[Update 3:56 p.m.: An earlier version of this post referred to Mike Rosa and Ryan Bailey as the former general manager and chef of Ma'Kai. Both men will retain their position at Ma'Kai while running Dogtown.]
The popular Let's Be Frank cart won't be Los Angeles' only gourmet hot dog vendor on wheels, after the Dogtown hot dog truck rolls out this Thursday. (Twitter: @dogtowndog)
Business partners Mike Rosa and Ryan Bailey, the general manager and chef, respectively, of Ma'Kai in Santa Monica (which may soon be replaced by a Red Onion, according to Eater LA), originally wanted to open "some kind of boutique-y location on the Westside" but decided it was too restrictive. Having followed the food truck movement, they quickly settled on hot dogs as their food of choice.
"We wanted to spruce up [hot dogs] a bit," Rosa says. "We've noticed the resurgence of the gourmet burger. We felt we could do the same thing with hot dogs. With hot dogs there's more room to get creative than with burgers because you can do so much with sauces and with toppings and that you can't do with burgers."
Using nitrate-free, grass-fed dogs from Rocker Bros., Dogtown will offer five basic hot dogs alongside one or two daily specials ($5 to $7). Aside from slaw, the only side (at least as of now) is tater tots tossed with sea salt and smoked paprika ($3).
Their signature dog, the Dogtown, comes unadorned except for a tart fennel slaw. The Chile Relleno Dog is coated in a corn masa batter and served with tomatillo ketchup. The Morning Commute Dog is topped with applewood-smoked bacon and a fried egg. For vegetarians, there's a meat-free Philly Cheesesteak made with grilled Portobello mushrooms, sliced onions and peppers. And the Trailer Trash Dog plays both sides of the highbrow-lowbrow coin, featuring a chili dog topped with crumbled Fritos.
"We want people to enjoy how tongue-in-cheek the hot dog can be," Rosa says, "and to be proud of its suspect nature."
-- Elina Shatkin
Logo: courtesy of Dogtown