Dave Rice 8:30 a.m., April 21
“Hey!” says Carla. “Did you realize we’ve just missed National Hot Dog Month?”
“July. And that’s my favorite food of all time. So let’s celebrate, quick!”
This was last night.
’T’was early evening on Ms. Carla’s hair day, in Coronado.
Now she’s all frou-frou’d up and good to go.
They do dogs, for sure. They’re on the corner of Tenth and Orange.
We head there. Except on the way we come past Delux Dogs, the new place at 942 Orange Avenue (619-319-5338). Been here before, but who can resist?
They have seating outside now, too. And beers.
Kirsten the owner's here supervising. She says a surprising number of customers go for the corn dog. Maybe that's because it's cheapest ($2.95). But I’ve always wanted to try their Tokyo Dog (reading it on the menu right now: “All beef link with teriyaki glaze, Japanese mayo, grilled onions, sesame seeds, dried seaweed chips, and sriracha.” It’s $5.49.
“Ooh. Border Town,” says Carla. She’s looking at the Border Town dawg. Anything bacon, she’s a goner. It’s $6.25. Has a beef link they’ve deep-fried, nacho cheese sauce, Tapatio, guac, salsa and Mexican crema.
The gal behind the counter gives us plastic glasses of water for while we wait. Then when the two li’l boxes in a bag come we walk them half a block to the little park with the fountain at Tenth and Orange, right by the 901 bus stop.
Carla's Border Town dog
We munch them down on da spot. I have a bite of Carla’s, and it’s good and bacony. Deep fry of the dog itself doesn’t seem to make much difference, but it’s nice.
She has a bite of mine.
“Oh gross,” she says. “Seaweed.”
Me, on the other hand, I love this little beast. The taste of seaweed mixes beautifully with the faintly sweet teriyaki taste, and the sesame, and onion, and the link itself. I’d come back for this.
’Course now I think about it, their lemon drink would’ve been nice. I remember last time, it tasted fresh-squeezed and tart. Cost $2.95. Great to freshen up after the whole salty dog kinda thing. But we do have the water.
“You do realize,” says Carla, “that people have been eating exactly what we’re eating since the 1200s, except no bun?”
“Well, actually, hadn’t given it much thought,” I say.
“Holy Roman Empire. They used to hand them out to the people as celebration food at coronations.” She’s got my iPad on her knee. Wiki, I bet.
“They were just sausages. Shaped like a Dachshund, so here in the US they called them dogs."
Or, you have to wonder, was it because they used dog meat back then?
"But the bun now," Carla says, "that started in 1870. Coney Island, Charles Feltman, German immigrant. Began putting his dogs in buns so people didn’t burn their fingers on the scalding wieners.”
Oh yeah. That makes sense. I lick my fingers. Man, that Tokyo was tasty. But this being almost still National Hot Dog Month, I'm trying to think of my all-time favorite hot dog.
Guess that has to be the one they serve on a plank at Sótano Suizo, the Swiss cellar restaurant in Tijuana (Centro Plaza Fiesta, Isla G. Local 1 y 8-12, Avenida Paseo de Los Heroes 9415, Zona Rio, 011 52.664-684-88-34). Oh my giddy aunt. That was something else. A large, paprika-flavored spicy Hungarian sausage covered with crispy candied onions, tomato chunks, a big, fat, roasted chile guëro, a crooked line of yellow mustard with red balls dotted along it so it looked like a coral snake, all bursting out of an eight-inch rough-top French baguette, with slabs of unmelted Swiss cheese laid over the en-tire top, licking over the edges. About $6.
But hey, right now, I’m still savoring the salty-sweet flavors of my Tokyo Dog, right here in ’Nado.
Carla raises her plastic glass. “Here’s to National Hot Dog Month,” she says. “Next year, for once, can we be on time?”
“Think of it this way,” I say. "We're celebrating 11 months early."