There is so much fuss over new baconized products (bazookas, salt, alphabets) that we sometimes forget that street vendors were outfitting hot dogs with bacon long before anyone knew how to tweet or Instagram. The vendors wheel out their carts like clockwork, punching in just as you're punching out, leaving a concert or staggering out of a bar. For this version of Food Fight, we set out to see whether the street hot dog can hold its own against a slightly more refined version at The Stand.
The street dog was acquired for $3 after a show at The Echo, in front of an empty Walgreens parking lot at Sunset and Echo Park. The unwitting representative of all street hot dog vendors in this Food Fight was a kind man who muttered, “Hot dog, hot dog” softly to anyone who passed by, presumably because the smell of the sizzling bacon already speaks volumes. On his grill, a neat line of hot dogs at the ready. On our order, he tossed the bun to toast, and we had our choice of grilled onions, peppers, ketchup, mustard, mayo, and a charred jalapeno pepper. We opted for all of the above. By the time he was done squiggling the ketchup, mustard, and mayo on top of the dog, it looked like a Picasso in condiment form.
Food art never was so tasty. The hot dog was beefy, the bacon was crispy, and neither overwhelmed the other. The mishmash of condiments looked like it may have been overkill, but it was a perfect balance, and the jalapeno gave it all a needed kick. This was immensely satisfying. And we weren't even remotely drunk.
The Stand is in Westwood Village, next to an Urban Outfitters advertising a sale on its already overpriced clothes. It's a bright place with tables, checkered cloths, and beer on tap. It also closes at 9 p.m. In other words, this is the near opposite of wolfing down a hot dog at midnight on a sticky sidewalk with a desolate drugstore at your back.
For $4.25 plus tax, The Stand's “Downtown Dog” brings the official hot dog of Los Angeles to the Westside. Accordingly, the dog comes with grilled onions, peppers, ketchup, mustard, and mayo. Sadly, there is no jalapeño, charred or otherwise. You may swap out the beef hot dog for its turkey dog, or any of its sausages. For this fight, we stuck with the original dog.
Maybe we should have held out for a bratwurst instead, as this hot dog was a bit on the skinny side. The bacon may have compensated had it been more crispy than chewy. The jalapeño also was missed, though we concede that the beer almost made up for its absence.
Overall, The Stand just doesn't stand up to the bona fide street dog and goes out with a whimper. We'd take the difference in cost between the Downtown Dog and an actual Downtown dog, spend it on gas money and head curbside. And then tweet about it.