Cabrito's Messy and Crazy Good Border Dogs


Photo: Joe DiStefano

Football holds even less interest for me than watching paint dry, but when bacon-wrapped hot dogs loaded with all manner of toppings are involved, I can be persuaded to pretend to watch a few... innings? (That is what the segments of that militaristic game are called, no?)

The Border Dogs ($8 each) pictured above are part of Cabrito's new Sunday football menu. Left to right: the Sonora dog, pinto beans, tomato, onion, cotija cheese and pickled jalapeno aioli; El Lucha Libre, well-fried beans, salsa roja, pickled jalapeno aioli, and crumbled chicharrones; and the Danger Dog, guacamole and pineapple habañero salsa.

It might seem like Chef Dave Schuttenberg has jumped on the haute dog bandwagon, but that's not really the case. For one thing these overloaded wieners have more in common with the common man than the fare being served at such places as Dogmatic Gourmet Sausage System. For another he was inspired to create them by an NPR article on Sonoran hot dogs that ran back in August. Journalist Ted Robbins pondered, "Who knows whether the Sonoran hot dog will spread from Arizona across the country..." It appears that thanks to Schuttenberg it has.

For the record, I did not attempt to eat all three, but I did have a bite or two of each. They are gloriously messy, and the coriander bacon from Fatty 'Cue really shines through. The Sonora Dog was tasty enough but I preferred the other two because they really upped the ante. Think of them as a Mexican torta on a bun. The Danger Dog, slathered in rich creamy guacamole, and topped with pineapple habanero salsa packs a heat level worthy of its name. "If I really wanted to go crazy, I'd put pickled habañeros on top," Schuttenberg said with a devilish grin.

So over the top is the heart-stoppingly excessive El Lucha Libre that it deserves its own paragraph. Schuttenberg's creation takes its name from the famous Mexican wrestling league. Eat enough of them and you might just put on enough weight to don a mask and some stretchy pants à la Nacho Libre. As if a smear of refried beans and bacon weren't enough, the dog is topped with crumbled chicharrones, or pork cracklings, made in-house. "This one was just pure gluttony that I came up with off the top of my head," Schuttenberg said. No kidding?

Where does Chef Dave go when a hot dog craving hits? The East Village's Crif Dogs, which knows a thing or two about bacon-wrapped hot dogs. And in true East Coast meets Southwest fashion, the wieners used for the Border Dogs are none other than Nathan's Famous. The snappy casing stands up perfectly to all those toppings.

If you're as big a football fan as I am, take heart, you need not watch the game to eat a Border Dog. Cabrito will soon be adding them to its late-night happy hour menu, which is offered Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 11:00 p.m. to 2 a.m. Now that's what I call a midnight snack.


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