Not too long ago I was told that the fast food chain Doggis, a hot dog fast food chain, sells an average of 5000 hot dogs daily per location. That’s just one chain. How many other little stands, stalls, stores and shops sling completos each day in Santiago alone? How many millions of pounds of mystery meat are we talking here?
For the most part, these dogs come as in two forms: overflowing with avocado, mayo and tomato as an Italiano, or a mix of sourcrout, tomato and mayo as a completo. There are a few exceptions that have mixed these toppings and condiments up, most notable Domino, with around 30 different combinations.
But, the dog is the same, strange unknown mix of meat like substance as all the rest. No one seems to be demanding quality dogs, or at least no one was offering it.
Andrés Vallarino had a different idea. A partner at the popular bar/club Gran Central, he sold the place (now Zen, the trendy cousin of the California Cantina) and made a leap into something new, heading first to New York City to work in a butcher shop and learn the ins and outs of meat. He came back to Chile and started making artisan hot dogs from pork, also got something that resembles a bratwurst.
You could miss the place, located on Los Leones 40 with its Salchicheria sign above if you didn’t know it was there. Except for during lunch when a small line stretches out into the sidewalk.
It’s got an urban feel –but to US standards: Simple but strong graphics and price chart. Everything is stainless steel except for the floor and could be hosed down every day.
Want sauces? Plenty of them. Care was put into each category name. They have fresh lemonade and beer as well. To match the taste of these turkey, lamb and pork hot dogs you can choose from all of the typical ingredients: avocado, tomato, sour crout, etc. But you’ve also got options like caramelized onions, potato chips (a la perro caliente Venezuelan style), melted cheese, fried egg, pickles and more.
No too many weak points here, although in terms of beer, it’s limited, offering only Corona and nothing else. I also, for a moment, found myself craving more flavor out of the dogs themselves, thinking back to those Iowa pork sausages with jalapeño and cheddar cheese inside. Probably a bit too much for the typical Chilean palate though. Also, the melted cheddar is the tasteless cheese whiz-American cheese version, which has been unfortunately positioned as true cheddar here in Chile.
But the no frills, quality proposition is a great addition to Santiago’s oft over the top attempts at bringing in new food concepts. I’ve been back twice now for more.
It’s also worth following their facebook page. A very active page with plenty of photos and a unique approach, that has to date gathered more than 15,000 fans. Follow it, and check out their push to get a Hogs food truck into Lollapalooza 2013. Sounds great to me.
There are also no chairs and its open until 2am.
Los Leones 40
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