Lake Avenue, as it thrusts up towards Altadena, has long been where Pasadena sequesters its fast-food restaurants, and at the heart of it, you can find nearly every drive-thru window that has ever sponsored a football broadcast. The street has also been hospitable to a few left-of-center fast-food joints, such as Popeye's, the ultra-vegan Orean, and too many slick taquerias to count. So it wasn't much of a surprise to see The Slaw Dogs pop up a few days ago in what had until recently been a shrine to the Philly cheesesteak, and even less of one to see an entire family running the well-scrubbed restaurant, as enthusiastic as if they were selling stock in the newly formed company instead of just wieners and Belgian fries.
The Slaw Dogs positions itself at the baroque end of the hot dog spectrum, not quite to the rattlesnake-sausage extremes of Wurstkuche but not averse to garnishing their skin-on Vienna dogs, veggie dogs, chicken-apple sausages, etc. with kimchi, fried eggs or truffle oil. The signature dog comes dressed with chili, cheese and cole slaw, and the gut bomb called the Green Monster is buried under roasted pasilla peppers, chipotle mayonnaise and pepper jack, among other things. The toasted buns tend to collapse well before you can get this thing to your mouth - these are fork and knife dogs. A Pink's dog may be more emblematic, but sometimes only a Polish sausage with kumquat-habanero relish will do.
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The Slaw Dogs: 720 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena; (626) 808-9777.