticism was dead. Seeing as how I always reference Yelp or Chowhound for restaurant ideas, you can probably tell who I ultimately sided with in this debate. You can access the video of the lively meetup event here.
I knew Alex would be receptive to food bloggers, and I knew food bloggers would love inventive food creations, so I thought Los Perros Locos as a venue would be the perfect place. Alex and his staff were very accommodating and brought out each one of the dogs on the menu for us bloggers to try.
I have to admit, when I first saw the hot dogs, I was a little scared. These was so much going on in the hot dog—I’ve never seen so much crushed chips, mayo and sauce piled atop of anything in my life. But when I took the plunge and tried the dog, I was pleased by how good the overload was. It’s sort of like dipping your toe into cold ocean water and thinking that you’ll freeze to death if you go all in, but once you do it you feel like it’s the greatest thing ever.
You would think that the hot dog would taste really greasy and heavy, but surprisingly this wasn’t the case. Somehow all the toppings are in a precarious flavor equilibrium. My personal favorite was the Pablo Escobar, a hot dog with just the right notes of salty, savory and sweet. Pablo Escobar is the name of a notorious Colombian drug lord, and this white and powdery hot dog definitely looks like something straight out of the scenes of Scarface. The mayo balances out the saltiness of the sausage with its creamy, savory flavors, and the crushed chips provide a satisfying, crunchy texture. The sweetness of the pineapple salsa was key in cutting across the heavier flavors and preventing an overdose of salt and cream. I also loved the Chimi-Churi-Chori since I’m a fan of savory foods with a little bit of heat.
One of the standouts of the night was not a hot dog, but the salchipapas waffle fries. Salchipapas is a Latin American snack food that consists of pan-fried sausages and French fries, served with different condiments like ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard or chili. Fork in the Road did a very eye-opening visual comparison of traditional salchipapas to the ones served at Los Perros Locos to demonstrate just how over-the-top the latter is. Los Perros Locos takes things to the extreme by dressing up its waffle fries with marble potatoes, chorizo, fried bacon, chicharones, and the best ingredient of all, quail egg, topped generously with a ketchup and mayo sauce blend and salsa verde. This was a literal interpretation of a gut-bomb, but I was fine getting caught up in the explosion.
Hot dogs have always been a part of the New York food tradition, and it’s astounding how many different iterations are being introduced. You have the old guard like Gray’s Papaya and Nathan’s on one end of the spectrum, and then Crif Dog broke some ground with its inventive creations. Los Perros Locos and Japadog are keeping the rebellious streak alive, adding some colorful entries to the hot dog canon. A Los Perros Locos dog is a decadent treat that you should probably eat sparingly, but I might be singing a different tune once Saturday rolls around and a late night bender brings me back to the hypnotic neon pink sign.
Los Perros Locos
201 Allen St.
New York, NY 10002