A Hamburger Today

Hot Dog Of The Week: Perro Caliente

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[Photographs and original artwork: Hawk Krall]

This week's dog is perhaps one of the craziest things I've ever eaten in my life. After first reading about Colombian hot dogs, I assumed they were just a variation on Mexican hot dogs. Boy was I wrong.

The Perro Caliente is something totally different. With no plans to visit South America anytime soon, I was happy to discover that Queens in New York has plenty of Colombian fast food restaurants serving various incarnations of the Perro Caliente.

There are a bunch of hot dog spots all on the same few blocks of Jackson Heights. My first stop, Perro Veloz—a bright green storefront with a counter, a few stools, and a hot dog riding a scooter for a logo—wasn't even on the original list, but was the clear favorite by the end of the day. We tried the Mexicano, which was decent, but we were instantly blown away by the wild flavors of the Veloz Special.

The steamed dog is in a standard bun topped with bacon, pineapple, and a dusting of finely crushed potato chips, which is criss-crossed with an insane number of sauces (ketchup, mustard, mayo, the mysterious "pink sauce" and raspberry). Fruit, bacon, creamy mystery sauce, the panko-like crunch of the chips, and somewhere down there, the faint recognition of a hot dog—it was a battle of flavors and textures.

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[From left: Cholado at Xtasis and Criollo at Perrada De Chalo]

It was hard to avoid the non-hot dog temptations of the neighborhood. Veloz also has a burger menu—featuring the "Monster" with double meat, bacon, chips, cheese, and multiple sauces—not to mention Colombian barbecue restaurants and empanada stands on every corner.

But alas, we continued on the hot dog crawl. Next stop was Xtasis, a bright pink and chrome monster—somewhere Paris Hilton might be found passed out in the bathroom. We ordered a Perro Super Xtasis and an ice cold cholada. The Perro came on a massive sesame seed bun with the hot dog and grilled onions at the bottom, all covered in a heaping mountain of potato chips, bacon, ham, "seven sauces" and a blanket of melted cheese. This thing was ridiculous—the size of your average cheesesteak.

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Close-up of the Perro Super Xtasis.

Glancing at the menu I noticed you can even order a "Super Xtasis Combo" which adds sausage to the mix. The Super Xtasis was interesting, not nearly as sweet as the Veloz Special and sort of hard to eat. There must have been a whole bag of chips piled on there but the grilled onions were a nice touch. Of course we washed it down with an ice cream and condensed milk cholada drink jammed with fresh fruit, cookies, and enough sugar to kill a horse.

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From left: the Iraqi hot dog at Perrado, and the Veloz Special.

The final stop on the Colombian hot dog tour was the well-known Perrada De Chalo, a larger restaurant with a massive menu (including more traditional Colombian food) and giant screens flashing images of hamburgers and hot dogs with fantastic names like the "Hamburguesa Super Showy."

We went with a Criollo hot dog topped with cabbage, pineapple, crushed chips, and "sauces," as well as the infamous Iraqi hot dog that tops it all off with sliced hard-boiled egg. But this is when I finally had to break down and order them without ketchup. I like to taste things the way they're intended to taste, but enough with the ketchup already.

The crunch of the cabbage did a good job countering the 45 different mayonnaise-based sauces, whereas the Iraqi was kind of hard to get down, not unlike a hot dog topped with egg salad and Russian dressing. Everyone else here seemed to be eating hamburgers—probably the way to go here, since a burger can hold up to all those toppings better.

For me, the Veloz Special did the best job balancing the wild flavors and textures of a Colombian hot dog, but if you're going for adventure and shock value, I would say Xtasis or Perrado de Chalo are the way to go. All of these places serve about 15 different versions of everything (we didn't even put a dent into what's available).

I'm still dying to try the "Hawaiian" burgers, dogs, and sandwiches topped with pineapple, ham, cheese, chips, and "sauces," as well as Salchipapas, a sort of Colombian poutine that tops french fries with sliced hot dogs, ketchup, chilies, mayo and/or hot sauce and cheese. Whew.

Perro Veloz

80-26 Northern Blvd, Queens New York 11372 (map)

Xtasis

82-10 Northern Blvd, Queens New York 11372 (map)

La Perrada De Chalo

83-12 Northern Blvd, Queens New York 11372 (map)

Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.

Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.

Printed from http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/02/colombian-hot-dogs-perro-caliente-queens-jackson-heights-nyc.html

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