Dog Eat Dog

By: Joel Marino

Pancho. Shuco. Perro caliente. Completo. The name may change by country, but one thing’s for sure: no one does hot dogs like Latinos.

And decades after becoming a fixture of Latin American cuisines, the gringo bun-and-sausage combo is making its way back north, only with some welcome Hispanic twists.

Leading the dog pack? The Colombian perro, a wiener that’s attained cult status due to its free-for-all stacking of cheeses, meats and sauces. Already popular in areas with a big Colombian presence (joints like the trendy La Perrada de Edgar abound in Miami), the dogs are just now making their presence known through the rest of the country.

New York last year welcomed its first perro stand, Los Perros Locos. So far, we like what they’ve done with their menu, mixing conventional toppings like potato chips and mozzarella with more... shall we say, avant-garde options. Strawberry-and-ancho jam on a french toast bun? Yes, please. 

And in some cases, Latino variations are overshadowing their American counterparts. Over in Los Angeles, the popularity of the Mexican danger dog is pushing the dish from its traditional street-cart grill onto the menus of more established sit-down eateries.

Take, for example, the gourmands at the recently opened Meea’s, who are selling their own version of Tijuana’s iconic bacon-wrapped monster. Called the Southland, this baby is slathered with the customary onions and bell peppers, then topped with roasted jalapeños for an extra kick.

We’d give it a standing ovation if we weren’t suddenly feeling full.

Joel Marino is a NYC-based freelance writer and editor who enjoys traveling and saying “I told you so” as much as possible. When not writing, he spends his time on a never-ending quest to find the perfect empanada.