Though the food truck race in Los Angeles has been picking up steam for a while, I have yet to venture out and try any. Somehow I never get it together in time to check out First Fridays, an event in the Venice district of Abbot Kinney, where merchants feature artists, music, drink specials and a wide variety of food trucks. (I will make it there someday.) Where food trucks were once known as "roach coaches", a cheap array of Mexican fare on wheels, the fad has exploded in the LA foodie scene. Partly due to our current economic decline, the mobile restaurants feature hip, gourmet street food.
Kogi Korean BBQ was the front-runner in the food truck craze, an army of five Korean-Mexican fusion trucks that feature options of spicy pork tacos or kimchi quesadillas. After winning several awards and the hearts and minds of Angelinos, Kogi's success spawned hundreds of on-the-go eateries, from The Grilled Cheese Truck (note to self: try the cheesy mac & rib melt as soon as humanly possible), the Border Grill truck, an addition to the renowned Santa Monica Spanish restaurant at the 3rd Street Promenade, and my first venture into the world of food trucks, Dogtown Dogs.
Dogtown Dogs, named after Venice beach's surf and skate community, features "sophisticated variation of tradition favorites with an innovative spin." What that means is they fancy up their dogs for a mere $6. The "Spicy Angelino" is wrapped in smoked bacon and topped with tomatillo sauce, spicy salsa fresca and jalepeños, while the surprise breakfast hit, the "Morning Commute", also wrapped in bacon, is served with a fried egg. Vegetarians, never fear. Each one is available as a soy dog, so you don't have to miss out.
Quinn and I wanted to get four dogs, one of each... but it turned out we were tempted by the same ones. Instead, we got two California Dogs (avocado, arugula, aioli, tomatoes, fried onions and a light vinaigrette) and two Portabello Cheese Steaks (portobello mushrooms, peppers, onions and melted Swiss cheese). Oh. My. God. I felt like a bad-ass Russian hot dog eating champion, I couldn't stop myself from chowing them down.
The portobello dog was exactly how the steak versions are, moist from the caramelized vegetables and oozing with cheese. The mushrooms, peppers and onions fused together in a savory, earth-shattering mess. I could have easily stopped there, but had my sights on the hot dog that changed it all, the California dog. Last summer after a friend's birthday party at Venice locale The Brig, we drunkenly stumbled to Dogtown Dogs to try some of their tots (available in salt&pepper, nacho cheese and spicy buffalo). I happened upon the California Dog and the rest is history.
Though I do think the dog could be thicker (sausage perhaps?), the accoutrement more than make up for it. Slather aioli on anything and I'm there, but with the crispy onions, avocado and and arugula the meal has a light, fresh taste -- while still being a massive, filling meal. I somehow fit both dogs into my stomach, along with a few buffalo tots we ordered on the side. After having them plain and with the spicy sauce, I determined the simpler option is better. Add a little ketchup and you're good to go.
Dogtown Dogs updates their lunch and dinner locations on their twitter, and take cash or credit card. Perfect for a hot summer day and a trip down to the pier, Dogtown Dogs might just spark the initiative I need to tackle the LA food truck scene.
Santa Monica/Venice, CA